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:

  1. I watched numerous people successfully ride bicycles in zero-degree weather both uphill and downhill on streets that were coated entirely with ice.
  2. I visited a pink castle.
  3. I met and befriended a Kazakh and a Turk before I had even my first conversation with a Swede.
  4. I bought and had occasion to wear a wing-tipped shirt and tailcoat.
  5. I watched five women be ordained as priests in an ex-Catholic cathedral in a country whose church is headed by a female primate.
  6. 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.
  7. A stranger walked up to me in the street and shined my shoes for free.
  8. My professor took me and my entire class out to a pub and bought us all as many beers as we wanted.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. I ate moose heart.
  12. I had my sexuality questioned by a member of the Swedish Armed Forces… twice.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.

Tagged: Abroad

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