It’s time again to gather some impressions, observations, and ruminations I’ve had about my expat experience in the last few months. I’ve written about my impressions periodically during my year plus in Sweden. Here is a link to my previous one.
- I think, after a year, I have finally started thinking in 24-hour time. What trips me up the most often is writing the time with a period like this 9.00 instead of what I am used to, which is this: 9:00. Plus, the time 17.00 still messes me up on occasion…seems like it should be seven pm instead of five pm.
- I also find using a comma instead of a period confusing. Four hundred and fifty kronor is written like this “450,00” so I worry, for example, that I am sending 450 thousand kronor to someone instead of 450.
- Week numbers. OK, I could understand the value but I have met countless Swedes who don’t know what week number it is currently either. How can people refer to week numbers when most of us have no idea when Week #42 is…(To be fair, Ihave the same reaction when you tell me to exit the subway station and “head West.” Whah! Do I look like I know the cardinal directions at all times?)
- Let me get this straight…Santa visits every Swedish household around the same time of the day on Christmas Eve and it always happens while Dad is out getting the paper? Got it!
Entertainment and Clothes:
- This idea of booking a specific seat at a movie theatre is kinda cool. It beats worrying that you won’t get a good seat. You know in advance where you will sit. You can book the seat at home on your computer and then either print out the tickets or pick them up from a special machine in the lobby. (You can also purchase tickets in the theatre right before the show either from the machine or from a cashier.)
- Orange is the new black. Or, actually orange and black seem to be in the stores. I’m waiting patiently for the organge to leave. The black I can handle…
- Powerpoint presentations still knock me for a loop. It’s very common for the visual presentation to be in English but the audio portion, given by the presenter, to be in Swedish. For me, it’s hard to make the two fit together but native Swedes don’t seem to have any trouble.
- Swedish massage is simply called “classical massage” in Sweden. When I was growing up I used to listen to the one Monty Python record I owned and several times on the record they would announce “And now, a massage (instead of a message…get it?) from the Swedish Prime Minister…”
- I keep finding these freezers in Swedish houses (including my apartment) that let you take out an item but not immediately put it back in (ex. You take a portion of frozen vegetables to cook)…The freezer locks you out until it reaches a certain temperature again.
- Callers almost never leave messages in Sweden. They assume you see that they called and that you will call them back.
- The mobile networks don’t use visual voice messages either (where you can see who called and elect to listen to them in any order) don’t work
- When someone calls you receive a text message telling you that someone called you. It almost always says (but in Swedish) “You received a call but the person left no message.” It feels strange to get these “non-messages.”
- Lots and lots and lots of people in Stockholm and Uppsala live in apartments. So I visit a lot of apartments. It always amazes me that people just freely give out the code to the front door to nearly everyone: friends, delivery people, relatives even.
- Apartments don’t have numbers. When someone comes to visit you, you just tell them which floor you live on. Your name is on the door. The mailman puts the mail through a slot in the door with the right name on it.
- Nearly every apartment door says “Ingen Reklam” indicating that they don’t want any advertisements or snailmail spam. I wonder how many the mail person can actually off load?
- Why does it sound so bad to the natives when you swear in their language?
- “Svamp” means too many things in Swedish. I’m just saying.
- It’s cool that dogs need fewer monthly medicationss in Sweden…No flea control, no heatworm medication…
- Hotels don’t have doormen. Is it just too darn cold to stand there? Or is holding the door open for people just completely dead?
- There are very few college (or any other kind of) bumper stickers on cars in Sweden.
- I love signs and marketing (etc.) phrases in English in Sweden. Here’s a picture of a takeout container…
- When you need to go to an ATM, you can go to any bank. You don’t need to find one belonging to your bank in order to avoid fees.
- Checks are next to extinct in Sweden. Everything paid and debited electronically to you account.
- I’ll end with this simple thought…I love snow on sculptures. I don’t know why…