Something Swedish


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Lessons from Pippi Longstocking

Most people are familiar with the iconic red head with braided pony-tails, mismatched socks, and super strength – but are you familiar with her original name “Pippi Långstrump”?

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That’s right – she’s Swedish! And today she turns 70 (all while staying 9 years-old)! Happy Birthday Pippi!
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Pippi Långstrump is a staple in Swedish culture. The stories take place in a small Swedish village based on the authors own home town. I expect that Pippi books, clothing, dolls, and toys can be found in any Swedish household with a child. If you are interested in celebrating Pippi’s 70th anniversary then make your way to Skånsen (the open air museum in Stockholm) on Saturday for theater, songs, face painting, free giveaways and more! Find out more here

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Why is Pippi so special? Pippi is no ordinary girl. She is a character that empowers children by being strong and playful, with a wild imagination, an appetite for adventure, the courage to be herself and an “I’ll do what I want, how I want” attitude – all while being independent enough to live on her own and cook and  clean for herself.

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Pippi is a real contrast to her Disney princess counter-parts and could be said to reflect the gender equality found in Sweden.

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In 1945 Astrid Lindgren created Pippi as a bed time story for her sick daughter – and the rest is history. Astrid Lindgren is celebrated as the most beloved author in Sweden – she will even be featured on the reprinting of the 20 kronor bill later this year:

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Pippi Långstrump is one of the most successful international books, having been translated to 70 languages, making Astrid Lindgren the 18th most translated Author and Pippi the 3rd most translated children’s books ever!

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Pippi turning 70 is truly something to celebrate – for seven decades this little girl, her monkey, horse, and two best friends have been entertaining children (and adults) around the world while teaching them life long lessons.

She shows kids how to love themselves and the way they look:

“No, I don’t suffer from freckles […] I love them.”

She teaches confidence:

“Don’t you worry about me. I’ll always come out on top.”

She exemplifies that boys AND girls can BOTH be strong:

“’He’s the strongest man in the world.’  ‘Man, yes,’ said Pippi, ‘but I am the strongest girl in the world, remember that.”

She teaches everyone to try new things:

“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

She shows us that it’s okay to not fit into gender rolls:

“The ladies looked disapprovingly at her, but that didn’t bother her.”

She teaches us that experience is a form of education:

“Pippi could tie good knots, she could indeed. She had learned that at sea.”

She reminds us that we all come from different places and have different experiences, so fitting into society isn’t always so easy:

“At sea we were never so fussy about things like that.”

She teaches us to not waste time and enjoy the simple things:

“I can’t lie around and be lazy. I am a Thing-Finder, and when you’re a Thing-Finder you don’t have a minute to spare.”

She teaches us to be responsible:

“I tell myself [when to go to bed]. First I tell myself in a nice friendly way; then again more sharply, and then I get a spanking.”

She reminds us that sometimes bad things are innocent mistakes.

“Yes, it’s very wicked to lie […]But I forget it now and then.”

And to admit when you’ve made a mistake

“That was a lie, of course.”

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Thank you Pippi and Happy Birthday!

And thank you Astrid Lindgren for sharing your creation and imagination with the world.


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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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HOW YOU DECORATE

HOW YOU WAIT IN LINE
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Way two: Apply to become a Swedish citizenship

[DRUMROLL PLEASE]

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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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2014 New Years

Happy-New-Year

Gott Nytt År! We decided to end 2013 by celebrating with a candlelit homemade meal, wine, a movie, chocolate cake, champagne, and then watching fireworks over the river.

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How will we start 2014? With a New Years Resolution, of course.

Last year a few of us decided to have a one word New Years resolution – mine was “success.” Did I fulfill my goal? In many ways, I suppose I did. Did I think about it and strive after it the whole year? Unfortunately not.

This year there will be no typical throw away resolution easily forgotten after a few weeks. This is a year-long project designed to take it one month at a time: 28-31 days dedicated to something different.

Goal: For me to find new ways to enjoy and improve my life through these monthly challenges and to hopefully incorporate some of them into my life.

Why: I want to experience new things, find new hobbies, change my habits, broaden my horizons, try new foods, do  things I’ve been meaning to, reach more goals, make a difference and see a difference in myself.

Happy New Year!!! And good luck on any New Years Resolutions you have!


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My first 5k race and winning a trip to PORTUGAL!!!

It feels like just yesterday I learned about Vår Ruset (Spring Rush) and decided to make it a goal – my first 5k (3.1 miles).  Vår Ruset has been running for 25 years and is one of the biggest races in Sweden with thousands of participants in each of the 17 participating cities throughout the country, taking over a month to reach the last city. It’s only for women and raises money for a different cause each year.

I started training (jogging) three weeks before with absolutely no running experience to speak of,  horrible cardio, terrible feet, and really old sneakers. See my improvement below – the last one is my time for the actual race: 36:44. My goal was to finish it between 40 and 45 minutes. I think I was able to jog about 90% of the time, which felt pretty awesome – next step is improving my speed.

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Prepping for the race:

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After our group zumba-like warm up session with the instructors high up on scaffolding:

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The race is split up into six different start groups depending on if you are being timed, if you are running the 10k, if you are running, jogging, or taking it easy and walking.

This is our start line:

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Behind us at the start line (did I mention there was a lot of people? Imagine, our start group is second to last so most people are already gone):

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And we’re off! It was motivational to be running along side so many women:

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Hubby found me in the crowd about 2 km in:

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Afterwards everyone received metals:

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And a goody bag of stuff from the sponsors (and bananas and juice):

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I bought a bracelet to support children in Kosovo who need homes:

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The weather was perfect for the race and to sit down afterwards and enjoy a picnic.

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And as we were leaving an hour after the race, I heard my name in the distance being called over the load speaker. I went on stage and sat with 8 other women, all anxiously waiting to see what we could have won. Half way through the prizes got significantly better and my name was still not called. I’m told that I looked excited and terrified at the same time.

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With a microphone in my face I received my first place prize: a trip to Portugal for a whole week to attend Training Camp with Vår Ruset.

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I was shocked and didn’t know what to say, let alone in Swedish to thousands of people picnicking after the race.

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I explained that I’ve never won anything before and I’ve never traveled outside of New York and Sweden.

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I didn’t dare mention that I’ve only been training for three weeks… but now I’ll be sure to continue!

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Each day there will be activities to participate in such as running, “nordic walking(?)”, yoga, dancing, strength building, core exercises, and of course lots of fun in the sun!

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I can’t wait!!

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After an unbelievably exciting day I came home, collapsed, and dreamed of my next adventure.

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Teaching English in Sweden

2013-04-03 08.31.44This month I was hired by Folkuniversitetet to teach an English class. Folkuniveritetet (The Peoples University) is an adult education foundation with over 100 locations all throughout Sweden. They offer tons of classes ranging from psychology to photography, but are probably best known for their language courses. The classes aren’t free like most education in Sweden, but they are more convenient. It’s specifically a great place to learn Swedish if you don’t have a personnummer and aren’t qualified to go to SFI.

I applied to Folkuniversitetet a few months ago, and while they were interested in having me onboard, my classes didn’t get any student sign ups. This time around they had a class with no teacher and called me. I was offered two other classes, but neither worked out for other reasons, but its nice to have my foot in the door and be requested.

My class is a 90 minute conversational English class three times a week and it has been a blast! I love helping people improve their English and seeing my students build confidence. It’s fun creating lesson plans and coming up with fun and interactive ways to use the English language. It’s very different teaching adults, but I am enjoying it just as much as teaching kids.

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I’ve decided to take my TESOLS certificate class this year and continue my education towards a pedagogy degree in January, which means a lot more Swedish studies this year so that I am on a High School level. Right now, it feels great to be teaching and putting my English degree to use. Hopefully I will get more classes, or even a job at a school eventually.

Another part of me is torn. It feels a bit like cheating to be working in English instead of Swedish. I want to use my Swedish skills and continue to improve them. Right now I appreciate the balance between teaching English, having a language internship at a restaurant, and substituting at a preschool all in Swedish.

All this temp work is coming to an end soon though, so we will see where life takes me! All I can say is moving to a new country means starting over again, being sent back to a 5th grade learning level, working hard to prove yourself, being busy studying your way up to an understandable level, trying new things, never turning down an opportunity, not being over qualified for anything, needing to make a lot of connections, enjoying new experiences, and going with the flow. Oh, and holding your thumbs. (Swedish way of saying crossing your fingers)


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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!!

Continue reading this post:

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Another New Year

Welcome to 2013, everyone! I’m almost sad to see 2012 go, as it was a fantastic year for me – but here’s hoping that 2013 is even better!

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Celebrating New Years in Sweden means one thing: Fireworks – everywhere!

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During the amazing fun New Years Party filled with drinking, laughing, and dancing on the 6th floor (with a balcony), we had a great view of the fireworks. You could hear the excitement build up throughout the day as a few fireworks would be set off here and there, impatiently waiting for the grand finale at midnight. In fact, you can hear the occasional firework the whole week between Christmas and New Years. We even went down stairs and set off a few of our own!

2012 was my first full year living abroad in Sweden filled with adjusting, learning, struggles, accomplishments, and meeting a lot of great new friends.

Last year I:

~ learned a foreign language well enough to use in simple everyday conversations, read (some) newspapers, write (short) letters, and understand the world around me a little better.

~ completed S.F.I, Swedish For Immigrants, class!

~ registered to start my next step towards fluency – S.A.S, Swedish as a Second Language, on January 14th.

~ watched and understood at least ten movies in Swedish with Swedish subtitles.

~ went on three interviews, one of which was completely in Swedish.

~ volunteered at a Swedish school for a week, substituted for two days – got my first Swedish paycheck.

~ learned how to cook & found out that I love doing it, and I’m not too bad at it either.

~ hosted my very first Thanksgiving dinner in a country that doesn’t even celebrate it.

~ celebrated Swedish holidays Valborg and Lucia for the first time.

~ gotten used to Swedish weather, culture, food, and mannerisms.

~ made dozens of new friends, both native Swedish and Swedish immigrants from all around the world.

~ started this blog and have met wonderful people through it!

Towards the end of the year I even reconnected with something I love doing, but haven’t bothered with since I moved to Sweden – Making cards! I made 24 cards right before Christmas and sent 14 out to the U.S for friends and family. Getting back into crafting is something I’m aiming for in 2013:

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Aside from try to reconnect with my artistic side, instead of making New Year Resolutions we decided to choose one or two words to “live by” in 2013. Mine are: Success & Fit. I’m ready!

What New Years Resolutions did you make?

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