Ok, so this is going to contain my updates on what I'm doing this year, where I've been etc. I have to compose half a dozen accounts of decreasing length for the University of Hull- partly to make sure I'm getting something out of my year abroad, and partly so they have something to mark me on by next summer- and these will form a large chunk of this, but I will probably also write a paragraph or 2 every month as a quick update, which will also help me to write the official accounts for Hull twice a semester.

For more frequent updates, check out my journal updates

Well, I don't know where this month (this summer, in fact) has gone to. Really I don't. I came home from Hull on 8th May, mooched about for a few weeks while Stephanie was in France and Spain, spent June looking for work and basically gave up by early July because no-one with any vacancies for summer staff would take me on.

This month saw my friend Lizzie's birthday, 14 hours of power-washing the stonework around my house, a couple of gigs, some recording on TV, lots of drinking (within sensible parameters), faffing with housing people in Sweden... and that's about it. While I've never felt that busy, it seems I've done enough to make each week zip by of its own accord, which is nice, but a little scary. Analysing a calender, things that I thought I'd done or thought a matter of days ago have turned out to be weeks or even months previously, which is quite unnerving.

The outcome of this rapid 3 month summer is that I now have 2 weeks before I depart for Sweden and the secure thought that I would be older, wiser and better at speaking Swedish by the time I get there has given way to a sense of mild fear that I really don't feel any wiser or more mature than I did last summer. The beautiful plan to spend the whole summer learning a bit of Swedish at a time hasn't materialised, so if you need me for the next 2 weeks, I will probably be reading things in Swedish and trying to cram.

Wish me "lycka till"...

Well, the cramming didn't happen either. A few concerted evenings of trying to learn a few tricky verbs was about it. Never mind- I'm now in Sweden and making up for lost time by learning a lot of Swedish very fast. Just for good measure, I'm brushing up my French and picking up a bit of Danish too.

The first couple of weeks of this month disappeared to the same place as July and in much the same manner. I started packing about 9 days before I left and I still ended up leaving the house late because I hadn't finished. I might post my to do list from August to show how much stuff I got done in 2 weeks. I've probably had more productive times before, but never under my own guidance- I feel quite proud.

Sweden is lovely. It's just like England except the women are taller and more attractive. Like all countries with beautiful people, they perpetuate their genes by making sure only the best people get to mate with them. This seems sensible to me, so I'm not taking offence at their cold, bitchy exteriors- it's in the national interest.

I've generally been partying, going to Swedish lessons and sorting out day-to-day stuff like food, internet, phone and courses since I've been here. It's not a bad life so far, but I feel that I might have a lot of work in about 2 weeks' time so it won't last long. Just a hunch.

This month has been a long, drawn out slap in the face. The start of the month seems like a long time ago, but I'm still sorting stuff out from it.

During the first week of the month, my computer developed a loose connection, which meant that I lost my internet connection in my room and I lost most of my contact with the world outside Sweden, ALL my music I had in Sweden and my means to write essays for classes too. In the same week I got a fluey cold and homesickness kicked in remorselessly... It wasn't pretty. Looking back on it all, I can see how God has kicked away a few things I was relying on to get me through- they weren't idols or anything, I think I just needed to learn to get by without them. It hurt, but I'm still doing ok.

Fixing the computer lead to 2 day-trips to Gothenburg (about 3 hours away by train) and even then it wasn't fixed. It is currently in Malmo, where I hope it will get sorted this time. I could say that the trips to Gothenburg were needless, but I suspect they served a purpose that I will figure out soon... I don't think it's a coincidence that I've actually grown quite fond of the city.

Towards the end of the month, my social life has kicked in (probably a result of having no entertainment at home!) and I've started making new friends and going out to a few places. I think I've learnt a lot about friendship this month- both in the people I've met here, who've put up with me being miserable, of no material help and pretty poor at speaking Swedish/French; and also the friends back home who have sent me emails, postcards and text messages to keep me company. I am beginning to realise how many good friends I have.

My plan to become a jetsetter hasn't materialised yet, but there's still time for that- I think this month has been somewhat about exploring myself before I start exploring Europe.

This month got better as it went along. It started largely as September had been: hugely frustrating in every way. A good explanation I gave to a friend at one point is to imagine a day where everything goes wrong and it seems like the world is against you. Then to imagine 50 of those days in a row and you've got my life from September to October.

For a number of reasons, I decided to go home in the middle of the month to get a break from life in Sweden. The trip served as a chance to wish my mum a happy birthday and to pick up a new laptop as my old one was essentially now dead, but it also gave me a chance to get perspective on a few things. By sheer coincidence, there happened to be a youth conference at my church that week too, which did me a lot of good, I think, and lifted me out of the hole I'd worked myself into somewhat.

My woes didn't end by any means when I came home, but this was quite reassuring, as it suggested to me that this was a season I was going through, as opposed to a sign that I shouldn't be in Sweden. I returned to Lund happier, more purposeful and more confident in enduring the struggles I knew I would face. 1