I am the younger brother of the Hairy Swede, and I have followed in his footsteps. I have recently moved to Sweden and I will be contributing to this blog in order to chronicle my time here and keep my friends and family updated.
Of the Swedish-American family that I grew up in, I am the least Swedish. I was not old enough to remember Life Before America when we moved; I have spent less time here than the others; I am further removed from my family in terms of age; I have lived the majority of my life and experienced just about all that I know from an American cultural standpoint. I decided to ignore the horror stories of my brothers and venture forth to experience Sweden on my own.
There will of course be differences: my predecessor, the original Hairy Swede we all know and love, lived in Stockholm as a young professional. I will be living in southern Sweden as a student. I'm also a very different person. Hairy Swede has actually called me a redneck, on multiple occasions, to which I have taken great offense, given my extreme class. The point is, though, that different people, living in different parts of the country, while coming from essentially the same background, will have very different ideas and perspectives on the experiences which we are sharing, yet which define us as individuals finding our places in the world.
As some may know, we grew up in the same household, which was inundated with both Swedish and American traditions. Being the youngest and arguably least Swedish, I feel that I have a grasp of this Americanized bastard Swedish tradition. However, to experience the real thing will change me, just as it changed my older brother. He began his journey with a wider range of background information to guide him, and still his world was forever changed and his ideals were ultimately challenged and perhaps strengthened. I do not have the same background, perspectives, or beliefs that he has. The one thing we share is the adventure. My journey will mirror his in myriad ways, but ultimately, the choice to live lies within us, and we have both made this choice, and so have both chosen to change.
I arrived in Sweden yesterday, and since then I have gone through several changes already. When I left America, I was extremely nervous. When I got here, I started to realize that there was no reason for my nerves to get in the way. I made a decision to do this, and I have the tools at my disposal to do it. I will do this, and I know that no matter what, it will change me, and that change will come from me. Walking along the beach last night, I wondered why I didn't miss this place more than I had, and I decided that the adventure that I'm beginning will affect me only insofar as I allow it. I decided that I will allow myself to change because I know that I am being true to the person that I have always hoped to be and to my past self. The memories that are evoked when I walk down the streets here are strong and vivid. To stay true to my memory is something that I feel must be done in order to make this an experience that I enjoy, rather than to expect something that will never happen and have a terrible experience. The smell, the temperature, the food, everything here reminds me of some amazing times from my childhood, and it is these memories that I have to honor in order to truly love this place. I have always wanted to spend some time here aside from the vacation time we typically take. Instead, I have taken the plunge and will immerse myself in a dream that I've had since I was a kid and I will let myself be taken in by it in order to experience life. And in the end, life is all an experience to be had. I will have an experience here.