Monthly Archives: January 2015

Leaving Harry Potter Land

A month in London is a short time, but in a way I feel like I’ve been here all my life. At the same time it’s as if I just arrived. It is a wonderful city, vibrant and colourful – one can find practically everything, from tea at the Ritz to halal street food; from designer boutiques to street vendors; West End musicals to cheap comedy clubs; everything I would ever want.

While Sweden does have a fairly similar culture, the differences stand out. There are private schools that cost money – perfectly normal for most of the world, but to a Swede it seems really strange. News are very local – one day  I discovered that first side stuff was that some grocery store had moved their sweets aisles. Crisps and chocolate are considered perfectly normal lunch items. There are lots of sales assistants – I practically stumble over the friendly lot whenever I step into a shop. Teachers are good but tough (good, as in really understanding the subject they’re teaching. Tough, as in telling the entire  class what grades people got, and that they spell like five-year-olds and have scarily bad geography knowledge).

I’ve went to a Catholic school (which I thought would be incredibly difficult as an atheist, but turned out not to be a problem), that really is Catholic, which is a very new experience. They don’t learn about other religions! They have masses! They teach sex ed from catholic ethics! For the first time in my life I’ve been feeling quite patriotic. We get low PISA scores, but at least school is not about being brain washed into a particular religion.

But all that is insignificant. What I will remember is not the bad water taps, it’s the good people. The first thing that hit me when I stepped inside school was the friendly atmosphere, and that expression only grew stronger. I’ve made friends that are just unbelievably cool, smart, beautiful and kind. Leaving them – even with facebook profiles and phone numbers exchanged – feels like… like leaving a group of really awesome friends. As much as I look forward to seeing my friends back home again, a part of my soul is going to remain in Camden with them.

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Nous sommes Charlie

I’m not sure if a democracy with equal rights and responsibilities for all its citizens has ever existed. If it has, it’s threatened. Because it cannot exist without freedom of speech: the free questioning of ideas and opinions (duh). The very core of our western democracy has been attacked.

I doubt it will take long before PC thinkers start to ramble about how the Charlie Hebdo brought it upon themselves by criticizing Islam. They did criticize it, but is that a crime? Religion was and is a system of beliefs (thus it’s not racist to criticize a religion). Islam (which has a scripture with political ambitions) should be possible to criticize the same way that Communism is possible to criticize.

My thoughts are with the victims, the brave people who payed their lives for our right of expression.