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New year, new arrival! You wanted to hear from someone who just got to Sweden and here it is! Episode 8 of the podcast features Lauren, who just moved to Sweden about 6 weeks ago and is amazed by the queue system, independent children and that people here don’t steal babies!
Available on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Just type “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow.” Also available directly from the page:
Always take a shower in the morning! You never know what the day will bring.
Example, a lazy day last week turned into an overnight stay at the hospital and one son without an appendix!
I have to say that everything went smoothly and everyone was very nice. My only complaint was that there was hardly any air-conditioning! I think they possibly have a very weak system running, but it’s awful. They put a small desk fan in my son’s room, which helped a lot.
The only cold room I experienced was the operating room. I was allowed to go in until they put my son under. I almost wanted to grab a scalpel, cut myself and yell, “I have to stay here!” just to get some air conditioning.
At the same time, my son had a friend traveling in the U.S. with major appendix problems who ended up in an American hospital. I was impressed that my son’s room actually had a t.v. (I’ve never had that experience yet in a Swedish hospital room) and that we had 6, yes 6 channels! His friend in America not only had a t.v. (and air conditioning, I assume), but also a Nintendo Wii, a therapy dog and a visit from the Boston Red Sox.
But when you consider how much that American hospital stay is going to cost compared to the Swedish hospital stay, I’d still rather be here. Guess what our total bill was?
There’s never any cost at all for anyone under 18 in Sweden. Not having to worry about getting sick or being able to afford long hospital stays is totally worth not having a Nintendo Wii in your room. My son may not agree, but when he complains, I just shove some ice cream in his mouth.
I’m back from 3 weeks in the states with a confused stomach and many new food observations. Today is all about pickles.
So pickle juice flavor is a thing in the U.S. now. Or at least in the south. I am a huge fan of pickles, but that’s as far as it goes. I have no interest in anything flavored with pickle juice and I honestly can’t imagine who would.
When I was young, my aunt knew that I liked pickles, so one day she made pickle jello for me. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted.
Now the U.S. is selling cans of Pringles chips in pickle flavor, and even worse, the restaurant Sonic is selling pickle slushies. WHY?!
Gee, it’s 100F outside here in Texas. You know what I’d like? A big cup of salty pickle juice!
I also happened upon pickle soda in one store. That’s just wrong.
This past weekend, I took a shortcut past a brand new tram stop that had not yet opened. A very confused looking woman asked me in Swedish when the next tram was coming. I explained to her, also in Swedish, that the stop would not open until the next day, as it was a new stop for the new line.
From her confused look, I deduced that I had once again messed up my Swedish grammar in some way. However, I’m fairly certain I got all the key words correct. “New station” “Opens tomorrow” I’m not THAT terrible at Swedish.
It seems the problem may have been that this woman was not familiar with Stockholm and it’s transportation system. She kept insisting that she arrived at this stop a few hours ago and was trying to go back. Figuring she most likely was not a time traveler from the future, I tried to tell her that there was a different train (not tram) stop about 400 meters up the road just behind a large building. Perhaps that was where she arrived?
But because of what I can only assume must have been bad grammar ( “Different train, you go other side of building, different station.”), she did not trust my local knowledge. In a move I’ve experienced a few times before, she stared at me for a beat, then proceeded to approach another person to ask the exact same question.
It’s so frustrating to take time to help people when they totally ignore everything you say, even if it is in a caveman-like accent. Just because I’m missing a few adjectives doesn’t mean I can’t answer your question!
I need to find out the Swedish equivalent of “But that’s what I said!” and “I told you so!” Otherwise, I might just practice a standard phrase in perfect Swedish and use that for any question from now on. Example: “You only need to wait here 5 minutes. Have a lovely day.”
This will be my response for all future questions, whether they are “How long until the next train?” or “Where can I find something to eat?”. People will trust my confident, perfectly-spoken answer and wait for something that will never come unless they dare to trust information from someone with an accent.
Cavemen have feelings too!
My son, very concerned that we have recently become stuck with a low-selection Swedish Netflix, wrote, “My dream is that we get American Netflix back.”
One thing I do not look forward to when I visit the U.S. is the ridiculous names that I’m expected to read off restaurant menus when I want something to eat. Even when I lived in the U.S., I refused to say things like “Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity” or “Moons Over My Hammy.”
One nice thing about Europe is that when I order something, it’s called what it is. “Sandwich with beets and chevre”. I don’t have to say something like “Two Red Goats in a Blanket.”
C’mon American breakfast chains. Give people some dignity!
This is the one day of the year my husband probably regrets marrying an American. I’m not sure about other places, but our tradition has always been that if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s day, then you get pinched. So every year on St. Patrick’s day, I wake him up in the morning looking something like the above picture. The best part is seeing the horror and panic in his face as he realizes he has once again not prepared for the day.
I have to say, I ended up being disappointed this year. When I pulled back the covers, he was indeed wearing green, though I think it was a lucky coincidence.
I dressed my children in green today and even though I warned them not to do it, I’m expecting a call from the school regarding my children going around and torturing other kids not wearing green.
Don’t worry. I’m not letting myself off the hook with my week-long posts about the creepiest and worst kids’ t.v. shows ever. I end this week with a clip from the 70s show “Vegetable Soup.” I used to watch this show when I was little, even though it frightened me. Check out the clip. I think you’ll understand.
As usual, I like to complain each year about Sweden not understanding that Halloween is one day, not a week or 2 weeks. It also never falls in November.
Most Swedes just find the closest weekend to celebrate which normally ends up being in November. This just doesn’t work for we Americans. Halloween is ONE DAY. Once it turns November, we are magically not in a Halloween mood anymore. Novemeber has nothing to do with Halloween.
Of course we are invited to a Halloween party on November 1 this year. It’s nice to actually get to go to a party and I’m sure it will be fun. My plan is to set the clock so that October 31 runs 48 hours and I can enjoy the party without wondering why I’m dressed as a zombie in November.
An advantage to shopping in Sweden – you can wander around alone in a store all day and not one salesperson will bother you. If you need help, they are pretty easy to find, but they are polite enough not to interrupt your browsing.
Whenever we go back to the states, it throws me off to have people constantly approach me while I shop. “Do you need anything?” NO. “Have you heard about our special offers?” DON’T CARE. “Has anyone else been helping you today?” LEAVE ME ALONE I JUST WANT A PENCIL.
And I can’t get over how everyone gives out all of their information to the sales people. Here’s how buying a shirt goes in Sweden:
I put the shirt on the counter. The clerk rings it up and tells me the price. I pay. The clerk says, “Thanks.”
Here’s how buying a shirt goes in America:
I attempt to put the shirt on the counter but it’s covered in all sorts of extra tiny knick-knacks they are trying to get me to impulse buy. The clerk says, “Oh, that’s a nice color. Did you know we also have that in red?”Me: DON’T NEED RED. JUST WANT THIS ONE.
Clerk : But if you get 2, you can get a 10 percent discount.
Me: DON’T NEED TWO.
Clerk: Do you have our club card?
ME: NO, ONLY SHOP HERE ONCE A YEAR.
Clerk: That’ll be 25 dollars. Can I have your phone number please?
ME: ARE YOU TRYING TO ASK ME OUT?
Clerk: It’s just so we know what area our shoppers are from.
ME: WHY DON’T YOU JUST ASK ME WHERE I’M FROM.
Clerk: Well can I have your email address for extra coupons?
ME: NO, I DON’T LIVE HERE, I DON’T WANT COUPONS.
Clerk: How about your zip code?
ME: I THINK YOU’RE TRYING TO STALK ME. YOU’RE MAKING ME NERVOUS. I JUST WANTED A SHIRT. ALL I WANTED WAS A SHIRT! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!
And that’s a typical shopping experience for me when I travel in the states.
Americans, please quit giving out your phone number and email address. You don’t have to do this. Plus, I’m really tempted to call or email one of you after you loudly announce this personal information all over the store. From me, you’ll get an annoying warning not to do that again. But that guy in the Hello Kitty sandals and the trenchcoat hanging out over there by ladies lingerie might not be so pleasant when he calls you on the phone.
After yesterdays post about my problem with Swedish swim halls, let me turn my attention to American swim halls.
I forgot to mention yesterday that the shower area in Swedish locker rooms is just one giant room. No place for privacy. In America, everyone is so terrified of seeing another stranger naked that most of the places I’ve encountered have seperate stalls with curtains. On the surface, this could sound nice, but for some reason, it just seems dirtier and nastier when you are enclosed in a tiny damp space used constantly by naked strangers. If you even touch the wall or curtain, you might be contaminated!
Also, it seems that in America, if you don’t use the private stalls for showering or changing, you must be some sort of person who likes to expose themselves. Luckily, I warned my Swedish husband about this when he took one of our boys into a changing/shower room at a pool facility. I ran after him shouting, “You have to use a stall!”
“But why?” he asked. “They’re all full and kind of nasty.”
“I know, but that’s the way it is here. Otherwise you’re a pervert in this country!”
I lost my modesty years ago in Sweden. Really, no one cares if you’re naked around here. Nobody is interested. I think America is too obsessed with Hollywood airbrushed models and thinks everyone wants to stare. Seriously, no one in a public pool hall has a model body or skin. I think we can all agree that I don’t want to see you and you don’t want to see me.
I don’t know what the solution is. Both methods don’t work for me. I suppose for me it would be best to already arrive in my swimsuit, walk through a cleansing waterfall on my way to the pool and jump on in.
I just realized that this past weekend, my kids ate meatballs for lunch, danced to Abba and watched the Swedish chef on YouTube. I never noticed just how Swedish they are. Next weekend we will have to eat apple pie, dance to Bruce Springsteen and watch Dallas to even this out.
On a side note, my kids call the Swedish chef – “the chef.”
1. Apple cider vinegar can turn your skin red
2. If you put an egg in your hair and rinse with warm water, it will cook.
Conditioning hair and making breakfast at the same time!
I’m convinced the upstairs neighbors put their faces to the floor and cough down to our apartment. I’m also pretty sure they’re playing basketball and moving furniture every night at 10 p.m.
I’m currently trying to look up a way to get rid of fruit flies in the house so that I won’t have to throw away my Christmas plants. Unfortunately, the world has gone overboard with political correctness and all I am able to find on the internet is “catch and release” suggestions for fruit flies. FRUIT FLIES!
Today I will be spending 4 hours at a slippery course. What is a slippery course, you say? It’s a requirement toward getting a Swedish drivers license. From what I understand, it’s a racetrack where they create patches of water and ice in order to teach you what it feels like to drive and break in these conditions. There are also several parts where you get to take the car as fast as it can go. People say it’s fun and exciting. I plan to pretend I’m in an episode of Top Gear all afternoon. “Now, Heather is going to take the Volvo around the track. Can she beat Björn Borg’s current record?”