Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Signs I’ve Been in Sweden too Long

I have these moments. I’ve had them before, and I continue to have them. Moments where I realize that my time here in Sweden has forever scarred me. Not necessarily a bad scar, but those kinds of scars that girls ask you about that makes you sound like the epitome of man. Like the time you were out chopping wood to build a log cabin while wearing flannel shirts and chewing on toothpicks. You know, just as an example.

My ears perk up when I heard a diesel truck right outside of my apartment. This frightens me. I have never owned a truck. Let alone a diesel. I know very little about cars. All I have learned is simply because I am too cheap to ever buy a nice car and instead buy cars that are nearly as old as I am. Despite once again having a car that is nearly as old as I am, but one that is currently working. I decided to walk to the grocery store.

I walked to the store for one reason, and one reason only. I saw the sun. For the last week I had been living on cereal, milk, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They work well for breakfast and dinner. After a week of it, something needed to change. I was in line for a big trip to the grocery store. But when I looked out the window I saw the sun. I couldn’t resist. Despite knowing how difficult it would be to carry enough food to restock my apartment, I walked to the grocery store. I even walked right past my parked car on the way there. I needed the vitamin D. I needed the sun. On the way back I needed a break. I stopped for a couple of minutes and ate some of the candy I bought. It was Saturday after all. Today, with the muffled crunch of snow under my shoes, I’m pleased with my decision.

I took my ear phones out on the bus the other day just because I somehow managed to hear English through my podcast. I didn’t talk to them. I just sat and soaked up the language. This makes me kind of creepy. I know. It also made me realize how sensitive I have become to language. English floats above the everyday Swedish because it is so rare. The same thing happens when I find myself in foreign countries and hear Swedish. I have spoken with other people about this. It seems that no matter where you are, the languages you are comfortable with rise above the din of everything else. This never ceases to amaze me.

And finally, the real kicker? I take cloth bags to the grocery store. This is mostly because I am too cheap to play the 1.5 SEK for the plastic bag, but still. I actually own two cloth bags for the sole purpose of grocery shopping. Of course, they are incredibly masculine. Especially the baby seal on the one of them.

Welcome to Sweden. And baby seals.

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25 comments:

  1. Hairy, you need to get the F out of Stockholm. You don't want to end up with that silly Sthlm accent (the city is quite nice though). And stay out of Skåne.

    There are cooler things to see in Sweden (and the neighboring countries).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT8mW57Q6bI

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  2. I have only been here for 4 months and I'm already doing all 3 of those things. Does that make me a better adaptor or worse. I can't tell.

    Oh the other thing is my spelling. I'm bad at spelling already but since I have been here it has become even worse.

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  3. I've been skulking around your blog for awhile now, but this one finally forces me to comment. I live in Ohio, but I work for a company that is based in Stockholm and for the last couple of weeks people have been getting crankier and crankier. I'm happy to hear there was sun, and I am very hopeful that tomorrow my boss will be in a better mood!
    Thanks for the entertainment the last month.
    Tracy

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  4. Usch, kollade på den filmen Anonymous linkade. Hatar sånna filmer. Du skulle kunna göra en sån film om vilken plats på jorden som helst. Till och med Detroit om man väljer de rätta bilderna. Alla vet att Stockholm är den enda staden i Sverige där du verkligen vill bo. Visst natur kan vara fint, men vem fan vill bo där?


    Dålig musik var det också. Usch!

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  5. It's funny how we (at least I) expect the place we left to remain the same as when we left it. These days, a lot of people bring their canvas tote bags to the grocery store here as well.

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  6. I have several canvas tote bags to take to the grocery store also. Has become quite common here now. Only thing is i usually forget them in my car!!

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  7. Cloth bags - great way to save the environment! And save some money at the same time. *applauds*

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  8. By the way, lots of people have started using reusable shopping bags in Toronto since they started charging 5 cents a bag earlier this year. IKEA here doesn't even sell disposable plastic bags anymore! :)

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  9. Planning to move to Sweden in a few months. You're scaring me! GULP.. . .

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  10. I get excited about the littlest bit of sunlight I see and was a bit too excited when telling my friends how sunny it was in Barcelona on the weekend, as well as picking people speaking Swedish abroad and I've only been living in Göteborg since late August.

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  11. I have cloth bags for the grocery store, too. Besides being in Sweden for too long, it looks like you have been away from the US for too long, too. :o)

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  12. ~~~~I didn’t talk to them. I just sat and soaked up the language. This makes me kind of creepy. I know. It also made me realize how sensitive I have become to language.~~~

    i do that all the time, for that split second, i dont feel so different from the rest of the world. it reminds me there are Others.

    i use cloth bags too, theyre made of awesome


    i love this post.

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  13. Something else I meant to mention...

    I noticed that you said there is a 1.5 SEK charges for plastic bags, if you don't bring your own. I don't know about the rest of the US, but where I live you don't get charged for plastic/paper bags; you get a 5 cent discount per bag if you bring your own. I thought the different perspectives was interesting.

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  14. Plastic bags are banned in California. Its not banned here in Colorado yet, but I have my reusable cloth bags anyway.

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  15. @Stacy - Plastic bags are banned in California?? Since when? I'm sure my mom would have mentioned this to me ...?

    Anyway, I understand this completely now. Last Saturday I also walked to the store, and on the way back I took a detour to the park and sat on a bench for about 20 minutes just soaking up the sun. Can't wait to go California for the holidays - going to soak up the sun like crazy while I am there ;).

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  16. @Jessy - Correction, they've been banned in SF for a couple years. They are banned in LA beginning in 2010, and I believe the entire state at some point (but don't quote me on the statewide part).

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  17. The last time i felt perked up was when i heard a Chevy Corvette and suddenly it was all blood pumping into my head.
    When i was new here i would crack a conversation with pretty much anyone.Swedes, English speakers, anybody. but not anymore. I don't know why, though. it's just i don't feel like chatting with strangers in public unless find someone wandering and i'm a helpful person. :P and a sentence or two doesn't hurt .
    Bars though are different a beer without a chat is a breakfast without a coffee. and i can't have a day without a cup of coffee.

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  18. I started reading your blog about a year ago and after creeping a year, I can't help but comment on this. I haven't been here as long as you, but like someone earlier said, I'm doing these things already too. I'm fairly certain I can now detect English within a 2 mile radius. Unlike Swedish, it's impossible to tune out and I love to just soak it in. Mmmm familiarity.

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  19. Once while i was on subway someone did that to me, soaking up my words and spoke English only when his mobile rang, i felt so pissed, i felt like i was betrayed! Now i don't do it, unless the person seems unfriendly.

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  20. hehe...When I lived in Sweden I always told my friends I wasn't going to date a Swede because I wanted my boyfriend to be more masculine then I was....but maybe it was because we hung out with alot of Norwegian guys. None the less I dated a Swede but he DID NOT have cloth bags with seals on them ;)

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    Regards,
    Henrik

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  22. Dude, that walking is bad for you!

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  23. They also take cloth bags with them to stores in the States also (like in NYC, people take them to Whole Foods, for example).

    I say "they" b/c I'm too lazy to bring them myself but admire those who bring them. I'm trying to reform!!

    I'm sure Swedish winter must make your homesickness all the more glaring, but in a few years, when you're back home in the US, this time in SWE will be a wonderful, incredible memory of your youth and time of self-discovery. That experience is priceless.

    We often learn our most valuable and poignant life lessons through some sort of hardship and/or minor "suffering," if you will. But I'm sure you already know all these platitudes I spout :)

    Hang in there, H!! And Merry Christmas to you from home (the good ole USA :) -S.

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  24. This post is hilarious! So glad I found it...I'm marrying a Swede so I can relate to your blog:-)

    http://jennymayandswede.blogspot.com/

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  25. Wow, I was horribly slow in responding to all of these. Im sorry. But there were some enjoyable comments. I think everyone has a certain something that grabs them when they are abroad and reminds them they have been somewhere else for quite a while.

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