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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Bump into me, but say ‘excuse me'”

    A week before my flight and two-week stay in Sweden, my grandmother sent me a letter via snail mail calling Sweden our “”old country.”” She wrote about where she had lived with my father in Stockholm and how my father fed hedgehogs. It was all very nice, especially since I would miss “”nice”” while away.

    The nine-hour flights are always uncomfortable when traveling overseas. I make myself as comfortable as possible by pulling down my pants till they are almost at my knees and covering up with a blanket. And I always forget how one drink equals three in flight, so I’m sure my constant giggling was annoying the people sitting around me but not as much as the little boy who kept hollering, “”faster”” as the plane slowly moved on the takeoff strip.

    Departing at 6 a.m. from Phoenix and finally arriving the next day at 10 a.m. in Stockholm made me feel like I’d been on a drug binge since the night before, especially since I didn’t see the sun set once. So I walked like a zombie to a small café and had “”kaffe.””

    Everyone under the age of 70 speaks English. And I guess what I wasn’t expecting was for everyone to be blond and gorgeous. I’m blond, but I’m a dying breed. Now, I’m one of thousands in skinny jeans and an H&M shirt.

    What I learned about the birth rate in European countries about couples having just one child in their thirties must be outdated or just wrong, because everyone has babies. Blond babies that is. And just because you’re in your thirties or have two kids, doesn’t mean you’re married. Nope. Marriage is for the birds and the gay community.

    Nightlife is something to be proud of in Stockholm. I mean it’s fun, except for the time that a man who was using the women’s bathroom yelled at me for knocking. The bars are decorated with bourgeoise flair. Modern and bright colored couches and lounge areas are in most of the bars I visit. It is difficult to find absinthe unless you really know where to look, and even then, most of it is weak in Sweden. Most bars are open until 2 a.m., but smoking inside was banned two years ago. Instead, Swedes use Snooze. Snooze is kind of like a tobacco pouch that you fit into your upper gums. When I try it, it burns and the smell reminds me of a toilet. I’m banned to the outside.

    The U.S. dollar becomes my enemy. Most meals, even small ones, cost between 100 and 150 krona. Most alcoholic drinks are between 70 and 120 krona. One U.S. dollar is 5-6 krona. I’m broke by the time I leave Stockholm for Visby, which is an island three hours south of Stockholm by ferry on the island of Gotland.

    I guess it’s in Visby that I become slightly homesick. Even amongst the rocky beaches, 20 hours of sunlight, and the botanic garden right by my house, I miss this awful desert. I miss lines. In Sweden lines do not exist. It is common for the stranger next to you to stand right behind you, breathing down your neck, and push their way in front of you, without caring. I miss being reconciled for my toe being stepped on. It is also common to never hear the phrase “”excuse me”” ever. Locals walk around in their own worlds. What made me the most homesick was one night at home during dinner when the neighbors began singing along to John Denver’s “”Take Me Home, Country Roads,”” because I sang along too.

    The flight home was much easier. I finally reclaimed my title to only natural blond from Chicago to Phoenix, I was not once cut in line, and I was acknowledged and apologized to whenever I was bumped into.

    Sweden was a great experience as to what my “”old country”” was like, but among other things, the experience may have just confirmed that manners, unlike marriage, are not just for the birds.

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