Monday, June 21, 2010

My Welcome to Sweden Moment

I moved here on June 5th of 2007. But those first few days in Sweden were spent trying to get my feet under me, and by feet, I mean trying to sleep with the damn sun up at 10 in the evening while I was horribly jetlagged. I was staying at my uncle’s apartment until I got the keys to my apartment and all of the papers signed and squared away.

So it wasn’t until a few days later that I really started to live live in Stockholm. Because up until me moving into my apartment, it felt more like I had just been visiting again.

My first apartment was out in Flemingsberg. Which isn’t always considered to be the nicest part of town. Or even considered to be part of Stockholm. But it’s close enough. Living out in Flempan means you need to take the pendeltåg in and out of town.

My time in Flemingsberg instilled in me a deep hatred for the commuter train that exists still to this day. And it all started that first day.

As we all know, seeing as how I stabbed myself in the nape of my neck with a toothpick while asleep, I am an idiot. And so it was that I decided to go out to Flemingsberg for the first time while dragging with me two suitcases. Some people might go out and do a little reconnaissance. Check things out. Find where they were going. Not me. I was unemployed and had no friends. It’s not like I had all the time in the world to travel back and forth between the city and Flempan.

So I made my way onto a packed commuter train right around rush hour on a very sunny summer evening. We made it a few stops without incident. And then we made it a couple more. And then we had an incident. We stopped. In the middle of the tracks. Not moving forward or backwards. Awesome.

Eventually, the kind conductor came on to let us know that, yes we had stopped, no we were not imagining the failure to move forward, and he did not know how long it would take before we started moving again. Awesome.

We sat there for over half an hour. Which wouldn’t be so bad. You know, if it hadn’t been summer time. And rush hour. And if I wouldn't have been hauling two suitcases. And if I wasn’t such a hairy sweaty guy. But I am. And it was. Awful.

Finally, we lurched to a start again and I made it to Flemingsberg. At which point I immediately began walking in the wrong direction. Because I am incapable of reading maps correctly. I realized my mistake pretty quickly and headed back. And started hiking. And hiking. I walked through a group of apartments, heading in the right direction. As I walked, someone above me was blasting Gangsta's Paradise through their windows. Yes.

Having wandered around for 15 minutes and not having found my apartment I came to the realization that I was living on the 12th floor. And so, if I counted the floors on the buildings I would be able to start crossing off potential dwellings as my own. So I did. I would stop in a central place, suitcases in tow, and do a 360 as I counted floors. I slowly moved my way forward, finally coming to some orange and purple buildings slightly reminiscent of rainbow ejaculate.

I started counting. Twelve floors, thirteen floors, fourteen floors. YES! They had more than 12 floors. I stumbled around the buildings in search of a building number. Found it. I kept stumbling in hopes of a street sign. Found it. I checked the key. I was in. Up I went, to a very empty apartment and dumped my stuff, promptly stripping to my boxers while opening all the windows. I told you I was sweaty.

A walk that should have taken about ten minutes, took nearly an hour. A train ride that should have taken 18 minutes, took nearly 45. This was my welcome to Sweden moment.

And so… Welcome to Sweden. And Gangsta's Paradise.

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  1. Heh, I like how you say 'live live in Stockholm'. It takes lot more than landing in a city and intending to stay there to live there, true.

  2. So, did you manage to avoid the wedding? (I guess I don't have to specify..)

    I was fine 'til we had to go out for dinner..

  3. Haha the purple projects in Flemingsberg are so ugly. I cant understand why they chosed those colors. Well, atleast it´s better then Norra Botkyrka. Even Though they atleast have a subwayline serving them, wich is way better then the commuter train.

    By the way, the city have big plans for Flempan, they want to expand and modernize the area and make it into a city with around 70.000 inhabitans:

  4. Seems like Fleminsberg is the starting point for new comers. I started there as well, went through some problems in finding my place as well. It was January and cold though. Instead of warm and sweaty it was frosty.

  5. Hi there!
    I really enjoy reading your blog, especially since it puts my own thoughts about America in some perspective. I'm right now living in California, have been here for almost a year now and oh my! Can I find things to complain about!! :)
    That's why I love to read your blog to get some sense back into my head that every culture has its flaws (read: Sweden isn't perfect).

    When you're going back to US, I am, too, going back to my "right" culture.

    Take care!


  6. Loving your blog! Stumbled in here via another blog and have spent a few minutes giggling and nodding in recognition over the country I left 15 years ago!


  7. Hej Hairy Swede!
    I really enjoy your blog... I'm also about to explore my roots with a move to Sweden in August!
    I'll be heading more northwards to Jämtland so fully expect arrival to perpetually long daylight hours. Having lived my 34 years so far in the UK a move overseas is daunting. Having my folks recently retire there (English Dad, Swedish Mum) I won't be completely alone and I won't have to fully rely on my own appalling map reading skills! I was with you there walking the wrong way...!
    Thanks for keeping me entertained and informed... I'll be checking out some "hairy highlights" before I leave and will keep up to date with your posts when I get there!!
    Ha det så bra! Christina

  8. @Jil Jil – its true, I learned that pretty quick.

    @RD – I reveled in the wedding. It was ridiculous how many people there were. Ive never seen so much action in Stockholm.

    @Tomas – yeah they were starting some of those plans while I was still living there trying to fancy things up a bit. It’s a beautiful area, shame, you know, if you can get over the purple and orange buildings.

    @Tod – I think it is, mostly because no one else really wants to live there.

    @Malin – it is interesting how we get so caught up in what we see as right, which just doesn’t work in the other culture. Hope you’ve enjoyed your adventure, and good luck with the right culture!

    @Anna – so glad to hear it!

    @Christina – good luck with the move!