It’s been two months now since I moved to Sweden, and I have to say that it has had quite an impact on me. Let me tell you about a few things that have changed in my every day life!
1. Being on time – Punctuality is one of the greatest qualities of the Swedish life. In some universities there is such a thing as the ‘akademisk kvart’ (ak), the 15 minutes of extra time you get to come in time at class. So when your class would start at 9h00, you’re still perfectly on time when walking in at 9h13. This however doesn’t go for Stockholm University. I’m not even surprised when I walk in at 8h58 and my class from 9 o’clock has already started. This is a complete disaster for people like me who are always late, to anything. As a consequence, I have learned to be a little bit more on time. Read: less late than my usual late. I will still always be late.
2. Sports – There is no way I can go more than a few days without stretching my legs. Swedish people work out like crazy. Rain, hail or shine, the streets are filled with runners, skaters, roller skiers (do google this), cyclists, you name it. Forget about good old Sunday strolls, there is no such thing like a walk in Sweden. Only power walks. With skin tight leggings, running shoes, and preferably a baby in a buggy. (Or at least a dog.) It has had quite an impact on me, my neighbour and I have been killing the kilometers all around our house. Our fashionable, professional runners outfits do need some work though.
3. Smartphones are true best friends – If you didn’t know what a headset was you would believe all Swedes to be schizophrenic. They walk and talk and talk and walk. In the rare event of not doing this, staring at the tiny blue screen is the next best occupation, especially on the subway. If this was not already my immediate reaction when being alone not having anything to do, it has only increased since coming here. When nothing else works out, I can always stick around for opening a phone rehab, I’m convinced I moved to the biggest market for it. You’ll hear from me soon.. (Or at least see a pop up on your screen)
4. Craving for coffee breaks – And I don’t even drink coffee! In Sweden the coffee break is a basic human right. 10 minutes after the class has started you can hear all the Swedes starting to shuffle around on their chairs. Coffee-free minutes make them very nervous. 15 minutes in and the teacher will ask how everybody is doing and if they need a coffee break in a few. I swear this is not an understatement, and it is so contagious! … So, I have become addicted to tea & fika (what the rest of the world calls cookies and pastry)! Don’t worry if you don’t like cinnamon rolls at first, you will learn to love them, it’s a matter of survival.
5. Fashionability – There are two rules to being fashionable in Stockholm:
1. Black is the new black.
2. Make sure you’re ready to work out. Any time.
It’s actually pretty handy, because anything goes with black. It might be for the contrast with blond hair, but there is something really simple and stylish about it when Swedes wear black. If you want to mix it up, you could go for grey, white or beige. Maybe even some kaki. Now this is one of the few places where people really only mind their own business and if you do it a little different, no one will care. But I guess I like to blend in a little bit, because all the black in my wardrobe has noticeably moved to the top of the pile. There are however still those crazy days where I choose not to care and put my red sneakers back on. So ballsy, I know..
You should also make sure you’re looking sporty. This means sport shoes (not the american big foot kind, some slim, black Nikes will do a lot better) and leggings (I think the debate on whether or not this counts as pants has been closed officially in favour of the flesh eating ghouls).
One of the best things about coming to a new place to me is the food. I became a vegetarian on the day I came here. Not that Sweden forced me to stop eating meat or anything (although you never know…), but I have to say that Sweden has made it a lot easier than I thought it would be. There are so many vegetarian restaurants, as well as other vegetarians! I have learned alternatives to all sorts of animal products and I have not yet turned into a bunny! Those raw food balls *YUM*, chia pudding, spinach lasagna, banana bread, … you name it and someone here is making it.
7. Structure – This might also have to do with the fact that I’m coming from social sciences and made a huge shift to a natural science department. I am used to having almost all of my days to myself to structure, which is the same as saying there never was any structure. I now find myself more in class than out of it, having meals at regular times, waking up at 8 o’clock always (no matter how short the night before was sadly), looking forward to Friday evenings as if midlife crisis hit me. My parents would be so proud, if only they could see!
8. W*nt*r – Don’t even say it. The last season of the year has got everyone terrified. I am preparing for the depression of a lifetime. Or that’s what it seems I should do. It’s the talk of the day, every day and it’s coming faster than you can imagine. Disguised in a coat of darkness and cold, sweeping the colourful leaves off the streets whilst leaving soggy traces of black snow from it’s passing.. Vitamin pills, light cures, gym memberships, jackets as curvy as jumping castles, anything goes as long as you are doing something to be prepared for winter. (O no, did I just dare to use the W-word?)
To be continued when the next portion of Swedishness hits me!