a foreigners how-to guide: swedifying yourself

a how-to guide in understanding the ways of the swedes.
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evilness lurking the rails.

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

take a good look at that picture. that picture of that…that evil looking thing. you don’t even have to use your imagination too much to see that it looks like an evil fish, or an evil robot, or some sort of evil something.
i used to speak of the awesomeness that is the train system in sweden. i used to say, “it’s so much nicer that being in the car for hours. the time seems to go by so much faster when you’re on the train.” not anymore. i have had 2 pretty unfortunate experiences with the train myself. both involved trips to the airport in copenhagen to pick up family that had traveled from the US. in other words, they were worn out from travel and were looking forward to that nice, relaxing ride on the train that i told them about. the first was with my 2 week old baby, my father and step-mother. i can not relive the experience, nor would you really care to hear it. i’ll just say it involved a lot of large, heavy luggage, and moving from train to train to train. our 2 hour trip turned into a 4.5 hour trip. the second was with the baby (now 3 months old), my sister, brother-in-law and niece. it was christmas, it was freezing cold, there was no heat. there were delays, cancellations and more delays. we ended up stranded 20 minutes from home and had to catch a cab that ended up costing $100. that 2 hour trip turned into 5 hours! IN THE FREEZING COLD WITH NO HEAT!
what brings me to this post is today’s unfortunate experience with the train. it did not directly involve me, but my husband. note that it was not my own experience that pushed me over the edge, but my husbands. don’t F* with my man! (insert snapping in the Z formation) he has been travelling for 25 hours and is just ready to get home. instead of enjoying his beer on the couch tonight (he hasn’t had one in a week as he has been in saudi and it is illegal there) he is sitting in the train station waiting for the last scheduled train in hopes that it is not cancelled. if it is indeed cancelled he will hopefully find a hotel room and end up paying around $150 for it.
it’s not super cheap to take the train. it’s not super easy to figure out the system. even swedes have problems with it. and it NOT super easy to understand why a train system with $65 million in yearly profits is so terribly unreliable and has so many problems!
he just called. from his hotel room. :(

swedish word of the day: helvete-hell.

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separated at birth.

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27


left: swedish tv figure, Peter Settman. right: Fry from Futurama.

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you know you have been swedified when…

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

i find these lists all the time and they crack me up because they are so true.

you know you have lived in sweden too long when:
1. a stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume:
a: he is drunk
b: he is insane
c: he’s an american
d: he’s all of the above
2. you make fun of tourists.
3. you can pick out the real blondes from the fake blondes.
4. you decide to honor the eco-friendly toilets and only use the full flush option when it’s really needed.
5. your coffee consumption exceeds 6 cups a day and coffee is too weak if there is less than 10 scoops per pot.
6. you greet everyone in the room by simply saying your name while giving a quick handshake.
7. the first thing you do upon entering a bank/post office/drugstore etc. is to look for the queue number machine.
8. you accept that you have to queue to take a queue number.
9. the reason you take the ferry to finland is:
a: duty free vodka
b: duty free beer
c: to party hearty…no need to get off the boat in helsinki, just turn around and do it again on the way back to sweden.
10. you hear loud-talking passengers on the train. you immediately assume:
a: they are drunk
b: they are not swedish
c: all of the above
11. you know how to fix herring in 105 different ways.
12. you can barely get in the front door because of all the shoes.
13. you own a volvo.
14. it no longer seems excessive to spend 1,000kr on alcohol in a single night.
15. you have only two facial expressions, smiling or blank.
16. you’ve don’t think it’s weird for a couple to be engaged for four years and have no plans to get married.
17. you assume that anyone who apologizes after bumping into you is a tourist.
18. you get into a mercedes taxi cab and think nothing of it.
19. you think it is normal EVERYTHING is regulated and you obey the rules voluntarily.
20. hearing the words f*ck on daytime tv or the radio seems perfectly normal.
21. pigs say ”nerf nerf”, frogs say ”kvack, kvack” and roosters say ”kuckeliku.”
22. you know that ”extrapris” goods are cheaper, even though your english mind translates the word as ”extra price.”
23. you think horse meat is a totally acceptable sandwich topping.
24. you are no longer offended by the fact that you are a swedish size XL when at “home” you are a medium.
25. you say “i’m almost annoyed” when you’re as furious as humanly possible.
26. a 25 % sales tax on just about everything is no big deal.
27. VD is the boss, not something you need to get medical treatment for.
30. you can use bra, fart, and slut in the same sentence without giggling.
31. you refer to weeks by their number.
32. it is your birthday and you accept that YOU have to plan the entertainment, make the food and the cake.
33. you know that “fan” is a swearword, and not an admirer or an air conditioner.
34. you are no longer surprised when you see full-frontal male nudity in a commercial or on TV.
35. you think an hour and a half cycle on your washing machine is a “quick wash”.
36. your shed becomes the first stage in the recycling process and you can’t get in it for bags of paper/cardboard/bottles, refundable glass/plastic, recyclable glass/plastic/ containers/etc.
37. a sharp intake of breath has become part of your vocabulary, as has the sound ‘ahh’.
38. you associate Friday afternoon with a trip to system bolaget. (liquor store)
39. your native language has seriously deteriorated; you begin to “eat medicine” and “hire videos”.
40. you use mmmm as a conversation filler.
41. you eat your pancakes and waffles with jam instead of syrup.
42. you stay in watching swedish tv even though you cannot understand a word they are saying.

swedish word of the day: kärlek- love.

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moose crossing.

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27


popular swedish tourist souvenir is the road sign for moose-crossing. every year a huge number of these signs are stolen from swedish roads. ssurrrre. blame it on the tourists.

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smörgåsbord.

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

…also known as smorgasbord. the smörgåsbord originated in sweden in the 14th century as a variety of hors d’oeuvres served prior to a meal before sitting at the dinner table.


tonight at dinner we were served smörgåstårta. the swedes decided to take the awesomeness that is the smögäsbord and shove it into a SANDWICH cake! it consists of 3 layers of white bread with a ton of mayonnaise…and liver pate…and mayonnaise…and some more mayonnaise…and shrimp and ham and roast beef and pickles. ewwwwww! THEN you top it with peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, oranges, tomatoes and other random fruits. it always ends up being soggy (remember the layers of bread with mayo??) i can say that it is eatable. that’s about it. it’s just eatable.
p.s. i am watching tv and someone just said they were having a smörgäsbord for lunch. i love when weird stuff like that happens!

swedish word of the day: tillfällighet- coincidence.

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spanking.

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

if you are on facebook you have probably seen the group “my parents didn’t put me in time-out, they whooped my ass!” this is the profile photo:

wow. let’s all sign up. a recent post on the page says, “23000 FANS WOOO WHOOOOOO!” i could “like” this page because i was also “whooped” by my parents, but i feel like the members of this page are condoning the coolness of “whooping some ass.”
i have come across this subject a lot and that is why i am inclined to post about it.
in sweden, spanking is illegal and has been since 1979. you can read about it here. “By comparison, in America, the number of cases of substantiated child maltreatment was 14 for every 1,000 people and the number of reported, but undocumented cases was 45 for every 1,000 people. Thus, converting the American figures for direct comparison with Sweden, a comparative picture of the reported incidence of child abuse in Sweden and America is as follows: Sweden – 57/l00,000;America – 4,500/100,000.
i hate it when someone says to me “if you’d tear that ass up she’d straighten up.” that makes me want to puke a little. i hear, “since you’re so irritated, you should hit her a little bit so you feel better.” i feel like 99% of the time spanking occurs because someone is mad and irritated and the first inclination is to HIT. that is NOT ok. i don’t care what your reasoning is. HITTING a child out of anger is never okay. buy a punching bag.

swedish word of the day: feg- coward.

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modesty in sweden?!

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

last year my husband took me to the spa for my birthday. i was scheduled for a “light relaxation massage,” as i was 5 months pregnant at the time. the massage therapist came out to get me and while walking to the room we engaged in a little small talk about the nice weather and how long and ugly the winter was. any mention of good weather is always followed up by a reminder of how shitty the winter is so that it emphasizes just how excited we get about a few minutes of sunlight. anyway, we went into the room. normally, this is when she would show me where everything is and ask me to remove my clothing, lay on the table and cover up with a sheet…and then she would leave the room. yeah. not in sweden. she did everything but leave the room. so there i was. 5 months pregnant and stripping in front of someone. uncomfortable!
i have so many of these stories. the other day we pulled over in a big spot on the side of the road to let mya pee. a van pulled up in front of us and 3 guys got out to join in the pee party. they just whipped it out right there in front of all of us.
my trips to the midwife…i’ll spare you the details.
the other day i went to get mya at daycare. i came around the corner and was greeted by about 10 naked kids running through the sprinklers.
my first trip to the swimming pool left me standing in the shower room wondering how i was going to pull myself together and just do it. just get over it and realize that no one was going to stare at me because they were all naked, too!
never a dull moment discovering a new culture!

swedish word of the day: bajslåda- poop box…or butt.

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kladdkaka.

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

this shit is the reason why i will never lose weight. well, this and coca-cola.

you can find it everywhere! the gas station, coffee shops, restaurants and MY FRIDGE!

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föräldraledighet.

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

I am posting today about the amazing parental leave that the Swedish government provides for EVERYONE. Take note, World. This is how it should work!

State-sponsored parental leave (‘föräldraledighet’) is arguably more generous in Sweden than anywhere else. Parents are entitled to a total of 480 days paid leave per child, with both mothers and fathers entitled and encouraged to share the leave. The leave can be taken at any time until the child reaches the age of seven.

Parental benefits are paid out by the state, through the Swedish Social Insurance Administration (‘Försäkringskassan’). Yes, that’s right. All of those awful taxes we happily pay go toward this.

In line with the Swedish state’s strict policy of promoting sexual equality, mothers and fathers are expected to share the 480 days equally. It is possible for one parent to take up to 420 days of the total leave, but the remaining 60 days are then reserved for the other parent. “The principle is that you split it in half, but that the father can donate part of his leave to the mother, or vice versa.”

Parental leave is a legal right for all parents in Sweden. If you have a young child your employer is obliged to give you time off work. In addition to the paid leave of 480 days per couple per child, you are entitled to reduce your working time by 25 percent. This, however, is not compensated for by the state. But how much money will you get? Well, this is where it gets really complicated. I am sure you aren’t reading this blog to do any official planning for this, so I am not going to get into the confusing details. I will mention though, because I think it is amazing how generous the Swedish government is (and this rule applied to me) If you have not been earning money in Sweden prior to your child’s birth, you are still entitled to parental benefits, paid at the basic level of 180 (about $23USD) kronor per day. Even if you’re new to Sweden, you are entitled to this basic benefit (as long as you are legally resident here). To claim your benefits and to find out how much you are entitled to in your particular circumstances, contact your local branch of Försäkringskassan.

WHAT DOES THIS PROGRAM REALLY PROVIDE??
Our children are at home with us for at least one year! That means no 8 week old babies going to daycare. That means if a Mom chooses to breastfeed, there is no going in the bathroom at work to pump for hours a day = babies get to breastfeed longer. It means more than we can ever really imagine. There is no way to know the many benefits that our children get from this, but I can say that this is one of the hundreds of reasons why I take pride in raising my children in this amazing country!

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you named your baby WHAT?

July 12th, 2010 by weebeau27

there are so many swedish names that i either can’t say or won’t say because i sound ridiculous with my southern accent. most of our friends have kids and these are come of their names: ture, arvid, alva, vilhelm, elsa, moa, agnes, alma, ebba, olle, berta, ullrica and malin. see what i mean?

top baby names in sweden

flickor (girls): julia, emma, wilma, hanna, elin, linnéa, amanda, ida, matilda, and moa.

pojkar (boys): filip, oscar, william, viktor, simon, anton, erik, alexander, emil and lucas.

swedish word of the day (my brother-in-law will be so proud of me): kronärtskocka- artichoke

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