• 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

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
Body of Irishman found in Stockholm
Stockholm's Old Town in the rain. Photo: TT

Body of Irishman found in Stockholm

The body of an Irishman who had been missing since November 10th was found in the harbour by Stockholm's Old Town on Thursday, it has emerged. READ  

Ibrahimovic returns as PSG claim top spot
Photo: TT

Ibrahimovic returns as PSG claim top spot

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first start for two months as Ligue 1 Champions Paris Saint-Germain went top for the first time this season with a 3-2 win at mid-table Metz on Friday night READ  

Julian Assange
Ecuador 'guarantees' Assange asylum
Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012. Screen grab: SVT

Ecuador 'guarantees' Assange asylum

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was on Friday guaranteed political asylum by Ecuador for "as long as necessary," one day after he lost an appeal against a Swedish warrant for his arrest. READ  

Abba's Björn defends Sweden's Spotify
Swedish artist Laleh alongside Björn Ulvaeus. Photo: Björn Ulvaeus

Abba's Björn defends Sweden's Spotify

Björn Ulvaeus has joined the row over Spotify's streaming costs, saying the music industry had to evolve but admitting that songwriters are losing money. He spoke to The Local's blogger Natalia Brzezinski from his newly adopted home, New York. READ  

Dark weekend looms for southern Sweden
Stockholm City Hall under the cover of clouds. Photo: TT

Dark weekend looms for southern Sweden

Southern Sweden looks set to stay under a blanket of cloud until at least Tuesday, as the darkest November in decades continues. READ  

Gothenburg rabbi reacts to death threats
Rabbi Hillel Ḥayyim Lavery-Yisraëli. Photo: Private

Gothenburg rabbi reacts to death threats

Gothenburg's rabbi received death threats following an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem earlier this week. Leading figures in the Jewish community have told The Local they fear that anti-Semitism is spreading across Sweden, with Malmö already a key target. READ  

Rush hour chaos after train signal failure
The signal failure is affecting the service between Södertälje and Stockholm. Photo: Thomas Eneborg/TT

Rush hour chaos after train signal failure

Passengers travelling to and from the Swedish capital were forced to make alternative travel arrangements on Friday morning after a signal failure ground the rail service between Södertälje and Stockholm to a standstill. READ  

Swedes' blonde only school photo goes viral
Student Patricia Spång Lundahl holds the sign 'Jimmie sent the rest home' in the protest school photo. Photo. Private

Swedes' blonde only school photo goes viral

A protest school photo by Swedish students to highlight the anti-immigration polices of the Sweden Democrats has generated a storm on social media. READ  

The Local's Countdown to Christmas
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Swedish Christmas decorations on the tree. Photo: Imagebank Sweden

Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas

With Advent just a week away, Swedes are already itching to put out their Christmas decorations. Wondering how to get that Scandinavian Christmas feeling in your own home? Here are The Local's top ten decorating tips for a 'God Jul'. READ  

Israel ambassador to make Sweden return
Isaac Bachman, Israel's ambassador to Sweden. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Israel ambassador to make Sweden return

Isaac Bachman will come back to Stockholm on November 29th stating that it was a "compromise" when he was recalled to Israel following Sweden's decision to recognize Palestine. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Blog updates

21 November

Editor’s Blog, November 21st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello from Stockholm, Our week started with reports another Russian plane had been spotted in Sweden’s airspace,..." READ »

 

21 November

Exclusive Interview with Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"Most of us will agree that actions speak louder than words. But when the two are..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
National
Meet the Irish woman thundering into Swedish rock
Gallery
In Pictures: Ace of Base through the years
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
Gallery
People-watching: November 12th
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
National
Opinion: 'We have to talk about Sweden's Isis fighters'
Business & Money
Price hike for new mortgages in Sweden
National
Toy store catalogues 'too white' in Sweden
National
Pirate Bay co-founder released from prison
National
Southern Sweden had 201 days of summer
Gallery
Sweden's ten most powerful people
Gallery
Property of the week: Mariestad
National
Introducing... Healthcare in Stockholm
National
What you need to know about Stockholm hospital bug epidemic
Lifestyle
Young Serbian shouts for students in Sweden
Lifestyle
How to make your own chocolate kladdkaka
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
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

835
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:
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:
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
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description