• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
The Local's Blogs
'Women could use a bit more bravado'

'Women could use a bit more bravado'

Oliver Gee · 27 May 2014, 17:24

Published: 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.
 
Story continues below…
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
Two historic shipwrecks found right in central Stockholm
Divers looking for a ship in central Stockholm. Photo: Anders P Näsberg/Statens maritima museer

Another two shipwrecks dating back to at least the 1600s have been found in central Stockholm.

Migrants cling to trucks in bid to reach Sweden
Two HH Ferries meet in the water between Helsingør and Helsingborg. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Growing numbers of asylum seekers are trying to get to Sweden from Denmark by clinging to trucks, a ferry company has warned.

Swedes want answers from Russia after Nato warning
Russian T-14 Armata tanks make their way to Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in May. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

What exactly does Russia's foreign minister mean when he says his country will "take action" if Sweden joins Nato?

Alicia Vikander scoops lead role in new Tomb Raider
Alicia Vikander poses at the Scandinavian terrace during the 68th Cannes film festival last May. Photo: Jean Christophe Magnenet/AFP

The next Lara Croft will be a Swede.

Brussels terror suspect wants jail time in Sweden
Osama Krayem. Photo: Facebook

Osama Krayem wants to come home if found guilty.

The Local Recipes
How to make Sweden's famous veal burgers
Photo: John Duxbury

These mouth-watering burgers, or Wallenbergare, are a classic at Swedish restaurants. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local.

Russia's foreign minister warns Sweden off Nato
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Ivan Sekretarev/TT

Sergey Lavrov also blamed Sweden for a breakdown in relations between the countries in an interview with newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Eurovision 2016
Swedes create world's first crowdsourced singing voice
Screenshot from the 'Sound of Europe' video by Tele2.

Can tech, connectivity and Eurovision help the world unite?

Swedish Electrolux sees profits more than double
Electrolux CEO Jonas Samuelson. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

It comes after a troublesome start to the year.

Border checks
Sweden set to keep ID checks over summer
ID checks at Copenhagen airport's Kastrup train station. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish politicians have proposed changing the law to avoid a two-week gap to ID checks on public transport into Sweden this summer.

Sponsored Article
Kista: The best office space in Sweden?
Analysis & Opinion
Why Sweden's fretting about Brexit
Sponsored Article
Why international researchers love to call Malmö home
National
INTERVIEW: Swedish police officer 'beat me up and used racial slurs'
Gallery
People-watching: April 27th
Blog updates

22 April

Editor’s blog, April 22nd (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello, Sweden had another royal baby this week, when Princess Sofia gave birth to her and…" READ »

 

18 April

A day as a guard (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Life as an Ambassador. Driven around in the Jaguar. Visits all planned so you go straight…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
‘Life in Stockholm’s suburbs is better than people realize’
National
Öresund bridge border checks net record number of drink drivers
Sponsored Article
Supplemental education: the key to integration
National
Swedes bid farewell to iconic Volvo
Gallery
Property of the week: Enköping
Gallery
People-watching: April 22nd-24th
Sponsored Article
'A sustainable Sweden must embrace diversity'
Politics
Could Brits in Europe stop Brexit?
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
The first official picture of Sweden's new royal Prince Alexander
National
Sweden's Sami reindeer still live in the shadow of Chernobyl
Sponsored Article
Sigtunaskolan: 'The best of what Sweden has to offer'
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 20th
Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
National
Why was a Nazi flag hoisted in a Swedish town on Hitler's birthday?
National
How did Sweden's deputy PM get in trouble over New York comments?
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 16th-17th
Sponsored Article
'I may work at a Swedish company, but we’re global'
Culture
Sweden finally axes historic dancing ban
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: Stockholm's secret dating scene
International
Have you phoned Sweden yet?
Sponsored Article
'Swedes must realize only soft power can defeat radicalism'
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 13th
National
Is booze going up in Sweden?
National
How Sweden's fake 'smombie' traffic sign is being used for real
Culture
Sweden's Tarzan drops trousers
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 9th-10th
Sport
Zlatan wants to be new 'Rambo'
National
Swedes in a huff about giant TV penis
3,244
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se