Monday, March 14, 2011

Sweden - My Love!

The original post was made in October 2010. This is why the time frame is inconsistent with the new post date.

I am writing this blog entry because everyone asks me why I love Sweden so much and how my love began etc etc. So from now on when someone asks me about it, my answer will be the link to this blog entry.

Ever since I was a baby I loved snow. Every time someone said the word “Finland” I immediately brought to my mind (and I still do) one picture. A forest of pine trees and a lot of snow! I knew Finland was a different country and that it was north. Of course I had no idea what “north” meant but I knew it was north. Now about Sweden? Well, it all began when I was 5-6 years old. Subconsciously (please keep that in mind until I reach to the year 2005). My dad had a record player and I was listening to ABBA. There was a record that on A-side was “Waterloo” and on B-side was “SOS”. A single! Haha I didn't like “Waterloo” back then so I was only listening to “SOS”. MANY TIMES A DAY! But I didn't know that this song was an ABBA song and I had no idea that ABBA was Swedish. I was listening to this record every day until one day I broke the record player (it was an accident!!)! That was it! I listened to ABBA again about six years later when I was 11. We had a second record player (we still have it but it's in the basement) and I found dad's records so I started listening to ABBA again. But for only a few months because we had to move it to the basement (as I said). Eurovision 2001 and Greece sends Antique with “Die For You”. Antique, as I’m sure most of you know, consisted of two Greek singers that were born and raised in Sweden (Helena Paparizou and Nikos Panagiotidis). They brought us the 3rd place and the song became a huge hit in Greece. Until then I had no idea what Eurovision was, how often was the contest being held or even if they show it on TV! 2002 and I accidentally watch the ESC. There was one song that stuck to my mind that night and for weeks! It was the Swedish entry called “Never Let It Go” by Afro-Dite. I fell in love with that song and I wanted Sweden to win (just for the record they finished 8th). Eurovision 2003 and I also like the Swedish song but not as much as Afro-Dite's. It was Fame's “Give Me Your Love” (5th place). Eurovision 2004 and the Swedes sent Lena Philipsson with “It Hurts” (5th place). Another song that I liked but my mind that year was in the Greek entry (Sakis Rouvas - “Shake It” - 3rd place). Summer 2004 and I was watching MAD (something like MTV). They were showing all day a song called “This Is The World We Live In” by Alcazar (hmm I think with this blog entry you'll understand, apart from my love to Sweden, my love to Alcazar as well). But at first, every time the song began I was changing the channel until one day I decided to listen to the song! I loved it!! I even bought a CD with the summer hits just because I wanted this song! So in December Alcazar performed “TITWWLI” at a Greek talent show called Fame Story. I could watch tv on my pc so I recorded their performance. Please note that until that time I didn't know Alcazar was Swedish!! And here we go! 2005!! We choose to send Helena Paparizou to represent us in the ESC of 2005. Surprise surprise Helena was born and raised in Sweden as you all know! So these days there was “a lot of Sweden” on our TVs. They brought a new Greek commentator from Sweden (I won't comment the fact that they kicked out my favourite commentator in the history of Eurovision – Daphne Bokota) called Alexandra Pascalidou. They brought her from Sweden so that she helps us get votes from the Scnadinavian countries.
A few weeks before we choose the song to send to the ESC I found Alcazar's website and I saw they were Swedish! I also found out in their forum that they are competing in Melodifestivalen with a song called “Alcastar”. So the night we chose the Greek entry, to my surprise, Alcazar was there (as Sweden) to perform a medley with their songs. They were not allowed to sing “Alcastar” because Melodifestivalen was not over and Sweden hadn't chosen the song to represent them. I really don't know why Alcazar came to Greece and not another artist but I guess they came to promote their work... After that performance I bought my first Alcazar CD!
Back to the Greek National Final. We had 3 songs. “My Number One”, “OK” and “Let's Get Wild”. Guess which one I loved! Yup it was “Let's Get Wild” written by the Swede Douglas Carr! This was and is my favourite song of that night. If I had to choose again one of these songs, I'd pick “Let's Get Wild”. Even if I KNEW that with “My Number One” we would win the ESC, I'd still vote for “Let's Get Wild”!
It's May 21st, the final of Eurovision 2005 and we get 12 points from Sweden! How can you not love that country after giving you 12 points? Hahaha You know the rest... We won!
But Eurovision wasn't over for the year 2005. In October we had Congratulations, 50 Years Of The Eurovision Song Contest, a show held in Copenhagen, Denmark to celebrate the 50 years of the contest. For a few months there was an online voting and the 14 songs with the most votes would compete in Denmark. Among the 14 songs was ABBA's “Waterloo” and Helena's “My Number One”. This is where I began learning the history of the contest. The winning songs/countries, how the rules have changed, the artists etc. That night we listened to the 14 songs and we voted for the winner. But before we listen to a song, an artist who competed in Eurovision got on stage and gave us some info about the song. The first artist who came on stage was Carola! We watched a small video about her. She brought to Sweden the 3rd place in 1983 with “Främling” and the 1st place in 1991 with “Fångad Av En Stormvind”. During the video about Carola and her career we were listening to her song from 1991. I liked it a lot!! She later performed “Främling” and that's when my interest to her songs began.
The winner of the night? ABBA with “Waterloo” which by the way I voted for! That was the first time I voted! Of course some votes went also to Celine Dion and our Helena (we were able to vote for our country that day). But I was extremely happy that ABBA won and especially when I saw Helena waving the Swedish flag, singing “Waterloo” and dancing with Carola and the rest Swedes! In automn 2005 I found out that Alcazar split up! I won’t comment anything here coz it will take a lot of time and writing! hehe
A few months later I found out that Carola was competing in Melodifestivalen  2006 with a song called “Evighet”. Magnus Carlsson from Alcazar was also competing with “Lev Livet”. Carola won and she came to Athens to represent Sweden in the ESC. Right after I found out that she won Melodifestivalen (I was already in love with the song!) I said: “This is the song I am supporting this year!”. And I guess that's where my real interest began for Sweden. In the ESC of 2006 Andreas Lundstedt from Alcazar was also competing but for Switzerland! In spring 2006 I bought my Swedish flag with which I was wrapped during the semi-final and final of the ESC, and around the same period I bought a book with Swedish dialogs and some grammar. That's when I began learning Swedish alone (well not intensively. Let’s say twice a month! Haha). I already knew how to read swedish (well not perfectly) because I was singing to Swedish ESC songs!
2007 and I was interested in Melodifestivalen. Alcazar, as I said, split up in automn 2005 but Andreas and Magnus entered 2007's Melodifestivalen as solo artists. None of them won. Sweden chose the worst possible song of the year! Whatever, I still supported Sweden in ESC but the result was awful. To be honest, 2007's Eurovision was awful. At least for me. Whenever I recall 2007 I feel really strange and I don't know why. I had 2-3 songs that I liked but I don't like listening to them... Even 2007's Melodifestivalen had...something... I wish I could erase the ESC of 2007 from my mind!

Anyway, in automn 2007 I began my last year at school and that's when a friend put me into thinking and I decided to study in Sweden. I finished school in spring 2008 and I applied to a swedish course at Linköping's university. You can't study there if you don't speak Swedish. Well I wasn't accepted and in January 2009 I started taking Swedish lessons in Thessaloniki. Surprisingly my teacher was born and raised in Gothenburg but her father's hometown is Drama which happens to be my hometown and the place I live! What were the odds huh? Well in May 2009 I sat the exams for the Swedex B1 and I passed (!!). I had also applied for a second time to the Swedish course at Linköping's university but because of a misunderstanding my application was rejected again. So the only solution was TISUS (Test in Swedish for University Studies). So in November 2009 I went to Athens for the TISUS exams. Well TISUS is like the Proficiency in English so your guess was right, I failed in all 3 parts (reading, writing and speaking). The only good thing of that trip in Athens was that I went to the Swedish embassy (it was the examination center)! God I love this place! I could live in there! Swedish, Swedish, Swedish everywhere!! Hahaha The only beautiful place in Athens!! But I didn't give up on TISUS! I gave it one more shot in May 2010 and I passed the reading and the oral part!!! I still can't believe how I passed the reading part! In November I answered all the questions in the reading part and I failed. In May I didn't answer a few of them and I passed! How crazy is this?!?! As for the speaking part? Here comes the good part! I had to talk about EUROVISION AND MELODIFESTIVALEN!!! How lucky was I?!?!?! HAHAHAHA I had 15 minutes to prepare myself and I had to speak 15 minutes alone (I hate that part! I want to have a conversation not just sitting and talking to a tape recorder). So when the examiner gave me the papers with the subject I had to talk about, the key words caught my eye! They were all about music and downloading! So I immediately looked at the title of the subject and when I saw the words “Eurovision” and “Melodifestivalen” I started smiling! I didn't start thinking what I was going to say. I didn't start preparing my speech! I just sat there for a few minutes smiling and thinking “How lucky am I?” but I also thought “Oh my God! If I pass this and fail in the other 2 I'm gonna die!” and that's because if you pass the 2 parts then you have to take again only the part you failed. But if you fail in 2 or all 3 parts then you have to take the test all over again! But I passed 2 out of 3 so now I have to take again only the writing part! And here I am! Blogging from Sweden!! Surprisingly my hometown is also connected to Sweden! As I mentioned earlier, the woman who taught me Swedish was born and raised in Gothenburg but she comes from Drama and here comes the other fun part. Before we leave Greece we knew that there was a Greek taxi driver in Stockholm that was also from Drama so we called him and after a few days of being in Sweden looking for a place to stay, he called us and told us that he found something. A Greek-Swedish who also comes from Drama (!!!) gave me a place to stay without paying any rent! Call this a coincidence or however you want but I call it destiny!

So this is pretty much my story. I know there is too much Eurovision in it but it's all about music. That's what made me like this country but I also like cold weather so Sweden is my country. I like everything about this country! The music, the people, the weather (yes yes the weather!)…EVERYTHING!!

So now people, QUIT ASKING "Why Sweden?"!


ilprontiraisa said...

Roligt att läsa :) Lång historia :)

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