Swedes are often stereotyped as being quite reserved and just not very funny people. They live their life in a cold and dark country with only their snapps to get them through. Well we decided that stereotypes aren’t always true. At least if you have been keeping up and taking all that I write as gospel then we have decided that. Anyway, their humor really shines through in certain circumstances.
Commercials for instance. IKEA commercials tend to be pretty entertaining. Luckily the Swedes do good work with English. So good in fact that quite a few commercials are in Swedish and so I can share them with you because I just don’t like translating stuff so very much.
That's where this glorious commercial comes in courtesy of YouTube. And that's lucky for me because I just didn't really have anything exciting to say today. So sit back and enjoy a ridiculous commercial. Although, I would like you all to note the irony in that this is presumably a Swedish prison despite the English. Remember the Scot being thrown into prison here? Anyway, when life in prison means 12 years why does he need to escape. Just mull that over for a while. Let it sink in. These are the deep questions that keep me up at night. It’s important to analyze even the most banal occurrences in life. That’s a lie. I just wanted to philosophize for a bit. For some reason I just thought it was damn funny.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Swedes are often stereotyped as being quite reserved and just not very funny people. They live their life in a cold and dark country with only their snapps to get them through. Well we decided that stereotypes aren’t always true. At least if you have been keeping up and taking all that I write as gospel then we have decided that. Anyway, their humor really shines through in certain circumstances.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
The free range chickens of Oklahoma have no chance against the Swedish Bull Elk. That’s right the Swedish Bull Elk (also known as a moose to most Americans, but we’re going to stay European here) has taken to claiming his right to equality by force. And violence. A hunter recently shot a Swedish Elk (notice the respect conveyed by capitalizing the “E”). Unfortunately, our hunter wasn’t a very good shot. I blame their lack of guns in this country. Not like the USA, where every American owns a gun, or at least that’s what the Swedes tell me. Anyway, the hunter then approached the wounded Swedish Elk. A regular elk is impressive and big, but this was a Swedish Elk ready to take control of his destiny. And it did.
The hunter decided not to shoot and kill the wounded Swedish Elk and instead approached the animal with his dogs. He feared that firing a shot off would frighten the dogs and cause them to attack. So instead he tried to put a leash on one of the dogs. That’s when the Swedish Elk took control of the situation. Using his antlers the Swedish Elk attacked. The hunter, being a sneaky and agile man, unlike your classic Elmer Fudd, was able to fight off the Swedish Elk. For a while. Remember the kind of elk we’re dealing with though. A Swedish Elk. The Swedish Elk suddenly raised the stakes and was able to claw at the man’s weapon and fire off a shot. The shot missed, apparently Swedish Elk are just as lousy shots as Swedish hunters. Having tried to end the man the Swedish Elk just had nothing left. It lay down to die. A valiant effort by a Swedish Elk to claim the equality offered to everyone else in Sweden. In a sense though, the Swedish Elk staked a claim just by shooting the weapon. Small consolation I’m sure for all those who were close to the Swedish Elk, but every revolution needs to start somewhere.
Today was not the Swedish Elk’s day. But next time. Next time. In the fight for equality, seldom is the first fight the deciding fight, or the last for that matter. I expect Swedish Elk attacks to rise this hunting season, and as time goes on lives will be lost, Swedish Elk will be revered as heroes and martyrs within the forests of Sweden and no hunter will be safe. And so, to all of you who plan on shooting an elk, I can only say one thing: Beware the Swedish Elk.
Check out the full article on The Local probably one of the greatest websites ever.
Friday, September 28, 2007
That’s the thing, IKEA makes your shopping trip into an experience. They have paths with arrows telling you how to get through the store. Of course, that path takes you through the entire store never offering any sort of way to avoid anything. But that’s the point. When new stores open, hundreds and hundreds of people line up outside just clamoring to be the first to get their hands on some flat packed items. Some IKEA’s even offer the chance to sleep over in the store. As I said, they offer food everywhere, and if you don’t stop at one of their restaurants in the store they grab you with their 5 SEK hotdogs at the end. That’s hard to resist.
It’s also hard to resist buying something there. I went with my friends and had no intention of buying anything. But stuff is so cheap. Or inexpensive is probably how IKEA would describe it. Sounds better than cheap. See I learned something in those marketing classes I took. Anyway, I walked out of IKEA with a bag full of stuff. Stuff I didn’t realize I needed until I saw it at IKEA. They are sneaky like that. They are making quite a bit of headway in the US so be warned America, IKEA is coming and you will buy way too much stuff.
Earlier this summer though I made a grave mistake. A mistake that I wish upon no one. A mistake that I will never make again. A Welcome to Sweden mistake. This was one of those mistakes you really learn from. I went to IKEA on a Saturday. Never, never, never, never do this. Ever. Just a horrible idea on my part. But, I had some time on my hands and thought it would be a good idea. I was wrong. I have never seen so many people in a store before. It was a madhouse. Kids were running everywhere, this despite IKEA offering Småland, a play-place where parents can drop off their kids. There were just too many of them. Everywhere. Parents were yelling at their kids, for their kid, to their kids. Searching for them, trying to keep them under control all while steering their battering rams. I think some people call them strollers. It was incredible. In that stressful, kind of scary, I never want to do this again way.
It was difficult to move when I got close to the end. That is where IKEA puts all of the small stuff that is pretty cheap and that people can’t resist. People are loitering everywhere debating on whether they really need more candles or another set of IKEA glasses. It was literally elbow to elbow traffic. In a store. This wasn’t a glorious Bruce Springsteen concert, it wasn’t the Super Bowl it was just IKEA. Learn from my mistakes. Take the time to experience IKEA. Just never on a Saturday.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
My buddy Ellis Reed often refers to me as the Swedish enigma (he also tells me to “kick a dope verse and then ghost” but that’s a different story). Mostly because I carry myself very much like an American but still have some Swedish in me. It’s interesting, when I am in America I am seen as a Swede, but when I’m in Sweden I’m seen as an American. I’m a wandering soul with no place to call my own. That’s not true but it almost sounded poetic didn’t it?
I very much consider myself American. I grew up there and consider it home. I’m not ashamed to be American and generally stick up for the US in discussions. Traveling abroad during the last few years has not always been easy because of the stereotypes and the views the rest of the world has about the US. Those views being, in no particular order: Fat. Cowboy. Car worshipper. Ignorant to international affairs. Talkative.
Of course, being seen as an American here in Sweden I’ve heard most of these. Obviously I don’t think I fit them at all. I do like having a car though but can get by just fine with public transportation. I suppose some people fit the bill but for the most part I get tired of hearing them. That’s probably the case with most stereotypes, they fit a few people and the rest of the population takes the brunt of it. Collateral damage if you will. It’s a bummer but it happens.
I guess in theory I should be a fat, tall, blonde haired, blue eyed, internationally ignorant guy wearing a cowboy hat as I drive around Stockholm who can’t stop talking. Imagine a grown-up Eric Cartman with a cowboy hat instead of the beanie. Hmmm… sounds like a good looking fella to me. I don’t think that’s me at all though. Who knows, others might disagree. That’s what’s so interesting about stereotypes. There truth lies very much in the eye of the beholder, or the prejudiced.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Clearly, if the man returned to the fight, after the fight had calmed down, with a large knife he had time to think about what he was doing. He had time to calm down. Time to think, “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t go back to the bar and stab someone, instead I’ll make a frozen pizza.” I love frozen pizza when I’m drunk. This would have been a much better solution. That obviously didn’t happen. You would think then that this man would pay dearly for what he did. Nope. Now $75,000 is a decent amount of money. I don’t have that kind of money to throw around. Of course, I didn’t kill anyone, but had I killed someone, I would expect to pay a lot more money. I think anyone would like to think their life is worth more than $75,000.
To suggest that a small fine and 10 years in prison is enough of a punishment for murder is asinine. The Swedish justice system blows my mind. Criminals are put away for grave offenses, murder, rape, child molestation and then are let out just a few years later. Life in prison here in Sweden tends to mean 12 years. Maybe a couple years extra if you’re an ass while in prison. That’s not life. If that were the case I’ve almost lived two lives. I’m amazing.
In another recent case, a Scottish man came to Sweden and ran up a huge bill (nearly $20,000) at a fancy restaurant in Stockholm then refused to pay. He was more than happy to go to prison here in Sweden and in fact asked to be taken to jail. Turns out he was a known sex offender in Scotland. Turns out that the guy is going to plead guilty and actually wants to serve his prison term here in Sweden. Now I know I gave you all kinds of articles but they all have just a little something extra in them. In the last one, as reported by The Local, the man’s lawyer was asked why he wanted to stay in prison, to which the lawyer simply gave no comment. Hmmmm. Now I have a few ideas. One of them being that he has something going on in Scotland and decided he’d should probably get out of there for a while. Or maybe he was just tired of paying for his own food, his own rent, his own bills, and so he did a little research, saw how cushy jail was in Sweden and came up with this plan. Genius really.
Well, here’s the thing. If I were in charge of any sort of prison system in Sweden I would see this as an insult. I don’t want the criminals from all over Europe deciding that this is a good place to commit crimes because even if they get caught, life is good in jail. While prison should help reform people, it should also be scary enough that it is seen as a deterrent to crime. This isn’t happening in Sweden. Murderers are spending 10 years in jail, and criminals outside of Sweden are coming here to commit crimes so they can go to jail here instead of their own countries. That’s not good. In the US the death penalty is still in use and life in prison means life in prison. Not a decade. Some people even get multiple life sentences, which might seem silly since you can’t have more than one life. But, as we already discussed earlier, when life is only 12 years you can have a few of them. The Americans are just covering themselves in case someone lives a little too long for just one life sentence. Better safe than sorry.
I’m all for people spending a whole lot of time in jail for killing someone. The sentences here in Sweden just aren’t long enough. Welcome to Sweden, a liberal land where you can kill a man at 20 and be out before you even hit your mid-30s.
For those of you just dying to know what the Scottish fellow spent his money on here is the bill, again from the wonderful reporting at The Local.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Either way, Stockholm was ranked on environmental criteria and finished first followed closely by another Scandinavian city, Oslo. Luckily, the Norwegians had no chance. Probably because of all that oil they are pulling out of the ocean off their west coast. Stockholm pulled in this amazing prize based on their greenness. That’s hippy for being good for the environment.
Stockholm is pretty impressive though. One third of the city is water, one third of the city is parkland, and the other third is actual city. I was in London a little over a month ago and was amazed at the lack of trees and plant life in the city. In comparison Stockholm looked like the Amazon, lush with flora. The city is built on a number of different islands, so I suppose it is in the Swedes best interest to keep the environment in mind seeing as how a rise in the water levels could do some serious damage. They keep up their end of the bargain though and it is well worth it as you walk through the city and come across water almost everywhere you go.
Swedes are very conscious of the environment in everything they do. All household trash is separated in order to recycle and reuse as much as possible. I mean everything is separated, cardboard, soft plastic, hard plastic, batteries, metal, colored glass, clear glass, everything. Swedes are extremely keen on recycling bottles and cans. I have even found myself picking up other bottles and cans to recycle. This might have more to do with my being unemployed and the money that bottles can give you (4 SEK for the hard plastic Coke bottles!), but that’s a different story.
When you go grocery shopping in Sweden you have to either bring your own shopping bags or buy them at the store. That’s right, buy them. Granted, they tend to only be about 1 or 1.5 SEK but still. That adds up over the course of a year. Just another way the Swedes, “suggest” you reuse things. Very sneaky those Swedes. It works though. Everyone brings reusable canvas bags or brings their old paper and plastic bags from previous shopping trips. IKEA has done good work in this regard; they offer a blue bag that every Swede owns. I think it is standard issue once you receive your passport. Like a sort of signing bonus. Even in the US, IKEA has started pushing this idea, charging people for bags in the hopes that they will bring their own. No word yet on if it is working but we’ll see if IKEA has that sort of power over American society yet or if it is still a ways away.
So I haven’t really lived here long enough to know how green Stockholm really is. Having never really lived in a big city before I can’t even compare Stockholm to a large American city. I’ve been kind of spoiled and always lived in very outdoorsy places so I’ve been close to valleys, lakes, rivers, even mountains so I’m a tough critic. I do know though that Stockholm is a beautiful city, an extremely clean city, and is surrounded by crystal clear water, various shades of green, and enough parks to make Yellowstone jealous. I think I made the right decision.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Wow! Before you read on any further you have to watch this. Trust me. This is incredible.
Alright, you’re back. I’m glad. Amazing isn’t it? She just keeps going. I'm impressed. Period pains are her explanation. I don't know, I'm not in the business of having period pains so maybe, but either way she really went at it. A trooper if you will. You can kind of see her getting ready to vomit, like she's trying to swallow it down but can't quite do it and then all of a sudden there it is.
We've all been there at one point or another. Knowing we are going to puke but just trying to avoid it. She can't, and it just happens that she is on live television in Sweden. Wow. The Swedes do not mess around with their day time TV contests.
Seriously, I'm so impressed. And kind of grossed out. Mostly impressed though. I think I would have bailed. I’m really not into having to continue on with taking phone calls and being on live TV after having vomited everywhere. I seem to have a bit of a running theme here with Swedish reporters being surprised by their bodily functions. Reporters vomiting everywhere, reporter farting on TV . It’s just amazing. The Swede are a funny people!
Check out this article for a quick explanation and translation!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I saw the young couple who considered themselves art experts quietly discussing a piece that consisted of blue paint smeared across a canvas. The guy even tilted his head as if he were contemplating the meaning of life. Absolutely glorious. I didn’t really know those people existed.
I saw the artists-to-be all dressed in black eschewing colorful clothing so as to become one with their art. Maybe. I don’t really know. They walked around eyeing the artwork of their heroes thinking that someday their rubbish heap will be displayed in the museum. They also made critical comments as if they knew what they were talking about. I’m sure some of them did, but some of them just gave off the aura of being full of it.
I saw tourists examining everything because they were tourists and that what tourists are supposed to do. They looked at the paintings, maybe read the title, and then moved on. It was as if they felt the need to check out some museums in Stockholm but would rather be outside in the beautiful weather but they were in the museum so damn it they were going to look at the art!
I even saw the stereotypical Swedish woman. Three young blonde mothers with their children out for a nice day of culture. All dressed in black of course because as we’ve had hammered into our heads by the fashion trendsetters and all of the newspapers, black is the fall color this year. Of course every fall and winter I’ve been here black has been THE color but that’s neither here nor there.
My lack of fashion was hammered home even more later in the evening as we went to an Irish pub in the middle of Stockholm. Great little place with really cheap beer. Surprisingly cheap actually which made for a much cheaper evening than usual. Anyway, while it was a pretty laid back place later in the evening a group of women came in clearly dressed for a night on the town. This was followed by a smaller group of guys also dressed for a night on the town. It’s amazing how much time these people must spend preening themselves. They looked like they had just stolen the clothes off the mannequins at H&M. I on the other hand, did not.
Despite my lack of taste it was a pretty entertaining day. The museum was fun and if nothing else offered wonderful people watching, and the bar had the perfect atmosphere to just hang out and catch up. I suppose that’s really what counts, and plus it gave me another opportunity to rant about the Swedes and their nose for fashion.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Everyone wants to have the fanciest camera phone, the fanciest mp3 phone and they want to make sure to use it so everyone can see how fancy their phone really is. Maybe it’s because here in the Nordic countries there are some pretty big cell phone companies, Ericsson here in Sweden and then Nokia over in Finland. Maybe Swedes are just supporting the local economy by always buying the fanciest phones, or maybe they are just gadget happy and need something to play with in the dark winter months. I don’t know but the phones have it all here.
What really bothers me is the mp3 stuff. People hang out on the subway and trains playing their music on their phone out loud so that everyone is subject to awful Swedish pop music or whatever songs the owner chooses to torture us with.
If you ever find yourself waiting in Stockholm for a train or subway take a look down the platform. What you’ll see is at least half of the people waiting are on their phone. If they aren’t on their phone they are getting it out of their pocket to check the time, check their text messages, or getting ready to type a text message. It’s absolutely incredible.
Phones are always ringing, and loudly. I think Swedes as a general rule must have hearing problems because I can’t figure out any other reason why the rings have to be so very loud. And when that phone rings I swear it’s like a druggie getting their fix. Faces light up, excitement overtakes them, you can see the endorphins running through their bodies, they even shake a little bit as they reach for their phone. Now everyone knows how important they are.
This is the first time I’ve ever lived in a bigger city so maybe this isn’t unique to Stockholm, maybe all big cities are like this. I hope not. It seems like such a rude and disconnected way to live your life.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Sweden is well known for their design capabilities. IKEA, H&M, Saab and Volvo, well designed products that the entire world is familiar with. Most of which kind of sticks to this minimalist idea of getting the most out of the product without going overboard. Efficiency is key. I credit the Swedish winters for that what with the cold and the darkness people don’t want to waste any sort of energy on things that aren’t that important and instead focus on the things that are, like the safety of a Volvo. Anyway, having been here in Sweden for a while now, and having acclimated in some sense to the Swedish design that surrounds me I think I’m losing touch with the good work they do.
I just haven’t been impressed with the design and functionality of things here lately. In fact, I’ve been noticing that trains and busses have been running late quite a bit. It drives me crazy. Of course, when I stop to think about it, this running late tends to mean that the trains are a couple of minutes delayed for one reason or another but still. Maybe, I have been spoiled by the Swedish punctuality and efficiency that I take it for granted and only notice when things don’t work as they should. That seems very Swedish actually. When you get used to things being a certain way and working as they are meant to work all the time you start to expect that sort of thing. I seem to have fallen in to that trap. It looks like I’m taking a step in the right direction in regaining some Swedishness though.
I am absolutely astounded by this idea. I think it's kind of cool to still have a Royal Family. Makes for a nice story I suppose but I just can't seem to wrap my mind around the fact that they just get grants to live off of. Hey good for them though. I guess they are living the good life. Can’t fault them at all for being born into that situation.
That being said you are definitely allowed to be a little bit jealous of them. I’m a little jealous. I wouldn’t mind getting grants to live my life in castles throughout Stockholm and Sweden. I mean if I had to I suppose I could manage to live in a castle just in Stockholm. I’m a simple man really, give me a castle to live in and millions of SEK to live off of and I’m satisfied.
I suppose this is just another Welcome to Sweden moment for me!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is because of what the Swedes refer to as being “pappaledig,” basically it’s paternity leave. Dad’s throughout Sweden have the option to take time off of work and still receive their salary when their wives have a child. They are allowed to do this at the same time that the mother is “mammaledig” or take the time afterwards. Father’s can get up to 6 months of time off and receive 80% of their salary. I think you can even transfer some of those days to your partner, but I’m not entirely sure on that (since I’m not in the business of making babies yet I haven’t spent too much time reading up on this). Either way it’s a system which allows people to take time off from work and stay with their children in the early stages and avoid all those trips to the day care.
A friend of mine was talking about this and said that he had met a guy from England a while back who had noticed all of this. He asked what the deal was with all of the gay male nannies in Sweden. The idea of a father having time off to be with his child was so foreign to him that he just assumed that they were male nannies. And the gay part must be something British, maybe male nannies in England are gay, I don’t know. I’ve never met a gay male nanny so we’ll chalk that up to being a British thing. Anyway, I thought it was incredibly interesting that this idea, which is so common and accepted here in Sweden, would be so alien to a country that is only a two hour flight away.
I like the idea here, mainly because you get time off and get paid for it. I’m curious though how much of a difference it makes in child development and all that good stuff that this is supposed to encourage.
5 Tips to Being Interesting - Well written and just good advice really.
9 Tips to be More Creative - Some good tips to get over the hump whether it be writing or coming up with a killer ad for the marketing department at work.
6 Tips to Generate Outstanding Ideas - Again, more good ideas to generate good ideas.
Quick meals, not fast foods - For the lazy cook, like me!
How to keep your marriage, despite your Heavy Metal addiction - Just kind of funny, I like some heavymetal every now and again.
And of course my own entry:
Five Tips for Making Soccer/Football Exciting (or at Least Tolerable) No Matter Where You Are
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Swedes though love the tight stuff. Women everywhere wear tights. The summer was filled with women in shorts… and tights. Women in skirts… and tights. Having never worn tights on a regular basis (there was this Halloween costume…) I can’t speak from experience but it seems like wearing tights in the heat of summer must be miserable. Along with the tights were the scarves that you could see all around town… in July. That’s the price you pay to look good though I suppose.
Men are no different, while you won’t see too many men wearing tights you sure do see them wearing tight jeans. Way too tight. Tight as in uncomfortably tight. The tightness doesn’t stop there though, tight shirts are huge also. Swedish men tend to be somewhat skinnier than Americans, or me at least, so I thought that maybe the tight clothing was in order to make them look a bit bigger. I was informed though by some Swedes that it I actually the opposite. The tightness is meant to show just how small they really are. I’m still not entirely sure I buy it but I suppose it’s possible.
Maybe this is all just a quick little fashion fad and normal fitting clothes will come back in style. Who knows, maybe I’ll be considered a fashion guru as I wear my baggier jeans and regular shirts. Maybe. But probably not. Either way, I’m going to stick to clothes I can move around in. Just another failed attempt at being Swedish, much like my soccer/football attempts. Oh well, I’m just not willing to sacrifice that much to fit in completely. Plus clothes are just way too expensive in this country to try to keep up with fashion, and I’m cheap. And unemployed still.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Having discussed this with plenty of people, mostly a few of my buddies and CBCC I have decided that there aren’t more absolutely gorgeous people in Sweden. I’d say that percentage wise Swedes and Americans have the same amount of just absolutely beautiful people. These are the ridiculous girls you see walking down the street and can’t help but turn your head, or the guy in the bar that always gets the extra look from the girls walking by. It’s just that the average person in Sweden is better looking (studies have been done, I’m sure of it so feel free to take this as absolute fact). These are the good looking people you’re going to date and marry.
Quick side note; I’m writing “people,” but like I said, this was discussed with a bunch of my buddies so who are we kidding, when I write “people” you can read “women.” I will admit though that even the men seem to be a better looking group of people. Alright, back to the incredibly important discussion at hand.
With the average person being better looking the percentage of good looking people really skyrockets. Maybe it’s the outdoorsy culture, maybe it’s the fact that everyone walks and rides bikes so you see a better fitness level, maybe it’s that everyone has a very natural look to them, or maybe I just got tired of looking at Americans. I’m not really sure, either way it’s a better looking stock of people here I’ve decided.
CBCC has commented that people in the US pay good money to have surgery to look like the Swedes do naturally, especially all of the university students he sees in Uppsala. He makes a good point; Americans are willing to put all kinds of stuff in their bodies so that they can look more natural. But there’s nothing more unnatural than filling your body with chemicals and plastic. Quite the conundrum for an American hoping to look prettier. So what is an American to do? I don’t have an answer, hell I’m the guy that just told you the average Swede is better looking than Americans. In the meantime Americans can continue to try to reach the Swedish ,stereotype.
I stumbled across a classic Swedish stereotype the other day immortalized in a YouTube music video. Glorious. Hilarious. Amazing. Words just can’t do it justice. If you haven’t already check it out, it’s called, appropriately enough considering the stereotyping, “Inga from Sweden.” Enjoy.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Today was a prime example. I went to Stockholm University today to finish up my registration for my class. I had to wait for my university transcripts to be sent from America, they showed up today so I headed in. Well, first I waited in line for nearly 15 minutes at a desk that was unmanned with no bell or anyway of announcing that I was there. I read the signs, and my papers to make sure I was in the right place. I was. Finally, an older woman arrived, slowly I might add, and told me that I actually needed to go downstairs despite what my paper and the signs said. So I did.
Once down there I was told that even though I speak Swedish, and studied Swedish at university I was not guaranteed to be admitted to all university classes and so we would have to go back upstairs and talk to someone who could better judge my transcripts. The Viking history class I’m taking is in English so it’s not a big deal really but I figured that I would keep my options open just in case I want to take another class sometime in the future. So we headed upstairs. Keep in mind that everything is being done in Swedish. I haven’t said a single word in English.
When we arrived upstairs I met with the gentleman who was to decipher my American transcripts. I explained to him, in Swedish, that I spoke Swedish, had studied abroad here in Sweden, and even studied Swedish in the US earning a degree in Scandinavian Studies. He then asked me why History and Business were listed as majors. I had to explain that I had done three majors. He was no impressed. In fact, he told me that in order to allow me to take classes in Swedish he would have like to have seen Swedish as my fulltime course of study. My explanations that I had actually done more than required fell on deaf ears. After wearing him down enough, still in Swedish, he referred me to the Nordic languages department. I haven’t made it there yet. Just didn’t have it in me.
Anyway, after that lovely display of bureaucracy DCP and I headed to the bank right in the middle of Stockholm to work out internet banking. We were greeted by the ubiquitous kölapp. Basically you take a number to stand in line and then get called up. Well we snagged one and waited dutifully. When we were called up we found out that because DCP is not a Swedish citizen she can’t have internet banking. She is still allowed to have a bank account, card, and everything else but no internet banking. Probably one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. We were told there were many reasons for this. When we asked what they were the teller only told us one reason: they couldn’t be sure of who DCP was because she hadn’t had a Swedish ID number long enough. Aaah, of course, because that is the only way to find out the true character of a person. Silly Americans, we should have known that.
Not the most successful day in terms of integrating into Swedish society, oh well. Welcome to Sweden I guess.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Most people don’t like this at all. Understandably I suppose. I don’t mind so much, in fact having spent quite a bit of time in ridiculously rainy winters where the sun doesn’t come out for two weeks I much prefer the darkness. At least the sun is out for a little while and when there’s snow on the ground it feels so bright. So even though by December there will be about 6 hours of light I’m kind of excited. The Swedish winter has this eerie, exciting, romantic feel to it. Even though the darkness tries to take over, the city fights back by lighting everything up. It’s beautiful. Hopefully I still think that by the time February rolls around.
When the darkness falls, quite a few Swedes decide that they are suffering from SAD, a cute little acronym that stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which basically means they are sad because it’s winter. Cute huh? Anyway, because of this there is a booming fake tanning business. It almost seems addictive to a lot of people. I’ve never understood, but of course I’m the guy who walks outside shirtless in the middle of summer to get the mail and come back sunburned. I’m probably the wrong person to endorse this but for some people it seems to work.
Some people drink more. As I’ve already mentioned, the alcohol culture here in Sweden is a bit different than in the US. The winter seems to ramp up alcohol sales, part of that probably has to do with the university students being back in class but I think the darkness definitely plays a roll. So, to fight SAD they drink. Whatever floats your boat I suppose.
I’m just going to hunker down at home and enjoy the experience. Next winter might be a different story, but for now everything is pretty exciting.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
My Swedish is pretty solid, Swedish was always spoken in my home in the US and so I am pretty fluent. That being said, my writing skills are nowhere near where they should be for a college graduate. Yet. I’m learning though, and this is where TV comes in.
Sweden gets all kinds of crappy shows from the US and Britain. The beautiful thing is that the Swedes don’t dub. They give subtitles to everything (sometimes even Swedish shows). I force myself then to read the subtitles regardless of what language is on the TV. I’m learning how to spell certain words, learning new words, learning more colloquialisms, it’s glorious really and all because of TV.
I really do believe this has been more helpful than I expected. It’s something I wish happened more in the US. I’m all for learning the language of the country you’re in; in fact I can’t imagine not doing that. A person misses out on so very much when they choose to ignore the customs and culture and language of the country they are in. But I also think it’s extremely important to learn other languages so that you can take an active part in whatever country you live in. When everything is dubbed and handed to us in English we never have to think about things, never have to read subtitles, never have to learn anything new. I definitely think the Swedes got it right on this one.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Viking age coins have a little bit of a different time period than the actual Vikings. It is generally accepted that the Viking Age lasted from 800-1100 give or take 50 years here and there depending on who you ask. When it comes to coins though, according to Kenneth Jonsson at Stockholm University, the Viking age lasts from about 800-1140, and apparently that extra 40 years make a difference. Most of the hoards consist of coins from all over Europe at the time. However, the majority of the coins come from Germany, England, and Islamic lands at the time. Coins from other areas like the Nordic lands can be found but are not nearly as common. The coins vary in craftsmanship and some are pretty impressive considering they are over 1000 years old.
Anyway, the Swedes have a law dating back hundreds of years that says that you must turn over any historical finds (like Viking hoards) to the state. They ensure that people do this by paying market value for the find. So while the coins from this era were about 95% silver which by itself would end up being a decent amount of money for a good sized find the government wants to be sure that you turn over everything and don’t decide to melt some of the silver down. This is where market value comes in.
We’re talking market value as a historical and archeological find. A farmer on Gotland a few years back found a hoard with about 65 kilos worth of silver. He was paid 2.2 million kronor which is a little more than $300,000 at today’s exchange. Imagine just hanging out tilling your land on a little island off the coast of Sweden and all of a sudden you are $300,000 richer. Not bad at all. As a history nerd though I’d think I would have to pocket one or two of the coins. Just as proof that it really happened. A keepsake if you will. I mean it’s not too often you come across thousand year old artifacts in your backyard. I never found any hoards in the US!
I love this Swedish law though. It really ensures that the museums in Stockholm, and throughout Sweden, are stocked with some very impressive artifacts. Plus, it’s compensates the finder, and avoids just swooping in and taking it from them. That concludes my foray into historical blogging. Hope you made it through ok! And just in case you care, it looks like the US is up by one early on in the Solheim Cup.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Anyway, as I mentioned in an earlier post I just can’t get into soccer/football. It just doesn’t do it for me, but I’ve decided that living in Sweden, I have to try. And so, without further ado, I’d like to introduce to you to my surefire tips to making soccer/football exciting.
Tip Number One: Only watch important games. Pick and choose the games you watch. For example, no one cares when Aruba plays Montenegro. On the other hand, people care when it’s the World Cup and the game pits France against Italy and ends with a head butt. People care about rivalries like England-Argentina. Apparently some bad blood exists there. I blame that ridiculous mohawk thing David Beckham had for a while.
Tip Number Two: Watch with someone who cares. This can be vital. Excitement is contagious and when someone else gets into it it’s a lot easier to get caught up in their excitement. Watch with your soccer/football buddy who is a diehard ManU fan. Then cheer against him. Nothing like creating your own little rivalry to make things exciting.
Tip Number Three: Do something else while the game is on. Find something that excites you. Cook. Check your Fantasy Football stats. Read this blog. Have sex. Eat. Whatever. This way you can look up at the TV when the announcer starts screaming, you have now effectively screened soccer/football for all the exciting moments while still doing other exciting things. It’s perfect really.
Tip Number Four: Only watch the last five minutes of a game. Of course this is hard to judge because the refs have the power to tack on time at the end, but around the 85 minute mark games can get exciting. There is a caveat here though. One team should be down by a goal with something to play for. At this point, players decide that rather than hanging out in the middle and passing it around in a triangle they can start attacking and taking some shots. Shots on goal lead to excitement, mostly because the goal is the size of the side of a barn and the poor goalie is on an island.
Tip Number Five: Drink. Heavily. For the entire game. Every time, a player takes a dive take a drink (that’s worth at least five drinks per half). Every time the goalie makes a save take a drink (that’s worth maybe five drinks… per game). Drink when you see a crazy fan shirtless (depending on the game this could lead to alcohol poisoning, use your best judgment here). Take a drink for every minute tacked on by the ref. Drink for every yellow card, two if a red card. Seriously. Just drink.
Follow these tips and I think even the most casual fan can enjoy a soccer/football game. Or at least make it through 90 minutes (I can’t guarantee the extra time). Good luck and if you’re still having trouble check out Ellis Reed’s suggestions for fixing the game.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Uppsala is very much a college town. It’s a beautiful old town, but during the school year is overrun with university students. It’s amazing. And fun. And loud. And drunken. Really all you could hope for in a college town. At the center of this are the Nations.
Nations are hard to explain to people, especially Americans (read the University's explanation here). Your first reaction always tends to be: “Well, they’re kind of like the Greek life” but that doesn’t do any sort of justice whatsoever to the Nations (and if you ask me is somewhat of an insult). Students join a Nation, and there are plenty to choose from, just like most Greek life in the US. However, very few people live at the Nations, if any at all, and everyone joins. This isn’t like Greek life at home where just a few people join. It’s very egalitarian in that sense.
The Nations are more like clubs and bars than frats or sororities. Almost all of them serve alcohol and have different attractions, some being dance clubs, some being calm little pubs, and others bringing in live music. Just a wide range of possibilities. At the same time though, you can go to the Nation and grab a good cheap meal. You can take time to get away and study there. They even hold wonderful gasques, where you get all gussied up in a suit or tux and eat fancy food and then go to the after-party. They are truly versatile, and just a huge part of university life in Uppsala, and something I loved being a part of again.
CBCC did a good job of taking care of things and it ended up being a great night. So here I am back in Stockholm, very tired, but pretty pleased with the previous evening, but at the same time very much looking forward to not doing a whole lot tonight.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Swedish pancakes are very thing, kind of crepeish if you will. They are also delicious and served with jam and usually cream. I didn’t have any cream but I had plenty of jam. I also had the pancake mix (I’m not quite ready for making them from scratch, but if you are check out a recipe), butter, water, and a frying pan. I even tried to be fancy and add some vanilla sugar. I was set.
I was wrong. There is apparently some skill involved in getting the pancakes to look Swedish. With a sort of mottled browning look. Well I set about with a medium heat for the first pancake and a whole lot of butter in the pan. I was hungry though, and when I get hungry I get impatient. So I started flipping. Apparently a bit early and what I ended up with was a pancake that was drowning in butter and falling apart. So I decided that a higher heat would speed the process and keep the pancake from falling apart when I flipped it.
I was right. Sort of. The pancake cooked very quickly, unfortunately I couldn’t get the mottled look on one side. When I flipped it, by moving it around on the frying pan I got the mottled look, which was a moral victory for me. Well the problem with a higher heat was that t cooked the outside of the pancake pretty quickly. In fact so quickly that it tricked me into thinking the pancake was done. Now as I said, Swedish pancakes tend to be very thin but they still need to cook all the way through. Mine didn’t. And now I’ve decided that next time I cook them I need to eat something before I start so that my stomach isn’t governing my cooking skills.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Having applied for quite a few jobs here in Sweden I have started to realize that seldom do the Swedes send you notice of your application one way or the other. I keep a log of the jobs I apply for and when I applied for them and a majority of the job applications go back nearly three months with no answer. Now I think it’s probably a safe bet that they are nos but still. I think that if you take the time to apply for a job and show interest in a company the least they could do is send a response saying “Sorry, you didn’t get it.” I’ve also been receiving responses just recently from jobs that I applied for in the middle of the summer. Two months later I’m hearing back, come on now. I'm a simple man. I like simple things. Steak. Sports. Books. I also like common courtesy and a damn response now and then!
Anyway, I think I'm done with my rant. Back to today’s round of applications. With my ranting in mind, I have already been turned down for two of the jobs. I applied for the job at 1:36pm. I received an e-mail saying they were moving on with different candidates at 2:00pm. That’s 24 minutes. Impressive here in Sweden. It was from an American company though. Now I expected to be turned down for this job, it was an HR job and I have done a bit of work with HR before but basically I just wanted to get my CV in to the company. Now it goes on file with them which I figure is better than them not having it at all. Well following that e-mail I received another no. This one from a job that I was on the cusp of being qualified for. They needed a junior marketing manager and wanted three years of experience. Well I’m not quite there but was close so I figured I’d go for it. Again, I wasn’t pinning all of my hopes on this job at all but thought I might at least get some consideration. Nope. They took only two hours to shoot me down. At least I got a response though! This came from a Czech company, again not the Swedes.
I’ve got a meeting tomorrow afternoon about a job opportunity. Not really an interview just kind of a possibility to explore. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll be honest though – I’m not all that confident. They are a very new organization and don’t have a whole lot of opportunities right now, but I would definitely enjoy working with them I think. Maybe they will just be completely wowed by my charm and good looks. Probably.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Along with the crayfish party last night Sweden played Denmark in soccer/football. Whatever you want to call it I just can't seem to get into it. I love sports, but when a game is described as Sweden and Denmark in thrilling stalemate and the game is scoreless, I just don't have much interest. Maybe it's Sweden's neutrality and laid back attitude but ties don't really strike me as thrilling. In fact a tie in most sporting events leave a bitter taste in my mouth and a wanting for some sort of resolution. The MLB All-Star Game a few years back comes to mind. Anyway, rather than watch the game I socialized. Maybe that's a step in the wrong direction in trying to become more Swedish in a soccer/football loving nation, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Maybe in a year or two I will have made some strides but until then give me football with big guys in pads beating the hell out of each other.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
No new word on the job front. The phone calls and e-mails made in the last couple of days amounted to very little response which was a bummer.
Tonight I'm heading to a crayfish party, DCP can't come which is too bad. Basically an excuse for the Swedes to eat crayfish, drink a lot, and sing some songs. The drinking culture here is quite different than in the States. Maybe it has something to do with the price of alcohol, the strength of alcohol, and the different drinking age. Or maybe Swedes just have more alcoholic tendencies than Americans (other than college students). The alcohol business in Sweden is state run. The government has a monopoly on the sale of alcohol to consumers from liquor stores. It's called System Bolaget. Some people find this to be a lovely system that is kind of cutesy and backwoods (that's right, cutesy). I on the other hand find it antiquated and annoying when I want some beer on a Saturday but the stores are closed by 3 in the afternoon. I'm still not used to having to plan my drinking ahead so much but I'm getting better. I personally think that this just adds to the drinking culture because people don't want to run out of booze so they buy a ridiculous amount of it Friday afternoon. Then by the time they realize they have too much they are good and hammered and just decide to keep drinking. Wouldn't want any left over for next week. Then we wouldn't get to stand in line at the liquor store.
Friday, September 07, 2007
The job search continues today. I made some phone calls and sent a few e-mails yesterday trying to follow up on some leads I've been working on but nothing is concrete. I've been doing some part-time work at a museum here but really need something more permanent. I've hooked up with a recruiting agency but most of the time they just find worthless 3 or 4 day projects involving me sitting on a phone in an office in the middle of Stockholm calling the US. Because of the time difference they want me in the office until about 10pm. Not exactly my idea of fun and so I say no. Again, maybe being too picky, but a comment was left saying that "careful" is a better term. So that's what I'm going with. I'm just being careful.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
I've managed to do a good job with money up until this point and I worry that that has made me a bit lazy. Maybe lazy is the wrong word. Too picky. Rather than jumping at every job opportunity that comes by I have been very selective. I don't want to be miserable in my work like so many people I see around me. Now I'm concerned though that it's been so long that I'm just kind of tuning to mush. I need to find something that keeps me engaged and halfway entertained. Hopefully, something will pop up. I've been trying to make moves but moves have been hard to make in the 20 hour day of the Swedish summer. I'm feeling good though as the darkness begins to fall.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
June of 2007 I landed at Arlanda airport for my Swedish adventure. I was born in Sweden but moved to the US when I was about 6. I made trips to Sweden, I even studied in Sweden for a bit, but I became very American. After having graduated from college I decided it was time to move to my birth country.
Maybe it's some sort of identity crisis. Maybe I'm running away from a real job and a real life. Maybe I just needed a change. Hell, it could be all of those things. Either way, here I am in Sweden learning to be a Swede while carrying a lifetime of Americanism in me. We'll see how it goes.
And I hope you stick around to experience it with me. I write what I see here in Sweden. What I hear. What I experience. The good, the bad, and everything in between. I even throw in some advice for those of you who want to move to the land of the midnight sun. Take what I write for what it’s worth…
Please leave your thoughts, complaints, questions, suggestions, anything really. Just comment. Good or bad, I respond to everything. And of course, subscribe so you can be the first to know when I update.
And if you want, shoot me an email: aswedishamericaninsweden at gmail dot com.
By the way. As of August 2014, I am in Sweden for a year conducting research for my PhD. I'm receiving funding from various organizations to conduct that research. That means that every word I write, every idea I put forth, everything I do is because I choose to do so and it represents me and me alone. Which is funny, because I've written things that I don't even agree with now. I suppose that happens when I started this blog bak in 2007. All those things I write in the future, or have already written, they do not reflect any position by any organization that is funding me - like a non-profit. Or a university. Or a government. Or a for-profit. Or anyone. Good. I'm glad we had this talk.
If you're planning on possibly moving to Sweden, or even just visiting for a while check out my Moving to Sweden series:
Moving to Sweden – What to Bring
Moving to Sweden – The Swedish Language
Moving to Sweden – Finding a Place to Live
Moving to Sweden – The Metric System and You
Moving to Sweden – Getting a Cell Phone
Moving to Sweden – Getting from the Airport to Stockholm City
Moving to Sweden – The Weather
Moving to Sweden – Swedish Citizenship Test
Moving to Sweden – Public Holidays
Moving to Sweden – Finding a Job
Moving to Sweden – Culture Shock: It's the Little Things
Moving to Sweden – Making Friends
Moving to Sweden – Cost of Living
Moving to Sweden – The Laundry Room
Moving to Sweden – Marijuana
Moving to Sweden – Most Common Jobs and Salaries