Easter in Norrland
March 28, 2016
Each Easter, we fly up to Northern Sweden, Norrland, where only approximately 12 percent of Sweden’s nearly 10 million inhabitants reside. My sambo (live in boyfriend) grew up in a small village here a stone’s throw from the Baltic Sea. Year round, it is the most breathtaking, picturesque part of the world I have ever seen. Even the quality of the air feels different.
We arrived on Thursday and have since tasted some of the best local fish (bleak) grilled right over an open fire, walked and snowmobiled on the sea, and had the best homemade cookies (recipe to come) for our fika, the cherished coffee break in Sweden. We have also spotted a herd of reindeer (owned by the indigenous Sami in Sweden) that roam freely through Northern Sweden.
Luleå is a city with a population of nearly 47,000. It is known for Luleå University of Technology, Luleå Hockey Club, and it’s steel production. It is part of Norrland, one of the three land regions in Sweden.
They have a saying in Sweden, “det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder,” which literally translates to “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” In other words, there is no excuse to stay in when it is super cold or overcast. I still struggle with this from time to time, but I am a Florida girl. Swedes have evolved to make the best of any weather conditions.
I was reluctant to head outside yesterday as it was a bit overcast and super cold. Today was another day. The sun was shining in every direction, the sky was blue. We decided to spend it the way most Swedes in the area spent the day, walking and snowmobiling on the frozen sea!!!
We celebrated Easter together with Fredrik’s family in his sister’s family’s cabin. We ate grilled moose and reindeer from a bbq made in the snow. Many Swedes own a “summer house” which often consists of a large open room complete with a primitive kitchen, dining, and sleeping areas. Spring and Easter usually mark the time when Swedes open up their cabins for use.
Easter in Sweden is mostly secular. The Easter bunny is not as celebrated a tradition as back home. Instead, children (boys and girls alike) dress up as Easter witches and go from house to house wishing their neighbours a Happy Easter. In return, they are given candy (similar to trick or treating on Halloween). In addition, parents give their children Easter “eggs” that are filled with candy.
Food traditionally served around Easter can vary, but generally consists of boiled eggs, cured and/or smoked salmon, cold cuts (ham, moose, and/or lamb), cheese, bread, potatoes, and pickled herring.
Though I long for home every day (especially on holidays), Norrland and Sweden have been my second home for nearly six years. My boyfriend’s family have always been so kind and welcoming to me. They have made my holidays here very special. While I recommend visiting Stockholm and Gothenburg, no trip to Sweden is complete without visiting the many wonders of Norrland. Hoping everyone back home was spoiled by the Easter Bunny and enjoyed each other’s company ❤
August 2, 2015
Hej allihoppa (Hi everyone)!!! As I prepare for my long flight back to Sweden (Tuesday), I have been reflecting on how different life is there compared to here in the U.S. Living in another culture gives you a completely new perspective in life. While sometimes crossing cultures can create friction, it is mostly fun and allows us to examine ourselves in a different way. I think everyone, if given the opportunity, should try living in another country.
I have always had a special place in my heart for Sweden and all things Swedish. My grandmother on my mother’s side was Swedish. Her parents came to the U.S. by way of Canada in 1901 or 1902, when more than a million Swedes immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life. I try to imagine how hard it must have been for them in a time when there was no Skype, no Facebook, no email. If I didn’t have Face Time, I might have already moved home.
I remember one of my first dates with my Swedish boyfriend, Fredrik. He hadn’t lived in the U.S. long, so he (unbeknownst to me) did some investigating on American dating culture when we first started dating. I will never forget one of our first dates. Fredrik picked me up and ran around to open the car door for me in an attempt to be chivalrous. I laughed and said that it wasn’t necessary. He laughed too and said he wouldn’t do it again then because he only read that that’s what American guys do on a date, but it would never happen in Sweden. I think I knew then that we were perfect together. The following is a funny reflection on Swedish culture. With the exception of getting naked with the in-laws, I was there before I even moved to Sweden. Perhaps that’s why I feel so at home there ❤
Thanks for stopping by! See you again soon!! Ses snart igen!!
June 6, 2015
Today is Sweden’s national day. Glad National Dag, Sverige! Swedes don’t generally celebrate national day the way Americans celebrate the 4th of July. I guess they are saving their strength for Midsommar (Midsummer) which is maybe second in line only to Christmas in importance of their many holidays.
Maybe even more important than Sweden’s national day today is the fact that today is lördagsgodis day or candy day in Sweden. Every Saturday Swedes young and old can be seen at the grocery store stuffing a paper bag full of their favorite sweet, sour, or salty (not a typo), yes salty candy. They apparently are the largest consumers of candy in the world.
The interesting fact here is that it is only on Saturdays (and some holidays) that Swedes will stuff their faces with candy. Even the kids learn to exercise moderation. It really works!! I vote Americans should take part! What do you think????
May 8, 2015
How it All Began
I moved to Sweden five years ago in August. It has been both challenging and amazing. You learn so much about yourself when you step completely out of your comfort zone, learn a new language, eat new food, and experience new traditions. From finding baking powder (bakpulver) in the grocery store to learning to calculate exchange rates, the brain is on overdrive trying to absorb and register all the new experiences that we take for granted when we are in our own environment. There are days where it is super exciting and there are days when you want to pack your bags and go home out of sheer longing for the familiar.
What brought me to Sweden? I get this question often from both Americans and Swedes alike. It was love. My boyfriend, Fredrik, is Swedish. We met while I was on a travel assignment in San Francisco and he was working at a startup in Silicon Valley (engineers galore for any single travelers out there). Neither of us planned to stay permanently in California and had no idea that when we met, we would be inseparable. Just shy of our third year together, we packed our things and headed east. I was lucky to get a temporary work and study visa on arrival because Fredrik is a citizen of Sweden.
I live in the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg. It is a beautiful walkable city on the south-west coast with a population of over 900,000 including both urban and metro areas (Gothenburg). It was a trading city which also has a rich history of fishing. It is home to and the birth place of Volvo. It has two major universities. Culturally, Gothenburg claims Jose Gonzalez as one of their own! It is the Seattle of Sweden. Can you sense the pride I feel living in this city?
I spent the first year I was here studying Swedish intensively at the University of Gothenburg. After fulfilling the language requirement, I started studying for my Swedish nursing boards which was a written exam (in Swedish). By May 2013, I had taken and passed my boards!! All that was left was a three and half month internship in the Swedish medical system followed by a little one semester course in medical Swedish law (nightmare).
I started working and actually getting a pay check just over a year ago 🙂 I work in the second largest NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) in Sweden. It is a university hospital (Sahlgrenska University Hospital). Like the U.S., they are short staffed (more on that soon), so I am able to work contractually and go home when I want. I am surrounded by some of the brightest doctors, nurses, and techs from around the world. While it is super challenging thinking, speaking, and charting in Swedish (especially in an emergent situation), I have the constant support and encouragement from a great group of coworkers. Now on to the next adventure……….my Swedish BSN!!!!