I’ve been asked to share my impressions of Sweden. I’m back home so here I am. I was there for a retreat in the Swedish archipelago. About half the people were from Nordic countries. The other half were largely from other parts of Europe, Americans living there, and a handful of us actually traveled there from the United States. I also stayed for a few more days afterwards to wait for my delayed luggage, foregoing my trip to Lithuania.
Cashless Society. I loved the efficiency of using our credit cards on public transport, instead of having to go to the station and buy tickets (even though you can do that with a credit card as well). At the end of the retreat, as a lot of us were headed to the airport, a German woman said that Germany was moving in the other direction; she busted out some German idiom which amounts to “if you can’t hold it in your hand…”
Food. Food is a speedy way to experience a culture. I like the food, especially since I’m a seafood fanatic. As I talked about in the other thread, eating fish eggs out of a toothpaste tube was a new experience. They explained to me that you’re supposed to eat it with boiled eggs. So fish eggs with chicken eggs, got it.
Scandinavia? I think it’s cute how Nordic people stick together. There appears to be no agreed upon definition among Swedes what Scandinavia encompasses. One Swede said it’s a mountain range. So is Finland part of that mountain chain? Yes, so they’re Scandinavian too. But others said no, because their language. Then what about Iceland [which was part of my trip too]? Iceland’s language is Scandinavian. Iceland’s certainly not part of the mountain range. Confusing confusing.
Thailand. Tons of Swedes go to Thailand. After the retreat, I stayed in an Airbnb room with a picture of a Thai elephant on the wall. Look at how many people are at the Thai Airways check-in counter at Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
Brännboll (pronounced BURN-ball).We learned this bat-and-ball game at the retreat. You throw ball up and hit it (that’s what you do in baseball when you don’t have anyone to play with). And you literally “round” bases instead of stepping on them, and instead of the ball and the runner jockeying for the same base, it goes to the “burner.” So how would you know who got there first if they’re two different locations? The burner yells “Burn!” I loved this game, mostly because I felt a triumphant sense of American pride when we absolutely dominated. In retrospect, it’s not surprising; two similar bat-and-ball games, one a major sport in the USA, another an amateur sport in Sweden.
American Accent? Before arriving, I thought that Scandinavians all spoke English with an American accent because they watch American movies. As it turns out, though many do, some speak with the British accent, some just speaks like any other foreigner whose English is a second language. It’s probably roughly 1/3, 1/3, 1/3.
Now for the negative: Airport. They have kids in yellow jackets at the airport providing information. It appears they’re supposed to tell you what they know, and then direct you to someone else if they can’t answer your question. At the airport, we’re often stressed from being in a hurry, or not having our baggage when we’re supposed to, so I really didn’t appreciate being given the run-around.
Here’s a picture of a bunch of twelve year old employees (volunteers?) playing rochambeau.
Fashion. This is a critique of all of Western Europe, not just Sweden. At least while I was in Sweden, I didn’t see any fanny packs (except for German and Austrian persons at the retreat wearing them). Women all wear baggy mom pants. In the US, women wear clothes that fit. I was waiting at the airport for my flight to Helsinki so I started counting how many of these mom-pants people were wearing.
The following two pictures were shot at the same place; I was waiting in line to use the restroom.
The worst things about Sweden are volunteers and capri pants? Sweden is doing a great job then. I really enjoyed drinking my way across Sweden around the start of the millennium. Swedish people like to go out into the forests (Skoge) which is cool.