When I first came to Sweden, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than meatballs, cold weather, and every Swede’s almost embarrassing mastery of English. Even in the short amount of time I’ve been here, a number of unexpected things have happened. So unexpected, in fact, that I felt the urge—nay, the responsibility—to educate all seven of my loyal readers back home about what Sweden is really like. So here are some actually true* things that have happened to me over my first two weeks in Sweden:
- I watched numerous people successfully ride bicycles in zero-degree weather both uphill and downhill on streets that were coated entirely with ice.
- I visited a pink castle.
- I met and befriended a Kazakh and a Turk before I had even my first conversation with a Swede.
- I bought and had occasion to wear a wing-tipped shirt and tailcoat.
- I watched five women be ordained as priests in an ex-Catholic cathedral in a country whose church is headed by a female primate.
- I went to a club which chose, as their last song of the night, a remix of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh),” accompanied by strobe lights.
- A stranger walked up to me in the street and shined my shoes for free.
- My professor took me and my entire class out to a pub and bought us all as many beers as we wanted.
- I learned that the name of the road I live on means “Hangmen’s Mountain” because it used to be where all the hangmen lived.
- My friend accidentally cut off the tip of her finger, only to have it be sewn back on for free by the Swedish welfare system.
- I ate moose heart.
- I had my sexuality questioned by a member of the Swedish Armed Forces… twice.
- I saw seven naked men hanging from a ceiling on the same day that I watched a cannon be fired at the cathedral over a dozen times.
- I danced like a 1930’s lindy hopper with an Iraqi Swede.
There you have it—a completely ordinary, representative sample of Swedish life in the twenty-first century. I hope some stereotypes were shattered and light shed on the otherwise mysterious lives of these two-meter-tall blond beauties.
*Eric Franklin reserves the right to change the definition of “true” in order to maintain the integrity of his journalism.