Posted by Eric
The best part of Sweden for me has been the culture shock. It’s fun to watch how people react to extraordinary things and colorful people. From the moment we entered Sweden I could sense the difference. The airport in Stockholm while filled with people encompassed an air of efficiency incomparable to any airport in the states. They also lacked that mediocre background noise, no upbeat pop music polluting the air here. The atmosphere is definitely calming and we sure did need it after that crazy plane flight.
The almost complete lack of a language barrier was amazing. I’d been told by several people the degree to which Swedes are multilingual, but I have been amazed by the level of fluency in English. This alone has made the trip so much more enjoyable. It’s nice to receive opinions on both domestic and international concepts and discuss social graces.
So I’m from the Midwest and it’s generally accepted that Midwesterners have a certain level of “niceness”. Not that I’m a saint, but I think I hold a certain level of respect for others that prevents rudeness. Anyways, having said that, I may be biased but the Swedes have a rather distinct way of doing things. Generally when I have found myself staring at something of interest (normally food labels at the store) I cause a backup in the normal clockwork that is Sweden; when I have finished drooling at the sweets and yoghurt there always seems to be a Swede or two standing directly behind me waiting in silent apprehension. Their presence generates an apology in English and they immediately understand the situation (AMERICAN) and continue in their stoic manner leaving me to my shopping.
It seems to me that another shock for most of the NERU crew was the sauna. Going to the sauna is a part of Swedish tradition, and if you don’t experience it then you are really missing out. You endure the extreme heat and humidity (90◦C) for as long as possible, and when it is no longer bearable, you then sprint out of the Sauna to the mighty lake Tornetrask (8◦C) and jump in. Whist doing all of this you may be in the presence of Swedes who in some cases may heckle you for your lack of ability to withstand either of the extremes, all in good fun though.