30 April, 2018

The “This is Sweden” moment

This is Sweden/هذه هي السويد

Daisy Goodwin, an English writer once said: “Marriage is like living in a foreign country as an adult: You can become fluent in the language, you can step yourself in the culture, you can know all three verses of the national anthem; but no matter how hard you have worked to assimilate yourself, there will always be a joke you don’t get, a children’s TV star you don’t recognize, a word whose inner core of meaning still eludes you. Unless you were born there, you can never wholly belong (101 Poems to help You Understand Men (and Women))

Don’t worry. I’m not going to talk about marriage 😀 .

The underline is about living in a foreign country as an adult.

I honestly feel that when you move to a new country as an adult, you can never fully belong to the new place. Wherever it is. This is because an adult has been exposed by too many encounters, experiences and upbringing, which create different standards, expectations, and ways of thinking.

And I’m no exception.

Consequently, there are times when I’m still surprised about how things are handled in Sweden. No matter how long I’ve been living here, I keep on finding new Swedish things, over and over again. It’s not about right or wrong of course. Some of them are in fact quite enlightening. For me it’s more like a moment of realisation. A “catchphrase” that reminds me I am now living in Sweden so this is just the way it is here. I call these the “This is Sweden” moments.

Here are some examples:

When you couldn’t find your scissors to open a packaging yet it’s easy to open and even had instructions on it … This is Sweden.

When there was a train disruption and no one was panicking … This is Sweden.

When it was winter and you dressed like an onion yet there’s this guy wearing a light jacket and short pants … This is Sweden.

When you wanted to throw out the rubbish and found nine compartments for sorting them … This is Sweden.

When you skipped your fika time and your office mates were looking at you like “Whatttt?” … This is Sweden.

When your weather app showed it’s partly sunny but it’s actually raining outside … This is Sweden.

When you see daddies pushing strollers in almost every turn … This is Sweden.

When you went to a home accessories shop and found so many everyday life hacking stuffs you didn’t know existed … This is Sweden.

When you’re feeling unwell, you called 1177 and waited for half an hour but the only advise you got was to let it run it’s course … This is Sweden.

When the bus driver accidentally took a wrong turn but no one complained … This is Sweden.

When you lost your scarf and you found it the next day tied on a pole near where you dropped it … This is Sweden

And the list goes on.

That’s my version of the “This is Sweden” moment. Feel free to add yours in the comment section ☺

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Hayu Hamemayu
Hayu Hamemayu is a Lund-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Jakarta Post, Media Indonesia, Kompas, Majalah Kartini, and Indonesia Travel Magazine among others. A traveller mommy by nature and random thinker by inclination, she keeps memories in her Instagram @hayuhamemayu and writes her everyday stories in her blog.

2 Comments on “The “This is Sweden” moment

Jennifer Evans
20 May, 2018 at 10:23

My “This is Sweden” moment was when I took the driver’s license exam and failed because of the dumb way the multiple-choice questions worked (you had to pick every option that was even marginally correct, not just the totally correct one) and when the test grader handed it back to me he congratulated me: “That was really good! Only two points from a passing grade! You’re almost there!” I thought, only in Sweden do testers encourage people to be mediocre.

1 June, 2018 at 23:58

The moment after you’ve been shopping for 20 minutes that you left your bank card at home and they don’t take cash and then the market stall owner says ‘don’t worry give me your email and I’ll send you an invoice. This is definitely Sweden.


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