From Sweden with Love…
So I have been living in this fabulous country for one year! And though I moved around in the States quite often, adjusting to a new country is a bit different. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason and not getting the Fulbright provided the opportunity for me to focus on and enjoy my personal life. But is also provided me with the time I needed to process my research agenda and pursue my professional ambition as an independent curator, writer and creative consultant. My goal is to act as an arts liaison between the Caribbean, Scandinavia, and the States. So though this year has had its professional challenges it has been a wonderful transitional year! And there are so many things about this country (in addition to my bff, love, Sotnos etc.) that makes me very proud to call it my hem!
I decided to compile a list of the things I love about Sweden, but also give honorable mention to a few of things that I do not love.
1. Residence/Love Permit – Tack Sweden for providing a permit that makes it possible for me to live in Sweden with Joakim (aka my BFF, Sotnos, Love, Älsking etc.)!!
2. Social Benefits – Pretty good systems regarding education (especially the cost of higher education), healthcare I mean REALLY! I am not sure why it is such a hard concept for us to grasp in the States, parental leave (paid leave, quality time and it’s for moms and dads), gender equality, elderly care, and overall human rights issues.
3. It’s so dog friendly!
4. Konst! Art Museums and galleries (I am excited that there are 5 galleries and 1 museum in my hood)! And lots of public art!
5. Food – YUMMO! I have been enjoying Swedish food for a few years from a distance, but now that I am living here I have a few new favs: Kalles Kaviar (caviar in a tube), herring (smoked, fried, marinated – I really don’t care how it is prepared – I sooo love herring), wild mushrooms (I actually picked some this summer what an adventure), ost paj, Janssons Frestelse (potatoes and anchovies – enough said) and any godis with lakrits (Sweden’s classic liquorice candy). The other bonus is there is not a lot of processed food here.
6. Lifestyle – The philosophy is simple work hard, but play harder (which includes: travelling, walking, skiing, running, sailing, ice skating, fishing, hiking etc.) with a mandatory five week vacation the options are endless!
7. “Green” Lifestyle – It’s easy being “green” in Sweden! Before being green was so chic (and the responsible thing to do) Sweden was recycling, now sustainable living is part of the overall lifestyle. Check out this NPR article, Sweden Wants Your Trash. And here are a couple of fotos from the dump station in my hood (very organized and clean for a trash drop off – right).
8. My town! I love that I live near the harbor, that there are five galleries, and that Mariestad’s Gamla Stan is considered one of Sweden’s top old towns. Over the past year there has been a lot of new development – condos near the harbor. Hopefully more retail and gallery space will follow.
10. Fika och Cozy Fredag – This can also go under lifestyle but Fika is a lovely kaffee break (comparable to tea time) but you can also have tea or saft along with a pastry. And there is Cozy Friday aka Fredagsmys – though it is important to note coziness can take place any day throughout the winter months but on Fridays it is more special after a long work/school week! It is family/couple time and it consists of preparing dinner together over a glass of wine, a cozy cocktail, or a cup of hot coco. Followed by eating dinner with candle light and watching a movie and snuggling with tons of candles!
11. No Drinking and Driving – yeap if you must drink well you must walk, bike, or take a cab – it is the law!
12. Scandinavian Summer – there is really nothing like it! Warm sunny days and months of loooong day light hours. And everyone really soaks up the summer by staying at a summer house or just hanging out on a boat.
13. Four Seasons – not the hotels but living in a place where I can experience fall, winter, spring and summer is pretty great. Fall use to be my favorite, but I have learned to also appreciate the winter months.
14. Enjoying the outdoors even during the winter months.
15. English is the second language. (There was something comforting about being an expat and still hearing your native tongue.) And not being criticized or shunned.
And because by no means am I making a claim that Sweden is a perfect country I do feel compelled to give honorable mention to the things that I do not love!
1. Smoking och Snus, two of my pet peeves and they do it a lot here. By the way snus is a small tea bag of tobacco.
2. Paying for the public toilets (though this is not always the case I do not get why some places make you pay a small amount to tinkle)!??
3. Driving and Talking/Texting are ok???
4. Missing my favorite stores and products! I really miss Whole Foods (especially the variety of seaweed snacks, coconut water and Fage 0% Greek yogurt). I also miss Target and all of the personal care and cleaning products. And I miss the variety of pet boutiques and products
5. English is the second language (this was comforting but a year later I still do not speak the language)! Though I can understand a word or two and a couple of phrases I have not made learning the language a priority because English is acceptable – this year that will all change because I plan on signing up for the free language lessons!
So that sums up my year! I feel blessed that I have fallen in love with a Swede, that I was able to make the move, and that I am passionate about sharing the art and art history from Scandinavia. It reminds me of a quote that fitness guru Bob Harper shared with his Facebook Fans.
puss och kram (xox)