Walk Like A Swede

Let me begin with this: Sweden, I love you, but it was GREAT to get away.

Snow on April 1. Gross.

I’m horrible, I know.

I knew this would happen, of course, I didn’t know when. That time when I would just be like, UGH. A mix of missing family, missing being able to communicate well, and other sad feelings about being in a new culture. I’ll get over it. I knew this feeling was coming, and that I should stare it down and make it go away, because I am immensely grateful to be here.

So, anyway, we went to Scotland for Easter weekend. We were supposed to go France, as those were the cheapest Ryanair tickets and there was a beach, but then just as we were dropping the dogs off and heading to the airport, Ryanair so kindly text messaged me to say that our flight was cancelled. Air traffic control strike in good ol’ France.

We left the kids at the sitter and decided to make a spontaneous decision on a new trip. We could book other tickets with the Ryanair refund, or we could save the refund and drive over to Denmark/Germany/Norway/Finland…you name it. Europe is cool. It’s like the East Coast – you can hit a bunch of different places in a couple of days – only without all the idiots and one stupid highway (I hate you I-95).

After a couple of hours trying to decide what to do/where to go…we found cheeeeeeap tickets to Edinburgh, realized all of Europe was under a cloud for the rest of the week (why go to a beach?), and booked our tickets.

Matt and I immediately became giddy-thrilled about Scotland. I’ll share details in a later post, but let’s just say it was absolute LOVE as soon as the wheels touched down. And, for the record, Ryanair flights that include Swedish and Scottish people are totally calm and very nice. No horror story at all, in fact, it was one of the most pleasant flight experiences of my life.

I love you, Scotland.

Since we’ve been back, I’ve been nursing a raging cold that was coming on just before we left. I ignored it throughout the trip to Scotland and wheezed and sneezed my way hoofing it around for 4 days, hoping tea and lozenges would cure me quickly. No such luck.

Being back in Sweden, Sunday to Wednesday was crappy. Not only was I sick, but it was rainy, freezing, gray and dreary. Normally, I would love this weather, but man…everyone in the States is posting pics of the second round of bulbs blooming, and the sunshine, and people probably already have real tans there by now. Here I am on my sick-bed during the longest winter ever (seems like) staring at still-naked trees. All of this is definitely not helping the UGH feeling, I’m sure you can imagine.

But this morning at 6am, I could feel the sun shining, even through the blackout shades. I also woke up able to breathe without coughing, so I decided it was high time to take the dogs on a long morning walk along the canal.

I do love this walk, mainly because it’s an uninterrupted trail with ducks and trees and grass. Good for hound dogs.

See how pretty? Never fails.

But here’s the thing: I can’t figure out how to navigate through the Swedes. Even if there’s only like 5 out in town, they will find their way to me, place themselves directly in front of me, and NOT MOVE.

What’s up Swedes? Of all the groups of people in all the world, I would seriously expect Swedes to be the first to move out of the way. Not only for the other person’s comfort (which seems like a Swedish notion), but so that they wouldn’t have to interact/be bothered/touch someone else.

Not the case. I’ve talked to other Americans here, they feel the same way. We can’t figure out which side to walk on, when to move, if you will move, why you are walking at me, why you run into each other, etc. 

It’s a pain for this Colorado-trails-trained girl to try to figure out WHY these people do not walk on one consistent side. I’m a big redhead, with two dogs, minding my business, and y’all are walking AT me and not moving. There could be 5 different people going the same direction (opposite me, of course), staggered all over the trail and not one would move an inch to the side to let me pass, despite the fact that there is basically a human wall of Swedes to penetrate and bikers going 1,000 kph in both directions.

Not a single person on the trail, on this glorious sunny morning – the first in a while! – smiled or made a move out of the way in any sense (in fact, at least 3 moved IN MY WAY). I found myself getting grumpy with people on the trail, which is bad. I hate not knowing the rules because there are no rules!

So, I’ve decided Linköping is going to harden me. I’ve got to toughen up a little in this small Scandinavian town, where the graffiti says “Yum” or “Lights”. I’ve got to be OK dodging people, and I’ve got to be the person who goes out of the way to move over.

What about this view says, "Please walk at me."? That's right. Nothing.

I’ve decided to let that make me feel like I’m doing others a favor, moving the hound dog train out of their way. As if my “good deed” will become a little altruistic, and it will only make me feel satisfied, thus lifting the UGH and ignoring the feeling that people could be snobby. Positivity-style!

But, just so we’re all clear, EVERYONE in Scotland moves out of your way. It was definitely noticeable for Matt and I. Like, even before you see them around the block, they know you’re coming and they move and then smile at you. And you do the same. Because…last I checked, that’s what you do in pedestrian communities. In NYC, and SF, and even in DC where no one cares about anyone else and they walk really slow, they still move over.

That was all a round-about way of saying Swedes can come off snobby and it’s getting to me, but it was nice to get away, and now I’ve got to kick my butt into being happy.



3 thoughts on “Walk Like A Swede

  1. Well, I’m glad you are feeling better- and just remember that our summer might be long but the days last forever and it is worth it! Strange, I’ve never had the Swedes-not-moving-out-of-my-way issue.

    • Oh yes, I am very much looking forward to the summer and really long days. I’m sure once the nice weather starts it will be glorious! Yeah, the walking issue probably is more me (being stressed with two hyper dogs) than anyone else; it’s not like I’ve actually met an unpleasant person here, at all!

  2. Pingback: Two Months « Linköping With Love

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