monday. just wanted to summarise my weekend a little. i went to coventry on friday to skate! there isn't a figure skating club in birmingham unfortunately so i have to go to coventry; takes about one hour from my house to the rink so it's not too bad. anyway, it was the first time i didn't have to skate on the public session or on one third of the ice with mostly novices. had to do that last year and just recently found out that i could actually skate with the top skaters, on a more suitable time as well! coventry also has some of the best skaters in the uk so that's cool. unless you pay for a private lesson you skate without a coach, group sessions aren't really a thing here. which i think is a shame since private lessons are terribly expensive, and it isn't something i'd pay for right now since i'm just skating for fun. even though i could use the inspiration. the good thing with going on this new session is that i get to use the full ice + the music. i could probably do with a few long program run-throughs, it's always good cardio haha.

in the evening we had our monthly "fancy" dinner. basically just a reason to dress up a little once a month and find some nicer restaurant to go to. or well, the tradition is only two months old but i still have four months to go here, so there'll be time for a few more. we went to jamie's italian in birmingham, had ravioli with spinach and riscotta, so good! stayed at filippa's house over night, we started looking into uni applications on saturday. still haven't fully decided though.

on sunday i spontaneously went with my host family to stratford-upon-avon, which is shakespeare's birth town. not the first time i'd visited, but the weather was a bit better this time around. it's very shakespeare-y and tourist-y, there're loads of nice cafés and small shops. we met my host dad's sister and her sons there, looked around the town and had a picnic. windy, but nice! all very english haha.

in the evening i went to see beauty and the beast and was blown away!! so good! i didn't have too high expectations to be honest, but i don't think i would've been disappointed even with the highest of expectations. the songs (both old and new), the singing, the actors (especially the actors!!), the costumes, the scenery, the details... couldn't find anything to complain about. at first i wondered if i wasn't being critical enough but my friends all agreed that it actually was that good. will probably tag along when my host family are going to see it, can't wait to re-watch it to be honest.

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"karin, that was mrs. h, our principal. you really should bow to her, you know."

i'd met the principal plenty of times but c, my 8-year old, still saw it fitting that i should bow to her. there was of course the hint of a joke in there somewhere, but it was barely noticeable. the respect that my host kids have for authorities is so different from what i'm used to in sweden. before i go on though i just want to say that this comparison is based on my experiences here, in this host family, in birmingham. my kids go to an all-girls private school and not every school nor family is the same of course. but without generalising too much; here are a few differences that i've noticed between sweden and england.

i quite often find myself shrugging off the girls' concerns when they can't finish their homework (even though it was the teacher who forgot to give them all the worksheets) or have to wear gloves that don't match their school uniform. this is because these are things i've never had to worry about getting in trouble for. now, i don't think they'll get in trouble for any of the scenarios listed above, but still the fact that they worry show the respect they have for the teachers and the system. another thing is that the parents have to be at the school to drop the kids off and pick them up. the kids aren't allowed to leave until the teacher sees the parent. i guess they have some age limit when it's alright for them to leave on their own. if we're late to school in the morning we usually have to go through the school office and sign some paper before they can go to their classrooms. so yeah, it just all feels a bit uptight for me.

another big difference is that they don't play with other kids outside school all that much, or not as much as i'm used to anyway. i guess this varies in different families and also depends on where you live (size of the city, area etc), but even if the kids play a lot with other kids the play dates are carefully planned by the parents. the spontanity that i knew as a child, when you could just make plans in school or just run over to your friend's house on the weekend doesn't really exist here. or well, not that i know of at least. my two host kids have during my stay here only had one play date, even though i've more than once told my host parents that i'm fine with them bringing friends over after school. i think this is a bit sad since i think the children learn a lot about cooperation when they play with other kids outside of school. i could see that my host kids were a bit put off when having a friend over; they had a hard time compromising but realised that they couldn't solve it with a big fight, as they usually do with each other.

the uk is known for its politeness and that's definitely true. the more 'sorry's or 'please's you can cram into one sentence the better. one thing that i thought would be a bigger difference though is how outgoing the people are. a classic thing that you always hear is that swedes are so reserved and that we keep a good distance of two metres between ourself and others when we're waiting for the bus, and once we're on the bus we choose a seat as far as possible from our fellow passengers. well let me tell you, that's exactly how it works here as well. i suppose the people unwind more and more the further south you go in europe so there's still a bit of a difference compared to sweden but i thought it'd be bigger.

the british also send cards literally all the time. christmas cards are still very much in fashion here, and so are thank you notes and birthday cards, any card seem to be a good idea to be honest.

all in all everything feels a bit more old-fashioned here. it's the school uniforms, boy and girl schools, the fact that you actually need cash when you're going places. because let's face it, who needs cash in sweden these days?

the food, don't even get me started. it's a lot of bread, a lot of sugar, a lot of potatoes. yeah, basically all the things i try to avoid. baked beans are the best though!! the kids have pudding every single day in school, which i think is another example of how old-fashioned the country is on some levels. it's just one of those traditions that everyone would be better off without, but it is tradition so it has to stay.

this week has really flown by! it's been a lot of maths since i have my first proper test in a week. also spent a lot of thought on deciding on a university for fall since our uni applications opened yesterday. spent wednesday in birmingham with tayla and maria, we explored the city a bit in search for a new coffee shop. we had amazing weather, nice conversation and time to make some plans for the upcoming weeks. today i tried some new paleo recipies (cauliflower bread anyone??) and then johanna came by my house for a little while which was lovely.



monday. visit from sweden! or technically from asia; andrine came to birmingham thursday morning, after spending two months backpacking in southeast asia. she was obviously super tanned and full of stories from her travels! showed her birmingham on thursday and friday and then we took the train down to london on saturday morning. were blessed with amazing weather on thursday and saturday – almost felt like summer when you were sitting in the sun!

view from the library of birmingham.

we decided to try and walk everywhere in london since the weather was good enough. it was no problem at all; we still managed to see all we wanted in two days! it was andrine's first time so we went to see a lot of the tourist-y stuff, yet still try to find some quirky and alternative places as well! we started off by going to king's cross station and take photos at platform 9 3/4. then we walked to our hotel in paddington, popping into shops occasionally. scandikitchen and totallyswedish were obvious stops for me, met my swedish chocolate cravings <33 also went into daunt's books, a book shop in marylebone which definitely is worth a second visit. after dropping off our bags at the hotel, we made our way towards oxford street and then walked to her majesty's theatre (where we were going to see the phantom of the opera) through soho, and then later on we continued to covent garden. love walking everywhere since you find places and shops you would've missed if you'd taken the underground!

top left: our first stop was king's cross station. top right: soho. bottom: outside queen's theatre. phantom of the opera replaced les miserables as my favourite musical though.

so, we went to the matinee performance of the phantom of the opera on saturday. i was so excited since i am crazy about the soundtrack, and musicals in general. and it didn't disappoint! we'd booked quite cheap tickets: there was a pillar blocking the view partly. i knew about the pillar beforehand and it wouldn't have been a problem if it wasn't for the tall guy with very curly hair that sat in front of me. so had to see parts of it through his curls. i could always see what was going on but didn't get the impression of the full stage, so to speak. will definitely see it again at some point, and then i'll probably splurge on a better seat in the stalls/front of the royal circle. it was amazing to hear and see it live though and i still enjoyed the performance immensely.

top: chinatown. obviously. bottom left: quick lunch before the musical at trafalgar square. bottom right: phone box selfie!

left: neal's yard in covent garden. right: gourmet burger kitchen.

we had big plans for the evening. apparently there was a melodifestivalen (swedish eurovision selection) after party at a pub really close to our hotel so we were obviously going there to check that out. we didn't watch the actual melodifestivalen though: we were more interested in dancing to old carola songs than to see who won this year. so went looking for a place to eat dinner: ended up on baker street at a restaurant called gourmet burger kitchen. it didn't look like much at first sight but the burgers were delicious!! we had bean patty burgers with avocado, cheddar, lettuce and onions. yummm. we made our way to the pub and there were quite a lot of people there, mostly swedes obviously. almost felt like home!

left: sugarsin in covent garden, with what probably is the best pick & mix in london?? or at least the best out of the three places we went to.

sunday was a bit greyer unfortunately; but the weather on saturday was so good so we couldn't complain really. one sunny day in london is all you can ask for to be honest. we had an early start and enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the hotel: so good considering how cheap the hotel was! we walked through hyde park down to harrods, then past buckingham palace and on to big ben. a proper sightseeing tour in other words! walked past the theatre were they are playing the cursed child. was obviously super jealous of everyone waiting in line with tickets. after we'd looked around in soho for a bit we decided to pay a visit to british musem. or most of all their toilets. but then the museum as well hehe. finished the day by meeting up with two of andrine's friends and having dinner together before we parted ways. such a lovely weekend!

left: a theatre i wish i'd had tickets to. right: outside our hotel!

i've learned that apparently the fact that i don't use capital letters is a topic of discussion. So for everyone's information; I know how to write properly. but if you thought i'd change then you'll be disappointed. apologies!! but it's all for the aesthetic.

british museum!



tuesday. i usually say that it's really easy finding friends as an au pair because everyone is equally desperate. it sounds kind of tragic, but it's not necessarily a bad thing! what i think is really cool when i meet people here is that you sort of meet without a purpose or plan. or at least it's like that in a city like birmingham where there isn't loads of things to do. what i mean is that you meet just to spend time with someone, not because you're doing anything in particular together. i don't know how many times i've gone in to the city just to sit at a café for a couple of hours and talk to someone. of course we do things as well, but so many times it's all about the coffee and the conversation. just talking for hours on end really makes you get to know people, and that's why i can say that it feels like i've known these people for ages when it's just been six months, or three months, or even three weeks! i feel like this is an opportunity you don't get a lot in life, there's always something interupting: classes in school, you have to get back to work after lunch break, or something else. i don't know if i will ever again get the chance to become so close to so many people in such a short time. it's quite an unique experience when you think about it. what makes it even more enriching is the fact that everyone comes from different countries and different backgrounds. you learn so much.

lunch today with matilda, filippa, maria and tayla; who's from australia + her one-year old host kid.

filippa and i always say how different we are, yet we still have the best time when we hang out. "we would never have been friends if we'd met in sweden." it's probably true, but when you meet under these circumstances you make it work. and then you realise that you don't have to try and make it work; because it can work perfectly fine even though you are very different! it makes me think that there're so many people out there who you could be really good friends with if you'd both just give each other a chance haha.

bittersweet goodbye.

today i said goodbye to one of my closest friends here, matilda is going home to sweden tomorrow. she'll be missed, we've had so many nice moments together here! it's the second time i say goodbye to a close friend from here and like last time it doesn't really feel real; until you realise a week later or so that you can't actually write and ask if they want to meet. now it'll hopefully be a while until I have to say goodbye to my friends here, most of us are staying until july at least. bless.

guess it's too much to ask for this weather to stay until july?

weather was amazing today, and it really puts you in such a good mood. feeling full on energy and positivity right now. and my friend andrine is coming here to visit on thursday for a few days. can't wait to see her!

a quick visit at birmingham museum and art gallery.



monday. i've spent a lot of time on my scrapbook lately, ordered more than 100 photos from december until now a couple of weeks ago. i want to have it finished before i leave because i know that once i'm back in sweden i won't find the time for it. i find it really calming and soothing, sitting down to cut and stick, relive moments and try to catch the feeling of them and put it down on a blank page. so happy i'm actually doing this, it could easily have become one of those things that i'd say i'd do but never got around to. i'll probably thank myself later.

not super content with every single page in here; i've gradually been improving on my handwriting for one thing, and put more effort into some pages than others. calligraphy is one of the things i've used my new-found free time to work on. during my first four months here i enjoyed bascially not having any commitments apart from my au pair duties. and i rarely work more than five hours a day so there's plenty of free time there. i spend a lot of that time meeting other au pairs, or i'm going to the gym, or i'm just staying in the house. the feeling of not having a pile of school work waiting for me at the end of the day was so liberating for the first months. i think i needed that time to "recover" or something. after christmas i felt differently though: i started reading more and spent more thought on what i wanted to do with my life. i used to have a very clear plan; i've been telling people for the past year or so that i'm going to be en english/history teacher and was very confident about it. to my surprise, that's not really my plan anymore. i've started taking a maths class on a distance so that'll be able to apply for whatever i want to study. distance learning is something new to me, but it makes such a difference when you only have one class to focus on + for the first time in my life i'm actually really motivated to do maths. haha, these are things i'd never thought i'd say, not even two months ago.

left: went to a couple national trust houses on what was probably the sunniest day of last year. right: a less sunny day in stratford-upon-avon when my family came to visit.

i didn't really travel all that much last year; only day trips. visited a couple national trust houses with my host family, spent a sunny late-autumn day in oxford, visited stratford-upon-avon when my family was here and went to london just before christmas. trying to make up for it this year though! so far i've been away twice. spent a cold yet lovely weekend in sheffield and the peak district with my finnish friend johanna. we explored the city on saturday and then defied the weather and went hiking in the national park on sunday. i also went to manchester on half term break with filippa, who is swedish, and maria, who is from norway. manchester is definitely more beautiful than birmingham, and it was nice to get a change of scenery for a few days. i have many more trips planned over the next four months so it feels like i'll really make the most out of my remaining time here.

left: went on a small hike outside the village of bamford in the peak district about a month ago. right: day trip to london just before christmas.

this weekend i'm going down to london, and hopefully it won't be the only time i go there this year. i want to go to the harry potter studio tour (again.. but hey, they're building the forbidden forest!) and highclere castle (from downton abbey!) outside reading. edinburgh, brighton, the cotswolds and dublin are on the bucket list as well, sooo excited <33

spent three days in manchester during half term break.



sunday. i've been trying really hard to refrain from shopping lately. when i first arrived here i couldn't resist the temptation of having all of my favourite stores just a short bus journey away but i got a new perspective now. this is partly because i simply won't be able to fit everything in my luggage bags when i go home. heh. although it's also because i got so fed up on consumptionism after christmas so i decided to spend more money on travels and less on clothes. but anyway, the weather was super nice yesterday. actually sunny for the most part of the day and not too cold. and that got me in a 'i need new clothes for spring!!!1' mood.

walked through here on my way to the city centre; which was a new area of bham for me!

it felt as though we went into every single store in the bullring, and it resulted in two spontaneous military green purchases for my part. top from h&m for £8.99 and shirt from zara for £29.99. hopefully this will satisfy my shopping cravings for a little while.

left: green top h&m, black velvet top urban outfitters, trousers river island, shoes h&m. right: dress zara, shirt zara, shoes h&m.

came home to find out that my 6 year old have had 8 inches of her hair chopped off. looks unbelievably cute, she's totally pulling it off! goes quite well with the fringe she cut herself in december when she was up in her room wrapping gifts. this time she went to a proper hair dresser though haha. now she doesn't have to wear her hair in a ponytail for school anymore so she's thrilled about that. the rules are that hair longer than shoulder-length has to be put up. quite strict i suppose.



friday. hello dear blog, i'm back!! so... long time no see. i created this blog last summer because i wanted to blog when i moved abroad. and then i stopped blogging the minute i moved. brilliant. the fact that i stoppped writing might give you an idea of how busy i was though? my first month here was so intense compared to what i'd been used to. anyway, today i've just stayed in all day; it's raining and i'm feeling a bit under the weather. i was bored, and so here we are. i always feel a little silly sitting down writing blog posts but i still enjoy doing it so i'll give it another shot and share my remaining 4 months in england on here. switching to english as well. just feels appropriate.

looking at photos from my first weeks here makes me super nostalgic and happy. everything was so new and exciting, and summer was still in the air.

i have this urge to write about my au pair experience because even though not many people will read this it might still help someone. and i remember how much different blogs and youtube channels helped prepared me for the big move. all that seems so very distant now, almost like another life. i've been calling birmingham my home for 179 days, and so far so good. before i left sweden last year all i knew was that i wanted to live in england, but i didn't know if i wanted to move to london, another relatively big city, or a smaller (perhaps more idyllic) place. i was afraid london would be too big for me since i come from a small town in sweden. i still didn't want to live too far away from london though and when my gut told me this family in birmingham would be the best match for me i followed that feeling. i'll probably write more on this subject; how i chose the family and the city and everything, but i'll save that for another time.

from birmingham botanical gardens, a day trip to oxford, and the obligatory bullring selfie (although you can barely see the bull statue)

moving out, alone, to another country, has made me grow so much as a person. you learn things about yourself and you develop all the time. all that sounds so obvious but i don't think i realised it before i left, because i was very close to not leave at all; my initial plan was to spend my gap year in my home town. which in hindsight would've been, if not disastrous, but at least not nearly as developing and rewarding as moving away. the thought of how close i was to stay actually scares me. anyway. as i was saying, i didn't really grasp the concept of taking a gap year and "finding yourself" until i actually was in that situation myself. the person i'll be when i start uni this fall will be so different from the person i'd been if i'd stayed behind. i've depeloped on so many levels; although mainly socially. another thing i've learned is that i can survive without figure skating (even though it's hard at times) and i also took a step out of my comfort zone in joining the gym. by quitting figure skating i left the bubble i've been living in for over ten years. it was a world full of structure and not much free time. i don't regret the time i've devoted to my sport but being free an entire weekend and being able to plan things without taking my practise schedule into account was something that was completely new to me. going from spending over 16 hours a week at the rink to the au pair life also brought with it the challenge of staying fit without having a coach telling me what to do. it took a few months, but i eventually learned to refrain from refined sugar and processed food, and work out if not much, then at least enough.

the super cute house of minalima in london (harry potter exhibition in soho), and one of the countless starbucks dates we had last year.

i'll probably write more detailed entries about the things i've mentioned here, this post just scratched the surface of the things i want to write down. i'll be writing a lil bit about my everyday life and thoughts in general on here but this blog will also contain general tips on au pair life in england. every au pair experience is a very different story but i still think there's a place for mine on the world wide web. cheers xx (am i british yet?)

urban outfitters and boston tea party in birmingham, two of my favourite spots.



måndag. 31 juli igår, och i år var den ju lite extra speciell! åkte till göteborg i lördags på boksläpp för att kunna få the cursed child direkt i handen, när den släpptes 01.01. det kändes så speciellt och fint, speciellt med tanke på att detta egentligen var första gången jag tog del av en stor harry potter-händelse, eftersom jag inte ens hade läst böckerna när deathly hallows släpptes och jag hade ingen möjlighet att åka på någon stor premiär av filmerna. och jag trodde ju aldrig ens att jag skulle få möjlighet till det. deathly hallows part 2 skulle ju liksom vara slutet??? men icke, för nu har vi en ny bok att läsa och en teater att uppleva och en film att se. och jag ska på premiären av fantastic beasts i london så visst kommer jag att få uppleva en stor hp-händelse ändå!! vilket år va.

det var så mycket nostalgi i det här och det var så fint att få vänta på boken tillsammans med en person som jag inte hade vetat ens fanns om det inte varit för harry potter, och som betyder så mycket för mig. lyckad helg!! iallafall, ni hittar vad jag tycker om boken so far lite längre ner i inlägget, inga spoilers though så det är lugnt att scrolla!

ville skulle baka harrys födelsedagstårta när jag kom hem. gjorde en större för två år sedan men nu blev det en miniversion. en helt vanlig tårta med blåbärssylt, vaniljkräm och grädde som fyllning. blev lite trångt med bokstäverna och glasyren smälte, men deet är ju inte meningen att den ska va snygg liksom, haha.

så. jag har börjat läsa lite smått i boken, som ju är ett teatermanus. med andra ord är det mest dialog samt lite beskrivning av scenerna. det är alltså långtifrån lika detaljerat som en roman och jag var lite orolig att den skulle kännas konstigt att läsa men det är det verkligen inte! mycket lämnas åt ens egen fantasi och för mig känns det som om jag sitter i en teater i london och ser teatern spelas framför mig, fast i mitt huvud. jag föreställer mig hur de har byggt upp olika saker som hogwartsexpressen och hogsmeade med kulisserna. blir varm i hela kroppen när jag tänker på att jag har flera hundra sidor med sprillans nytt harry potter-material att läsa om hur allting fortsätter, med jk rowlings egna ord (!!). 

jag vill inte direkt sträckläsa boken, utan vill liksom dra ut på det lite till. med tanke på att det är ett manus går den jättefort att läsa och jag vill verkligen inte att det ska ta slut på några timmar bara. jag vet inte hur många gånger jag har önskat att jag kunde läsa om serien för första gången på nytt, för inget slår känslan av att läsa något som är så fantastiskt bra och spännande och inte ha en aning om vad som ska hända på nästa sida. och nu har jag faktiskt en helt ny harry potter-historia framför mig, det känns overkligt. nu hoppas jag bara på att teatern bli en långkörare så att alla som vill, inklusive mig själv, kommer kunna ha chans att se den.



måndag. denna helg har varit fullproppad med sommar. det blev premiärdopp i sjön, att lapa sol på en ö i skärgården och få oräkneliga myggbett. har blivit alldeles för lite av det där i år (eller inte myggbetten) pga jobb, konståkning och halvdant väder. men nu har jag äntligen kunnat checka av det mesta. vädret har ju varit galet och vi har verkligen njutit till fullo; god mat, nice häng, finaste vädret och allt det där. det var allt vemodigt att behöva lämna skärgården igår kväll för att åka in till stan för jobb. speciellt när dessa gäris får stanna kvar och kan fortsätta njuta.

var tvungen att skjuta på skype-samtalet med min värdfamilj vilket var lite tråkigt, jag var taggad på att få en bättre bild av dem. å andra sidan så gjorde det inte så mycket för jag ville samtidigt inte åka hem från sol och bad för tidigt. får se om det kan bli av den här veckan istället. det är ju ingen brådska direkt men skulle va skönt för båda parterna att veta att det ska funka så att man i värsta fall kan kan fortsätta letandet efter någon annan. jaja, det blir väl till att försöka njuta lite mer av värmen efter jobbet, det verkar som om det ska slå om till regn ikväll. skulle även vilja gå ut och plocka lite kantareller, får se vilken dag det blir.



fredag. vill ha sommar i luften och blåbär i skogen och hallon i trädgården för alltid. och sena ljusa varma kvällar, det är life det. räknar ner timmarna tills jag tar helg, vädret är på topp men min dag ska mest spenderas på ett kontor och i en ishall. lite bitter blir man allt.

i helgen blir det sjöliv, skaldjurspizza och massa glass. och lite bad. och antagligen ett skype-samtal med min värdfamilj. taggad!!!!!