In the whirlwind that is graduate school, I completely forgot about this blog following my trip to Sweden. I logged in again, to find this unpublished draft entry, composed before I traveled to Sverige:
In just over one month, I’ll be in Sweden for the first time! I’m incredibly excited, but I am, however, consciously trying to lower my expectations of how amazing Sweden will be. I hope that that doesn’t sound pessimistic. I just don’t want utopian thinking–and the inevitable disillusionment that accompanies it–to prevent me from falling in love with Sweden as it truly is.
Even though Sweden was incredibly cold in mid-March, it was still the most beautiful country that I have ever visited. I honestly felt at home there: Everyone knew how to pronounce my name! The country was so orderly and everyone that I met was so very polite and respectful. Moreover, it was so clean! And I absolutely loved the way that I didn’t look like a foreigner there–people randomly would come up to me and ask me a question in Swedish, only to be surprised to discover that I was an American.
The food was–of course–wonderful. But most wonderful was the way that I felt like I’d returned home in some sense. Obviously, I’m American and I love (love) my country. But culturally, I realized that a lot of my personality is still very Swedish. My great-grandmother must have retained a great deal of Swedish culture from her immigrant parents, because everything–the neatness, the punctuality, the emotional distance out of respect–made me feel like I found an entire nation that shares my values. I love that America is a melting pot, but in some ways the homogeneity of Sweden made me feel like I had finally, culturally, come home.