On Tuesday evening my parents arrived, as planned. They brought me lots of Stuff, including a teapot and my little sheepie teacosy that hatam_soferet made me. They spent lots of Wednesday and Thursday acquiring even more Stuff, so the flat is now most of the way to being habitable. I have curtains, which are very good. I'm not normally in the habit of wandering around at home naked, but right now I'm tempted to just because I can.
Ikea was involved. It's not where I'd choose to shop, even though it's cheap, but I just don't know where to find anything except Ikea. And the things I didn't find in Ikea I simply don't have, for example all the basic household things like brooms and dustpans and washing up bowls and dishracks. Meanwhile the painters finished painting the kitchen, so I'll spend tomorrow cleaning and kashering it and putting the door handles back, and then I will have a kitchen. After that the few bits I'm missing won't really matter, I'll pretty much have a home.
That said I don't have my books, I'm still trying to organize to ship them here. And I don't have any personal stuff like ornaments or anything; the only thing I grabbed to bring with me was a couple of fossils that blue_mai gave me more than a decade ago. So those and the sheepie are the only things that makes it seem like my place rather than somewhere I just happen to be staying. But the flat is vastly, vastly more sorted out than it was a week ago, thanks to my parents who put in loads of hard work to acquire things and clean things and generally sort everything out to a stage that would have taken me months on my own, if I was trying to fit it in between working full time. Yay parents.
While they were doing that I was going to a couple of one-day seminars, hence no internet access. The first was an introduction for new international post-docs. It was useful, but probably not a whole day's worth of useful. On the other hand I met lots of very nice people, and they fed us a good lunch, and I do have lots of information I would have found it hard to get hold of otherwise. So on balance, worth it. The second was a scientific one on animal models for cancer; Boss T sent me there because it has cancer in the title, I think, it's not really very relevant to my work. But it's interesting, I always enjoy learning.
I took Friday afternoon off to go to Bergius botanic gardens with the parents. It's not necessarily what I would have chosen to do if I had one afternoon in Stockholm, but it is undoubtedly gorgeous, and the end of the first week of spring is a really good time to go. (The music is a Pratchett reference, the sound that trees make when they grow so fast you can hear them. When I moved into the flat a week ago everything was bare, and now all the trees are in blossom and leaf and there are flowers everywhere, and it's just the most spectacular spring I've ever seen.)
Since I have no kitchen and since the parents are visiting, we ate out. We thus sampled the three restaurants in the centre of Älvsjö as we were too busy to go into town to eat. The Chinese I think I won't bother with again; the food was very samey and uninspiring, just tasted of generic Chinese meal, and it wasn't cheap either. The Indian restaurant is basic, but cheap (especially by Stockholm standards!) and not at all bad for a basic Indian restaurant. The other restaurant is within a bar; we went there partly because it opens later than most places round here. The food was impressive, real Italian food (as opposed to the standard restaurant generic version thereof) and very good value for money. However, the bar is horrible, smoky and full of loud flashing fruit machines and drunk yobs. So I don't know whether I'll go back there even though we had excellent service (I think the waiter was grateful that we were civilized as opposed to the other customers who were drunk and rude and demanding.)
Between 5 o'clock Friday evening, when I saw the parents off, and 9 o'clock, a whole series of stupid little things went wrong. With the cumulative stress of starting out in a new country and not getting enough sleep or enough to eat for a couple of weeks, I got everything out of proportion. I couldn't think of ways to deal with these minor problems and I was frustrated by all the little things here I don't know how to do here. Happily, I got a nice email from rysmiel, which was very cheering, and then I phoned pseudomonas who was wonderful and came up with lots of practical suggestions and distracted me with interesting conversation. I love my friends; thank you for being there.
The only one of the problems that is at all serious is that, having told me it was very important to buy a computer through the university purchasing scheme, the financial department have now turned round and said I can't do that after all. I don't at all mind buying my own computer; that's what I was intending to do anyway. But I would greatly have preferred to do it when I was back in England, where I know the system (and have the ability to buy things by mail order, which I don't here, either online or by phone). Now that I'm in a sensible mood I can see that the only consequence is minor hassle; it will be harder to find what I want, and I may end up paying slightly over the odds, but it's not at all impossible. Of course, it does mean that it will take me longer to get online than I was hoping, which is a pain. I'm annoyed with the department for messing me around, but on the plus side at least I can buy something which isn't Dell. Meh.
Oh, and I'm starting Swedish lessons on Tuesday. It's an intensive, Ulpan type course taught entirely in Swedish and with emphasis on getting speaking confidence. I think that will stand me in good stead to learn the language, and also make me feel less of an idiot because I'll be able to deal with simple small talk in shops and the like. Also, learning is good.
Now to catch up on at least some of the friends page for the week.