Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Game

Keeping up the Christmas tradition of playing quiz games, this time "När och Fjärran", a game from the travel program on TV. My sister Cissi took the initiative and invited Lova and her family. The game is just as much luck as knowledge about other countries. That's at least how I justify the fact that I didn't win. ;)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas 2006

Me and Wen has been down to Värnamo to celebrate Christmas with the family.

The greenest Christmas I can remember.

But the rest was as usual.

Tina with a lamp.

Perhaps not the most successful group picture ever! :) But contains all the familiar faces.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last day of the new job

Yep. It is true. I've been let off. :-) But it is not as bad as it sounds. I was hired by a recruitment company who pimped me out to a consultant company which in turn sold my soul to Ericsson and Sony Ericsson. The 13th of December that company was shut down by their Norwegian mothership and I will be expunged on the 28th.

But... this is in fact sort of good news. The consultant company wants to hire me the first day I'm without job, with some additional benefits. Well, no contract signed yet so we'll see. There is also a slight chance that there are projects in Beijing coming up, but most likely not in the short term. Since I will still get salary for January from the old company, I will in reality receive twice the pay then. :-)

I've been working for about one month now and it has been dead boring. I've gotten so used to do what I want, when I want, so it is kind of hard to adjust doing something that I not necessary wants to do. I don't really feel like programming test systems for telecom companies. But... I need the money and something to do. They seem to appreciate the work I'm doing and that is a big bonus. And the pay will change our life quite drastically. We will probably become fat and fill our house with electronic gadgets.

Monday, November 20, 2006

First Day at the New Job

Today was the first day at my new job.

It was a weird feeling walking over there, but the the whole day was very relaxed and mostly involved having coffee with colleagues. I guess I will (unfortunately) do somewhat similar things to what I did 5 years ago, but hopefully that will only be for a short period while I get up speed. Guess it is actually rather good since I can be of use right away and instead of having a long training period. Off to my new life as a working man.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Stockholm Filmfestival 2006

Since I have some time before I start to work and Wen is waiting to go back to Belgium in December, we got involved in the Stockholm film festival.

Premiere and red carpet outside cinema Skandia.

Wen going through the schedule at the festival center.

Our roles were to be guest hosts to one of the visiting directors and to the director of Hong Kong film festival. Meet them at the airport, bring them to their hotel, update them on their schedules, organize with cars etc. In return we get to meet a lot of cool people, watch movies, and party!

Our first guest was Jay Jonroy, who has directed the movie "David and Layla". We helped him around the first couple of days promoting his movie. He forgot his SIM-card at a kebab-restaurant and when we went back they had already sent away the trash. One of the guys working there still went through the only garbage can left and found it! I must say that it was a small miracle!

We went with to the Iraqi embassy to talk to them about the film. The ambassador is Kurdish, which I understand would be impossible a few years ago. I guess that book with the mugshot of Saddam wouldn't have been there either. They said that just a few years ago they would have been outside throwing rocks. Apparently there is a power-struggle around the embassies around the world between the ethnic groups in Iraq.

We also went to the Kurdish library which was very interesting. I guess Turkey is not very enthusiastic about the existence of such. Jay had just put up his fliers of his film on the background.

Our other guest was the director of Hong Kong film festival. Unfortunately I have no picture of him. He went right from the airport to start screening movies. Very efficient guy indeed.

Altogether we have seen 9 movies. One of the most memorable ones were Ye Lou's "Summer palace", which I highly recommend.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Our IKEA home...

Finally a place to stay on our own. At least for a little while. It is small, it is temporary, but it is close to where I will work. I'm sure we'll be alright staying there. We are quite used to living in small places.

IKEA is the one-stop shop if you need everything, including plates to eat on.

Putting up our Billy the shelf.

Having our first meal. We had to stop putting up furnitures because it was getting too late and the neighbor complained!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Change of seasons

Her first day was a colorful autumn day.

The second the whole color spectra changed with the first snow.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Applications on track

Wen yesterday handed in her application for "Swedish residence permits on the grounds of family ties" to the Swedish embassy in Brussels and got told she will have to wait until December for the interview. Instead of waiting around in Belgium she will fly here tonight! (I will write more about that application later)

Today she also got her letter of admission to Stockholm university!

Dear Wen Zhang,
I have the pleasure of informing you that you have been accepted to the International Graduate Programme in Social Science at Stockholm University. You have been accepted to the courses Global Environment – Sustainability, Governance and Politics and Cosmopolitan Democracy, spring semester 2007. I will send you a formal letter of acceptance by postal mail.

Things are on track!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

All Work and no Play

Since it is quite a long time until 1st of December, I started to make plans of going to HK and travel up to Shanghai. I really wanted to see some friends there. I even booked a ticket to go tomorrow! Then during the night I made a little budget for the coming months and realized that this would be way to much of a stretch! Just considering that I will have to pay rent for three months before I will receive any money! Then we have Christmas, and basically, I will have to buy a whole new wardrobe for the new job and for winter. :-(

So all work and no play for the dull little me.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Got Job!

I have signed a contract and will start working on the 1st of December!
I will work as an IT consultant and project manager.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ouch! Lost the job before I got it

Everything was set! I had been interviewed first by the recruiters, then I met the company twice, and negotiated position and conditions. Everything was great and they seemed very eager to start and we had even started to discuss what projects I should take one. They had sent me a contract to sign and I was looking through it during the weekend. On Monday I participated in a conference by the Swedish Export Council about doing business in China, and during the afternoon I was supposed to come and sign the contract. During the conference the recruitment company called me and said that the company hadn't signed and that there was something wrong. When I called back later, they said that the company had probably lost a contract and didn't want to sign the contract. Ouch. The recruitment company said they had never had the experience of such an abrupt turn of events. If I had signed on Friday it would have already been set! SUCKS!!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Interviews, interviews, interviews

The last couple of weeks I have moved from staying in Zhang Chi's student room in Gothenburg to my aunt's place outside Stockholm. After two trips to Stockholm from Gothenburg to have meetings or interviews I decided it was better to stay in Stockholm.

Since the trip to the center from my aunt's place involves talking one or two buses, and then subway to the center (almost 1,5 hours) it has still been tiresome to go there. Good thing is my aunt is spoiling me with lots of great food!

I don't know how many interviews I have been to, but it is more than ten now. In fact, five (!) interviews have been for the very same job! That is two interviews for the recruitment company, two for the company, and then one for another recruitment company looking for people for the same company! And then they pulled back!

After the contract I was about to sign was cancelled I have already come up with two other consultant companies that are interested and wants to meet me. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn't get that first job. And actually, that company has then clarified their position. They still want to hire me but preferably beginning of next year. I'll check all my options...

Friday, October 06, 2006

End of the Gothenburg Era

This last month I have lived in Gothenburg together with Zhang Chi. Playing football a couple of times a week, going to Chinese mass during Sundays, meeting up with some friends, and hanging out in the library looking for jobs.

The job hunt has actually been rather successful and I have already been on four interviews.
I am very close to signing a contract and as a matter of fact, I got one right here on my computer. The offer I got exceeds my expectations, and even though it will have little to do with my interest in China, it will enable me to pay some of that extra 20% national high-income tax on some of my income (above the 30% some that we normally pay).

Since I am only looking for jobs in Stockholm, that has meant going up very early in the morning, put on the suit, taking the fast train to Stockholm, have the interview, and then come back to Gothenburg in the evening. Pretty tiresome stuff. Going to Stockholm takes about 3 hours and it is a very suitable time to watch movies. I am slowly going through the TV-series 搭错车, "Take the Wrong Car". Perhaps more on that in another post.

I also think I'm close to find an apartment for me and Wen to stay, at least temporary until we find something better.

Wen has been back to China to be with her mother, and also to be near her grandmother who has gone through surgery. Right now she is on a flight back to Belgium to file applications for prolonging her visa in Belgium, residentship here in Sweden, and make sure everything is correct for her application to Stockholm University. Things really have a potential to work out for the best, though there are also many things that can go wrong.

Friday, September 22, 2006

'Red Tourism' in Chairman Persson's Footsteps

Don't miss CHTV, China Public Television, going on 'Red tourism' [] in Sweden. Brought to you by Swedish Television's Faktum. In Chinese with Swedish subtitles.

Episode 1: Vingåker, birthplace of great leader chairman Göran
(Win, Real)
Episode 2: Kathrineholm, the first powerbase of the leader
(Win, Real)
Episode 3: Stjärnhov, the modest home of Göran
(Win, Real)

Also check out the latest episodes of FNN, Freedom News Network (Win, Real)

(The Swedish prime minister since 1996 is Göran Persson, the leader of the Social-democratic party. CHTV is a parody of the Chinese Central TV, CCTV)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Johanna & Jakob Engaged

My sister Johanna and Jakob are engaged! Wonderful news indeed!! I wish them all the best and I am really happy that they have found each other!

This marks a new era in the family of Gustafsson, being the first of my five sisters to reach this stage of life! Putting pressure on the rest of us, particularly the 3 older of us!


Friday, September 15, 2006

Swedish Election 2006

Yesterday was election day in Sweden!

I was down at the city library of Göteborg and voted. I'm holding up the ticket for the famous Pirate party of piratebay fame. But no, they didn't get my vote. I went down with Jiegen, a Ph.D student from the business school in town. He's held residency in Sweden for more than 3 years, meaning he could actually vote in the regional and local elections (not the national)! I wonder how many mainland Chinese who has actually participated in a free election!

In Sweden you are actually not allowed to put in your vote yourself, so this is someone else's hand putting it in.

As probably most people did, I tested my symphathy with a bunch of online tests. I voted green (mp) in the last election I was quite surprised that they were far down on what should be my preferences. Made things so much easier for me since I wanted a change.

The election was mainly about choosing one of two blocs. The left (S+V+Mp) or the alliance (C+Fp+Kd+M). Who would have thought I would ever vote for a former farmer party (C) !!?

The left which is currently in government lost and the alliance will form the new government.
Today our prime minister will hand in his resignation!

The election results:


Majiang and Dinner

Majiang in the sun.

Spending Sunday relaxing hanging out with some of my Chinese friends here playing majiang and having dinner together.

I couldn't help asking if they really played majiang back in China, and of course... they didn't. At least where I have been it has mostly been older people doing that. :-) Why not. Come to Sweden to play majiang. I have to admit I have practiced a little playing on my computer, so I actually won this afternoon.
Wuhan doupi, 豆皮. Hard to find in Beijing. Zhang Chi's been craving for some Wuhanese food and spent most of the afternoon cooking together with the girls. Great stuff.

Me with mouth full of food.

Chinese Mass at Landala

New students this last Sunday at the Landala church. Lots of people! Yours truly at upper right corner.

These students are almost all new students from mainland China and it is only a part of all the Chinese students currently studying here. Most of them studying at Chalmers, my Alma Mater, some at the business school in Göteborg, and yet a few study at the Göteborg University. Ten years ago there was hardly any mainland Chinese student coming here to study! Chalmers will offer 44 different Master's programmes in the fall semester of 2007, all tought in English!
(Interested in studying in Sweden? Study in English! No tuition! Blond girls!)

Pastor Li preaches every Sunday and I find it pretty interesting. The last weeks he has been talking about eastern and western thinking. Some have been uploaded on Google Video.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Learning Swedish?

Just a little tip for those of you out there who are learning Swedish.

Radio with easy Swedish: Subscription and downloads
About Klartext

Klartext - news easy to understand.
You can listen to Klartext every Monday to Friday between 18.00 and 18.10 on the Swedish Radio channel P4. You can also listen to Klartext here on our webpage.

Klartext brings you news from Sweden and other countries. Klartext tells the news at a slower pace, with words that are easier to understand.

A webbased course
Nationellt centrum för flexibelt lärande
(easy and quick registration necessary)

Let me know if you know other useful links so I can update them here.
Lycka till! (Good luck!)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The plans has changed a little.

Me and Wen are planning to move to Stockholm early next year. She is applying for a program at Stockholm University and I have begun to look for a job there.

Wen is back in Beijing even earlier than expected, but she has got her mother to agree to go to Stockholm if she would have something useful to do there. Her grandmother is in hospital and might need some serious surgery so she decided to go back. As it looks like now she will have to come back to Belgium in October to finish some paperwork, and then again return to China, and if all goes well, be back in Sweden around the new year.

The only hope for me going to China right now is if I manage to find a job AND a place to live in Stockholm really quick, and then still have some time. That is not really likely to happen. Well, I wasn't that keen on returning under present circumstances anyway.

Right now I'm staying with Zhang Chi in Göteborg.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

So Close, So Far Away

So much has happened this summer, and still, I haven't done that much. There is so much that should could have been told here, but right now I think I will just briefly touch the latest events. They are what matters anyway.

An hour ago I sent Wen and her mother off to Stockholm, where they will in a few days fly on back to Belgium. Wen's mother then wants her to go back to Beijing with her, preferably for good. It wasn't meant that Wen should stay any longer and her mother's visit was nothing but a concealed way to come over and get her. The realization that I wasn't just some good friend guiding them around must have come as a shock, though I am quite sure there was a strong suspicion perhaps even from the time back in Beijing.

The two of they have a very close relationship and Wen often talks with and about her. With all the trust from her mother, Wen has also had a lot more freedom than most Chinese girls in her age. A believe that much of her mother's life has been dedicated to her job and I believe the reason for this is to give Wen a secure future. A future where she could grow old with her only daughter around. There is even a flat bought and ready for that purpose. I had hoped that we could keep on pretending for a little bit, perhaps to make her first meeting with my family less stiff and serious, but confronted with a direct question my dear Wen wouldn't say a direct lie. After that her mother went into damage-control mode, and any further activity would be dealt with as a delay of their departure and to be minimized.

Not being on her home turf and completely depending on me and Wen for communication still made it possible for us to bring this reluctant little lady around a little bit. She probably would have wanted to take the next flight home, but somehow we managed to tour parts of Sweden and introduce most of my family in a somewhat comfortable manner. We kept anything that could be complained about to a minimum and some of the things just happened to be so good that it couldn't be ignored. Driving around in southern part of Sweden in blue sky and sunshine is very beautiful even if you are determined to be unimpressed by anything not Chinese.

I hope that she at least found out that I am not just a white guy out there looking for some fun, and that I am a person too, even though I'm not a Chinese. I also wish that she in time will accept that she won't be able to control where and how her daughter live her life, though on this point I think I have a lot of Chinese parents against me. I wish she would have understood what things are different here, and what is the same, but that takes an open mind and more than just a few days. These few days was just a huge culture clash in the making, particularly the encounter with my family today. I think it was the best we could have done at the present circumstances, but I am not sure it was enough.

Now I am not sure what the outcome of this will be, but I am quite worried about it. Whatever happens I believe there is a long road ahead of me and Wen, and lets hope it won't be an unnecessarily rough and lonely ride.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Football Guys

The guys I'm playing football with during the weekend, preparing for the next World Cup.

Murder Outside on the Street

Not everyday there is a murder outside your house in Sweden. A husband in his 50s killing his wife and then failed killing himself. I stepped out of the bus and there it was like CSI Göteborg. :-/

”Hustrumordet är
en familjetragedi”

Den 57-årige man som igår sköt ihjäl sin hustru mitt i ett bostadsområde i Johanneberg, vårdas fortfarande på Sahlgrenskas intensivvårdsavdelning efter att han även försökt begå självmord.

Polisen är fortfarande förtegen om motivet till dådet men enligt presstalesmannen Jan Strannegård rör det sig om en familjetragedi.
Exakt vad som fått den 57-årige mannen att igår eftermiddag ta fram ett gevär och skjuta sin maka mitt i ett bostadsområde i Johanneberg, är fortfarande höljt i dunkel.
Mannen som tidigare är helt okänd av polisen, misstänks nu för mord samtidigt som han vårdas själv för skottskador i bålen efter ett misslyckat självmordsförsök.


The Moose Affaire

Me, Wen, and her friend Wang Xinjun went to slottskogen here in Gothenburg to check out the animals.
First we got to see an adorable mother with her two moose babies. How cute.

Then we went looking for the father. To our disbelief he was perusing another babe just over the hill! The immoral culprit caught quickly went away in shame. You can see him in the background.

But we paparazzis wouldn't let him get away that easy. We got some good snaps of him hiding in a corner.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Touring Göteborg

Wen's buddy Wang Xinjun came over from Paris so me and Wen showed her around Gothenburg.

Harbour tour

Eating "mjukglass", soft ice-cream, the scary-movie way.

Ending up with some midsummer picknick out at Röda Sten.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What's in a name 2

Some people who, like me, are studying the Chinese language choose to take a Chinese name to use among other Chinese speakers. I did that in China, and some people that I know there only know me by that name.

After some time I have realized it is a pain in the butt to have people calling me two completely different names. I used to use the Chinese name 佳宝 [jiābǎo] among Chinese speaking folks. When they met people that only knew me by my given name 'Johan', there would often be a degree of confusion. The solution? I have upon coming back to Sweden started to use a characters that resembles the Swedish pronunciation of 'Johan'. Just to make life easier.

I had a discussion with Wen about what would be a suitable characters of my name, and her buddy Wang Xinjun came up with 又一碗 [yòuyīwǎn], literally 'Again One Bowl'!. To prevent myself from being the permanent laughing stock in Chinese circles and also not ruining my chances to get invited for a meal, I opted for the more normal sounding 佑湾 [yòuwān].

That really works like a charm. The pronunciation of that is in fact very close to the Swedish pronunciation! It really improves communication when people know you by the same name, and doesn't have to learn two names. I would recommend other Westerners to do the same when possible. I'm not sure i would recommend the same to Chinese with names that are hard to pronounce and remember for Westerners though. Let's take Liu Hongchao, wouldn't you agree that for most people around here would find it easier to remember 'Allan'? It can still be a greater advantage that people are able to remember a name at all, and a smaller problem that other Chinese will not have an idea who you are talking about when referring to him by a taken foreign name. People in Hong Kong and Singapore seem to have recognized this a long time ago and many have officially two names, even printed on their passports and ID-cards.

Update to a post long time ago concerning my taken Chinese name.

佑 [yòu] assist, protect, bless, 湾 [wān] harbor
I'm the protector of harbors ;-) ... or Taiwan? (台湾)

Gotenburg BBQ

Mr Eddie

Mr Cake

Song For Your Mum

XieDing used me to show the friendship of Chinese students for a tv-show. The show was something about wishing a song for your mother. "DianShiDianGe" something... ?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Wen visiting

Wen is here! We are living in an apartment at Viktor Rydberg for a few weeks before her mother will come to Sweden. We are spending lazy days cooking food, sun tanning, and watching downloaded DVDs. In theory we are also working on our thesis.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Volvo Ocean Race

A week of sunshine, football, and... boats. Volvo Ocean Race finished in Göteborg, so I was over at Lindholmen to check out their arrival.

The harbor was literally boiling of all the boats! Here the winner of the leg, 'Pirates of the Caribbean'.

Bumped into ZhangChi and friends.

Prince Filip, Volvo boss Leif Johansson, and Göteborg boss Göran Johansson.

Our dear gossip-paper-salesperson princess Viktoria.

Me, Håkan and a zillion fanatic teenage fans! It was really a great show! Håkan Hällström is definitely one of the best live artists in Sweden. But I would turn off the radio every time they play his songs.

XieDing Tennis

XieDing likes to watch tennis. But only girls tennis.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup Gambling

World cup has started and we have some betting going on among the Chinese students here.还不算是赌神

Our betting leader set up the game quite poorly the first round and took quite a loss. Unfortunately he compensated by giving really poor odds for tomorrow’s games

Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Lindholmen

I watched the second game at Lindholmen (Sweden-Paraguay). A band, a big screen, and a lot of families.

The Poodles, Sweden's latest poodle rockers. The crowd looked very unimpressed, though it was pretty fun to watch them.

After Ljungberg's goal things got better!!

Me, Xieding after the win!