Something Swedish


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Perspective/Perspektiv

Its been exactly 8 years (to the day) since I’ve moved to Sweden. What better way to celebrate than to resurrect a blog about Sweden that I haven’t updated in nearly 4 years?

Having felt like I had already written about everything, experienced everything, and not wanting to become repetitive and boring, I simply stopped. After so many years in a new place – it isn’t so new and exciting and romantic anymore. The quirky differences become normal. The food no longer tastes strange. The language is understandable. The traditions and holidays make sense. You adjust, little by little. You start to live life the best you can, even if it means making changes and stumbling along the way.

Being busy naturally played its role in my disappearance. The first year of my blogging, it was basically a full time job – I had no friends, no job, nothing to do – so, in 2012 with all of my free time I wrote 115 (long and detailed, I might add) blog entries. I knew I could never live up to that, so 40 posts in 2013 seemed a lot more reasonable and maintainable. It dwindled down to 13 posts in 2014 having been so concentrated on the last of my Swedish studies, and then in 2015 I got admitted into dental assistant school and suddenly 11 posts seemed like a lot. I don’t even count the two last half-hearted attempts in 2016. Despite a 4 year hiatus, I still have people reading old content, leaving comments, and even subscribing from time to time. Which must mean that Something Swedish is still relevant, even if I was feeling obsolete and uninspired.

So, I decided to change my perspective and take back something I loved doing. It’s important to look back and see how far you’ve come and how much you have managed to achieve (This goes for everyone, always). It’s not bragging, its taking inventory (and hopefully, inspiring others that are in the beginning of their journey). It’s easy to let the years go by and think you are standing still.

Since moving to Sweden 8 years ago I have…

…gone through Svenska för invandare (SFI) /Svenska som Andra Språk (SAS)/Svenska 1+2 (high school level Swedish) (2012-2015)

…landed multiple part-time jobs – despite my lacking grasp of the Swedish language – such as English tutor, restaurant employee, preschool/kindergarten substitute teacher, text translator, transcriber, voice actor – moving to a new country is the perfect place to try new things!   (2013-2015)

…moved into our first (full-sized) apartment together and made it a home

…become a Swedish citizen (dual citizenship) (2015 – on my 30th birthday, how serendipitous!)

…gotten accepted into dental assistant school (finally using the Swedish language instead of just studying it, managing to keep up with a class of native speakers) (2015)

…finished my 1.5 year dental assistant education (dec 2016)

…gotten my first full-time job – needing to interact with coworkers and patients in proper and professional Swedish all day, every day. This improved my confidence and Swedish skills tremendously, both verbal and written.  (2017)

…voted for the first time in Sweden elections (2018)

…been promoted to clinic coordinator/manager  (2018)

…bought a house in the country-side to fix up and eventually spend weekends and summers (2019)

Within this time and throughout these milestones I have…

…met new people and made new friends (fellow expats and Swedes alike)

…become somewhat fluent in a second language

…acclimated to the Swedish work force

…learned Swedish laws

…eaten a ton of Swedish food…and learned how to cook some of it

…been to (and understood…and enjoyed!) Swedish concerts, theater, inspirational speakers, stand-up comedy

…celebrated Swedish holidays and embraced new traditions

…traveled to Denmark, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and Cyprus (all of which I would’ve probably never gone to if I hadn’t moved here)

It’s been quite a journey. A journey that I want to share with those about to embark on journeys of their own, those preparing a first visit or a picking up and moving, those curious because they are in a long distance relationships with someone Swedish, those with distant family from Sweden, those who accepted a job offer in a country they know nothing about, those who simply like to travel for the sake of seeing the world, those who are already here and can’t seem to fit in or figure it out.

I hope those who read this know that they aren’t alone, and it does get better. Moving to a new country (or state or town, for that matter) isn’t the easiest – but there are success stories to be inspired by (much bigger than my own). Open your mind and change your perspective – you can do it! Take the risk, you can learn something. The struggle only makes you stronger. No matter how bad your accent is or how much you dislike the taste of pickled herring or how you wish alcohol was sold in supermarkets or how stupid you think it is to dance like a frog on midsummer – there’s hope for you yet! You don’t have to like or enjoy every aspect of a place in order to find YOUR place there.

Take a step back and think about all YOU have achieved, how long you have come, what you want to do and how to make it become a reality. It’s easy to get stuck on being homesick and missing the way things were or the people you love, but if you never embrace your new life – it will never embrace you back.

 


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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 🙂

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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.


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Facebook fun 2014

My real New Years resolution/project/challenge will be posted tomorrow (So excited!!), but for now I wanted to introduce something a little more “Something Swedish” related.

In 2014 I want to make better use of the Something Swedish Facebook page! I’ve come up with a fun way to keep the Swedish stuff coming your way!

Facebook Fun:

tisdagstipset (The Tuesday tip): Recommendations (Swedish books, movies, songs) – or advise!

onsdagsordet (The Wednesday word): Words/phrases I find interesting, fun, or helpful

lördagslänken (The Saturday link): Links to anything Swedish – Youtube clips, useful websites, news articles, funny memes

It’s unlikely that all three will be posted in the same week – but it will be fun to have some themed days!

So, don’t forget to join the other 218 followers by liking the page and stay tuned!    —>>>  Something Swedish Facebook Page


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Lessons Learned

If you’re wondering where I’ve been these last  two months, the answer is: LIVING LIFE! As terrible as I feel about not updating the blog, it feels great to be too busy to post!  When you first move to a new country you have so much free time because you have nothing to do: no job, no social life, no schedule. Now though, especially this past month, life has been filled with studying for tests, working here and there, fikas, writing papers, socializing, and everything in between.

In the spirit of enjoying working and studying a little bit more, I thought I would share some recent learning experiences since I’ve been away.

Lesson #1: “Det finns ingen dåligt väder, bara dåligt kläder.”

One of my part time/substitute jobs is at a daycare/preschool (2-6 year olds) a few times a month.  Working at a “dagis” in Sweden has opened up my eyes to many cultural differences about how we raise our children. A few weeks ago, one of these differences taught me a lesson that I will not soon forget.

Something we do with the kids everyday is go outside for an hour to a nearby clearing in the forest where the kids run around, play, and climb trees. It took me a while to adjust to this, but now it seems natural. What I didn’t think about is that we do this EVERYDAY, no matter the weather. Growing up, if the temperature is too cold or if it rains, or snows, or even looks like it might, we stayed indoors. A few weeks ago on a particularly cold, rainy, and windy winter day I went to work completely unprepared for this difference. While the kids were putting on their rain pants, rain boots, rain jackets, and rain hats, I realized that my jeans, sneakers, hat and jacket aren’t going to cut it here in Sweden.

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Another, sunnier, day outside with the kids.

For the next hour, I stood in the freezing rain – soaked – watching the kids splash in puddles and play in the mud and all I could think about was a well known Swedish saying to live by: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing

Lesson #2: You never know when, where, or how an opportunity can happen.

Moving to a new country often times means starting over. It also means a fresh slate. There are opportunities everywhere that you maybe wouldn’t have ever considered before because they aren’t in your interest or field. Moving can be a chance to expand.

Last month an opportunity was given to me that I never would have thought of pursuing on my own, offered by someone who I wouldn’t have suspected. One day I received an email from a classmate who, at the time, I’ve only spoken to once, who recommended me to a friend who was looking for an American voice for commercials. Sometimes opportunities are just that random and out of thin air.  I’ve recorded twice so far and it has been a lot of fun. It’s uplifting to know that new experiences are out there and that people try to help, even if they barely know you.

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Recording

Lesson #3: Volunteering is networking

Last week I went to a middle school to give some presentations to students aged 12-16 about my transition to Sweden, the differences between the two countries (size, population, animals, holidays, sports, food) and all about NYC. When my husband saw how many hours and how much work I put into my slideshow and found out that I committed to presenting for 5 hours without getting paid, he seemed concerned. Yes, it was a lot of work and I was exhausted afterwards, but I got to do something I love: teach. Best of all, I got to meet five wonderful classes of interested and curious students that were full of questions. I got to see how it is to teach this grade (I’m try to decide between pursuing middle school or high school) and got more of a feel for the school environment in Sweden. I met a lot of teachers and got a tour of the school. As a result of investing my own time into doing something for “free,” I’m now on the list of substitute teachers for that school. You have to put yourself out there to get something in return. Just the experience was rewarding enough, but you never know.

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Presenting

Lesson #4: Part time is okay

I can’t wait to get a steady full time job, but until then, I’m happy with what I have. It’s not easy getting started, and beggars can’t be choosers. Even if I only work once a week plus when someone is sick or on vacation, it is still experience and something to do. It’s still a way to stay in the loop and have a foot in the door. Nothing is too part time or too small when you relocate. For eight years I had the same job in NYC and this year alone I have: Tutored teenagers, prepped and served burritos, taught adult education classes, changed diapers, edited English research papers, done voice acting, helped kids with arts and crafts, spelling, puzzles and reading. I edit from home, tutor at the library, ride my bike 6 km/4 miles to get to the daycare/preschool,  walk to the office, and take the train to the next town over to teach – and sometimes a combination of those in one day. Even if it sounds chaotic and hectic – it’s better than last year when I had absolutely nothing to do. Part time jobs are a good start, especially if you are studying.

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Teaching

Read more about working in Sweden here.

Lesson #5: Don’t underestimate

Just because you have an education that doesn’t mean that starting school over again won’t be difficult. By the time I started my Swedish high school level adult education classes I was over the whole “back to school” thing and wanted no part of it. It felt repetitive, tedious and unnecessary to be back in school when I’ve gone to school my entire life. I just want to learn the language! Why do I have to do research and read books and hold speeches if I already know how to do these things? Because I don’t know how to do them in my new language. Little by little I’m learning to not underestimate how important these exercises are in order to improve my Swedish. Of course, I already understood this, but it’s about having the right attitude. Even if I feel like the assignments themselves are easy and below my level, it’s still good practice. Even if I am tired of studying and just want to start working, being in these classes are my best shot at getting a job. I complained of boredom when I first started my current classes, but in the end I had tons of challenging work to do. The level didn’t change, but I pushed myself harder – to read more difficult books and do deeper research to learn new words. It’s frustrating being back in school, especially high school, but it’s worth it.

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Learning

That was a little taste of what has been keeping me away from updating, more details to come!


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Something Swedish in New York City: Visiting The Highline

2013-06-24 05.50.06It’s that time of the year! Visiting family, friends, and good ol’ NYC. Last year was my first “visit” back home, but not my first time being a tourist (I’ve done that every time my husband came to visit me over the years). Experiencing your own town as a tourist is like visiting a completely different place. You want to do, see, and learn more which means actually appreciating all that stuff around you that you would normally ignore. This is especially true in NYC, where there is so much going on all the time and not enough time to slow down to even notice.

Last year I had been in Sweden for only 6 months before we came back, this time the gap has been a whole year and a lot has changed in that time: Namely me. I’ve adjusted and adapted to my life in Sweden, so I’m here to tell you that reverse culture shock is a real thing. For my visit last year I ignored Something Swedish, since it wasn’t anything to do with Sweden, but since I now have readers from all around the world who might think it’s fun with a change of scenery, I’ll try to give you a taste of my trip!

Our first big outing was to the Highline, which we have been meaning to see since it was opened in 2009. The Highline is a public park built on an old elevated freight train track which preserves the old history and structure and adds a beautiful touch of greenery, artwork, and plenty of places to sit down to relax and soak up some sun. Stretching between Gansevoort street (south of West little 12th) and W29th street, it’s a great walk above the busy yellow cab filled streets below with an awesome view of Manhattan from a new angle among the rooftops, which is amazing for photos.

The old tracks:

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The view down Manhattan Streets:

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Artwork:

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Relaxing:

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The rest/random:

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There are lots of entrances/exits so this is a great way to walk through a small part of the city to get where you need to go with some refreshing scenery, no cross walks, honking cars, or street vendors. Great for easing back into the hectic city from a small laid back town in Sweden.

Bonus! Hubby has started up his own blog and his first post is featuring his select favorite photos from today’s outing. Check it out here: Ensorcella


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Lately & Two Swedish Words That Explain Why I’ve Been Missing

Remember when Something Swedish was updated all the time? Those were the days. I’m not complaining though – I’m finally more settled into my Swedish life with things to do, places to go and people to see.

I always have things to write about Sweden, because everyday is still an adventure. I read the newspaper more and learn more interesting things that I want to share. I have tons of ideas about posts, some half written, some scribbled in a notebook. Some time sensitive ones that slip between my fingers.

Then why have I been missing?  I’ll describe it with two Swedish words:

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“Hinner” & “Orkar”.

These words don”t have direct word to word translations from English to Swedish, but are easy to understand and explain.

Hinner = to have time.
Orka =to have energy to/to be able to/to manage to

So, when “hinner” or “orkar” are negated (inte) it means that I can’t find the time or the energy.

“Förlåt, jag hinner inte. Jag orkar inte att skriva idag.”
(Sorry, I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy to write today)

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Lately life has been centered around studying, working, and socializing – the way life should be!

Firstly, St. Patty’s day. Last year (here) I pointed out that it’s important to hold onto traditions even in a new country that doesn’t do things the same way. I started to create St. Patty’s day instead of just celebrating it. This year I extended our celebration and made a bigger dinner and celebrated with friends. A St. Patty’s Day care package from family arrived, we drank green beer, ate corn beef and cabbage, soda bread, colcannon, stekfläsk, and a chocolate Guiness cake! (Click photos to enlarge)

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Secondly, this month was Bokrea – which I wrote all about last year: here. Basically, it’s a country wide book sale. We picked up a mix of books, some English, some Swedish – not that I’ve had time (Jag har inte hunnit) to open any of them yet. We found Swedish graphic novels of Dracula and Tom Sawyer, a pile of Swedish audio books, and a young adult novel by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, translated to Swedish. Once I’m done with Svenska som Andra Språk (which is going smoothly – I’ve stared the third level) I’ll make sure that my “studying” consists more of leisurely reading of the Swedish books I’ve bought.

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This month has been filled with new friends and a lot of fikas! Both at cafes and at home with the hubby:

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Life is good. I promise to share it more often again. I was being greedy.


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Awards Awards Awards

I started writing this post in October 2012 – I’ve been seriously slacking. Awards from other bloggers have been accumulating; unaccepted, unthanked, and unshared. What can I say? I really try not to talk too much about myself or this being a blog and you all being readers too often, but apparently the gig is up. These are great compliments, and I want to say a huge belated Thank You for thinking of Something Swedish. Moreso I want to recommend some of my favorite blogs to my readers.

Before I list the blog awards from other bloggers I wanted to show a very special award I received last year from a website called Expats Blog  – A website I didn’t even know about, so it came as a huge surprise. Expat Blog Award 2012: “We have searched high and low to find the best expat blogs out there.”

Moving to SwedenComments/Votes:

“By far, one of the best expat blogs on the web and definitely THE best Swedish blog.”

“I have been following this blog for half a year, and I never fail to be entertained and enlightened by Meg’s stories. She covers a full mix of expat topics: from food and language, to historical tidbits and detailed photography. She’s the sort of expat who doesn’t just want to glorify her life abroad, but is genuinely keen to educate and share with others.”

Thanks readers!!

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Kanelbullens Dag: Cinnamon Roll Day! And…100th Blog Post!

Did you know that cinnamon roll originated in Sweden? Neither did I!

Not only is today  Kanelbullens Dag,

but also the 100th Something Swedish post!!

What better way to celebrate the 100th post than to research, bake, buy, photograph, and eat this beloved Swedish treat and then blog all about it!?

From the first time I visited Sweden I noticed that cinnamon buns were a big part of the culture, especially when it was time to fika [here]. While many pastries are enjoyed with coffee in Sweden, cinnamon rolls are the traditional choice. They’ve been popular in Sweden since the 1920’s, but it was in the 1950’s when baking them at home became a big deal.  In 1999 an organization called Hembakningsrådet (Home Baking Council) [here] created the day to highlight this especially Swedish pastry and to “kick off” the Autumn season, when home baking is best.

I’ve never baked cinnamon rolls before, so I gave it a shot! Thankfully, my oh-so-Swedish husband has made kanelbullar many times in his life, so I had some help. I always knew that kanelbullar and cinnamon rolls were very different, but it wasn’t until I started making them that I saw why my husband doesn’t even consider them to be the same pastry.

American Cinnamon Rolls vs  Swedish Kanelbullar

Kanelbullar are a lot less sweet than cinnamon rolls (as are most pastries here, Swedens sweet tooth is not nearly as decadent). The sugary sweet icing I salivate over when I crave a cinnamon roll isn’t what you will ever find in Sweden – instead a simple sprinkle of pearl sugar is the topping of choice.

Kanelbullar are baked with  kardemumma (cardamon – a popular pastry spice here) into the dough, giving it a very distinct flavor.

The cinnamon roll recipe called for almost twice the amount of sugar and twice the amount of filling, with a lot of brown sugar – which is not used at all in kanelbullar.

Instead of baking the cinnamon rolls squished together in one pan like in the U.S., kanelbullar are baked completely separate, like muffins or cookies.

Overall, both kinds were really yummy, but really too different to compare.

Kanelbullar are a lot easier to make (less sticky, less filling, no icing, less clean up) and you can easily eat more than one. + points for being a lot more photogenic, too.

Having American cinnamon rolls was very comforting as they reminded me of home – an overly sweet bite of NYC.

Recipe:

25  g of yeast
75g butter
1  cups milk
0.5 cup granulated sugar
1 pinches of salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (If you don’t have cardamom, then add a little bit more cinnamon to the filling to make up the lack of flavor – although it’s not the same at all.)
7 cups flour

Filling:
50g butter (softened)
0.5 cup granulated sugar
0.5  tablespoon cinnamon

Brushing:  1 egg

Garnish: Pearl sugar

1. Crumble the yeast in a bowl .
2. Melt the butter, add the milk until lukewarm (Test with your finger, should feel comfortable). Make sure to stir and that it doesn’t get too hot or the yeast dies.
3. Add yeast until it is dissolved and then salt, sugar and cardamom. Stir.
4. Start adding and mixing the flour into the liquid (use an electric mixer with dough hooks)
5. Let the dough sit and rise until doubled in size (30-45 minutes ).
6. Meanwhile, whip the filling ingredients together until smooth.
7. When the  dough is ready , knead it into a flat rectangle on a floured surface.
8. Spread on the filling and roll up
9. Cut about 1 ½ cm thick slices and place them in the muffin forms.
10. Let sit so that dough can rise again (30-40 minutes).
11. Meanwhile, whisk the egg and turn on the oven..
12. Gently brush on the whisked egg  and sprinkle with pearl sugar .
13. Bake in oven at 400 ° F  for 9-10 minutes  until a golden brown color.


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Toxic Smoke and Featured Blog Interview

Four times a year we hear loud alarms signaling a routine test of the VMA system, which would notify us of any emergencies when we should stay inside, close all doors and windows, and listen to the radio for updates. This morning we heard the alarms for real.

Late last night there was a loud noise outside and thought nothing of it. Apparently it was an explosion from a chemical factory nearby (a few miles away). The residences closest to the factory were evacuated. This morning the alarms signaled because the thick toxic smoke from the fire started blowing inward towards the center of city. The police in town were wearing gas masks and shops were closed. The fire was raging and uncontrollable throughout the night and most of the day. Finally it is under control and the chemical levels are no longer harmful. What a day.

In other, more positive news:

I was recently invited to the InterNations website as a Top Recommended blog for Sweden! They are a website filled with tons of information like guides, tips, events, blogs, and forum communities for expats around the world.

Read my interview about moving to Sweden here!