Monday marked five weeks in Sweden. Unlike being in other countries where there is a significant cultural difference, acclimating to life in Sweden has been fairly easy. The biggest undertaking I can forsee, besides getting to stay for longer than 90 days, will be learning the language. It will require retraining my mouth to make new and very different sounds. At least it’s not as harsh as German.
Like Uganda, Sweden wasn’t particularly on my radar and so I often pinch myself. If someone would have told me a while ago that I would be relocating to Sweden, and for a relationship, I would have been very surprised.
This time around I packed two bags and got to check a third bag before getting on the flight to Iceland. No issues checking the bags, getting stamped in Iceland and made it to Copenhagen without a single annoying/interesting/funny travel story. Icelandair was a treat of an airline. It feels like it’s not quite as official as the mainstream airlines and so it seems they play by their own rules at times. They didn’t check the weight on my overweight bags and let me check two for no charge. You can also enjoy a stopover in Reykjavik for up to a week for no additional charge. They have great deals from New York. Something I would have loved to do if I wasn’t so excited to get to Sweden.
My new home is in Helsingborg, a town of about 100,000 people. His (or shall I say our) apartment is located right by the ocean. I can see it from the window. It feels really homey and our styles blend well together. There is a little nook by the window with pillows and such that makes
a perfect meditation and yoga corner for me. It is pretty spacious for a
European apartment aside from the bathroom. It can feel like we are sardines when we are in there together.
The food is delicious and I’ve been eating like I’m in full vacation mode. Swedes love meat and fish more. Every meal incorporates butter and/or cheese and there are lots of delicious mayo based “salads” with beets, fish or veggies. On one of the sunny and warmer nights we went to one of his friend’s house for their birthday. We sat outside and ate boiled crayfish and shrimp while drinking snaps (herbal liquor) and sang songs. I’m not participating in any of the singing…yet. Each region of Sweden has their own songs and their own respective liquor varying in bitterness and herbal twist. It’s dangerous to have an excuse to drink this cold syrupy liquid just because it helps you digest food. It’s a win-win.
That same night his parents were having a huge party with about 60 old friends- they are quite the hosts – so we ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning partying with the older folks. Not a bad way to get introduced to the whole gang. Ludde’s parent’s farm is a haven. They have spent a lot of time making it was it is today. There is a stable connected to the house with a couple of horses. They have a pool and like any good Swede, there a sauna. It’s so relaxing out there and I feel very at peace during the few days I’ve been out there.
Other than that just taking it all in. It’s different to see such a small variance of wealth, but I suppose that is Socialism for you. There are really only a few types of cars and very few are run down or old. All you see are
Volvos, BMW’s, Vw’s and such. Being able to hop over to another country is beyond fun. It’s a thing here…if it’s been grey for too long…head over to St.Tropez or Barcelona for a few days.
White Converses are part of the unofficial Swedish uniform along with all white everything. Head to toe hues of white is perfectly fine and adds to the ambiance of the soft or stark white environment you are already in, whether it’s your home or a coffee shop. So fresh and so clean.
Also, the weather never misses out at topic of conversation. First question I get, “how do you like Sweden?” Second question, “how do you find the weather?” Or if the weather has been particularly dreary, like the first two weeks, I hear, “Sorry about the weather.” It’s as if they are personally responsible and sorry for the overcast drizzling day.
It can feel like a ghost town when the weather is as such. The streets clear out. With a population of about 9.5 million, or about 21 people per square kilometer, I understand that it’s easy for people to hid at home, but I really wonder sometimes when I enter a happening restaurant and it’s only half full.
BUT when the sun is out, Swedes flock outside to the water like bees to honey. The tan bodies I have seen have put my naturally dark complexion to shame. Serious shame. Swedes enjoy being outside like it could be their last day in months. It’s a very effective and necessary mentality and one that I have already adopted.
I make the two minute walk from the apartment out to the dock, lay my towel down, take a quick dip in the ocean which is crisp and refreshing and then peer over to Denmark, just across the water. I close my eyes and try to pick out a word of the jibber jabber I hear around me. Pretty soon it won’t sound so foreign.