• Sweden edition
 
The Local's Blogs
'Women could use a bit more bravado'

'Women could use a bit more bravado'

Published: 27 May 2014 17:24 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 May 2014 17:24 GMT+02:00

Natalia Brzezinski spent her early years ice-skating, honing her competitive spirit on the rink between the age of six and sixteen. She later studied international relations, with a stint in Copenhagen studying the EU. 
 
Among other roles, she worked as an intern on the press team at the senate office of John Kerry before moving to Sweden over two years ago. Now, the wife of the US ambassador to Sweden, she calls herself "a women's activist and a proud mother seeking lagom". The Local finds out more.
 
What surprised you most about life as an ambassador's wife? 
 
The fact that although not officially, you are representing your entire country, a historic president and what it means to be an American today. Of course, I always try to be a role model for my young daughter, but representing a country I love so much has a different kind of weight and responsibility. I think it surprised me how much that feeling moved and inspired me. I understand the meaning of public service in an entirely new way now.
 
On another note, it’s also a bit odd being boxed in a role that only has significance due to the person you’re married to. I’m married to an amazing man so I’m proud of him, but it was always a bit awkward for me to be introduced as “The Ambassador’s wife”, instead of “Natalia, a journalist”, for example. It also gives me a good laugh to be called “Madam”. 
 
What surprised you most about Sweden?
 
The obvious answer is the darkness. But truly, it’s how authentically family-friendly and child-centric the society is. Children are included in everything, and nothing is taboo. One of the first speeches I ever gave on women’s empowerment was at Microsoft, and there were employees who brought their babies! It was fantastic, but not usual in other countries. 
 
I also just love Stockholm. The way it has a nautical, urban and rural setting all in one short walking distance. Each morning when I go for a run now I have wave to off sheep or watch out for horses, it’s awesome. It really is an even more bucolic country than I would have imagined. 
 
Do you have any Swedish role models? 
 
Zlatan: I love how confident and bold he is. I wish I was as secure and self-assured as he is. I think especially as women, working and having families, we could use a bit more bravado. I was also a competitive ice skater for most of my life so I admire his athleticism. 
 
Antonia Ax:son Johnson: She has “walked the walk” as a business leader and is breaking new ground in sustainability and diversity. 
 
Astrid Lindgren: Pippi Longstocking was my idol as a little girl, and now she is my daughter’s. Astrid Lindgren created the strong, “take-no-prisoner’s heroine” who wasn’t a princess waiting for her prince. I love that. She has taught young girls that it’s great to be tough and not always follow the rules (some rules are made to be redefined.)
 
Raoul Wallenberg: He wasn’t afraid, and refused to be indifferent.
 
Swedes working at the US Embassy: I’m so proud and inspired by the multicultural team of employees working with my husband at the embassy. Some of the Swedes have been working there for decades, and their commitment to the Swedish-American relationship is incredible. It’s such an asset to have a strong wealth of knowledge about the local culture and environment. And they are just a lot of fun! The best ideas come from diverse teams, and as an observer, I feel that’s really maximized at US Embassy Sweden. 
 
Favourite things about Sweden? Least favourites?
 
Favourites: Spotify, Avicii, shrimp salad, Djurgården, the archipelago, Arctic Char, casual fashion, the Nobel Prize and Polar Music Prize, the ability to ride the bus free when you’re with a child in a stroller, the global awareness of Swedes and Swedish commitment to human rights and gender equality
 
Least Favourites: Cold, darkness (Our first summer in Sweden boasted the coldest June day in 80 years), bike regulations (I’m still figuring out when I can bike on the sidewalk and when I cannot), as an open and vocal American there is one thing I both love and dislike depending on the day you catch me on— the “Law of Jante” and the occasional dislike of confrontation.
 
What can WE expect from the blog? 
 
Honesty. Passion. Genuine curiosity and enthusiasm — perhaps a dash of boldness, creativity and hopefully a lot of variety and dynamism.
 
I’m so passionate about the things I write about and work on, and there are very few things I’m more interested in than intercultural exchange, comparing how things are done in one country versus another. In many ways, this role is perfectly in tune with who I am. I love people. I am so open to learning from all different types of people. And I hope this blog will be an extension of my own learning experience and personal metamorphosis.
 
What do YOU expect from it?
 
I want to grow with my readers and embark on a really fun journey. I hope I’m surprised and moved one day as I look back on a long and innovative set of blogs that tell a genuine story. I hope my daughter reads this when she is my age and it helps her remember her time in Sweden and understand who her mother really is. 
 
Read Natalia's first blog post here and stay tuned to the blog itself here

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Politics
Israel's ambassador recalled from Sweden
Israeli ambassador Isaac Bachman. Photo: TT

Israel's ambassador recalled from Sweden

Israel has recalled its ambassador from Stockholm "in irritation" that Sweden has officially recognized the State of Palestine. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

National
Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe
The ship was rescued on Thursday. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe

After fears a ship carrying around 52 tonnes of oil could sink in Stockholm's archipelago, Sweden's Coast Guard said the vessel had been towed to safety. READ  

National
Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal
A scene from a video of the attack published by Dagens Nyheter

Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal

A policewoman accused of letting her dog attack a drunk man while she repeatedly hit him with a baton, has had her conviction overturned by a court in Stockholm. READ  

Entertainment
What's On: October 31st - November 7th
Uma Thurman will soon be on her way to Stockholm. Photo: TT

What's On: October 31st - November 7th

Halloween fun and an international film festival are the big events hitting Stockholm this week. We cast our eye over the capital and the rest of the country for the best activities to check out this week. READ  

International
Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark
Gottrid Svartholm Warg. File photo: TT

Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark

Sweden's Pirate Bay Founder Gottrid Svartholm Warg was found guilty of hacking crimes in a Danish court on Thursday. READ  

National
Malmö loses out as rare toads move in
The European green toad. Photo: H. Krisp (WikiCommons)

Malmö loses out as rare toads move in

After a rare species of toad moved into southern Sweden's Malmö, builders have had to tone down massive expansion plans in the area. READ  

Politics
Palestine recognized as state by Sweden
Sweden's Foreign Minister is Margot Wallström. Photo: TT

Palestine recognized as state by Sweden

The Swedish government has officially decided to recognize Palestine, with the move announced in a speech by the country's new Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

970
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN