So I got to the great land of Sweden (aka Sverige) about 4 weeks ago now, and I’ve been too busy meeting people and getting settled to write a blog update, so here we go!
So far I have not noticed a whole lot of differences between the United States and Sweden; punctuality is very important here (as it is for me), most of the people I have met here LOVE Mexican food (as do I, except the stuff they have here is no where close to being authentic, but I can survive for 4 months) and everyone here is polite and respects an individual’s space (like in the US). The main differences I have found is that a.) everything is in Swedish (that’s a no brainer, I can’t wait to start my Swedish course so that I can read things and talk to people in Swedish and not English), everyone minds their own business (meaning that no one smiles at random people on the street like I am accustomed to doing, I got a lot of weird looks the first couple of days because of that habit) and a lot of the Swedes I talk to are very reserved (until I tell them that I am from the United States, then they keep talking and talking, sometimes for an hour).
Everyone here in Linköping rides a bike (I mean it, when I go downtown there are thousands of bikes lining the streets) which is a difference from driving, taking the bus, or walking anywhere that I need to go (not to say that Linköping doesn’t have a great public transportation system, it definitely does). It’s a little hard biking for me right now because I have a slight cold and my lung capacity and physical endurance is taking a hit from the illness, but a couple of weeks ago I biked 40 km to a lake and back with some friends (about 20 miles) instead of taking the bus.
The classes here are good, but the system is different from Willamette’s system. Instead of taking all of my courses at once throughout the semester I take a course individually for a month and then switch to the next course. For this class that I am taking we only meet twice a week for two hours each time, with a 15 minute fika (coffee break) after the first hour. And all the classes here start at a quarter past the hour instead of starting on the hour. So if my schedule says my course is from 13:00-15:00 it actually starts at 13:15 (Sweden uses military time, which is actually super easy to adjust to).
I mentioned fika in the previous paragraph, but I really want to drive the point across: Swedes take their fika seriously. I have been told by many Swedes that normally after an hour or two of work they will stop to enjoy fika, normally with some coffee and a sweet. Apparently Sweden consumes the second most amount of coffee in the world, and I can understand why! When I come back to Willamette I will not be able to sit through an hour and a half long class without feeling the need to break for coffee.
I cannot think of anything more to say for now, so I hope that you have enjoyed this insight into my experience in Sweden so far. I will try to update at least once a week with new adventures and knowledge!