Not a lot of content here, but I thought I’d post a few pictures of Helsingborg, Sweden. The first is Karnan, the remnant of a medieval castle which used to stand in the city center. The second shot is taken from atop this tower, and shows the city center, the Sound, and Denmark beyond. Helsingborg is the closest point in Sweden to Denmark.
In other news, the whole nation is geared up for a big royal wedding tomorrow, between Crown Princess Victora, the King’s eldest daughter who will someday be Queen, and Daniel Westling, a commoner who met Victoria when he worked as her personal trainer. Though the Swedish royals have less of a role than even those in Britain, and though most people under fifty seem to think they should be abolished, the Swedish media has flooded the population with hype about the big wedding. You can’t go into a store without seeing Princess Victoria and Daniel candy, magazines, commemorative coins, and everything else you can imagine. “True Love 2010” is the name of the whole campaign.
I have arrived in Helsingborg, Sweden and have begun my internship with their public library. My tasks thus far have primarily entailed shelving and sorting books, but this morning I got to ride on their bookmobile, which parks in different places around the city so people who live far away from the library can more easily check out and return books, which is a really helpful service, particularly to the elderly.
My Swedish is terribly rusty, but everyone has been very polite about that at the library. Everyone in Sweden is very polite generally.
Some observations and descriptions of things at the library:
- Citizens here take advantage of their public library, far more so than with our public libraries in America. Everyday the library is packed with every age group and the book mobile was full of people for two hours today. Ann Arbor is pretty atypical, but I’ve always found that most public libraries in America are uncrowded, and that many of the patrons are only there for the free computers. They seem to read more fiction here.
- The Helsingborg library is set beautifully in the middle of a large city park, right in the center of town. The park is replete with towering, flowering trees, small duck-filled ponds, gardens, and a playground. Something that I think is really cool is that people with library cards can rent out hammocks for 2 hours at a time and set them up in the park if they want to read outside. One can also check out a large blanket and a wicker picnic basket, and get lunch in the library’s cafe and bring it outside for a picnic. I think that’s so cool!
- Helsingborg is a city with a large immigrant population, especially Middle Eastern and Russian immigrants. As such, the library has a substantial selection in Farsi, Arabic, Russian, and Urdu, as well as a smaller selection of about 20 other tongues. They also have an enormous English section; I was amazed to see how many English novels they had, even new ones.
- I got to join a group of librarians who went to local bookstores yesterday and bought for the library. The book stores basically closed down when we came in, because we bought hundreds upon hundreds of books in about ten minutes. They gave me free rein to grab whatever I wanted, and they bought it for the library. It felt like being a millionaire, pulling books off the shelf with no regard for price.
Suffice to say, I’m really enjoying this internship so far.
A view of downtown Helsingborg, set off the waterfront of the sound
William Petrich here, Stamps Scholar Class of 2011. I will be spending two months in the south of Sweden this summer, in June and July. My trip has two primary academic purposes; I will be working an unpaid internship at a public library from which I will earn three credits in the Scandinavian Department, and I will be performing research for my Senior Honors History Thesis about the genesis of the Swedish Baptist faith and its development in Minnesota between 1853 and 1900. I have been taking Swedish language classes at Michigan for three years and can read it pretty well, but not speak or listen as strongly. This immersion experience promises to help me enormously in this respect.
The town where I will live is Helsingborg, Sweden’s 9th largest city, located about 30 minutes north of Copenhagen, Denmark. Helsingborg is situated beautifully on the crisp, blue sound between Sweden and Denmark; a mere five minute international ferry ride separates the two nations. I have a small apartment in the city that’s only a few blocks from the library, where I will be a shelving assistant. When I return in early August, I will write an account of my trip in Swedish for the Scandinavian Department, thereby earning the final three credits I need for my Scandinavian Studies minor.
I will be performing research for my thesis at the Swedish Emigration Institute in nearby Vaxjo, Sweden as well. Additional help from the Stamps Scholarship has helped made my trip possible.
I arrive in Sweden on May 31, and will update at least weekly thereafter.
William C. Petrich