Hej, I am Maria, I am from Greece and today is my last day working in Sweden. It has been a whole year and you can read about it in my previous posts, titled very creatively “Greece vs Sweden” here and here.
I could technically do the third instalment of the saga and go further into details about differences I experienced these past few months, cultural things I couldn’t have known from small interactions, or, of course, discuss the weather (when is summer supposed to start in Sweden again?) but I don’t want to do that. Today, I just want to write about the things I will miss from Sweden and keep this list as a bittersweet reminder of my time here.
- Nature: Not to say that Greece doesn’t have a very diverse environment, quite the contrary. But it’s still mind blowing to me how easily accessible nature is in Sweden, even in big cities. It’s almost hard to find the city amongst all the trees and lakes.
- Frozen lakes: Speaking of lakes and their omnipresent presence, they are beautiful in all states but for a good amount of months they freeze and you can walk on them. Or skate I guess, for the most skilled. I remember one day in the beginning of winter my boss asked us “Do you want to leave for a while and go walk on the lake if it’s frozen?” And we did and attempted to build a snowman too. Thanks, Sara.
- Barbeques: Okay, right now I don’t really miss them, because we have had too many of them this summer and there’s a limited amount of vegan things you can grill, but they are sure a Swedish statemen and a summer must-do. Every lake that respects itself has a free barbeque spot in a scenic place next to it, so they work as meeting points on the days when sun makes an appearance.
- ABBA: Well, I will of course keep listening to ABBA when I am away, they were my number one artist on Spotify way before I came to their land, but it is just too much fun to blast their music with Swedes around that are always ready to sing “Dancing Queen”. In our last training course, during the Swedish cultural night we sang “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A man after midnight)” karaoke and everyone participated and was excited, even people that I would assume really didn’t want a man after midnight.
- Veronica Maggio: Another music artist but I couldn’t omit her from this list, her bops have singlehandedly enriched our nights out and made even questionable clubs way more fun. I remember my first night in Stockholm, I was talking to a Swedish guy and suddenly “Jag kommer” started playing. The crowd went wild. “That’s a Swedish classic” he told me and I was very confused with how… underwhelming it seemed for a club hit but I regularly caught myself singing it afterwards. A Swedish classic it was.
- Swedish expressions: Ja-a. A-ha. “Yes” but non-verbal. A lot of them I picked them up ironically and now I can’t stop.
- Trains: And mostly the idea that you can go anywhere by train (trust me, I have 21 hours of non-stop experience). I got to travel so much this year and I didn’t get tired of looking melancholically out of big windows and taking in the forests and the little stugas. Do they work perfectly? No. But have you ever been in Germany?
- Accessibility: That may also be a northern European thing in general, but I cannot describe how much easier public life must be for people with limited mobility here. At first it’s easy to naively assume that “there are a lot of people on wheelchairs here” but then it hits you: they can just exist outside easily and it is an eyeopener.
- Fika: Fika is fika. Doesn’t need more explanation. It’s not a coffee break, it’s not just cake, it’s fika and a time we cherish. How Swedes manage to be so productive when they get to enjoy their kanelbullar so often is still a mystery to me, but I love it and I will miss it.
- Long days: We don’t talk about the sunlight during winter, but the summer version? I absolutely love it- the sun is almost always up and if you go even further up it just never sets. Perfect for long night walks or staying out with no track of time.
- Strawberries: This is very random, but svenska jordgubbar are so much sweeter and superior to any other kind of jordgubbar and if you don’t believe me you’ll have to come and try them yourself- I also had my doubts for the country that specialises in carrots and cabbage but they really made up for it with strawberries.
- Ali: But most of all, I will miss all the amazing people I had the chance to meet and work with here, befriend and live a whole year with. I don’t doubt that the rest of the volunteers are going to be life-long friends, even if we spread in different parts of the world, we will always have a matching train tattoo to prove it. Sara, the boss-turned-friend, and Martin, “The Bitch”, I will miss you until I see you again. And Ali, because I promised him that I would include him in my last post. But also because we were mean to each other on purpose and made the days in the office more fun.
Hej då! Until we meet again.