Like anyone living in a foreign country, you eventually get used to things. Some things just remain a nuisance while others are accepted as cultural idiosyncrasies.
Now that I have been here for a few years, I have come to terms with a lot of things. Some aspects drive me crazy (more on that later) but overall, I am doing my best to take a laissez-faire approach to serious issues. If the people aren’t forcing and clamoring for change, why I should be the outspoken one to hate on things? And if people don’t hate it, should I really hate it?
On the positive side, Sweden is becoming more of a place with choices. More independent shops, more items at the grocery stores, and more ethnic restaurants. Nicer people with more international experiences. Sweden is becoming a real fondue pot of goodness.
So, in no particular order, my list of things I don’t hate… too much.
1. Fitted Bedsheets – There was once a time when you could only find poor quality cotton bedsheets at IKEA. In white. ONLY white. Now, a few more stores here and there are carrying them. There is not a huge selection but there is a selection nonetheless.
Finding Egyptian cotton color sheets at a reasonable price is still difficult. Maybe at Hästens or NK I can find overpriced sheets. Instead, I buy sheets in the US to bring back. I keep my sanity and comfy sheets!
2. Swedish drivers – Let’s replace all “Swedish” with “Stockholm.” Stockholm drivers are awful, Swedish drivers not really. So an apology to all Swedish drivers (not Stockholm ones) for thinking you drive like Stockholmers.
Seriously, when you see a car cut off a police vehicle, and the police does not do anything, you know it is a wild wild west.
3. Rude Swedish behavior – Again, let’s replace “Swedish” with “Stockholm.” Stockholmers can be incredibly rude. While we call say the same about New York City residents, the city has earned the popular/awesome cred to have rude citizens. Stockholm is no New York.
But, overall, Stockholmers have become nicer, especially store clerks and waiters. They are not as stuck up and aloof as they used to be. Yay!
4. Systembolaget – I still hate that place but I have to accept its purpose. And I have come to terms that many Swedes do not trust themselves, or others, when it comes to regulating alcohol intake. Systemet exists for the sake of Sweden and it is something I can live with.
Besides, road-tripping to Germany for beer is awesome.
5. America bashing – The US does so many “WTF” things these days (hello, Teabaggers!) that I can understand the America bashing. For example, take gun control. How do you support people who advocate *no* background checks or social security registration? That’s America for you.
But I do mind when Swedes compare themselves to the developing world with, “See you shouldn’t complain, we don’t have that kind of traffic in India. We have traffic but it’s not India, we do not need to worry about it.”
Comparing yourself to the developing world is like comparing Einstein to an Autistic child, of course Einstein will be superior on all levels. But that doesn’t give him the right to slack off or a be a douche bag. If Swedes want to compare, compare yourselves to the developed world or to the Nordic region. Not to Sudan or India or Zimbabwe. K, rant over.
6. The weather – It sounds whiney, and sometimes it is whiney but poor Sweden did get the short end of the stick when it comes to habitable places on Earth. The more I think of it, the more I believe complaining about the weather is some cathartic experience to make Swedes happier.
7. No one takes responsibility – Change is happening at a glacier pace to make people/companies responsible for their actions. I think it will happen one day that the government agencies that make decisions actually have the teeth to enforce them. And maybe some corrupt and dysfunctional practices can finally come to an end. Maybe, hopefully.
Overall, I love Sweden. I know I am harsh and rude to you at times. But I hold you to a higher standard than India or the US. I expect you to know better. And I expect you to be a role model to others.
But you’re proving your worth. Just don’t let lagom and jantelag pull you down to the status quo. Sweden, I hate you at times because I love you.