Something Swedish


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Winter in Sweden is SVÅR!

“Difficult,” that is. Other words that can be used to describe winter in Sweden:

Mörk. Lång. Kall. Deprimerande. Dark. Long. Cold. Depressing.

It’s easy to focus on these things, but it’s important not to.

The nice thing is that we, as humans, adapt and adjust – and over the past few years I can report that I’ve gotten used to the short days and long, dark winter nights…but that doesn’t mean I’m not ecstatic every time Spring (vår) comes along!

Even in the middle of February- Sitting outside no matter the temperature, just because it’s sunny:

lunchdejt i solen “Lunch date in the sun with vitamin D enrichment”

Being deceived by a few warm or sunny days, because it IS still only February and I got waay ahead of myself (rookie mistake):

snow

But finally, at long last it is here – at least here in Halmstad! Unlike in the U.S. there is no set date for Spring, but a meteorological standard of 7 days above freezing in a row. Of course it’s always more fun to look for other tell -tale signs, like:

Noticeably longer days: photo(15)

Seeing people sitting around, for no reason other than to soak in the sun…and then becoming one of those people, kind of like these lemurs:

Spotting the year’s first flowers in bloom (last week):

 

 

Hearing the ice cream truck for the first time (which was today for me – they sound like this):

Eating your first ice cream of the year …with gloves and a scarf on (this is a photo from almost exactly 3 years ago, to the day):

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Enjoying the premier of  uteservering [out door seating] (last week):

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And my personal favorite project this year, making the balcony ready for summer!IMG_20160404_190842

What do you do to enjoy the spring weather? How was your first Winter in Sweden?

 

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Voting Abroad

I’ve been living in Sweden for just over 4 years now, meaning that I was new to this whole living abroad thing and had no idea how to vote last election. Like everything when it comes to moving to a different country, it was a learning experience. Without bringing politics into the mix, I think it’s important for everyone to exercise their right to vote:

Living abroad shouldn’t be an excuse or reason not to. Living abroad doesn’t mean that our votes don’t matter. Let’s not miss our chance to be heard.

Why? What’s the big deal?

There are more than enough American citizens living abroad (see below) to make a difference. It might not feel that way but our votes do add up, no matter where we are residing or which state we are registered to.

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After living in Sweden for the past few years and learning about how politics and society work here I realized that we – Americans living abroad – have a very unique perspective on things:

  • We have a helpful and healthy amount of distance from some issues that other Americans don’t have.
  • At the same time, we have first hand experience with other issues (citizenship versus residency based taxation for example) that most Americans don’t even know exist.
  • We have seen and experienced first hand what works or doesn’t work in other countries and can make connections and comparisons that others aren’t able to make.
  • We don’t live in America’s bubble. Some of us can be more aware of international affairs, having access to more than one side of the story.

So, why vote this year? Why bother with the primaries? Isn’t it enough to wait until November? The race is so tight between candidates in each party this year that cards are being drawn and coins are being tossed to break ties. This is one of those times when absentee ballots from Americans abroad are making a real difference.

I became a Swedish citizen about a month after Swedish elections here last year, so I wasn’t able to vote, but I did tag along and see the process. When I did some research I was surprised to find that the majority of age-appropriate Swedes do make it to the polls and cast their vote – in fact it’s one of the countries with the highest voting turn out…while The United States has one of the lowest.

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Pewresearch.org

There’s a lot of reasons why The United States has a low percentage of voters that I’m not going to discuss, but citizens living abroad (for whatever reason) not bothering to or knowing how to vote is on that list. Just because we aren’t in the country we shouldn’t be dragging down the numbers shown above and making our democracy less effective.

The fact is that voting from outside the United States is a pain in the butt. There are forms to fill out and send out and extra dates to remember. In general an absentee ballot needs to be applied for (here) a few months in advance in order to send it in on time, meaning that by the time presidential elections in November or primaries (Feb-June depending on your state) come along, it’s already too late if you didn’t have enough forethought.

Thankfully, there are organizations that try to make it easier –  making it possible for Americans living abroad to vote IN PERSON for the primaries and provide on-the-spot help with registration  for the presidential election in 40 countries.

I’m not claiming to know all the details of voting abroad, but for those of you that read this blog because you’ve moved from The United States to Sweden and are interested in being heard, I thought this information would be helpful for you:

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Of course you can also vote in Stockholm, it’s just not on this flyer:

Stockholm: Tully’s Coffee, Götgatan 42, 11826 Stockholm

Thursday, March 3rd from 17:00 to 20:00

Saturday, March 5th from 12:00 to 17:00

I have no affiliations with Democrats Abroad, but was very happy to see that they have set up polling stations throughout Sweden and I wanted to make sure that as many people knew about it as possible. If you register and vote through them you will be influencing 17 delegates since American citizens abroad are counted as their own “state.”

If you are an American living anywhere else in the world or are interested in Republican options, I highly encourage you to look into your options.

Here are a few direct links to get you started (due to the time sensitivity I haven’t read up on more than I needed to in order to share this information):

votefromabroad.org

aaci.org.

overseasvotefoundation.org

americansabroad.org

justice.gov

Helpful facebook groups:

American Expatriates

Expats in Sweden

North Americans in Sweden


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Finding Sweden in New York City

The Big Apple is known for being the most culturally diverse place in the world, so there is no wonder that you’d be able to find a taste (literately) of Sweden and it’s Nordic neighbors there. This post is for those of you who have moved from Sweden,  Denmark, or Norway to NYC and are feeling homesick or those of you who live in, or are visiting, NYC and are curious about the culture, history, and food…most importantly the food.

20+ Scandinavian ‘Somethings’ in NYC

TO DO (yearly)

1) Battery Park Swedish Midsummer Celebration (mid-late June)- There’s nothing more Swedish than celebrating Midsummer. It’s a mix of everything you need to satiate home sickness or curiosity about a country you have never been to. Traditional Swedish food, music, and dancing around the maypole – all while being surrounded by other Swedes (Swedish Americans, at least). Besides, who wouldn’t want to wear a crown of flowers in the middle of Manhattan?

2) Bay Ridge Norwegian Parade (May): This part of Brooklyn has Scandinavian roots, here is your chance to see some of it in action. Everyone is welcome to watch the festivities – get a glimpse of traditional Norwegian clothing, eat the food, hear the language, listen to the music and make some new Norwegian-American friends.

3) Crayfish party (August) – Fishing Crayfish during the early summer months in Sweden is not permitted, so come mid-August to mid-September it is Crayfish season! This is a beloved tradition of sitting around the table, drinking snaps (after singing), and chowing down on pounds of tasty crustaceans while wearing a colorful bib and hat, of course. While in Sweden this would be celebrated with friends and family, in NYC you have two main options: Ikea’s Crayfish_Party [Limited tickets, buffet style, August 16, $12.99] or Aquavit’s Crayfish Festival [Formal meals and dessert, August 17 – September 11, $52.00]

4) Nordic Food Festival (September) – For three years in a row  Nordicfoodfestival has been bringing Nordic cuisine (One day dedicated to each Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark) to the front lines for five full days with top chefs speakers, cooking classes, gourmet pop-up dinners and other (free & ticketed) events.

TO DO (whenever)

5) The Scandinavian East Coast Museum – A museum in Bay Ridge that focuses on the historical and cultural link between Scandinavia and America’s East Coast (specifically New York City) They host events and meetings for groups, cultural societies, and the Scandinavian community.

6) Scandinavian House This is an all-in-one stop Nordic Center you can’t miss: exhibits, films, music, performances and lectures, or simply stroll through the museum to brush up on your knowledge or to learn some history. Best yet, there is a restaurant with a selection of Scandinavian foods (Smörgås Chef, see next)

TO EAT

7) Smörgås Chef Known for it’s new Nordic cuisine, ranging from fine dining to open faced sandwiches, this is the first restaurant people think of when asked about Scandinavian food in NYC. With one location downtown, and the other midtown (Scandinavian House, where there is sometimes Dinner and a film) – you are never far from some Swedish food.

8) Fika – This little coffee shop/café/restaurant (depending on location) is sweeping Manhattan with almost 20 Manhattan locations. Named after the Swedish tradition of drinking coffee and eating something sweet with friends, why not have a Swedish pastry or piece of chocolate? If you are looking for a meal, their menu is made up of Swedish specialties.

9) Konditori – With seven locations in Brooklyn, this seems to be Brooklyn’s version of Fika. Meaning “bakery” in Swedish, Konditori focuses more on the “strong Swedish roast” coffee and Swedish pastries with light food options such as bagels and sandwiches.

10) Aquavit –  A midtown restaurant with two Michelin stars that focuses on modern Nordic cuisine and Swedish culinary traditions where you can find both formal and casual meals created by executive chef, Marcus Samuelsson, who went to the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, guest lectures at Umeå University, has published multiple cookbooks, has his own television show, has cooked at the White House, and has hosted a fundraising dinner for the president at his own restaurant (See next).

11) Red Rooster – This might seem but a long shot, but if you are looking for Swedish flare or fusion but not in the mood for Swedish food (though they do have classics like gravlax (smoked salmon) and Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce), this is the place to go. The Ethiopen-born, Swedish-raised award winning chef that put Aquavit on the map opened up this restaurant in 2010 in the heart of Harlem and is a hot spot for tourists and locals alike.

12) Danish Athletic Club – Located in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, the Scandinavian Center of NYC, this is a much more homely option for food and socializing. The kind of food you will find here is the comfort food made in Danish kitchens, and costs less than 20 bucks a plate. On the same street you’ll find the Norwegian Sporting Gjøa Club and the Swedish football club – but this is the only one with a restaurant.

13) Copenhagen Street dog – All throughout Denmark, and even making an occasional appearance in Sweden (and I assume other Scandinavian countries), you’ll find the long, smokey, bright red Danish hot dog – pølse. If you are a hot dog fan but want to try something different, something Scandinavian – look no further.

TO SHOP

14) Sockerbit – Surely you’ve heard about Swedes’ everlasting sweet tooth and affinity for loose candy? All candy is not created equally, come pick out a selection of Swedish candy and get addicted. Yes, that black stuff is liquorice.  The store’s white interior mirrors Swedish minimalist design and the wall of candy is exactly what you would find in any Swedish supermarket – even including each candy’s Swedish name and translation. There’s also a wide selection of Swedish food and merchandise if candy isn’t enough.

15) Nordic Delicacies Have a craving or want to impress your friends with an authentic home-cooked smörgåsbord? Looking to stock your fridge with real Scandinavian food?  Make your way to Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge to go shopping for authentic Scandinavian foods and brands you can’t find in other stores like Abba sill, knackerbröd, tubes of cheese and Kalles cavier, lingonberry, and more.

16) Ikea Brooklyn – A trip to Ikea is both practical and cultural (kind of). It is certainly the one thing people associate with Sweden, and Ikea furniture is actually a feature of Swedish home decor. It doesn’t hurt that the big blue bags make amazing laundry bags, the food is probably the cheapest Swedish meal you’ll find in the city, and you can find a few food items to buy for your kitchen. It might seem out of the way, but Ikea Brooklyn has it’s own 20 minute ferry from Wall Street Pier 11 – it’s $5 ticket price is deducted from your Ikea purchase and completely free on weekends.

17) Fjällräven: Be Swedish sleek with these classic Swedish backpacks, originally designed with the durability for camping, 50 years later these bags have a much wider assortment and are fashionable and hip – both in and out of Sweden.

18) The largest H&M in the world: That’s right, H&M is Swedish(it stands for Hennes & Mauritz, and is pronounced “Ho-Em” in Swedish) and it’s largest store ever (4 floors, 63,000 square feet/ 5,800 square meters) just opened up in 2015 in NYC, Herald Square. So if you want to dress like a Swede, you know where to shop.

TO VISIT

19) The Swedish Cottage – An authentic piece of architecture from Sweden in the heart of the Big Apple. Built in Sweden 1875, imported to the United States in 1876 for an exhibit, moved to NYC in 1877 and now a marionette theatre in Central park.

20) “Seamen’s Churches” Svenskakyrkan (Swedish), Sjømannskirken (Norwegian), Sømandskirke (Danish): A church might feel like a strange place to “visit,” but it is a place for community, social gatherings and cultural events. A great way to meet people or practice the language. Plus, there’s usually a café.

21) The Swedish Consulate: If you are planning on moving to Sweden, it’s good to know you can find this building on Park Avenue – a few blocks from the Swedish Church. The people were friendly and helpful when I went there and there were pamphlets for additional guidance. The website is a good source of information and local Swedish events.

2015 exclusives:

See Mamma Mia on Broadway (After 14 years on Broadway Mamma Mia will be closing SEPTEMBER 12th – go now before it’s too late!) While the story line of a daughter looking for her father to give her away at her wedding in Greece has nothing to do with Sweden – the music sure does. The one thing all Americans associate with Sweden is the music of Abba, so this broadway-play-turned-movie that was written based on two dozen Abba songs doesn’t get much more Swedish.

Nääämen: A comedian from New Zealand that moved to Sweden 6 years ago, Al Pitcher, is known for poking fun at Sweden’s culture, people, and traditions from the perspective of an outsider. Catch his performance on SEPTEMBER 22nd at Scandinavia House (first bit will be in Swedish – rest is in English).

Ingrid Bergman: A Centennial Celebration – If you stop by the Museum of Modern Art before SEPTEMBER 10th, you will find an exhibition dedicated to Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, showcasing a selection of her films, to celebrate her birth 100 years ago.


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International Midsummer Celebrations

It is almost the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which means that it is almost time for the biggest holiday in Sweden: MIDSOMMAR (Midsummer)

Here in Sweden we like to celebrate everything on the eve, or the “afton” which means that our eating of “new” potatoes, herring, eggs, and strawberries while ingesting vast amounts of alcohol (only after singing drinking songs), dancing around a pagan fertility pole (usually in the rain) starts on Friday.

If you have no idea what Midsommar is then this video can help:

If you live in Sweden, you probably already know all about Midsommar and have plans to celebrate – or hopefully have someone to show you the ropes (If not, read this old post The magic of Midsummer)

Not in Sweden but want in on the fun? You might be in luck! There are Swedish midsommar celebrations outside of Sweden. It’s a fantastic way to get a feel for Swedish culture, food, music, games, tradition, language and to meet some Swedish people!

1.  New York City, USA. (Pictures of last year’s celebrations)

Friday, June 19, 5-8 pm
Robert F. Wagner Park
Battery Park City in lower Manhattan
Rain or shine

2. California, USA (Flyer to the event details)

Sunday, June 28, 2015
8:30 am – 6:00 pm
Vasa Park, Agoura
$5 admisssion

3. London, UK  (Pictures from last year’s celebration)

Saturday June 20th
Hyde Park
12:00 – 7:00pm

4. Berlin, Germany (Facebook group with info on tickets)

Friday, June 19th
4:00pm – onward
Urban Spree

5. New Jersey, USA (Flyer with details)

Saturday, June 27th
Vasa Park
10:00am
$10 adult admission

 6. Michigan, USA (Swedish American heritage Society of Michigan)

Saturday, June 20th
11:00AM-4:00 PM
Grand Rapids, Alaska Avenue
$12 admission

7.  Vancouver, Canada (Event program)

Saturday, June 20th & Sunday June 21st
9:00am -11:00pm &  10:00am-4:00pm
Scandinavian Community Center
$10 admission


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Officially Swedish

There are two ways to become Swedish:

Way One:  Adapt and integrate yourself into the culture:

THE WAY YOU EAT
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THE WORDS YOU SPEAK
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in-swedish-semester-mean-vacation

HOW YOU DECORATE

HOW YOU WAIT IN LINE
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Nummerlapp

Nummerlapp-Kölapp-Automat-Schweden-Hej-Sweden

Way two: Apply to become a Swedish citizenship

[DRUMROLL PLEASE]

photo 2 photo 3

Yep – I am officially Swedish! (Culturally and legally speaking!)

Quick facts/tips:

–  After two years of living in Sweden you can change your temporary residency visa to a permanent visa by “extending” (not filing for new) about one month before your temporary expires (cannot do it sooner). This costs 1200 SEK and you must go to the nearest migrationsverket office to get a new card. LINK

– If you live in Sweden with a spouse or a sambo you can apply for citizenship after 3 years

– Other situations like work, school or refugee status requires 5 years

– Decision wait time can vary. The migrationsverket website says 8 months, but I got mine back in 2 weeks. Be prepared for the full wait since you need to send away your passport and Swedish Residency card.

– Application for citizenship is also 1200SEK

– Any trip outside Sweden for more than 6 months counts as an “interruption” and can affect your application/doesn’t count towards your time in Sweden.

– There is no language or history test to become a citizen.

– Once you are a Swedish citizen you are allowed to: vote in/be elected for Swedish elections, work as police/military,  easier to live/work/travel anywhere in Europe

– Sweden allows dual citizenship. Having dual citizenship can mean that you need to pay double “world wide” tax  (this applies to the USA).

–  After getting your decision it is up to you to get your Swedish passport at the nearest police station. For me the whole process of waiting, taking finger prints, photo, signature and payment took ten minutes, cost 350 SEK and I got my passport in 4 days.

– It is recommended to use your own countries passport when visiting your own country.

– In 2014, Swedish citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 174 countries and territories, ranking the Swedish passport 1st in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index. (Wikipedia)

If I missed anything important or you have any questions – let me know in the comments!

(all pictures in this post were borrowed aside from the two  last)


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Don’t judge my decision to move to Sweden: In response to a vicious comment

Over the years I have tried to keep Something Swedish as positive, inspirational and helpful as possible. In response I have gotten hundreds of positive, encouraging, and touching comments. In fact, I have met a handful of these people in real life and have gained some life long friends through this blog. Thankfully, these kind and sweet words overshadow any negativity such as the mean and ignorant comment that I am about to share, which Something Swedish received three days ago.

Now, I am not personally offended by this comment per se, but I do find it offensive. In fact I read it twice to figure out if it was a joke or not. The reason I am sharing it is to give a proper response to someone who obviously wants to be heard – and to share the moment with all of you instead of hiding it in the unseen comment section.

Texas&Beyond Wrote:
May 6, 2014 at 6:43 am

I do not get it. How can a New York woman get married to a Swedish man and then leave the greatest city on earth – moving to a Halmstad – a medium sized Southwestern coastal city with 100 000 people and a density with is below 100 people/Km. I do not get these middle class liberal American women that move to Scandinavia marrying some liberal blond Middle class IT-programmer with an eco-friendly apartment. Than these American women get all creative and make a blog and fill it with Swedish food, design and nature pictures to show fellow American women that – why “hide” from United States in New York or San Francisco when they can go to Sweden and get married to a blond feminist eco-friendly man and live among 9 million socialists – that is even more hipster than the people in NY and SF. Soon they get pregnant and we have to read about how good socialized health care is. Nine months later we when the baby is born they write something about how “natural it feels not to circumcise the little boy”. We are then shown more picture from her IKEA-home and in the middle the little baby clothed in Swedish design cloths made by unionized labor and that her husband will take out “daddy days” so he can connect with the kid.

I cannot stand liberals – hopefully can the entire NY and SF move to Sweden so we can built a large parking lot over the Bay Area for our SUV:s and use NY as a test-site for no bull shit free market capitalism.

Dear “Texas&Beyond”,

Thank you for your comment, sorry for the delay! I am also sorry that my existence confuses you, if it helps – yours confuses me just as much. The difference between us is that I wouldn’t go onto your personal blog and tell you as much, but it’s sweet that you care so much to go through the trouble to search for a blog that you will hate the contents of. That’s real dedication.

Being a “New York woman” is not what defines me, and my husband is not just “a Swedish man.” We are people who happen to live in, and perhaps even come from (you don’t know, do you?) these places, so why would it matter where we move to? I do feel sorry for you seeing as you don’t understand enough about human beings to know that people fall in love despite gender, age, race, or location. In fact, I didn’t even know location should be on that list, but it seems as if your main problem with me and my blog is that I relocated from “the greatest city on earth” to “A Halmstad.” (Thank you! You know, I do still love NYC! What a shame that following this compliment you hypocritically end your comment with hoping to turn NY into a test-site for capitalism)  To make it clear, Halmstad is the name of the town I live in, not a thing  – although it does seem that you otherwise did your research! Good for you. It would be a shame to leave a comment without knowing what you are talking about. Yes, your Wikipedia stats are correct. It’s almost as if you know a little about Sweden…or at least the stereotypes.

By this point in your comment I am now considered a “middle class liberal American woman” – that sure escalated. How long have you been reading my blog by the way? I’m just curious to know how much you truly know about me. It’s obvious that Something Swedish is surely not the only blog on the topic that you have read, or read on a regular basis just to piss yourself off and add fuel to the fire to give you some sense of passion. I wasn’t aware that my particular life situation was a “trend” I am so damn trendy that I do trendy things without knowing it. I must have psychically known that the anonymous person I played video games with and whose company I enjoyed was a blond haired, IT-programmer Swede with an eco-friendly apartment….except that he is none of those things, aside from Swedish of course. In fact, I have to force my Swedish husband to recycle (such a bad Swede, I know!).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider having a blog to be “creative,” it’s more of an outlet – maybe you should start one to get all of this anger out of your system without attacking random people on the internet. You did catch me though, I am indeed guilty of starting a blog, I guess I can’t deny that one. And I do write about Sweden  and Swedish things – guilty again. I know doing this makes no sense; why would anyone in their right state of mind want to talk about and share things that are happening in their lives? Oh! Right, you think it must be so we can brainwash other American women! DUH! It sounds like a vicious cycle we’ve started by falling in love and relocating. Did you know that some people fall in love and move to countries OTHER THAN Sweden?? And SOMETIMES it’s a MAN that moves to Sweden because they fell in love with a Swedish woman… or a Swedish MAN. Shocking, I know.

You are right about one thing – there are about 9 million PEOPLE living in Sweden. How socialism and being a hipster coincides truly eludes me, just like that fact that women tend to have children and then like to talk about their children, seems to elude you. Ah, now we’ve moved onto circumcision, how sweet. It turns out that every culture has it’s own way of doing things and these things might be different than what people are used to when they move from a different country…I think what you are are referring to is “adapting”. It happens. When people are exposed to more ways of living, they tend to change the way they think and even some of the things they believe in or just daily things they do. And yes, people write about it because people are story tellers – we always have been. Blogging might be new, but the tradition of talking and writing is not. We like to share and teach and learn from other through these stories and that is why these women, including myself, write about these things that might seem strange to you. The secret is, you don’t need to read it.

Ikea – probably the one thing you knew about Sweden before doing your blog and Wikipedia research. The last time I checked, Ikea is international – even though it is from Sweden. Many Americans, maybe even your friends, family, and neighbors own furniture from Ikea. I hate to tell you this secret, but there are other furniture stores in Sweden. Lastly,  I’m not sure why anyone would have a problem with a father connecting with their child and I feel very bad for your children if you think this is a bad thing. I guess this goes back to you thinking that all Swedes are feminists; there is a difference between feminism and equality. If I were to hazard a guess I would say that you think women should stay home barefoot and pregnant, cooking, cleaning and looking after the kids while the man is making the money – the equality in Sweden would shock you and most people in the world think it’s a good thing.

If I understand correctly – you can’t decide if you hate socialists, liberals, hipsters or Swedes more; you want to wipe both NY and SF off the map, even though you admit that NY is the greatest place on earth; you judge without knowing or understanding, but you know how to use Wikipedia to make your point; you hate blogs and bloggers, but read them anyway; you really like stereotypes; you don’t understand cultural differences; you have no desire to connect with your kid  – or for your husband to connect with your kid – since, unlike you, I won’t assume anything about who you are. I hope I understood the point of your comment. Thank you for taking the time to write to Something Swedish 🙂

______________________________________

Whew, that took a while, but as you all know I ALWAYS – even if its a few months late (sorry!) reply to comments left by readers! And I always encourage discussion and feedback on posts.


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Welcome to Sweden

When you first move to a new country you wonder and worry about a lot of things:

“Is this ever going to feel like home?”
“When will I get used to the way things work here?”
“How long will it take to feel normal again?”
“How long until I can speak the language?”
“Will I ever find a job? Make friends? Get used to the food and traditions?”

For me, the overall answers are, “Yes” and “About two years.”
A few months ago I noticed that I no longer felt the need to take pictures of everything I saw or did. A few months ago I noticed that things were no longer strange and exotic. A few months ago I realized that I had found my place in Sweden, started working more, can speak the language and have a strong group of friends. I began to forget how hard and different it was when I first moved here two years ago. The differences that made me laugh or get frustrated are now part of my everyday life. A few months ago, I stopped blogging.

Today though, I decided to pick it back up. Stopping was never my intention, it just sort of happened as a side effect of being busy and not finding anything fun or interesting to write about. This weekend I watched a new show about an American who moves to Sweden and I felt the need to comment on it, criticize, and continue doing what I can do to help other people who are still finding their way.

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About the show that motivated me to write again: Welcome to Sweden – it is a semi autobiographical comedy of Greg Poehler (Brother of actress/comedien Amy Poehler) moving to Sweden for love (Which he really did do about 7 years ago). Sound familiar? I thought so too, so I was eager to watch it.

This interview (which is in English) and short clip from the show make it seem like the perfect show to watch:

And it’s true; it is about being a “fish out of water” and trying to reinvent oneself. For some reason though, I couldn’t connect to the actual show.

While it shows a lot of stereotypes (of both Americans and Swedes) I can’t say i was personally able to relate to all of it. Greg Poehler plays the over the top ignorant, oblivious, culturally obnoxious American who moves to a country without doing a single second of research or putting a single thought into it. The way the character is portrayed is supposed to be funny and charming, but is a bit insulting. His girlfriend’s parents expect him to fail and go home and wonder why he hasn’t found a job and can’t speak the language after two days. Yes, there are pressures and expectations, but this is exaggerated for no reason.

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“…and so you moved to Sweden to live with our daughter. You have no friends, no job…”

Now, I know its hard to make reality into a show (aside from reality tv) and still make it fun and captivating, but part of the problem for me is that most of the show doesn’t make sense because it’s simply not the way things work. Immigration interview after you’ve already moved to the country? Illegal. Needing to get your drivers license changed to Swedish immediately? In reality, you have a year. The Swedish teacher speaking English to the class/the class introducing themselves in English? Should never happen. Not knowing about taking off your shoes indoors until you’ve lived there for three weeks? Seriously? Come on! Perhaps this is exactly how it was for him, but parts of feel hard to believe.

Maybe I am too serious and like to be overly helpful and informative, and a comedy show doesn’t need to get all the facts straight because there is an artistic freedom, however, I find some of it to be misleading or annoying at some parts. Of course everyone has different experiences and I don’t expect it to portray my exact struggles or observations, but there are a lot of things that are overly exaggerated and even more basic (and potentially very funny) things left out.

Those in Sweden- What are your thoughts on the show? (If you haven’t seen it yet, it is being aired on TV4 play) Those in the US – you’ll get your chance to see on July 10 2014 (My wedding anniversary) as NBC has bought the rights and renewed the contract for a second season – so it must not be so bad. Even if I don’t think it’s great, it’s interesting to see and I will certainly tell my friends and family to watch it to get an idea of what it’s been like for me…kind of.

I will continue watching because it does have potential. I can see the appeal and there are funny parts and parts I can kind of relate to, but it’s still an overall “miss” for me so far.

I think I can do better (in written form)- and maybe one day I will. For now though, I’ll continue blogging.

Welcome back Something Swedish.