Pieces of Sweden


neighborhoods draped in traditional Christmas lights • strawberry cheesecake at Ikea • a stunning view of lake Vättern • well-dressed men • tacos on New Year’s Eve • so much snow upon landing at Stockholm Skavsta • my friend’s homemade apple cake with apricot jam • gravel on icy roads • free wi-fi on Swebus buses • total dark at 3pm • chicken tikka masala at a friend’s new Indian restaurant • skiing at night • a guy from Uzbekistan who spent sixteen years of his life studying German • orange chocolate ice cream • small sailboats near the pier at dusk • discussing Russian movies from the 70s • fika, fike, fika • two former flatmates now doing their PhDs • carrot cake at Wayne’s Coffee • Hej! • familiar streets filled with memories of a semester abroad and many visits since

My trip to Sweden was absolutely wonderful, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to ring in 2013. I hope your start into the new year was just as lovely!

If I could live anywhere…

I want to move to Sweden before I turn 27. I am 24 right now. I don’t have a job, neither here in Germany, nor, of course, in Sweden. I have not yet looked into the details of what emigration to Sweden might mean (I’m talking work and residence permits, insurance issues, tax and social security stuff both there and in Germany) and I have not saved up any money. I am also still far from being fluent in Swedish. In other words, I am not ready to move there right now – not at all. This is why I’m giving myself three years to plan and prepare.

Today, this is all I have: my love for Sweden and the irrepressible urge to live there. (Reasons should be fairly obvious by now. Feel free to browse this blog and read future posts, and you’ll know what I love most about Sweden.) When I think of what I want my life to look like 5 or 10 years from now, the only thing I’m certain about is that I want to live in Sweden. There will be setbacks and complications and everyday life in Sweden won’t be as magical as spending half a year there as a student. I know these things. I still think life in Sweden would be a better base for me to become happy than life in Germany (or anywhere else), and I’ve thought so for two years now. So I’m going to take that step.

My plans may change again between now and 2015, of course. I couldn’t possibly say whether or not I will still feel that strong urge to be in Sweden three years from now. But I always do things on a whim; I wait until I feel like it and take action only then; I hesitate and don’t see the point of planning ahead; I’m scared of setting goals because it means risking failure. This time, I want things to be different.

I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite Swedish words: glansdagar, meaning glory days. Let’s just say that’s very fitting for my plans and ignore the risk of failure, alright?

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

(Graphic source: Marcus Eriksson)

This is an accurate case study of how I spend my Sundays

I was having whole grain pasta for supper today, and when I got the box out I noticed that the text on it wasn’t only in German but also in Swedish. Fullkorn. That’s Swedish!

There was so much Swedish on the box, in fact, that I may have stupidly grinned to myself longer than would be socially acceptable. There was no one else around, though. (This is really why this post exists in the first place.)

I understand how it happened, technically; that they probably also have boxes with, say, French and Dutch on them – depending on where in the EU they will be shipped. But this was still a sweet surprise that, NATURALLY, distracted me from any legit real life concerns.

So I ate my pasta, and then researched flights to Sweden, cried a little really hard at the realization that it’s so close and yet so unreachable right now, Googled images of the Stockholm archipelago in August, cried some more, listened to some Swedish music, sobbed because my favorite Swedish radio – with the original commercials and news bits – is no longer streaming online, browsed Sweden pins on Pinterest, got a sweet message from my friend Maria who is in Sweden right now for at least another 3 months, punched a hole into my laptop screen the air, contemplated watching any Swedish movie I could find online, and ended up watching Alex Skarsgård clips on YouTube for 45 minutes 3 hours instead. Then I didn’t vacuum my apartment.

You would be surprised how normal a Sunday this is for me. Although if you follow me on Twitter, you would probably argue that just about any day of my week appears to consist of the above right now. You would be right, of course. Give or take a plate of fullkorn pasta.