Over the years I have come to learn about many of the characteristics and traits of the Swedish person.
Of course, all of this knowledge has been acquired with the help of my own Swedish boyfriend. Actually, come to think of it, just about everything I know about Sweden and Swedes has been from what he has taught and told me, so there is a very big possibility he is making it all up and that I am totally off base here.
But, I am going to have faith that my relationship is not a total lie and go along with these generalizations as truths, but please everyone, feel free to stop me or contradict me if I make any disagreeable observations.
This week: Swedes are as tough as nails.
I am an American, as I think you all know by now, and in my experiences abroad and in my relationship with a Swede I have come to the conclusion that I am just too soft. Allow me to explain.
I am currently living in France participating in a fellowship through the French government where I teach English in various public schools.
Now, I have had a “thing” for France since I was a little girl (though this “thing” for France has since manifested into a “thing” for Sweden, don’t you worry). Anyways, I have always been fascinated and intrigued by the culture, history, language and romance of France.
It is actually because of this impassioned interest of mine that I ever met my Swede in the first place, came to Sweden and started this blog.
My boyfriend and I met while studying at the Université d’Aix-Marseille in Aix-en-Provence, France. This of course just fueled my obsession with France even more: I spent a year in the paradise of Southern France and fell in love with a gorgeous European man. How much more perfect could it get?
Fast forward three years later to now. After moving back to the States for almost 2 years I have now finally made it back to France—the country of dreams, right?
Now, I am living in the North of France, and I am freaking cold. It is wet, and gloomy and pretty much as depressing as the dark ages. Kind of a cool historical experience I guess.
I live in a sleepy little town where people are…weird, to say the least.
I only work 12 hours a week, but my schedule is so spread out it is hard to leave to go anywhere and I am left with long, boring afternoons, dreaming of my home up North (a.k.a. Sverige).
So, I’ve been whining and crying a lot. “Why is there no hot water in this country??” “Why is French bureaucracy so retarded?” “Why am I wasting time in this silly place when I could be up in a more civilized country with my love in Sweden??” etc, etc.
Yeah, I’m a big baby. When I am a big baby, I call my mommy and daddy and they make me feel better:
“Oh Sweetie, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. If it is so bad, you can come home, or you can move to Paris or Sweden. We will help you do whatever it is you want.”
When I am a big baby and call my Swedish beau, he really couldn’t care less:
“Yeah, that sucks. So deal with it. It was your decision to move there in the first place.”
What?! But I’m crying, and sad, and France is stupid and French kids are mean! Fix it!!
Swedish boyfriend: “Liana, what do you want me to do? This is your bed you made and you just have to sleep in it.”
And dammit, he’s right.
I always thought, why would I ever do anything I didn’t want to do? Why would I waste my precious time on anything like that? Have it your way, right?
Well, the rest of the world doesn’t really think that way, especially the Swedes I know.
Maybe it’s their warrior, Viking blood or their ability (and need) to survive cold, dark winters, but my Swedish family has never encouraged giving up. Quitting is not something they know much about.
When I told my boyfriend that I was actually considering leaving France and quitting this program early, he didn’t quite understand. Sure, he has bad days too, and he definitely knows how to complain, but to up and quit? Nah-ah. No way.
With him and his family, there is no bullshit—it is simple: you make decisions, and you deal with them.
Is this the same for all Swedes? I don’t know, you tell me. But mom and dad, come on. I am 23-years old. It’s about time I learned to suffer a little.
It all just builds character, right?
Until next time, puss och kram Sverige.