A small rant about things I miss while living in Sweden.

arse_0

Being a parent in the suburbs of Stockholm is probably one of the least fancy things you will ever do. In fact life in Stockholm in general is not the most glamorous experience. Unless of course you belong to that special breed of the really affluent, who own an apartment in Östermalm and spend your weekends in your fancy neighbourhood bars, sipping champagne cocktails and nibbling on mussel and salmon canapés – with old school European charm.

I remember when i was a newbie, in town just a couple of months. I and he decided to join and Internations event to meet people, which on that occasion was a movie followed by dinner at a restaurant nearby. I remember I was wearing a  black winter dress and my super comfy 3 inch Camper boots. (Campers in other societies equal orthopaedic shoes). Just before we head to the restaurant which was two blocks away the girl who had organised the event scanned me from head to toe: “Are you okay to walk on those heels to the restaurant?” she asked

My goodness, where am I? I thought.

That Winter I spent it in the most ugly square light brown snow boots, no doubt designed for Hobbit feet. The snow which lasted for several months and crystallised on the sidewalks would not allow any other type of shoe sole, unless you were willing to risk spraining your ankle or worse.

Since then I have made several lifestyle adjustments but if i were to make a list of the things I just can’t help missing the last years, here is the following:

I miss going out to socially interact with people without having to remove my bloody shoes every single time at least once. (often more times.) Whether it is a playground where I take my baby, or a house where i am invited, social interaction in Sweden is often shoe-less. I have given up on looking good in shoes.

 I miss dressing up a bit to go out without feeling that it is “too much” to put on a pair of earnings or a necklace . Or just making a small change to my casual look without having someone commenting on it as if I am dressed to go to the Opera. Which ends up making me feel overdressed again and going back to my “I ‘ll pop to the store to buy some milk” look.

 I miss spontaneity. I want to be able to buy a bottle of wine whenever I feel like it instead of feeling like a dirty alcoholic restocking at Systembolaget from 9am-3pm while pushing a trolley with dozens of bottles of booze for the next two weeks.

 I secretly miss the times and place of the happy non apologetic pub drinking, where everyone was too cheerful to bother about anything. And here is a secret dirty thought: During those times, I dreaded evenings with couples. In fact whenever I saw a couple among a group of friends I was overwhelmed by a feeling of boredom even before i spoke to them. Nowadays we all come in twos.-oh-my-holy-god- and we fight each other for the last baby chair in the restaurant.

Finally, I miss not feeling stressed because the day might not look like the day and the night might not look like the night for half of the year.

Lost in Translation: are we meant to transcend language?

1339010671-lost-in-translation-01

What would humanity be if humans did not use language to communicate? What if we had a more advanced, telepathic way to send each other information via images?

The other day I was watching the film Lost in Translation. For those who have not seen the film it is unique photographic experience and one fascinating trip to the Japanese urban and traditional imagery. The powerful effect of photography supersedes the effect of language, in fact the whole movie shows how weak and ineffective language is compared to image. The complexities of the vernacular are demystified and reduced to mere incoherent utterances and comical mishaps . Throughout the film there is a communication fail and gradual deconstruction of the -usually revered- language.

o-LOST-IN-TRANSLATION-facebook

The image then replaces the word. Telepathy or if you like an undefined inner connection than enables instant knowledge takes place. The two protagonists do not communicate primarily through speech (which has the ability to bring details of their past and life details back home in the present) but via connecting to their surroundings and surrendering to the present. There is somehow the instant knowledge that their surroundings take form as the externalised inner world. They create their reality and the confusion and noise outside is a reflexion of the inner noise.

Charlotte-Bob-lost-in-translation-1041671_1024_680

Communicating with images would of course require a new perception of reality and a new purpose for communication. Immediate access to an image would mean immediate access to the purpose and the intention behind it. It would require honesty and truth, both of which language is a master at concealing and distorting. An image is clear. “One picture is worth a thousand words.”

tumblr_n1lzxdBgaE1sp4nfqo1_1280-1

An image is non linear in the sense that it encompasses information to be absorbed in random order but also in different ways: you would not necessarily have to think and analyse the image and come up with a mental evaluation/response. Instead you would “feel” or even experience the message as a whole-a type of encoded hologram. (hologram: greek word holos (whole) and gramma (message).) One would have a psychological, mental or spiritual response to it. But to do that one would need to have developed those “receptors”. Eventually including telepathy of course.

Lost in Translation is a great example of communicating through images and accessing information through visual stimuli instead of a narrated story. The fascinating hyper-urbanised Japanese setting is a real inspiration to get a feel of what communication and the nature of a message would feel like, once humanity moves past the Age of Reason.

The age of political correctness is destroying our only chance to tolerate each other.

Domenico-Dolce-Stefano-Gabbana

Today it feels like every other thing said is taken personally by someone and thus ends up offending a group of people. Immediately there comes the public slamming about racism of every kind. It seems if you have no intention to defend someone or something, you are banned from mentioning it/them whatsoever, as anything you say will be used against you. From joking about “synthetic babies” to cracking a green card joke, it is obvious that in the internet age every time you open your mouth you are likely walking through a minefield. The famous Voltaire saying “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” is hardly exercised any more, not when you are likely to be punished for you opinions by literally being blown up for disrespecting someone’s religious beliefs or metaphorically have your life blown up by a disapproving hashtag that can threaten to annihilate your professional achievements.

Tom Walsh once said that “humour results when society says you can’t scratch certain things in public, but they itch in public.” Humour therefore takes honesty and guts (to often state the obvious), something that our society lacks. Of course not all examples of failed political correctness have to do with humour, some are simple slips of the tongue, like the Benedict Cumberbatch’s use of “coloured” instead of black which resulting in accusations of racism. (even though he was actually making an argument pointing out the lack of opportunities for black actors).

Instead of jumping on the bandwagon like sheep with those who take the opportunity to personally attack and slam others (for reasons that we might not be aware of) we should instead take a moment to think what the so called offender does in his/her life to deserve the slamming. Actions are stronger than words.

So instead of asking “Does this person speak pro/against X, Y, Z?” , you should ask “Would this person ever discriminate against X,Y,Z?”. Would this person act out of hate? This way you can also tell humour from masking hate satire.

I have seen countless of “politically correct” people (their “correctness” mainly owed to the fact that they are never honest and open about their personal beliefs) living “politically incorrect” lifestyles, the most common example hiring people of their own race/religion/sexual preference. The most “politically correct” of all of course being the politicians, the masters of political correctness and hypocrisy.

Where does this political-correctness frenzy lead us? My best guess is a distorted multiculturalism, a society where sameness is being mistaken for equality. ( but where equality is not in effect). “Multiculturalism” when there is only one culture and it is “offensive” to acknowledge otherness with respect. A new world order indeed.

But the biggest disservice is that it does not help us understand each other as human beings. On the contrary it fragments us in a state of silent hate and passive aggressiveness that condemns us to never really like each other.

On Aliens

2001_space_odyssey

Last weekend the Copenhagen terrorist attacks happened and immediately made headlines. I was surprised to see a popular UK online paper on the same day sporting another headline, an article about catastrophic scenarios that might end life on earth. So it appears there are worst things that can happen to us than ISIS and the radical islamisation of Europe, like for example, a fatal comet hitting earth, rapid climate change or-my favourite-alien invasion by some very hostile little grey men.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mock the alien scenario, on the contrary I take it very seriously. Lately I see it regularly on the mainstream news and it is always a pleasure to read the comments at the bottom. A few years earlier a topic like this would have been present only on seedy websites.

I was also secretly hoping, if the aliens are not that grey and repulsing, to have the chance to meet one. I know what you think, who are you to be an ambassador for humanity? In movies we are usually being told this is a job of a President or a General, or a top scientist astronaut. However what if the aliens come from a culture that appreciate other things like for example prefer to make contact with ants, spiders or trees? Even value feminine energy over masculine???

I can imagine them landing in my kitchen, uninvited one morning while I casually place the dishes in the dishwasher and by using the little antennas on their heads start a telepathic conversation. They would congratulate me on my random thoughts (and my randomness in general), my flexible hips (especially useful for excelling in Zumba) and my vivid REM during which I project myself astrally at night to contact them.

Why the heck not?

When the Danish not-for-profit Mars One recently announced the shortlist of the people who made the cut to join its mission to colonise Mars, the result was surprising: many of them are not typical “science geeks” bur rather “life explorers” and have very individual profiles. For many this just exposes the unseriousness of the whole thing: this bunch would and probably will be more suitable for a reality tv program about people “who thought they were going to Mars”.

This however, our perceiving their human skills as irrelevant or secondary, also exposes another one of our beliefs: our leap to the stars will and should come only via scientific and technological advancements and not by exploring and advancing the human factor. All I am saying is while we make wars, destroy earth and our humanity, there might be little grey men out there that could potentially help us get there without us having to built billion dollars complex rockets: only that they do not intend to do so as they are repulsed by the arrogance and the cruelty of the human civilisation. Simply they don’t want to make contact with this aggressive species that uses its intellect to create nuclear weapons to self-destruct.

Finally i would be saddened if eventually aliens did show up and only had contact with our greedy and corrupt decision makers. (unless they were, you know, the little grey men we talked about in the very beginning).

an immigrant’s embarrassing thought

When the day is starting to grow in the far north where i live, things look up immediately. Things that appeared dark, industrial and depressing now are not so bad. At the end of the day Scandinavian living spares you of all the little( and not so little) annoying things that invade your life and disrupt your peace back home. The lack of bugs and insects, general anarchy and loud annoying people in your face all the time: there is a lot to be thankful for when living in a perfectly organised, peaceful community.

At the same time there are things you desperately miss like urban vibe and some healthy chaos, spontaneity, variety, thrill, excitement.

Today while I was on the bus on my way home I had this strange thought that I would like to share with you: This is a great place for someone else. I can imagine that person sitting in my seat by the window,basking in the dim winter light of the growing day, perfectly content to have enjoyed a quiet day,undisturbed thoughts and feelings of security. She looks exactly like me, only she is taller and has a straighter, nicer nose.

For a moment I want to be that content person, more beautiful and less educated. In fact I have the sinful thought that I could swap my two largely useless in Sweden Master degrees for something more superficial. The first Masters in Culture I would swap for a perfectly shaped nose. The second one-the hot one-in International Relations I would swap for more centimeters of height, let’s say 10 centimeters taller.

So I would be left with my Bachelor degree in Communications, a straight nose and a hot bod. Not bad at all. I would be a happy immigrant.

I would be content to show off my skills on a daily basis.

(You might think: “What the hell are you thinking about on the freaking bus?”

…I hear you)

Thinking about relocating abroad as a “trailing spouse”? Some things you should know.

expat-cap-small

I may use it in the title but I dislike the term “trailing spouse”. To me it describes someone who lets her or himself be carried abroad like a another piece of luggage and from there lives trapped in a semi-stigmatised existence, confined in the role of the housekeeper and the emotional supporter. It might be true that once (you know in the olden days) when couples relocated, the wife was not expected to do much other than support the husband’s career, volunteer in the local community with women in similar situation, and attend weekly get togethers with expat women so she can vent about her expat life.

Nowadays, however, with globalisation having transformed completely the international work dynamics, a spouse should be able to do better than that. First of all, finding work abroad is much easier and much more common. People can work remotely with a laptop and a good internet connection. There is much more mobility, diversity and flexibility. So theoretically the life of the “trailing spouse” has become much easier and uncomplicated.. Right?

In my experience I have met some pretty amazing people living abroad, trying to support their partner’s career while they work hard to find their own decent place in the new society. It usually takes a lot of courage, strength, and dedication to make things happens. Often it is a huge blow to the pride. But you have to work with your self and the personal issues that every one has and find your way.

I know because I am one. Having lived abroad several times for my own sake and ambitions this was the first time I let my partner’s career goals decide where I will be.

Here is the list of things that in my opinion you should consider before deciding to take the leap:

Your motto: good research.

The Country: The country where you relocate can make or break your success story. Being “abroad” in one part of the globe will not be the same as being “abroad” in another. In short, don’t just jump with excitement in the prospect before researching the place. If you move for example in Paris, France you will have a completely different life from if you move in Oslo, Norway. Which means that if Paris is what you have fantasies for and you move in Oslo to have a similar “european” experience you will be disappointed. (the opposite is true as well, desiring to live in the woods and find yourself in the middle of a big chaotic city). Of course in this example i use extremes, Parisean lifestyle is lightyears away from Scandinavian. I know that it does not depend on the “trailing spouse” where the relocation will be but I am only highlighting patterns you should avoid. At the end of the day the connection you personally have with the country and its people will determine your willingness to work hard to integrate.

The Country: Romantic Ideas vs Real facts. You may have already visited the place and find it charming, romanic, refreshing… Only because you have seen it as a tourist. You have done all the cool stuff and somehow that makes you feel that your life there will be like that, a constant amazement. Almost every place in the world can look charming when you are a tourist. But think that once you move there you might not live in the cool city centre because the rents will be just out of reach. You might find yourself in a suburb away from amenities and attractions. When the initial newcomer’s excitement fades, would you like to live in THAT place permanently? Will the transport be convenient to use on a daily basis? What do the people do for entertainment and does that match your expectations? Are you attracted to the culture, people and society?Remember you will be a newcomer there, you need all the conveniences you can get. Is this place what you think it is or a beautiful holiday memory?

The Language: This one is a HUGE HUGE factor. Do you speak the language of the country you are going? If not ,are you willing to learn it? I mean really learn it, beyond ordering “a big cappuccino please”. Your partner will probably be fine speaking in English at work but the same unfortunately will not be true for you. In certain parts of the world many people will look at you in shock,bewilderment and even contempt if you don’t address them in their language. Think that learning the language is not optional when you relocate and especially when you have not already secured a job.

The job: Getting a job in the new country might be easy or difficult. it depends on the place you are, the language, your own field and skills, and in many cases nationality, ethnicity, race etc. (Sad but true. ) If you plan to work asap try to find out what people in your shoes generally say about their experience. Don’t take things for granted. You might be hot stuff in one country and in another get constant rejections. Be prepared, disappointment might come. While volunteering at a swedish shelter I met a girl , a rather fierce go getter from Spain who had moved to Stockholm because of her Swedish boyfriend. She wanted to get a job the next day. You could see she was like a lion in a cage, she was not ready to take the blow to her pride and surrender to the new hard reality where her CV did not get her any interviews. Even the simple task of handing food to the homeless had become for her a competitive task where she had to prove herself. Only a few months later she moved to Germany to work in her field. Having said that there are many well educated professionals who endure much longer than that in order to be with their partners. The reason why I think this example is important is because many people today, especially if they have invested a lot in education and personal growth, lose their sense of identity and self worth once they are removed from their jobs and careers and thus feel lost and disorientated.

Money. This is something you will probably need to sort out with your partner. His or her salary might sound alluring in dollars or yuan but once you calculate your expenses according to the cost of life in the new place you realise that your lifestyle might actually worsen. Plus his salary, if you have no job will be used to support the whole family. Will you be happy to live in a smaller apartment, have no car and depend on your partner for pocket money?

I don’t mean to sound too discouraging. At the end of the day each of us is different and will take the decision considering what they have to give up and what is important to them on a personal level. But you have to be well informed-know what you are in for.

Living abroad can be a very rewarding and unique experience. Plan your “escape” wisely.

And if you try and fail don’t beat your self up. Always kudos to you for having tried.

thinking life as a sitcom.

The Cooper Extraction

Life has taken me to very different places. When I was much younger I used to think that moving countries around the world would always be fun, challenging and exciting. I remember someone telling me before my last move “Yet another move, I wonder how you cope!”

At the time I thought the comment was funny. Lately I think I get what it implied. But the truth is that life is journey whether you decide to relocate or not. There are always times coming and going, things forgotten and things imprinted forever in your heart and mind. There is always people you meet, you connect and travel with. A human relationship reaches its climax and then subsides, transforms or fades.

In many ways other people are my personal journey as my life’s “setting” has been ever changing. The people I have met and shared moments with. And the people that have made a deep impression or impact on me, and of whom I think about almost daily even though I never see.

I think now I understand why people get so hooked with sit-coms like the Big Bang theory or Two and a Half Men. (just to mention two of my own favorites). Life happening in the same unchanged snug setting of a Malibu Beach House or in a book swamped PhD student apartment (with a surprisingly pleasant upmarket living room view), creates the most beautiful illusions for the human mind: the security of consistency and purpose. Personal conflicts, challenges and dilemmas all in the end resolve with a shared order in Thai meal and the company of the same gang in that same homely living room. There is nothing that can shake or challenge the existence of that ideal space: It is in fact the center of life itself: it feeds and keeps relationships alive.

“I don’t want to own anything until I know I’ve found the place where me and things belong together. I’m not quite sure where that is just yet. But I know what it’s like…. It’s like Tiffany’s….” Holly Golightly says in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That vague ideal place that Holly dreams about is where you simply live. It is your aesthetically compatible microworld where life simply happens and you lose the desire to relocate or travel. In a certain way you are that place.

Two-and-a-Half-Men-two-and-a-half-men-34177973-333-500

This ideal permanent space serves as a point of reference. It might be difficult to understand this if you have not relocated a fair number of times. In our little rented furnished apartment in Sweden for example, (where the majority of things are not ours and where we listen to four languages throughout the day) I realized I used Peppa Pig as a point of reference for my daughter: Every morning while she eats her breakfast I put Peppa Pig on (the original British, no funny dubbing). Very often it is the same episodes where I already know all the dialogues. It can be very boring for me. But strangely enough I am rarely happy to change the show. I want it to be one of the things that do not change in her baby life, at least I can guarantee that as long as I am there and as long as an internet connection exists, Peppa Pig will be playing on the tablet in the mornings.

images0RQAL2FH

Life is not a sitcom. But just as we allow our babies to immerse themselves in magic worlds where everyone is happy, loved and cherished (and who it return loves and cherishes everybody else) to delay the hard truths of adulthood, so we as adults need from time to time to allow ourselves some of this fleeting feeling of consistency. Consistent love, joy and magical transformation.

Life is not a sitcom, but it would be nice if it were.

If I don’t see you again before Christmas Merry Christmas everyone and have a magic holiday!

The Swedish dream: Hibernating in Gratitude.

my neighborhood: an inspiration for poetry

my neighborhood: an inspiration for writing poetry

I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus the other day when it occurred to me how uncomplicated life in Sweden is. No fuss, no quarrel and no stress. Everyone will get on the bus calmly using the front door, and the baby strollers will also follow in an order of priority. Since the bus only has space for three strollers, I will be glad yet another time that there is space for baby and me. And that feeling of little gratitude sums up my experience as a foreigner in Sweden, a feeling that I suspect that other foreigners and immigrants share.

building the mall of Scandinavia, it has taken a few years but neither was Rome built in a day

building the mall of Scandinavia has taken a few years but Rome was not built in a day

It is the little gratitude you feel for getting a seat on the bus. Your little gratitude for living in this quiet and functional apartment, where nobody will try to break in if you don’t double lock the door or even knock your door to complain. Gratitude for getting an allowance from the state for being a parent.(even though you did not get the job). It is that half smile on your face, half relief and half resignation to all that is offered and all that is denied.

WP_20141029_023

Little Gratitude has the face of a white stingy old lady all dressed up-hat and everything- to go for her grocery shopping. She grants favors with a nonchalant,over-entitled grimace on her face; fuchsia lipstick sloppily applied around her wrinkled mouth.

Legoland

Legoland

If the American dream is about mobility and re-invention, the Swedish dream is about staying put, or rather redefining who you are by being molded to fit the one place reserved for you in the Swedish society. It is about little daily gratitudes, “stress free” compromises and staying unchallenged with what is being offered. It is more than anything a Nordic hibernation as you are being lulled to this deep lethargic winter dream.

dots of red

dots of red: hope

Whether the deal is worth taking depends on your circumstances, needs and priorities. It can be heaven on earth and it can be your prison. After all there is a lot of joy in small daily pleasures, if little pleasures, security and stillness is what you seek.

If your blood is boiling, however, there is risk that you might explode like an over pumped balloon and splutter your sanitized, dull, perfect surroundings with your deep red audacious guts.

Thoughts on Motherhood

Lately I have spotted on the news various opinion articles written by women who confess having no regrets about deciding to stay childless. They are usually accompanied by numerous congratulatory comments from other women who have felt the pressure to become mothers for years.

I feel like this leap in human evolution has been the elephant in the room for the last decades but finally women are free to speak out the truth behind desires of motherhood. For one thing, motherhood has been regarded as a natural purpose that is manifested for every woman at some point in her life. If it doesn’t, she is seen as a person “with issues”, someone who is lacking an intrinsic part of femininity and womanliness. Women who declare they do not want children are patronizingly being told that they will change their minds when they get older and then it is going to be too late. I too know women who have regretted their decision to stay childfree. Except that they faced this dilemma a good sixty years ago.

One cannot help noticing that in today’s highly competitive world with unstable economies and relationships as well as a plethora of choices and stimulants, staying childless is something that comes naturally to both men and women and not something they have to fight off. Today’s society after all, celebrates the individual and through the social media encourages self centered lifestyles. The things you do about yourself, in short, and your career achievements are the only things you will be really congratulated for, admired or respected. Sadly nobody will ever appreciate you for the years you spend in dirty sweatpants washing bottles and cleaning like a maniac while humming the tune of Peppa Pig.

There are those of course who use children as a way to enhance their own image. These are usually women who have enough money to pay nannies to raise their children while they pursuit their careers and continue their lives as usual. In that case, the “maternity halo” make them look better in society: they make them look less self-centered and less self-absorbed, more giving and more sacrificing. But these women who experience motherhood mainly through the impression they create on others are not the women I would like to talk about.

Instead I speak of the modern woman that has too many things on her plate. Pretending career and family is an easily manageable choice, like for example my parents’ generation did with the full time voluntary help of their hard working housewives mothers and mother-in -laws is no longer an option. The new grandmas are often either still working or newly retired with little patience and little desire to babysit.

I am a mom and I would not change my daughter for the world. She filled my life with hard meaningful work, sleepless nights and despair, strength, courage and truth. She has been my comrade in this physically and emotionally difficult journey and she has rewarded and punished me with hard all consuming absolute love.

I have however only respect for the modern woman who has also made a courageous choice and has proudly declared she wants to stay child free. As a woman and a mom I understand every single why she might want to challenge the hypocritical over-romanticized idea of motherhood as a life purpose or validation of self worth.

After all that’s the kind of pressure I would never want my daughter to face.

A foreign girl in Sweden confesses

images3QVMUXL1

If you are a foreigner living in Sweden you might find a number of things unusual. Of course not all foreigners have the same experience: it depends where you come from and how exposed you were to other cultures prior to moving to Sweden, but also the city and neighborhood you live, your lifestyle etc. In any case, your list is likely to be different from the list of your other foreign friends.

Here are a few highlights that personally will always feel “alien” to me:

Where is everybody? We have been wondering this for the last two years and there is still no helpful explanation. We live in Solna, a relatively quiet area which however has a significant number of residents and it’s also quite popular among the Swedes. It’s early Friday evening for example and there is no city buzz. No pedestrians, no cars, no motorcycles, no noise. You can see every single apartment in the neighborhood illuminated with these small Ikea window lamps (no curtains usually and the blinds are up.) but almost never do you see people moving in the apartment. If we were back home you would see people coming and going, cooking, talking loudly on the phone and generally making their presence known. The only explanation that I have so far come up with and sounds logical (but it is completely bonkers) is that Sweden is like another version of the Truman Show or a poorly designed Matrix: Somebody neglected to place people in all the right places.

No Shoes Indoors. This is not only Swedish of course but in Sweden it is almost illegal to step into a person’s home with your shoes on. Swedes are generally very self-sufficient, they clean their own mess. Furthermore apartments (that to be fair can be very small) are treated like sacred havens of comfort and relaxation as people spend a lot of time indoors. So leave your dirty snow boots at the door.
I have completely embraced this habit and all the foreigners I know have embraced it as well. Bear in mind however that Swedes, socially, like to entertain others at home. Which means that you will be expected to remove your shoes at the door when going to parties. (Every time I remove my shoes at someone’s doorstep on my way to a social occasion I recall that scene from Sex and the City when Carrie is invited to a baby shower and she is asked to remove her Manolos at the door. Horrified, she points to her dress and shoes and gasps: “This is an outfit” )

Poor quality of ethnic food and foreign “chefs”. In Stockholm so far I have had decent ethnic cuisine only downtown. However, a bit further out the center, the food is notoriously bad. You can tell that the person who does the cooking was neither a chef nor took any cooking classes back in his native country. The other day for example I was served a dish that had pieces of chicken, tzatziki, rice, watermelon and avocado all together on the same plate. Another day I asked for a chicken salad and I got a combination of chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomato and strawberries-all in big chunks- in a mixture that frankly was inedible. The remarkable thing is that these businesses always seem to have customers and never go out of business. I can only imagine how short their existence would have been had they tried to sell food in some other countries.

No pizza or food delivery. That’s right. Swedes don’t order in. It is by far a “do it yourself” lifestyle.

All my observations relate to the Swedish society rules and culture. They are neither accidental nor a sign that the Swedish society “does not know any better”. Sweden has chosen this lifestyle that reflects its socialist structure and fits the idiosyncrasies of its people.

In that sense, foreigners that come to live in Sweden are quickly made to adapt or perish. If you are too much into an international lifestyle and crave the diversity and character of global cities, Sweden is not the place for you. Uniqueness and individuality are not celebrated concepts and it is highly recommended to follow the local way of sameness and try not to stand out.

Having said that there are other reasons why foreigners move here and these have to do with the three “S” that Sweden offers: stability, safety, and security. And it is certain that if a foreigner puts his heart into creating a home here, this will happen sooner or later and he/she will enjoy the security this country offers.

If you are a foreigner living in Sweden or Scandinavia and have a “list” of things you are welcome to contact me. I would love to hear what your experience is!