Blog Posts

nähdään pian!/See You Soon 🇫🇮

I was sitting in a sushi restaurant in Hamilton Ontario on July 21st, celebrating my friend Arthur’s graduation from a Master’s program at McMaster University. The two of us were roommates in my final year and became pretty good friends. Come to think of it, all three of us became very good friends. I lived in the basement, Arthur, Alex and Taylor lived on the main floor. We try to get together every year, but this year we managed to get that twice. They were asking about Finland, and I told them that I was scared. It definitely took me a long time to make friends in university, and I was afraid the same would happen here.

Taylor, Arthur’s girlfriend, told me something I don’t think I will ever forget, “You have that personality. The one where people are attracted to you. You’ll be fine.” We all have our insecurities and that is definitely, or it was definitely one of mine. I’ll come back to this later. I have just one full day left here in Jyväskylä, and I’m going to miss it. Today after months of planning I completed my final assignment for school. As part of my internship, I had to take part in planning an event with my team. KeuPa HT a hockey team based out of Keuruu which is about 45 minutes outside of Jyväskylä, wanted to play a game in Jyväskylä. Aside from the distance factor, KeuPa is second division hockey. It’s like having the Grey Cup Champion (Canadian Superbowl) Toronto Argonauts play at AT&T Stadium. The potential for it going sideways was a genuine threat. We set a goal of 1000 people. The KeuPa HT management said they’d shuttle their fans in from Keuruu which would probably give us 450 fans. My team and I decided to make this a student event with student-friendly prices and a certain amount of free tickets. We’d also have networking events where there would be a chance to connect with a variety of Finnish companies. We’d even plan the in-game entertainment.

Well, things didn’t go to plan. It’s not that there was a language barrier. At the onset of this project, I was told that Finnish companies don’t like to receive advice. Outside help is also something that they don’t always think they need. This is particularly true of hockey teams. Because it’s such a popular sport, teams figure they people will be interested, so the marketing effort is lacking. A lot of the plans and timelines I’d set were ignored and discarded. Despite this, we managed to exceed our goal of having 1000 people at the game. We managed to raise a good amount of money for junior hockey players, and people had fun. I even had a chance to get on the ice after the puck throwing contest. Today was an eye-opener to what my potential career could look like, it was nice, stressful but nice.

After the game, I went to a party where I’d have an opportunity to say goodbye to some of the friends I’ve made here. When you meet people, I don’t believe that you think about saying goodbye to them. Even though I knew I’d be leaving in four months, I never thought about today. I want to come home, I miss home, my things blah blah blah but I’m going to miss the people here. I’ve shared in adventures with them and naturally, I’ve learned so much about them and their cultures. It’s hard to say goodbye especially if you don’t know if you’ll ever see these people again. I dished out my fair share of hugs and handshakes tonight. I cannot believe that in less than two weeks I’ll be home.

I’ve made a lot of plans, which I know are dangerous. But in May I think I’d like to come back to Europe, head to Amsterdam, Harlem and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Then back to Stockholm, hit up Norway Germany and Denmark, go back to Italy and visit Milan, Naples and Sicily. Finally, I’d conclude my trip by visiting Nashville for CMA Fest. Lofty plans with absolutely zero dollars in the bank. I also want to go shark cage diving in South Africa … So we’ll see. Might need to get me myself a sugar momma or rob a bank.

Tomorrow is my final day, I leave for Paris on Monday morning but will spend a day in Helsinki (Sunday) So there will be a final dinner tomorrow where I can say goodbye to the group. I can’t believe it’s over already but I said that at the end of the summer. One adventure ends, another begins.

Finland Pt. 5 🇫🇮

December 3rd, 2017. I leave December 21st! Naturally, I’ve got another adventure planned, France and Spain. This week will mark my final week here in Jyväskylä. It’s a city of 137,000 people, and 47,000 of them are students. So it indeed is a student town. It also happens to be the “Sports City” of Finland, it is home to the Neste rally and JYP of SMLiiga (Finnish Elite League Hockey.) It is home to 450 sporting venues, and the hometown of NBA Star Lauri Markkanen and NHL stars Sami Vatanen and Olli Määttä. Next year in February it’ll be host to the Red Bull Crashed Ice event. So you can see that the love for sport in this city is a real thing.

While in previous posts I’ve said that there isn’t much to do here it doesn’t mean that I don’t like it here. There are obvious drawbacks like the dark and damp that even the Fins complain about. And the fact that the city isn’t all that big, so there isn’t much to do. Let me put this in context, in Toronto there always seems to be something going on. Food festivals, beer festivals, concerts, and sometimes there are movies shown outside at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Jyväskylä is a small city, but it’s a beautiful city. There are a lot of pubs and bars, some restaurants, some shopping malls, this fucking bad ass bakery, Wilhelmiinan Konditoria that has the best Carrot cake in the world. There are things to do here, just a lot of the same things.

Jyväskylä has to be however the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. There are trees everywhere. During the summer months, or at least August and September, everything is green. I know I’ve posted this photo before, but I think it’s the one that perfectly depicts how beautiful it is here. I think I love it here because of how quiet it gets. Don’t get me wrong I do miss the planes and sirens because it can get hauntingly quiet. There are so many paths and trails to take, I like going out and getting lost. It gives me time to think, or it just gives me time to be alone. There are so many lakes, so many trees, and so many fucking hills. It gives you a sense of peace and that’s what I’ll miss the most about Jyväskylä.  Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I think about leaving, and it’s not the happiest feeling. On the one hand, I’m excited to get home and see and do all the things that being at home entails. On the other, I’ve made a lot of friends out here. I’ve got a certain level of freedom here that I don’t have back home, and well I guess this relates to the second point but I’m in Europe, travelling here is cheap, and every city has an outstanding amount of history.
When I come back from Madrid, I’ll be coming back to Finland, but I’ll spend about 3 days in Helsinki before coming back to Toronto. I’ll finally get to properly explore Helsinki and on my own terms. It’s not like Jyväskylä, it’s a city, with trams, buses and tourist. A Finnish friend of mine told me that every stereotype of Fins can and will be found in Jyväskylä. I agree. The quietness, awkwardness, Will-not-engage-in-small-talk,  personal space seeking, sauna loving, coffee addicted, hockey-crazed, and most importantly heavy metal loving will be found here in Jyväskylä. Fin’s are boastful about it, they joke and embrace the stereotypes. It’s what I can say I’ll miss about the people, their ability to laugh at themselves and their honesty.
Currently, I’m once again avoiding homework and writing instead. It always amazes me that my entire life can fit into a backpack, duffle bag and a suitcase. I’ve begun packing, and frankly, it is a little sad.

Sir, ​You’ve Been… 🤷🏽‍♂️

There is no doubt that I’ve been travelling a lot. It’s something I’ve never really done until now, and I can honestly say that I love it. But this post is not going to be about the adventures I’ve had nor the adventures I’m about to begin. Traveling for me has been a method of therapy. What you see is the photo’s and the stories but what you don’t see is the stress and to a certain level, fear, that goes into booking a ticket. That is what I’m going to share with you.

I was born Adel Narinesingh, that was my dad’s last name. I changed it to Mohammed because for whatever reason I liked it better. It made me proud, it was a name that had a lot of meaning behind it. Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, is the prophet founder of Islam. He was Allah’s (God) messenger on earth and the last prophet. My last name isn’t spelt the same, but it still holds the “power.” I’m very proud of it, and yes I make jokes about it because as of right now it’s the only thing I can do. This is the first time I’m going to admit this, but I think I need to say it. Right after the elections in the US, I changed my Facebook profile name to “Adel Darwish.” I told people it was so future employers couldn’t find me… I share dog videos and music. There is nothing all that incriminating on that profile. I changed it because for the first time in my life I feel like I need to keep that information to myself.

During the summer I was out to lunch, I was sitting on a patio enjoying sangria. I got a phone call and when I answered it my friend greeted me in Arabic, and my response was “wa-Alaikumussalam” Which means, “May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.” A woman passing by yelled at me to go back to “My Sand Hut.” I thought it was hilarious and I got a free meal out of it. I don’t want to get into politics, but I’m not exactly happy about where we are as people. I don’t just mean Canadians, I mean globally. I think there is a lot of fear and hate. I believe that some of our elected leaders are misguided and misinformed. I think there is a lot of division. That same hate and fear is being preached by the people who are supposed to preach reason.

I’m in Finland, but when I was leaving Canada, I was randomly selected for further screening. Not the first time it’s happened. I’m usually really friendly because I have nothing to hide. Since I’ve been in Finland, I’ve taken little trips to places I’ve only dreamed about, like England. In the Manchester Airport, I was given the third degree by one of their customs officers. Manchester’s been through a lot in the last little while. So again I just stood there, smiling and answering questions. Last week, however, I think everything came to a head.  I commented on something online about ‘The Muslim Threat” Within a few hours I had a bunch of hate mail in my DM’s. Some of them were pretty funny but at some point, you can see that these people really believe this. At some point, it stops being about learning what other people think and it just becomes demoralizing. I said learning because learning what people think who don’t share your belief is the best way to get the whole picture.

Every time I book a ticket to go somewhere this is in the back of my mind, “Will I be hassled at the airport?” or “Will someone scream when I begin to pray before taking off?”  They sound foolish, don’t they? What are the chances of that happening? A lot greater than you think. These are the things I think about when I decide I’ve had enough of Finland and would like to see somewhere else. I do not accept the hate nor do not condone it. My faith has been associated with a lot of terror and wrongdoing, that I can not deny. My faith has been said to mistreat women, hate homosexuality, hate the non-believers. My faith plain and simple has been typecasted. We’re a threat, and we need to be stopped. I will not discuss things about other religions because that would be throwing them under the bus. I will say this, there are a billion Muslims in the world if they were all terrorists, homophobes, sexist, jihadist extremest, why haven’t they won? It’s not because they’re in impoverished countries, it’s because they’re not the majority. They’re just the loudest.

I’m not preaching peace and love, I’m telling you to pick up a fucking book and learn. Fear and hate is definitely not the way forward. Education and reason are. If you pick up the Quran and read it, there definitely is a lot of things in there that are just insane, but there is also a lot of good. That’s what religion is, isn’t it? Contradictory. Hate and fear just happen to be an easy path. As I’m concluding this post I can’t help but notice that I can remove “Muslim and Islam” and replace it with, “Minority” so people of African descent, women, people in the LGBTQ community, and immigrants and it wouldn’t change much. If this costs me followers so be it. Once again thank you for reading.

 

Finland Pt. 4 🇫🇮

December 1st and I’ll be done with school. That means exams and final assignments. I’ll have my internship event on December 8th. There is going to be a game here in Jyväskylä between two-second division teams. Jyväskylä is home to JYP of the SM Liiga or the Finnish first division. This makes generating interest pretty tricky, it also means the event might be a huge letdown. Most of the exchange students will be in Lapland (Northern Finland), so there goes some of the possible spectators. We have a solid plan, we know how we’ll execute it, planned the events on game day but I’m still stressed out about it. Now I know how my bosses back home feel, but I wonder if they also feel the sense of excitement that I’m feeling? Who knows.

Home. Today I woke up and these were the first words out of my mouth, “Finland, you win.” Lack of sunlight, constant rain and the repetition of tasks has taken its toll. I’m ready to come back home. I’ve done what I set out to do, and now I’m looking forward to being an intern, an employee, a gym rat, gamer, bookworm, volunteer, most importantly, being busy. Now I know there will be days where I’ll miss it here, I know that’ll come. In the last Finland post, I touched on not being happy. I’m not happy with the weather, it does take a serious toll on the mind and body. I hope I can word this properly, there is a constant feeling of “Ending.” You wake up, and it’s dark, at 1:30 it starts getting dark, at 3:00/3:15 the sun is almost gone, by 3:45 it’s dark. Dark as in street lights are on, and cars have their lights on. I’ve been talking to some of the other exchange students, and they feel the same. I know, I’m Canadian I should be used to the darkness, I am just not when it happens this early. Another thing it never really feels dark in Toronto.

Having said this, I’d say its probably the only downside of being here. I’ve said there’s nothing to do here, there is just a lot of it is repetitive. Going to the pub and the club, then McDonald’s. When I’m at home I don’t go out a lot, especially drinking, the fear is I won’t know how to get home (irrational fear) or I’ll get lost (I have a phone), or in most cases, I’ll have to dish out money for a cab. I don’t mind if I’m in a group but a lot of time I want to sleep at home not on a floor or couch, so I have to take a cab home. That’s on me, and I accept it so most of the time I either don’t drink so I can drive or I don’t go. However, since I’ve been here I’ve gone out a lot, now I can refuse or just go to the pub and not the club but then I’d either have to walk or take a cab alone. A taxi from the city centre to home is 17 Euros. Let me put that in perspective, I’m on a budget, and a bus from Helsinki to Jyväskylä costs 8-15 Euros, that’s a 3.5-hour drive. It’s a 10-minute drive from the centre to my flat.

I’ve never been a person to go to clubs, I’m not a good dancer, I don’t like crowds I feel very anxious in them, and the only way to compensate for it is to drink a lot. That is a significant problem because what it’s done or what it’s doing is it’s forging this relationship that whenever I’m uncomfortable, I should drink. I have no problem going to the pub and getting hammered but that happens over the course of a few hours, and there’s usually a bunch of great conversations, some games, pool, and maybe even sports. It is a relaxed environment, and it’s what I go for.

I am ready to come home that much I know, but I cannot have asked for a better 4 months. I’ve learned a lot, a ridiculous amount, academically, and personally. The very first post I wrote for this blog makes reference to the little things and how they add up. When I came here I was in a different mindset, I’ve made mistakes out here that will and do have very real consequences, I’ve proven a lot to myself, impressed myself, haven’t hit anyo… we’ll work on that (Sorry Shawn). Finland “beat” me, but I’m walking away …. running away with a lot of things to build off of. So I think I have officially 17 days left here, I’ll be heading to Paris, Arras, Madrid and possibly Barcelona on the 10th-18th then I’ll come back to Helsinki for a few days and then Toronto. If you’re looking for the Billiards post I’ve taken it down, I’m happy with it but I don’t think it’s ready to be finished yet. It’s meant to be a bigger project, one that I’ll have to do research on. So Stay tunned for pictures and posts about France and Spain!

Finland Pt. 3 🇫🇮

If I could compose a playlist for what Finland is like in November, the first song would be,  “The Sound of Silence” By Simon and Garfunkle. It’s that song that has that line, “Hello darkness my old friend” That’s Finland. I have 32 days left here, and I cannot wait to go. It’s nice here, there are definitely things I love about it, but I’m continually looking at my calendar. I want to come home because there are things I miss about home. The one I can think about right now, a proper routine. The other, the sun. The sun goes down at 3:15pm, last week it was 3:30, the amount of daylight we get is less and less. The sun also never gets to the highest point, its like as soon as it comes up it starts to go down.

I’m living my “best life” as my friend Priscilla says, but I don’t know if I’m all that happy right now. All the stress is something I can deal with, the darkness isn’t. I wake up, and it already feels like the suns going down, there have been days where I’ve missed the sun completely. I feel like I’m back in first year dealing with post concussing syndrome. Now I can explain this as best as I can and hope that it’s understood. A concussion is basically terrible head trauma, it can come from a car accident, a hit to the head, and if you’ve had multiple concussions, I’ve heard even a violent sneeze can do it. I don’t know how true that is. Below you’ll find the best way to get a concussion. The guy in white is Paul Kariya, one of the most exciting hockey players and a hall of Famer. The guy red is Scott Stevens, he hit people like that for a living, and he’s also a hall of Famer. So I’ve had 6 concussions, maybe 7, I fell pretty hard out here, and since then it’s been a little tricky when it comes to concentrating and sleeping. I know the symptoms, and I don’t think what happened to me here lead to a concussion.

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I had PCS in my first year, it’s basically having all the symptoms of a concussion, but it lasts a lot longer. Symptoms such as noise sensitivity, problems with concentration and memory, irritability, depression and anxiety may be called ‘late symptoms’ because they generally do not occur immediately after the injury, but rather in the days or weeks after the injury. Nausea and drowsiness commonly occur acutely following a concussion. A headache and dizziness normally occur immediately after the injury, but also can be long-lasting.

The depression is what I want to touch on, when you suffer a concussion or at least the one I had, I was extremely sensitive to light. So sensitive, I didn’t go outside, I kept the lights off in my room, I was in constant darkness. I slept during the day and stayed up at night, I also cut off any interactions I had with people. Think about it this way, you have a routine (Gym, class, work, class, nap, volunteer, gym, homework, sleep) Now that’s gone and you can’t go outside, your body starts to change, you go days without talking to people, all the things you built your life around are gone. Everything you knew is gone, it’s sad, it makes you sad, sad to the point where you begin to doubt yourself, so you go to sleep. Your new routine becomes (Sleep, meandering around the flat, turning on the computer, trying to read but not being able to because you can’t concentrate, so you sleep again.) PCS is not something that I’d say I have anymore, I do have a slight problem with bright lights but nothing compared to what it used to be.

This past year I wanted to play Rugby, and when I went to get my check up, I was told that I probably shouldn’t due to the amount of concussions I’ve had. Long-term effects of sustaining multiple concussions can result in memory loss, depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to light and noise. Memory loss is not really something I feel I have, I don’t remember any of my concussions just the descriptions of the hits. I do have sleep disturbances, but it usually stems from me being in a new place… or the fact that I’ve had 8 cups of coffee. The depression and anxiety is something I … the depression is not something I think I suffer from anymore. I do have my days where I feel down, maybe more than down but it always goes away. Anxiety IS something I have trouble with even now.

But this post was supposed to be about Finland right? Right, it’s dark, it’s cold, and I’d like to come home because I don’t feel very happy out here anymore, but I’ve read that that’s expected. Finland is a hard place, it’s supposed to be one of the happiest countries in the world, but there is an increasing number of alcohol-related health problems. Suicide rates have fallen in recent years, but mental health is still an issue, one the government here takes extremely important. I hear it takes about an entire year to get acclimatised to Finland. I’m sure if a Fin came and lived with me in Canada they’d find it hard too. I’m a little, or a lot homesick and that’s perfectly fine.

The ambiguity of this post is brought to you by me not wanting to study.

Hurt

In my last post, I touched on the topic of sexual misconduct, abuse, assault, and rape. I may not have outright said it, but there were definite undertones that it was something on my mind. Why? Have I ever done any of these things? Regrettably, the answer might be, yes. Sexual assault has a very annoying skewed definition, it’s classified as “any type of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Now reading this carefully it definitely sounds like rape can be incorporated into this definition.

Perhaps I’m thinking of this all wrong. I’ve never done anything with any of my partners that I didn’t make sure they were okay with. Then I think about the relationships I’ve been in. Every time I’ve ever had sex with a girlfriend, it’s kind of just happened or I asked, or I turned around, and she wasn’t wearing pants (That was a code that my first girlfriend used.) There have been times where I’ve wanted sex more than she has and sometimes I got shut down because of perfectly valid reasons. I’ve never forced myself on anyone, I think I’ve asked every girl I’ve ever kissed if I could kiss them. Do I do it because I’m afraid of being wrong, afraid of being one of those guys? No, it’s just better to ask especially if you’re not sure. So Adel, why are you writing on this? Why did you say you might be someone that’s sexually assaulted someone? Because I can think of one thing I did with an ex that I’ve regretted and apologized for, but I did it. I won’t go into detail, but I think when I get home I’ll have to find a way to talk to her about it and apologize.

I’ve been thinking about her and my mistake a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about her a lot because well she’s all I’ve really been able to think about consistently for the 97 days I’ve been out here. Then there are the cases on the news and the fact that a few people here have opened up to me and talked about there experiences, on both sides. I’ve heard stories about the feeling you get when you hear someone say that you might have raped someone. A story recalling a time they got drugged at a bar. The moment they were almost raped. Or some guy stuck a hand in her pants, the list is endless. When someone tells you these things there is anger, there is sadness, I’ve dished out some hugs recently that I didn’t know I had in me. You can ask anyone, Adel Mohammed is not really an affectionate person. Okay, if you ask my ex she’ll tell you I am, that’s because I liked hugging her… and she smelled nice, but I traditionally I don’t like to dish out hugs or be touched or any of that kind of stuff.  Back on point, it breaks your heart to hear that someone had to go through this. I hope one day my daughter isn’t coming to me telling me any of this, I hope one day my son isn’t telling me he did any of this. I’ve been thinking about the subject a lot, I’ve been trying to write my next short story loosely around the subject.

I’ve been reading, and I’ve read stories from both sides. Not exactly the easiest things to read, I’ve also asked some friends to discuss their stories with me so I can get a better … Honestly, I think about talking to them about this, and I know it’ll be hard. So why am I doing it? It’s two-fold, I think it’s time I grew as a writer and actually wrote a proper story from scratch. Meaning I’d write on a topic I wasn’t heavily associated with. Secondly, maybe it’ll help someone, the talk, or the story. I don’t know, all I’ve got written is an opening. It’s also a challenge, and when I say it out loud or write it like I’ve done here, it makes me feel horrible. This is a subject that I don’t take lightly, it is a subject that I’m somewhat associated with. I don’t know how to end this post, maybe with a quote that someone told me. “These things happen, they happen all the time, and they’ll continue to happen. It’s the reason that in the back of my mind I think you’ll hurt me, that he’ll hurt me, that if you’re a man, you will hurt me.” That wasn’t written down, it’s just stayed with me since being told that and it keeps me up at night.

George and the Dragon 🐉

September of last year I used to tease a friend that I’d run away to Sweden. She’d joke that she’d come with me, well I went to Sweden, she didn’t go with me, but I’m sure whenever I see her I’ll tell her to visit. The obsession with Sweden came out of a desire to experience something new and different. Well, nothing’s changed, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of months.

A few months ago my classmates and I were presented with an opportunity to go on a cruise to Sweden. We’d leave on Sunday and come home on Tuesday. We’d get a room, one night with free dinner and unlimited beer/wine and eight hours in Stockholm. Why not? Getting to Helsinki like I’ve mentioned before from Jyväskylä is a nightmare. The morning started with the group riding our bikes to the bus terminal. If you’re going to ride your bike in the winter, bring gloves. Three and a half hours later we were in Helsinki, I’ve been there before, but I’ve never really wandered around the city. Helsinki is a fantastic city, its full of life and oddly enough its full of things to see and do. Helsinki Cathedral is a great stop. It was built in the 1800’s as a tribute to Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Finland was once a part of  Russia and Sweden once upon a time. Swedish is actually the second language here. Today it’s a Lutheran church. There are four million Lutherans in Finland. IMG_2992

Anyway, after we walked around and saw some more things we headed to the ferry terminal. I waited in line for about two and a half hours. I hate the “getting there” part of travelling, it’s ass. Okay let me dial it back a notch, when I’m home in Mississauga, I’m a five-minute ride from the airport in Finland I’m three and a half hours away. So maybe it’s just Finland that makes me hate Finland. To my surprise, we were not on a ferry but on a cruise ship. I’ve never been on a cruise, I’ve heard only good things. Since I’m a student, I’ve been eating like one, not a lot of ramen but a lot of bread and eggs. On the cruise, however, well your boy ate his fat heart out. They had three different kinds of salmon, roast beef…. and all you can eat ice cream. Thinking about it makes me hungry. Dinner, however, was spoiled by an idiot who tried to wet willy me. I don’t like to be touched, I don’t fancy hugs, I don’t like having people put their hands on me, poking me, grabbing me, yes there are specific scenarios where it’s okay, but most of the time, please don’t. So this guy tried to wet willy me, and well I almost hit him until I realised that, like most times I see him he was piss drunk. Still didn’t stop me from being mad about it. After that fiasco, a friend and I went down to the duty-free shop. Twenty-four beers for ten euros, sold. I won’t lie to you I don’t remember a lot from that night, not because I drank a lot but because it wasn’t all that memorable. We drank, played cards and got hampurilainen, which is Finnish for a burger.

I woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning so I could eat, do work and take this Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThat is the sun rising over Sweden, those little islands actually have people living on them. It was a tad chilly, so I came back inside, and that’s when I heard the captain on the PA. He said that we’d been delayed due to a search and rescue that took place the night before. It wasn’t until later that day that we found out that after a night of drinking a student went out onto the deck, started running and jumped. A thirty meter fall into the November Baltic. People laughed, thought it was funny,  some made jokes in an attempt to take away from the seriousness of what had happened. Look, you never know what is going through someone’s mind, and I’ll tell you, drinking doesn’t help if anything it gives you courage. When you die in cold water your body sinks, so the person who jumped may never be found.

I stopped writing for a couple of days to think about the cruise, and while I had a good time, there were a lot of small things that happened, that I observed, or heard that made upset me. Made me think about how people could do certain things, be so selfish, be so cruel, and be so monstrous. I’m not perfect but if I ever resorted to spiking a girls drink, trying to rape someone, grabbing someone against their will, or not taking “no” for an answer I’m pretty sure I’d never be able to live with myself again. I know this post is about me going to Sweden but in light of recent events, I feel like I need to comment on this. The victims are real people that try to carry on as best as they can, and sometimes they suffer in silence or worse, alone. That’s all I want to say about this, and I think it’s the lesson I learned or experienced or saw first hand going to Sweden. I mean I already knew this, but it’s closer to home than you think.

The Storkyrkan, a gothic church in the heart of Stockholm was the only thing on my list to see. It features a sculpture of St. George vs the Dragon. It’s to commemorate the victory by Sten Sture, the Elder who was the Swedish Regent in the late 1400s over Christian I of Denmark. The dragon represents an invading army, which the Danes were. Sten Sture commissioned the sculpture, Sture prayed to St. George the night before the battle. So that’s the little history lesson and here’s the picture.
IMG_3053Due to the delay we only had four hours in Stockholm, and from the port, it took about half an hour to reach the city centre. Here is what I’ll say about Stockholm, it’s expensive, it’s small, there is an amazing mix of old and new architecture, the history is outstanding, the people are friendly, and the people are very well put together, from the way they look to the way they dress. I’d really like to go back there and stay a little longer. Each adventure has taken me to a new place, taught me a new lesson, provided me with a shot glass, fridge magnet and a new country to scratch off my list. So let’s see, Canada, United States, Trinidad, Jamacia, Barbados, Germany, Finland, Sweden, England, Ireland, Estonia, Italy, and Ukraine. Frankly, it’s a short list, and that’s a letdown.