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Hello from Sweden!

My name is Cajsa Nolskog and I’m one of the international students at Willamette this semester. I’m originally from Skövde, Sweden, but have lived in Norrköping the last year and a half before coming to Salem. I take every chance I get to live abroad, so I lived in a couple of places around the world with my first long time stay abroad in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, I went to high school for one year. That’s seven years ago now, and I thought it was time to come back to the US!

When I came to the US in 2007, I had never been in this country, and I realized the first night at the hotel in NYC, tired from the flight and in a room with other exchange students I just met, how crazy it was to go to a place you never been, to live with a family you do not know, and, on top of that, do it by yourself and for such a long period of time! What was I thinking? Fortunately, I like adventures, and the excitement was bigger than the fear, and, like the majority of exchange students around the world, I had a wonderful and very memorable experience while on exchange.

But as I’ve said, that’s seven years ago now. I didn’t think it would take me this long to touch ground in the US again, and I was very excited with the opportunity from my university to go to the US. I didn’t know much about Oregon and first thought I was going to another Salem in the US… Soon enough I found out it was Salem in Oregon, and I am very happy to get to know this place!

Even though all states within this country are different, I do think that I’m kind of used to the American culture and therefore did not encounter so many cultures shocks this time. Many persons have told me that people are nicer here than on the East Coast, and yes, you are all very very nice and helpful, but I think I need to visit the East Coast again before I agree with you on the opinion of the West Coast as being nicer. The Virginian people were also very nice to me!

Compared to Sweden, where we use courteous words such as please a lot more sparsely, most countries seem to have a friendlier atmosphere. I wouldn’t say that Swedes are rude, but we do not sprinkle our surroundings with smiles and cheerful greetings all the time, and we do not usually waste our words on small talk with strangers. So the first days in Salem, I had to relearn to use all those nice phrases every now and then, and I still feel uneasy with naturally responding with the right words and how to correctly show gratitude and respect to my surroundings. So please forgive me if I might seem rude. It’s not my intention!

One curious country comparison from the West Coast and East Coast rivalry is that in Sweden we have something similar. We do not usually talk about the Swedish East Coast as a unitary place or term, since that coastline is very long. But the West Coast (or as some people say; “the best coast”) is a generally used term, and on the West Coast is the second biggest city, Gothenburg. They always claim to be nicer and more easygoing than the rude and stressful people of the capital Stockholm, which is situated on, do you want to guess? The East Coast!

Is this a thing, or just a coincidence?

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

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