Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting Used to America

Sometimes it really hits me that I’m in the US now. Certain things are obvious, like all the English being spoken around me (you’ll be happy to know that I no longer feel schizophrenic and am able to shut out all of the English conversations not involving me). Certain things are still taking some getting used to. Certain things took absolutely no getting used to and resulted in me quietly muttering U-S-A! U-S-A! to myself.

First, what resulted in me chanting to myself? Beer prices. Low, low beer prices. I bought a Guinness the other night during happy hour at a local bar. I paid two dollars and fifty cents. $2.50. 2.50 USD. With the current exchange rate that is about 17 SEK. When happy hour ended, with me still there, I paid five dollars. $5.00. 5.00 USD. With the exchange rate that is about 34 SEK. I was excited every time I found a beer for less than 45 SEK in Stockholm. And that was just your classic storstark. God forbid I go out on a limb and order something worth drinking. And so, beer for two dollars and fifty cents results in a U-S-A! U-S-A! chant. Obviously.

And the still getting used to. Marriage. Everyone is married. I am surrounded by married people. And they are my age. Colleagues are married. Friends are married. Cousins are married. Ex-girlfriends are dropping like flies.

I kind of forgot about that in Sweden. It seemed like people weren’t getting married until after the 30 mark. They might have been going together (as my mother would say. Going where you might ask? No one knows.) for years and years. They might have been living together for years and years. They might have had children together for years and years, but they weren’t married. They were sambo. There’s a difference. Not here. Here they are married.

Welcome to Swedish-America. And still adjusting.

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27 comments:

  1. you see but married means awesome, sparkly jewelry. Swedish woman don't seemed to have figured that out.

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  2. I'm Australian, and when I worked at CSU in Fort Collins for a couple of years I also was astonished at how many Americans were married, and how young they do it! Many of the graduate students were married and some had children already. I'm sure it contributed to the difference in culture compared to Aussie or English universities, where the PhD students and postdocs tend to hang together a lot outside work hours.

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  3. @m8surf: Sparkly jewelry? I'm married but it doesn't involve any jewelry... But then I'm Swedish, so I guess you have a point! ;) (We... no, I... decided that I didn't care for rings so we went without.)

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  4. Well in Wisconsin we are known for being beer drinkers so it better be readily available and cheap. :)

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  5. And i am a Swede-Swede in USA; with a blog :)

    I like your analyzis!

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  6. So.. no pressure of getting married in Sweden but very expensive to live in (like a marrige). Kinda evens it out!

    /Jossan (svensk)

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  7. OMG, I'm sure the culture shock of returning to live in the US must be a little disconcerting, not only for the reasons you point out, but for many other seemingly subtle, mundane things. But that's the beauty of living abroad and immersing yourself in a different culture (as you did in Sweden). I'm sure there are many things you miss about Sverige now, just as you missed certain things about the States when you lived there. Welcome home :)

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  8. I just saw the tv show "Korrespondenterna" on svtplay.se

    Amongst other things they talked about the abstinence movement in USA. They went to an abstinence ball where hundreds of girls swore an oath of abstinence to their fathers. They bought diamond abstinence rings that they were to give to their husbands along with their virginity.

    I'm not that surprised of hearing about lots of teen marriages in the USA any more. None of them feels like abstaining for very long. :)

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  9. When I was in Sweden this past summer, in the smaller towns EVERY guy I met was married, with rings on their fingers. With the exception of two very young men. Also, there were babies everywhere, I've never seen so many babies. Being single, I was open to the idea of meeting someone but of course it was impossible, since everyone was married. I have no idea what this nonsense is about that Swedes don't marry as much or as young, all these families looked VERY young to me. But then, I'm getting a bit on the old side- so that may be why. Stockholm was different of course, but then many cities are.

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  10. @Juni - Swedish men wear engagement rings, same as women in the U.S. do. So there is no way to tell if they are just engaged or married. If I had to guess, I would say most were only engaged.

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  11. I just came across your blog while procrastinating in class and found it very interesting. I'm a college senior graduating in May, and yes, planning to move overseas to get a job. I struggle with some of the same minor issues with having dual nationality (but I'm half German and half American) and it was very insightful to read about the same experience I'm about to go through in a few months.

    So thanks for the accidental life advice, haha.

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  12. Adding to Girl in Stockholm: And being engaged does not mean you plan to get married anytime soon. Or ever. A lot of people just stay engaged. I am a swedish woman and I have no plans to ever get married.

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  13. Anonymous: Not even for economical reasons and less bureaucracy?

    http://www.dagensarbete.se/home/da/home.nsf/unid//cc25298331628ef4c125708b003ad383?OpenDocument

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  14. @ girl in Stockholm- ok! well now that makes sense, interesting men wear rings for engagement.

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  15. Haha. Being a Swedish woman engaged to an American man, this conversation's come up more than once. I think marriage is romantic and good for protecting property, but I wouldn't consider myself any less committed just living with someone. My fiancé thinks living together without marriage seems like there's no commitment.

    Beer and liquor prices in the U.S. are amazing. One of my favorite things about this country.

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  16. I recently moved with my husband from the USA to Sweden, and we've met two couples where the woman in each is American and the men are Swedish. Both women said they wouldn't have moved to Swedish with their guys without getting married. On the other hand, most couples we know that are purely Swedish aren't married. So it seems, like you say, there is more emphasis on this commitment from the American end.

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  17. Hairy, when are you going to post again? Haven't heard from you in a while now...

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  18. $2.50 for a Guinness? What part of the country are you in? I'll move! I just went out during a happy hour and had a so-so lager for $4.50 normal price $5.50 so ~30-44SEK.

    The US is still very heavy on the whole religion thing, marriages tied up in that whole thing somehow. I'd rather see a society of non-married couple raise healthy children in a stable home, than a 50% divorce rate and kids stuck in the middle.

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  19. I second Julie's sentiments. Where the hell have you been H? Hope you are well :)

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  20. Just accidentally stumbled on your blog. My husband and I are Swedish-Swedish-American with a Finno-Ugric twist. His parents were born in Finland but immigrated to Smaland and he learned Finnish as his first language. Parents were red and pink, respectively. I'm Finnish and Saami from the Torne River Valley of Sweden/Finland and my great-grandparents were Laestadians who immigrated to the American Midwest 100 years ago. I can relate very much to Popular Music from Vittula. After 6 years of a cross-Atlantic romance, we now happily in Minneapolis. Husband likes the cheap booze. He is having a lot of difficulty finding work in America.

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  21. Hej,
    Hope you are well. As you can see, we all miss reading from you.
    Take care.

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  22. Please write on your blog. I miss reading it!! Your public awaits...

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  23. Where are you? Have someting happend? I miss your posts :-(

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  24. Hi there! Well welcome to America :) I am glad you are having a good time! And yes beer is very cheap in America. I live with a Swedish guy who was telling us the price of vodka in Sweden! YIKES

    Keep enjoying it (and no worries--people our age are in no rush to get married in America!)

    All the best
    Libby

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  25. Hairy Swedish, I think you are getting too used to america! :)
    Anyway, I started a blog (I know this is not big news anymore) but I thought I'd share it with you since you are my favourite blogger after all!

    http://bicycleporn.wordpress.com/

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  26. Great comments. Sorry it took so long to respond and to start writing again. But I'm back in Sweden so the blog lives on, for a while at least.

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