I ordered a few books from Amazon UK the other day. And by the other day I mean like four weeks ago. They finally made their way to Sweden. So after work I headed to the grocery store/post office station to pick them up.
And that’s when I realized I had been in Sweden too long. Because of something that surprised me, something that didn’t, and something that I now do.
First, the thing that didn’t surprise me.
The fact that I was going to a grocery store which doubled as a post office didn’t seem strange to me at all. But it is. At least from an American perspective. Because in the US, when you need to go to the post office, you go to a building that is dedicated to the post. An office of sorts. Granted, there are places to take care of your mailing needs outside of the post office, some stores seem to have a partnership with the post office on which you can send packages, buy stamps, take care of your basic postal needs. But in general, you don’t go to the grocery store when you need to pick up a package.
Sweden though has managed to meld the grocery store and the post office. Something I quite like. I was able to get my books as well as pick up some milk and cereal for breakfast tomorrow. It was a win-win really.
On the way back I was struck by something that did surprise me.
I walked past Systembolaget. At 18:50. (That’s Sweden time for 6:50 pm). It was still open. I was amazed. Obviously, I checked the opening times. The place was open for another 10 minutes. Until seven in the evening. Every single weekday.
This is one of those things that shouldn’t have surprised me in the US. Here it did. Still. In a place where the liquor system is run by the state and usually closes by three in the afternoon on a Saturday, being open until seven in the evening is akin to seeing a unicorn. I can’t get over it. No matter how long I’m in this country.
Finally, because of my surprise, I realized I had been in Sweden way too long.
I buy my alcohol out of the country. I’ve been traveling a bit lately and managed to pick up a few bottles at cheap European prices before coming back into the country. The last three countries I’ve been in have resulted in me coming back with five bottles of liquor. None of which I’ve actually opened, but I’m developing quite the collection. Now, when the liquor store closes at three in the afternoon on a Saturday, I’ll be ready.
Welcome to Sweden.
Subscribe to a Swedish American in Sweden