On this short winter special episode of the podcast, we see what life is like as an expat in China.
Available anywhere you get your podcasts or at these links:
iTunes – https://tinyurl.com/y2ysn8c7
Spotify – https://tinyurl.com/y6phnugg
Main site – https://iceandsnow.se/
FM Player – https://tinyurl.com/yy84yqcl
Podbean – https://tinyurl.com/y5umw273
Listen to the latest bonus episode of our expat podcast as we make our yearly attempt to explain Halloween and Day of the Dead to the country of Sweden.
Available wherever you get your podcast by typing in “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow” or at any of the links below:
For several years now, here in Sweden, I’ve been seeing stores advertise for “Black Friday.” It’s not the chaos of the U.S., but more regular type sales. As far as I know, nothing opens early.
The reason that I and other Americans find Swedish “Black Friday” sales ridiculous is that there is no point behind them. In the U.S., the entire country has the day off on Thursday, which leads many to also have Friday off as well.
In Sweden, we obviously don’t have Thanksgiving, so this is a normal Monday – Friday work week. They might put up lights in the city this weekend, since it’s so dark, and most things naturally kick off around the first of Advent, which makes sense.
On Thanksgiving Thursday in the U.S., almost every business is closed. There are basically no stores open either, so everyone is crowded in a house with no options but to visit with their family. When Friday comes, people are thrilled to have an excuse to leave the house.
No one here in Sweden has a day off to shop this Friday. Not to mention that Swedish “sales” aren’t all that great. Currently at the grocery store, you can get two bags of shredded cheese for 30 SEK. What’s the price for one bag? 14.50 SEK.
Can we adopt other cultural traditions from the U.S. instead? Barbecues and snow-cone stands maybe? Real nachos with actual melted cheese?
As I was pulling on my American flag underwear this morning, I started to think about how strange it is that people get so upset about “desecrating the flag” while at the same time, they buy American flag underwear.
I also started to wonder if the U.S. was the only country who did this, but quickly realize that quite a few of them do. Now the question becomes, what country DOESN’T turn it’s flag into underwear? Also, wouldn’t wars end faster if they just sent out good-looking people in the underwear of that country’s flag? Everyone would be distracted. Or better yet, everyone has to fight in flag underwear.
Pictures represent the South Korean, Spanish and U.S. Embassies in Stockholm. Guess which one is the U.S.?
Last week we went to the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm to renew our son’s passports. Besides the building being the ugliest one on Embassy row, it’s also the most boring place to spend a weekday morning.
After waiting outside for quite a while (we were lucky it was a sunny day – must be awful in rain or winter), they take away all electronics in the guard booth, so when our appointment for a passport took over an hour, my husband couldn’t call his work to let them know he wasn’t coming to his scheduled meeting.
You are also subjected to this awful video on re-run with about 100 people saying “I am America” over and over and OVER AND OVER! I’m sure it was a cute idea to the person who made it, but the two places I have to watch this video are waiting an hour for my passport at the embassy and while waiting to go through customs when entering the U.S. (also at least an hour while standing). Their cutsey “I am America” 5 minute long video gets pretty old after the sixth viewing, not to mention the 20th and 30th viewings. You look around at your fellow waiting room or line sufferers and think “Why didn’t they film this instead? It’s way more realistic.”
My husband suggested we pick up some reading material on the shelf while we waited. I walked over to the shelf and said, “Which would you like? The Swedish phone book or the Redbook from 2005?
Remember what it was like to sit in a waiting room for over an hour WITH NO PHONE?! I tell my kids we’re time-traveling to the past when we have to go to the embassy.
C’mon embassy! At least put on some American T.V. “Good Times” or “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Serve Dr. Pepper and chips with salsa. Leave out Enquirer magazines and beef jerkey. THIS is what we need to represent.
Got my tax form from the Swedish government today so that I can file income tax. The form already says what I made. If I think it looks good, I just check it off and send it back. If I’m too lazy to go to a mailbox, I can send a text message that it all looks right to me.
U.S. taxes (that I still must file even though I haven’t lived there for 14 years and my income is below any payment amount): More than one form of several pages where I must do all sorts of math, plus things like, “if a =b, then go to line c, if line c is greater than line m, fill in additional form 352-A or 352-B if you are taller than 6 feet.”
And of course for me living abroad and making the equvilent to a person washing windows under a bridge, it all equals 0, but I’m required to do the math and turn it in anyway. Hey, U.S., here’s an idea. Form 42 – If you live in a foreign country and earn less than $80,000, check this box and send it back. Thanks!”
Get a computer U.S. It’s 2014.
Tips for travelers going either way.
Going to dinner takes 3 hours. I didn’t believe it either, but it’s true.
The dining area of most restaurants is the same size as my living room.
Your food may be cheaper than your drink.
Sip slowly – your drink will be smaller than your hand. No refills!
Going to dinner takes an hour. We have movies to catch and the restaurants need to herd in the next round.
The dining area of most restaurants consists of many booths where we can all hide. We do not share tables.
Food and drinks are pretty cheap. This is why we have an obesity problem.
A small drink order comes with unlimited refills. I’ve never understood why people pay for larger.
I went to the movies this week which started me thinking of the differences between movie theaters in Stockholm and Houston. So today I have a list of pros and cons.
One of the best things about the movies in Houston are the giant Del-Dixi pickles. I have always gotten a pickle at the movies since I was a kid. I was so disappointed when I moved to Sweden where no pickles are sold at the movies.
We took a trip to Seattle where I enjoyed having much of the American food that I was missing. I decided we should go to the movies to get a pickle, but while trying to decide what to see, I remembered to ask if they even sold pickles. They did not, so we did not see a movie. What a shame to realize that pickles at the movies are not a national thing. I guess that might have been obvious to everyone else, but you never think about these things until you live somewhere else.