Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Here is a list of things that have caught my interest during my stay in Sweden:

1. Everyone here is skinny. I have seen only a handful of overweight people since I've been here. People aren't even chubby. Or bulky. Everyone is slender.

2. Stockholm is filled to the brim with shopping. There are malls hidden all over the damn place (including half of the subway stops (which is actually really convenient (you don't even have to go outside))) and downtown Stockholm is lined with fashion, sports, and electronic stores. I guess America has a lot of shopping too but I think this place is setting some kind of record.

3. Everyone dresses extremely appropriately for the weather. Since I've been here it has been about 30 or 32 degrees Fahrenheit everyday. That really isn't all that cold. At U of I I would still see people trying to get away with hoodies under northfaces and hardly anyone would be wearing gloves. Here, everyone has a parka that goes down to their knees and scarves. So many scarves.

4. This place is ridiculously clean. I live in the biggest city in the country. From my experience in New York, the subways should be filthy, smell weird, and look like a dungeon. The subways stations here are all decorated in what is actually the longest art gallery in the world. And they don't smell weird.

5. Literally every person I have come in to contact with speaks English. When I walk up to counters at stores or coffee shops or whatever the worker will always start out optimistically, saying "hej", and I will immediately let my situation be known by following with a firm "hello". Their respect for me drops a bit but then we continue on in perfect English. I have also met foreign exchange students from all over the place (Germany, Ukraine, Finland, Great Britain, Singapore, Korea, Madagascar, Portugal, etc.) who are all fluent in English. However, accents can be tricky. At first I thought I would just have to get used to the Swedish accent but now I see that I will be spending 5 months asking people to repeat themselves. So cultured!

6. People love/hate America. I had always heard that everyone abroad hated America and that I would be judged immediately based on that fact. This is not really true. People actually kind of love America. They poke a lot of fun at us (I have been asked if I know a lot of lumberjacks and if everyone owns a gun and why wasn't I fat) but at the same time, they all grew up watching American television, American movies, and listening to American pop music, as well as their own TV shows, movies, and music of course. And apparently everyone tries to study in America because it is much more prestigious to go to school there. The ones who fail end up in Stockholm and the like.

7. I am not a cynic over here. At the only party I have attended thus far, I found that everyone I talked to was extremely sarcastic. When I told them I was considered very sarcastic or cynical by my friends they told me I fit right in. How fun!

These are all of the observations I can think of at this moment, though there have been many more that have slipped my mind. More to come I hope!


  1. I went to Europe in 1973, before everyone in America was fat, and I was struck by how slender everyone was even then.

  2. I was told today that chemical processing or something or other that Americans do to their wheat does something to our bodies that makes us require 400 extra calories a day, accounting for a significant part of our fatness. And so gluten-free diet.