Thursday, July 01, 2010

Welcome to America

I’m writing this at an airport in Newark, New Jersey right now. And I am overwhelmed. I don’t know what I was expecting when I finally moved, but I don’t know if it was this.

I’m tired, my eyes burn, and I just ate the last of my lösgodis. Followed by my shoving down half a bag of Cheez-Its. It seemed like a fitting way to enter the United States.

But I am not overwhelmed by the travel. I’ve done enough of that to know the feeling. And just so everyone knows, I made it through Arlanda and flew with SAS without incident. Well played. It only took three years.

It’s everything that is going on around me. It’s the conversations that I keep picking up on. Throughout my time in Sweden, I developed an uncanny ability to pick out English speakers. So much so that I could hear them over the din of my iPod on the subway. Unfortunately, this ability is now akin to being schizophrenic. I keep hearing voices, and they are all talking to me.

It’s the friendliness of the people. Within ten minutes, my boyish charm and awesome laptop with the Colorado sticker on it attracted two different people to me. One older man, and one not older woman both of whom felt I was a good source of information. And I was.

It’s the stereotypes. Like the girl behind me on her cellphone for the last 45 minutes being the reason that people hate America. Or the girl lying on the floor laughing at the announcement being made in German for a Lufthansa flight. Or the woman across the terminal who just happened to be overweight and a good candidate to be a participant in the World Championship Porcupine Race explain she would be out of town because she was going on vacation. In Nebraska.

But most of all, it’s this strange desire to explain to everyone what I’ve done. Why I’m here. That I’m not just traveling, but moving. It’s horribly egocentric. And annoying. And pompous. And pretentious. And all things I have been accused of before. It’s also something I was expecting. Turns out this desire is fairly common for people returning home after an extended experience abroad. For that very reason, it was an experience. For the person involved. Unfortunately, it was not an experience for the people involved. And unless you are capable of telling a good story, which I am not, explaining that you once saw a girls boob in the elevator in Sweden while chuckling and constantly retracing your steps so you don’t leave anything out, kind of loses its appeal. And I think that’s it. Retelling all those old stories means I’m just retracing my steps.

Welcome to America. And overwhelmtion. And making up words.

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  1. Just yesterday I was at the store here in Sweden bemoaning the lack of Cheez-Its! Jealous.

    Welcome back!

  2. Well, good u had a safe trip back "home"...

    The best line ( or 5 ) in a while:" It’s everything that is going on around me. It’s the conversations that I keep picking up on. Throughout my time in Sweden, I developed an uncanny ability to pick out English speakers. So much so that I could hear them over the din of my iPod on the subway. Unfortunately, this ability is now akin to being schizophrenic. I keep hearing voices, and they are all talking to me."

    I completely understand that feeling...

    Good luck and tell the states I say hello

  3. Bye bye Hairy!

    I am sad we never met in person in Stockholm, because I like your sense of humor :)

    Good luck in moving back "home." Sometimes that is the most tricky bit of the whole going abroad part.

  4. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels compelled to speak of my life overseas. When I returned to the US after 3 years in NZ/AU I did the same thing... and I too, felt very odd and pretentious while doing it.

    I'm about to go through it again as I've been living in Norway for a while and return to the States to live, tomorrow..

    There is a good chance that I will be moving to Colorado..

    Cheers and good luck,

  5. Floridian in FinlandJuly 2, 2010 at 5:36 AM

    I'll miss your posts. Please start a new blog! Where is your final destination? Any plan yet? I totally hear you on the schizo think with English speakers. I find myself overwhelmed with eavesdropping when I go back.

  6. I feel for you Hairy. Will really miss you here, even though we've never met in person. I look forward to your continued blogging, wherever or whatever that may be. Best wishes for an easy transition.

  7. oh my gosh. . welcome back to the states. will this be the end of the blog. You'd have to rename it of course. A Swedish American back in the States. I will miss all your funny stories.

  8. I like 'overwhelmtion', it's a bit like 'thrice' ;) I'll try and work it into a sentence soon...

    Glad you made it back safely and without incidence at ARN (there's a first for everything, eh?!), and you should of course tell everyone about the fact that you're moving, not just travelling! Tire 'em out with your stories, it's all part of it.

  9. Oh Man ! I only discovered your blog a week ago and already it's over ! There was little old me sitting in the UK having my swedish adventure by proxy and now you're home. Take care and come back soon. FAT DAN.

  10. Hairy--you are Sooo neologistic.
    Pav in Alaska

  11. Du skriver riktigt bra!
    Lycka till där borta! :-)

    Jeanna (den avlägsna släktingen)

  12. Dear Lord, I just read the World Championship Porcupine Race post from last year; I could call PETA myself for the race tomorrow!!! Poor porcupines!!!

    So, heading to Council, Idaho, tomorrow to film the match POKE 'n GO x PETA on the football field?
    Welcome home.


  13. I'm very curious as to what you will tell people when they ask you; "What was it like, living in Sweden?"
    What would your answer be?

    Also, I've had alot of fun reading your blog. Keep it up and thanks. :)

  14. Aw, man. I just found this blog and i really enjoyed it, and now you're moving to the USA? Damn...

  15. I totally understand, and I only spent ten months in Sweden.

  16. How nice that you were back in time for the 4th. A new life kicked off by a the most American celebration around.

  17. you should have used one of your suitcases just for lösgodis. I am just excited to see what kind of complaining goes on over there. And the Colorado sticker sounds pretty hot.

  18. I moved to sweden in 87, and back in US in 90 and its like you don't quite fit into either world for a while. When your here you want to be there. I can't wait to move back again. Keep up the updates, it's fun to read from someone who has gone through it.

  19. I'm not sure if you're going to continue this blog or not, but I've enjoyed it over the last couple of years. My best friend moved to Sweden and I almost made the move myself (As a San Diego/Honolulu resident, though, I think I'd die even in September). This blog was the first site I found that had the perfect combination of information and humor. Thanks for everything! Some info you gave came in handy during my trip to Gothenburg last year.

    Welcome home!

  20. Welcome back to America dude.

    The boob in the elevator never ceases to amuse me and I wasn't even there.

    Looking towards more awesome adventures as the Swedish America adapts to America.

  21. About a year ago I befriended a Swede, which caused me to stumble across this blog. I have been following it ever since. Before, I had almost no knowledge of Swedish culture and life. I have really learned a lot and have always enjoyed reading your entries. I would love to travel to Sweden some day and see it for myself!

  22. Wow...back in the States. *sniff* Well, welcome & good luck with the shock to your system. Go easy on all the fried food... & enjoy Walmart to it's fullest ;)

  23. It's never to late to get back on the plane and return to Sweden.

  24. @Antropologa – they were pretty amazing and thank you!

    @dax – its an exhausting feeling isn’t it? Its starting to fade now though. Nearly two weeks later…

    @anonymous – thank you! Im looking forward to the challenge of being home.

    @Brian – seriously, its nice knowing Im not alone in that. Good luck with your move, where in Colorado are you heading?

    @Floridian – My final destination will be the good old Midwest. Im heading to grad school which is exciting and horribly scary at the same time.

    @SwedishJenn – Thanks Jenn, I appreciate it!

    @Esoteric – I don’t think it will be the end of the blog. Im going to keep writing, I just haven’t really figured out how to do it quite yet.

    @terander – kind of, but clearly better. And I will, because clearly they are glorious stories.

    @anonymous – Fat Dan! I love it, hopefully you enjoyed the Swedish adventure while it lasted.

    @Pavellas – you also have a way with words, must be that Alaskan latitude.

    @anonymous – thank you!

    @asazevedo – no no no, it was an amazing cultural experience that should be preserved. Kind of like the Swedes being able to buy and sell snus and no one else in the EU being able to.

    Unfortunately, I missed out on the porcupine race this year. I hope to make it again soon.

    @anonymous – oh wow… that might just have to be its own blog post actually. I’ll think about it and pop something out for you.

    @Yours Truly – sorry to disappoint.

    @Jessy – it grabs you a bit doesn it?

    @Kane – yeah I think I planned it pretty well, midsummer in Sweden and the 4th in the US.

    @m8 – oh man, I wish… unfortunately my clothing took precedence. And the Colorado sticker is hot.

    @patrick – the grass is always greener isn’t it?

    @Tim – glad to hear it Tim!

    @Sapphire – that has to be one of the most surreal experiences in Sweden for me. I mean seriously, who lets their boob flop out on the elevator?

    @anonymous – thanks, I hope you make it over some day soon!

    @Scarlet – thanks, and Ive already made a trip to walmart and it was amazing. And disgusting. And all I was hoping for.

    @anonymous – well because it was cheaper to buy a round trip ticket instead of a one way I do have a return booked. Technically at least.

  25. Hope you're having a good time now that you're back. Where are you living in the States now? I'm an American and actually just moved to Sweden July 2 to live with the significant other. A friend recommended your blog and it's hilarious! Esp. love "Going Metro in Stockholm." I spent summer '09 in Stockholm and can attest to the countless men I saw on a daily basis who clearly spent a few too many hours/days in front of the mirror. Keep up the fun posts.

  26. So, will you now be changing the name of your blog to A Swedish American in America? Oy!


    A Swede Who Moved to America for Two Years Twenty-One Years Ago and Still Hasn't Left

  27. Thanks for sharing your experiences in Sweden. Looking forward to more insights in your new journey.

    Welcome home!

    -Samantha :)

  28. Welcome back my friend.

    I will reply to your email. Promise.

  29. @LauraX – well, right now Im back in Colorado but Im heading out to the Midwest pretty soon.

    The styling of the men still blows my mind. And the hours, think of how much they could get done. You know, other than their hair.

    @katja – I think I’m going to be going over to a Swedish American in Swedish-America.

    Where in the US did you get stuck?

    @anonymous (Samantha) – thanks!

    @rednk-n-eurp – with the amount of time it usually takes me to respond to emails (as evidenced by the fact that you have already responded to my email) don’t worry about it.