Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Swedish American in Rome

I’m back. I’ve been in Rome for a week with DCP to visit SB and BB. Good times indeed. But I figured that since I was no longer in Sweden I was really of no use to my blog. A Swedish American in Italy just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And doesn’t really make all that much sense.

So here I am, back in Stockholm. It’s cold. Rome rained most of the time but it was still warm. Not so much here when we got back. That’s ok by me though. It’s November. Time for winter to come rolling in. It was the first time I’d ever been to Rome. I had a blast and saw all kinds of history. That city is alive with history. But having spent a few days there I decided a few things:

Rome is dirty. Or maybe it’s not that dirty. But Stockholm is clean. There was dog poop all over the sidewalks in Rome and trash in the streets. Not in Stockholm. I guess I’ve been kind of spoiled living in a little big city like Stockholm where everything is just a bit cleaner. Of course Italy alone has about 66 million people living there. Sweden has nine million. That’s a big difference and a lot of people and dogs to make a mess.

Stockholm has some solid history. But even it can’t compete with Rome. The Forum, the Colosseum, the Pantheon. That’s hard to beat. And it’s right in the middle of the city. It was incredible. Now Sweden has Gamla Stan. But the 1300s was ONLY 700 years ago. Come on Stockholm. Rome has stuff from thousands of years ago. No contest.

English speaking countries need to not change the name of things. I can say Roma. Rome isn’t necessary. I can say Italia too. Italy just isn’t necessary. Changing the names of things just takes away from the multicultural experience (how do you like that hippie buzzword?). English speakers do this in all kinds of languages. Let’s have a little faith in our ability to adapt and pronounce things as they should be pronounced.

Fewer people smoke in Rome than in Stockholm. Surprising I know. I had this image of Italians always sucking on a cigarette. It seems like there just weren’t that many smokers. I obviously gathered some empirical data while there so you can take this for fact, but there are at least 25% less smokers in Rome than in Stockholm. This is clearly due to the cold weather. Cold weather makes people want to suck hot smoke down their lungs to warm them up. It’s just not necessary in Rome where it’s so much warmer.

Italians would rather correct your Italian than speak English to you. This is in stark contrast to the Swedes who will jump at any chance to speak English. If you so much as look like you might be American they will start you off with some English. The Italians want you to speak Italian and they want you to do it well. I like it. If I had some sort of knowledge of Italian it would have been perfect. I think it’s important to learn the language you are living in, or visiting for that matter and what better way than to have the locals help you out. At the same time though, I felt pretty dumb having to constantly rely on English in someone else’s country.

Which brings me to my next point, an epiphany if you will. I hate looking like a tourist and feeling ignorant. It happens a lot when I travel to places I have never been before, like Rome for example. Rather than make me not want to travel though it makes me want to travel even more. To learn more about the different places I am seeing, to learn different languages, to learn the history and culture of every place I visit. It’s exhausting. And amazing.

I’m glad to be back. It was strange because as DCP and I landed here in Sweden and made our way back to the apartment it felt like coming home. I suppose that’s what is supposed to happen after you’ve lived somewhere for long enough but I wasn’t really ready for that. But now I’m home. In Sweden.


  1. It's funny, but returning to your apartment felt like coming home too after being in Berlin.

    Not as much as coming back to Portland though. I've found it takes about a tenth of the effort to exist in you native tongue as it does in a foreign one.

  2. im happy you had fun but LOVE that it felt like coming home to go back to your apartment in Sweden! That is cool!!

  3. Glad you had a good time! My mother in law is going there for her birthday for an entire week the first week of december. I'll warn her of dog

    Your very lucky because i havent been anywhere in europe except for england, that was a long time ago, and the paris airport and the frankfurt airport,do they count?

    i know how you feel though about being home. i went back to the USA in september and i couldnt wait to come back here to sweden, when i got back, i felt like sweden was my home. and it is, my new home:-)

  4. It seems like Sweden is just a good place to make a home.

  5. It's good to call a place home and actually feel like it is home

  6. aha, that's why the absence! thought you were just busy with the new job. welcome back home! :)

  7. not yet... but the job is about to pick up. hopefully I'll kep the posts coming.

  8. Welcome home!
    Good that you have a job, hope it won't stand in your blog's way though :) Just kidding, first things first!

  9. thanks! we'll see how things go. for right now the blog might not be updated every day though until I get the hang of this fulltime working thing.