I didn’t go to Estonia

after all.  The trip got canceled and I’m feeling a tad under-travelled for someone who has been living in Europe almost a year.  My new goal is to get to Finland and Norway before I leave so that I can have a fuller sense of Scandinavia.  Yesterday I was asked for advice by an American college student who is visiting Stockholm for a few days.  This has caused me to reflect on what I’ve actually learned about Stockholm while living here. (Most of my comments will be relative to the States.)

I’m purposefully confining this to Stockholm, because from what I understand it is a culture unto itself.  In the same way that you can’t visit DC and project its vibe onto the entire US, you can’t visit Stockholm and make assertions about Sweden.  Still, to continue the analogy, there are plenty of similarities that do unite them to the rest of the country.  The same (occasionally odd) traditions and holidays.  The same (apparently?) obsession with ice hockey.

Holidays/Traditions are different here.  For Christmas, all of Sweden tunes into old Disney Donald Duck cartoons.  For Easter, children dress up as witches.  And they have their own, distinctly unAmerican, holidays like Lucia and

Midsummer.

The winter is endless, dark, and life-sucking.  Over half the year is consumed with bitterly cold temperatures and dishearteningly little daylight.  I came to the conclusion that Sweden really wasn’t meant to be inhabited by people.  Sweden is #18 on WHO’s (World Health Organization) list of suicide rates by country.  18 out of 106 isn’t a great rank to begin with, but when taking into consideration the modernity, cleanliness, and high quality of life, the rank is even more jarring.  That said…

The summer is fabulously wonderful.  Summer in Stockholm is beautiful beyond reason.  For a capital city it is remarkably natural and clean.

swedish buns

Best thing about Sweden: Kanelbullar.  My friend Sanna helped us make these.

Swedish people are reserved – except on weekend nights when they get smashed.  If you are sober on a Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun night, the Tunnelbanan (metro) might not be an enjoyable experience.  Generally speaking though, they’re a nice lot; patriotic, fond of children and pets and order.  Obsessed with fair queues; many places that have lines also have a number to pick (like at US DMVs) even if there are only three people in the store.

That’s it for now.

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