Stockholm Syndrome

Curiosities, musings, and general miscellany from the demented mind of an expat Canuck…

Ö is for Östermalm

April 9th, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: Ö is for Östermalm (A special blog contribution from my semi-Swedish wife)

Östermalm takes up an area of 2.56 km² in the eastern end of Stockholm. It is one of the most populous districts in the city, and one of the richest.  It historically has the highest housing prices within the city of Stockholm, and maybe even in all of Sweden.

The area has really moved up in the world.  It was first known as Ladugårdslandet, which is translated to cow-house land, since king Erik of Pomerania started keeping his cows there in the 15th century.  Apparently a village called Vädla had been on the site before this, but there is no mention in the historical record of the fate of the poor people of this village who were displaced for the benefit of the royal bovines.

In the 17th century, the king generously allowed the proletariat to keep their cows on this land as well, but as you can probably imagine, the sound and stench of these animals drew many complaints from the neighbours.  Eventually the area was converted to a military exercise field, which may be in fact the origin of the name of the shopping centre located at Karlaplan, Fältöversten, which is translated to the Field Colonel.

The rich folks moved in starting around 1880, when a new town plan resulted in shady tree-lined streets, boulevards, fountains and fancy 4-6 storey apartment buildings.  Today it’s still a pretty high-brow area with a lots of chi-chi boutiques and cafés.  It’s definitely not the area of town I thought I’d be living in when I moved here.  In fact, one of my professors at McMaster who had lived in Stockholm many years back joked with me once about how I’d never find an affordable apartment in Östermalm, so I shouldn’t even bother looking.

The story of how we came to live here is pretty funny.  As many of you probably know, finding an apartment in Stockholm can be difficult to say the least.  My biggest problem after I accepted my job at the Karolinska Institute was that I still lived in Canada.  Trust me, trying to rent out a second hand apartment while you’re overseas and don’t speak any Swedish is not the recommended way to go about it! But in any case, I persisted and kept sending emails to people who had advertised their flats on Böstad Direkt. Eventually I got a reply from a guy renting out his apartment at Hornstull for the first two months of my sojourn in Stockholm.  In a strange twist of fate, he happened to be the cousin of my supervisor’s wife, so I was given the apartment without even meeting the guy.  It seemed meant to be that I live in Stockholm.

However, that left me to find alternate accommodations for the remaining 22 months of my contract.  In another strange twist of fate, I met upon my arrival a researcher in the group who was about to move to New York city for a job.  We became friends, and since she needed someone to live in her apartment whilst she was abroad and I was soon to be homeless, it was a perfect situation for us both.  So here we are in Östermalm, close to Karlaplan, in a lovely second-floor apartment with marble floors, painted ceilings and an awesome treasure room. We’re happy living here amongst the fur coat-clad ladies and diplomats until my friend moves back from NYC, whereupon we will begin the search for a home afresh.  Next stop Strandvägen, perhaps?

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Ä is for Ärr

April 8th, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: Ä is for Ärr (A special blog contribution from my semi-Swedish wife)

Ärr is Swedish for scar.  Everyone has a couple of scars that have an interesting tale to go along with them.  Personally, my two favourite scars are the small one on my right palm where I skewered my hand with my Aunt Pam’s knitting needle, and one on my lower lip which I acquired by crashing into wall whilst chasing my babysitter’s cat.  But these were both obtained in my accident-prone youth.

Scars acquired in adulthood are often more traumatic and usually involve a serious medical problem or an accident.  Darryn, my dear husband for whom I am writing this blog entry, has two very interesting scars from medical procedures in the last few years.  One is on his belly, from hip bone to hip bone, which he refers to as his “Braveheart scar”.  It’s pretty impressive and one of a pair that have resulted from a series of issues with his guts over the years.  But the scar I’d really like to write about is his newest one on the back of his left shoulder.

He’d had a bump there for years, but suddenly at the end of January, it started growing, then oozing pus.  I think Darryn suspected cancer, and while that was a distant possibility, I was reasonably sure it was an infected cyst.  After two weeks of doing nothing and hoping it would go away, we finally went to see a doctor about it on February 5, the day after Darryn’s birthday (he didn’t want to get a needle on his birthday, so we waited an extra day). In a remarkably efficient display of the high quality of Sweden’s health care system, we saw the G.P. at the local clinic, were sent to the emergency room, got checked in, and Darryn got anesthetized (only a local, unfortunately), cut open, cleaned up, bandaged, drugged and sent home, all within 3 hours.  I was given very clear instructions on how to clean his wound and apply dressings every morning.  It turns out that I was right, it was an infected lipoma or fatty cyst, and now that it’s gone it should never trouble him again.  The doctors insist that the infection was brought on by Darryn’s nasty smoking habit. (Editor’s note: *sigh*) I’m not averse to this theory, since I really want him to quit and there is a very thorough scientific literature on the deleterious effects of smoking on the body’s immune defenses, not just in the lungs.  I was hoping that this somewhat traumatic event would have inspired him to quit smoking, but I’m still waiting.

In any case, Darryn has a new scar to show off to his friends, which kind of looks like a scar left behind from a bullet wound.  Maybe he’ll start calling it his “50 Cent scar”.

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Å is for Åsikt

April 7th, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: Å is for Åsikt (A special blog contribution from my semi-Swedish wife)

The Swedish word for opinion is åsikt.  I thought it was an appropriate word to start with for this short series of guest blog entries, since opinions are what blogs are all about.

Coming from a North American background, I find the art of giving one’s opinion without also giving offense to be a delicate undertaking in Sweden.  In Canada, we generally say what we think and how we feel, although typically delivered with a dash of Canadian politeness.  In my experience at least it seems a bit different in the U.S., where opinions are generally voiced with no thought to how they are received.  Free speech and all.  I think the recent controversy surrounding the visit of Ann Coulter, an outspoken right-wing pundit from America who was spurned in Ottawa but welcomed in Calgary, says a lot about the political climate in the U.S. versus Canada, and also highlights the differences in political opinion in various regions within Canada.

But back to Sweden.  Swedes tend to always want to get along and agree with each other.  There are even a number of words in Swedish to reflect this, such as helhetsomdöme (overall opinion) and folkmening (public opinion). We had a very interesting discussion in my Swedish class this week about how to state your opinion without hurting anyone’s feelings.  According to Kerstin, the teacher for the class, disagreeing with someone in Sweden is tantamount to personally attacking them.  I haven’t really seen this myself, but many of the Swedes I interact with regularly have lived abroad, so maybe they’ve grown a thicker skin.  But several students in the class had stories that agreed with this premise, in which a reasonable professional disagreement resulted in days or weeks of getting the cold shoulder at work.  The whole concept of lagom is one of the many things I love about Sweden, and I’m also a firm proponent of consensus-based decision making.  But really, just because someone has a difference of opinion with you, that doesn’t justify rude behaviour in a professional setting.  In my opinion, criticism is a part of any job, especially in science.  We exist to be criticized.  As long as the criticism is constructive and not an attack on the person, learning to accept and incorporate critical opinions is an important skill to learn, regardless of where you live.

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Z is for Zombies

April 6th, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

Apparently, May is Zombie Awareness Month. Amongst the other auspicious holidays and observances – such as Fungal Awareness Month, International Audit Month, and Heal The Children Month (is it wrong to hope that April is Smack-The-Little-Brats-Around Month?) – May is dedicated to spreading awareness, preparedness, and shit-a-brickedness about all things ‘zombie’.

Zombies have certainly taken firm root in our sociocultural zeitgeist over the past decade. Sure, there are many references to zombies prior to Y2K – MJ’s Thriller, the classic Night of the Living Dead, Abe Vigoda, even all those stubborn buggers in the bible who just refused to stay dead; but the past 10 years has seen the hordes of reanimated corpses trudge slowly but steadily into the forefront of our collective consciousness, a reverse-gentrification of society that survived the millennial apocalypse only to face-off against brain-starved automatons in tattered clothes and questionable hygiene. To wit: lists 5,493 books about zombies, but only 4,956 about Obama and, shamefully, only 3,305 about Winnie the Pooh. Similarly, Google tracks 35.2 million pages about zombies, but only 18.9 million about Gandhi. Most terrifyingly, however, it brings up 84.1 million pages about Lady Gaga. Personally I’d rather face a metric ass-load of zombies than that toxic train wreck. But I digress…

The point is, zombies – be it the cultural myth, the passing fascination, or the impending apocalyptic pandemic – are here and one needs to be prepared. So it’s fitting that May, long considered the month of renewal, is Zombie Awareness Month… and Fungal Awareness Month, but there’s probably a cream for that, so I wouldn’t worry too much. But there is no cream for zombies, no doctor-prescribed pill that can make the scourge of undead ne’er-do-wells go away. They’re relentless, persistent, invasive, wholly unpleasant, difficult to avoid, nasty to see, horrible to hear, and quite possible offensive to smell…

Hmmm… Are we certain Lady Gaga isn’t a zombie?

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Y is for pYgmY, as in the hedgehog variety

April 4th, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

I walked home yesterday afternoon in a daze, unable to look strangers in the face, red eyes hidden by sunglasses. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was alone, but shouldn’t have been.

I had spent the day at the vet’s office. Our hedgehog, Baxter, had not been eating properly for about a week, and although his demeanor hadn’t really changed – he was still playful, cuddly, responsive – he obviously had something wrong. He hadn’t had any food or water for two days, so I packed him up in his travel cage, put his blankets over him, and headed for one of Stockholm’s veterinary offices yesterday morning. Both Jill and I assumed, based on his symptoms, that whatever was going on, whatever was bothering the littlest member of our family, could be fixed. We were wrong.

People often ridicule me for how attached I become to animals, be them ours or otherwise. They can’t understand how upset I get when an animal is sick, or has to be put down. They can’t understand why I can’t just stick them in a cage, drop in some food and water periodically, and carry on with life. They can’t understand that for me, for us, Baxter was a member of the family, someone we cared for, missed, thought about, bragged about, worried about. We spent time with him every day, playing on the couch, running around in the park out back of the apartment, sometimes just a morning and evening ‘hello’ and a scratch on his forehead. He was a fixture in our lives, but despite our best efforts, and those of his doctor, he’s gone.

We were wrong about the severity of his symptoms. The doctor ran tests, x-rays, contrast stains, everything she could do to find something treatable, but the answer always came back the same. It wasn’t treatable, and although he wasn’t yet in any pain or discomfort, he would be if left alone. There was nothing more to do than make sure he didn’t suffer, didn’t hurt, didn’t deteriorate. He left this world with me there, my voice surrounding him, knowing that we tried everything to make him better. Even one of the vet techs was crying.

Baxter was the funniest, sweetest, weirdest, peculiarest, scamperiest, playfulest, bestest hedgehog. He made us laugh constantly with his antics. He amazed us with his energy, personality (hedgehogality?), and capacity for tenderness crammed into such a little body. He would run around and play with and climb over us at times, with a look in his eyes of pure happiness; and at times he would just cuddle, curled up or laid out flat, fast asleep, his little paws twitching when he was dreaming. He would lay there and stare into our eyes, stroking us with his paw, when we were sick or injured as if he knew we needed to be taken care of. He knew I was doing the same yesterday, and in his own way seemed thankful. It was like he felt safer when I was in the room, or when he heard my voice, like he knew that we wouldn’t let him hurt.

I know this is a part of life, and an aspect one has to assume with pets. But still, I hated walking into this apartment yesterday afternoon. I hated waking up this morning. I hate sitting here, knowing that I won’t hear him trotting around at odd hours, getting up for an afternoon snack, stealing my sock, running on his wheel, or just sitting there, surveying his domain and his humans, with a look of pure contentment on his face. I already miss those things.

Goodnight, Baxter. We love you.

Baxter the hedgehog

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X is for Xylopolist

March 25th, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: X is for Xylopolist

In my initial post announcing this 29-Day Blogging Challenge, I solicited topic suggestions from readers as I didn’t happen to know a xylopolist. Truth is, that isn’t wholly correct, so I’m here to clarify my earlier comments…

While not a traditional xylopolist, per se, out local grocery and hardware store do sell firewood in the winter months. When Jill first took this apartment she mentioned that it has a fireplace, and that there are services one can sign up to that deliver wood to your door on a regular schedule. Never having had a wood-burning fireplace, I was excited at the possibility of lighting one up on those cold, dark winter nights for which Stockholm is known.

We haven’t signed up for a wood delivery service, however; late last year a number of apartment buildings in our neighbourhood were going through renovations, and thus nightly had bags of old timber, cut to 1-foot to 2-foot sections, neatly stacked outside their front doors. So there I was, almost on a nightly basis, trolling through the back streets of Östermalm picking up ‘burnables’, discarded building material that would serve as fuel for the fire. Better that than have it end up taking space in some landfill…

Of course, there were several times when there was no flammable detritus was to be found, and with no wood delivery service at our beck and call, it seemed like we were out of luck. However, we soon discovered that Ica, Sabey’s, and the local hardware store all sold bags of birchwood timber. So whenever we wanted a fire, and had no pilfered means of creating one, I would trudge off to the local shop to pick up a bag of wood; pre-dried, organized by size (kindling on top, the larger, longer-burning logs at the bottom), perfectly prepped and ready for the match.

There’s nothing really astounding about this discovery, considering most apartments in Stockholm have some sort of fireplace for self-heating, but having come from Canada, where this is a rarity, and being an unabashed pyromaniac, this was pure heaven. Many nights we fell asleep to the cracking fire in the next room, the warm glow wafting in like a cherubic ghost, blissfully aware of what we had been missing back home.

Previous posts: Introducing the 29-Day Blogging ChallengeA is for AnonymityB is for BussesC is for CanadaD is for Dogs;E is for Expatriate; F is for Failure;G is for Google; H is for Hedgehog; I is for Indian food; J is for Jill, obviouslyK is for Kurt CobainL is for ListerineM is for Mac&CheezN is for NightO if for Olfactory DysfunctionP is for Photography; Q if for Quest For FireR is for ReligionS is for Stockholm; T is for The LocalU is for Urban LivingV is for Verisimilitude; W is for Wikipedia

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W is for Wikipedia

March 24th, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: W is for Wikipedia

Back in the day, whilst preparing school reports, I had to haul myself down to the public library, check out huge, unwieldy volumes of various encyclopedias, and comb through them for the necessary, pertinent info. These days, however, students and the randomly-curious have one of the greatest tools to be spawned by the interwebs: Wikipedia.

I’m on the site almost daily, looking up work-related information (PCR and Stromma, etc.) or just random things that pop into my head (e.g. Phi Delta Theta or eggs or Kurt Cobain). It’s an invaluable resource, but has come under fire by many critics as it is editable by anyone, prone to ‘hacks’ and misinformation, and represents ‘information by consensus’ rather than true fact. Even Wikipedia itself cautions that its information is not generally accepted as a citable source in academic works without additional corroboration. But for those of us looking to find out the history of Catherine The Great, or phallic saints, or the bio (and awesome pics) of Kari Byron from Myth Busters, Wikipedia is the go-to source of any and all miscellaneous information.

Interestingly, but perhaps logically, Wikipedia has an entry about itself on Wikipedia. I’ll let the site itself explain further:

Wikipedia ( /ˌwɪkɪˈpdi.ə/ or /ˌwɪkiˈpdi.ə/ WIK-i-PEE-dee-ə) is a free,[4] web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its name is a portmanteau from wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia (from ancient Greek meaning “the circle of arts and sciences”). Wikipedia’s 15 million articles (3.2 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site.[5] It was launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger[6] and is currently the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet.[2][7][8][9]

Critics of Wikipedia accuse it of systemic bias and inconsistencies (including undue weight given to popular culture),[10] and allege that it favors consensus over credentials in its editorial process.[11] Its reliability and accuracy are also targeted.[12] Other criticisms center on its susceptibility to vandalism and the addition of spurious or unverified information,[13] though scholarly work suggests that vandalism is generally short-lived,[14][15] and an investigation in Nature found that the material they compared came close to the level of accuracy of Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of “serious errors”.[16]

Wikipedia’s departure from the expert-driven style of the encyclopedia building mode and the large presence of unacademic content have been noted several times. When Time magazine recognized You as its Person of the Year for 2006, acknowledging the accelerating success of online collaboration and interaction by millions of users around the world, it cited Wikipedia as one of several examples of Web 2.0 services, along with YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook.[17] Some noted the importance of Wikipedia not only as an encyclopedic reference but also as a frequently updated news resource because of how quickly articles about recent events appear.[18][19]

Previous posts: Introducing the 29-Day Blogging ChallengeA is for AnonymityB is for BussesC is for CanadaD is for Dogs;E is for Expatriate; F is for Failure;G is for Google; H is for Hedgehog; I is for Indian food; J is for Jill, obviouslyK is for Kurt CobainL is for ListerineM is for Mac&CheezN is for NightO if for Olfactory DysfunctionP is for Photography; Q if for Quest For FireR is for Religion; S is for Stockholm; T is for The Local; U is for Urban Living; V is for Verisimilitude

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V is for Verisimilitude

March 23rd, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: V is for Verisimilitude

Of all the words in the English language, this one – verisimilitude – is perhaps my favourite. It just rolls off the tongue, musically and poetically, and contains all sorts of meaning. Classically defined as referring to truth, or the likelihood of truth, verisimilitude can be used to refer to a person and his or her preponderance to probability.

Interestingly, there is no concise consensus of how many words comprise the English language, perhaps because it is such an adaptable, evolving vocabulary. Some dictionaries list around a half-million; others list more than double that, accounting for slang and technical terminology that seeps into every day usage (e.g. using ‘Google’ as a verb). Some estimates say that around 25,000 new words are added to that list each year.

It’s no wonder that English is considered one of the hardest languages to learn, having numerous rules but multiple exceptions to each one. In many ways I consider myself lucky to have been brought up and educated in English, with no need to learn it as a second language. But despite being a native speaker, English continues to confuse and confound me, especially with some of the finer points of grammatical conduct and proper usage of ‘who’ and ‘whom’.

But truthfully, or perhaps verisimilitudinally (and yes I just made that one up), the language has some beautifully crafted words, most of which rarely get used in daily conversation. One of my friends loves the fact that both Jill and I use the term ‘copious’ (meaning ‘a lot,’ as in “Perhaps my wife had copious amounts of wine with dinner last night”) regularly, and considers this an indication of our Canadianism. I’m not sure that diverse vocabulary usage is evidence of one’s nationality, but perhaps it is. Regardless, or irregardless despite the term’s reluctant acceptance in official English lexicon, verisimilitude remains one of my favourite words in the lingua franca that is my mother tongue.

Previous posts: Introducing the 29-Day Blogging ChallengeA is for AnonymityB is for BussesC is for CanadaD is for Dogs;E is for Expatriate; F is for Failure;G is for Google; H is for Hedgehog; I is for Indian food; J is for Jill, obviouslyK is for Kurt CobainL is for ListerineM is for Mac&CheezN is for NightO if for Olfactory DysfunctionP is for Photography; Q if for Quest For FireR is for Religion; S is for Stockholm; T is for The Local; U is for Urban Living

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U is for Urban Living

March 22nd, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: U if for Urban Living

A city is a place where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again. – Margaret Mead

As people get older, get married, have kids, and ‘settle down’ into life’s routine they tend to shun the city centres, the urban jungle, and move out to the suburbs in search of rolling lawns and picket fences  child-friendly parks and graffiti-free storefronts. They leave behind the constant din of the city’s voice, the cacophony of horns and people and dogs and bus bells and wailing sirens and car alarms and the myriad of other ‘noise’ that naturally rises up from an area so densely packed with people. They seek the quiet, the isolated, the artificially constructed landscapes decorated with pre-fab homes and soccer fields and good schools for their kids. They escape the chaos of the urban jungle and take shelter in the order and parceled structure of suburbia.

While not officially a diagnosable fear, unlike coulrophobia and aichmophobia, I am profoundly terrified of ‘the suburbs’. Back in Canada the spread of these neatly designed, allotted, manufactured ‘communities’ can be seen around every major city centre, steadily replacing the natural landscape with “Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky, Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same.” They become a rolling sea of sameness, uniformity, conformity, lacking distinction and character and anything architecturally intriguing. I find these neighbourhoods vapid, uninteresting, soul-leeching, and wholly without any redeeming qualities.

I do of course understand the attraction to living in such an area, especially with young kids and a family in tow. There’s a sense of safety and security, even familiarity, in having these single family dwellings neatly lined up on well manicured streets and cul-de-sacs, a garden and landscaping to tend on warm Saturday afternoons, a friendly wave from a neighbor whilst on your morning walk with the family pooch. I get it; I just don’t want it.

I’m a city boy at heart; always have been, despite having grown up in one of these suburban clone farms. On days off from school I would bus into Toronto and wander the streets, the alleys, the distinct little neighbourhoods, amazed at the symphony of noise around me, the varied and fantastic architecture, the variety of shops and cafes and bodegas and record stores and pubs and one-off restaurants and corner markets and newspaper stands and the swarm of eclectic, unique, fascinating people in every direction. I loved the organized chaos – nothing looked the same, but it all fit together in a magnificently crafted canvas of urban art. Even the graffiti – some crude, basic, and rough, some expertly executed murals that could be proudly displayed in any one of a hundred local galleries – was the city’s effort at accessorizing, like a diamond necklace on a pretty girl.

Admittedly I haven’t spent much time in Stockholm’s ‘suburbs’ so I really don’t know how they compare to the Canadian version of hell (in my humble and perhaps overly harsh opinion). Jill and I live in Östermalm, with just about everything we need easily accessed within a five-minute walk of our front door. With Karlaplan subway station just down the road, and bus stops across the street, every corner of Stockholm is but a short wander, a quick ride, a brief foray into the steady pulse of the city. It is a jungle – albeit an older, more established, less gritty one than I’m used to – but it brims with the same signs of life, with its constant stream of people and cell phone chatter and dog walking and amazing old buildings and bus traffic and honking taxis and sidewalk cafes street vendors and music wafting down from apartments overhead… I think Ezra Pound had it mostly right when he said, “And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there… Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.” Stockholm, of course, was already well on its way to creating such a stunning labyrinthine urban environment when New York was just a patch of grass and a then-unpolluted river. New York is awesome, but Stockholm is my new favourite playground… for now.

Previous posts: Introducing the 29-Day Blogging ChallengeA is for AnonymityB is for BussesC is for CanadaD is for Dogs;E is for Expatriate; F is for Failure;G is for Google; H is for Hedgehog; I is for Indian food; J is for Jill, obviouslyK is for Kurt CobainL is for ListerineM is for Mac&CheezN is for NightO if for Olfactory DysfunctionP is for Photography; Q if for Quest For FireR is for Religion; S is for Stockholm; T is for The Local

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T is for The Local

March 21st, 2010 by PeddlerOfBombast

The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: T is for The Local

This may seem like pandering flattery to the wise and benevolent folks at The Local who made this blog possible, but I assure you it’s not. This site was my first real exposure to Sweden, and has made my time here that much easier.

When Jill first accepted a job here I was still living in Dubai, but planned to move here once she was settled in. Not really knowing much about Sweden, or Stockholm specifically, I browsed around a few sites and landed on The Local. I was able to read the latest news, event listings, debates, weather reports, just about everything going on in the country at the time. It gave me a sense of the culture, the social environment, the attitudes of the people. In a way, it made moving here easier because I knew what to expect.

When I moved to Dubai, on the other hand, I had no such prior knowledge. I packed my bags and jetted off to the Middle East without knowing really anything about where I would end up. I intentionally didn’t do much research because I wanted to arrive with no expectations, no preconceived notions; I wanted to step off the plane and experience Dubai first-hand, day to day, and just take it as it comes. For months there were daily learning experiences, which served to prolong the novelty and continuously provide little moments of discovery.

Moving to Sweden, however, was a different story. For one thing, Jill was already living here and so was a great source of information, like where to buy phone credits and which bus routes to take and kitschy little neighbourhoods and currency conversion and how to order a coffee in Swedish. It made the transition and integration into Stockholm life much easier, like having my own personal tour guide. But outside of the procedural details, I had already been reading The Local for a few months and had developed a distinct sense of the Swedish mindset. In many ways I find the Swedish and Canadian cultures very similar, so it wasn’t a difficult adaptation to my new home.

Once I was living here I continued to read The Local on a daily basis. I started browsing through the user forums, and got to know some of the other readers on a personal level. Being mostly expats themselves, there were a great source of information and advice on getting by in Stockholm, as they had been in the same boat themselves. I even got to meet many of them at one of The Local’s reader events, finally putting faces to names and sharing stories about moving and living here.

Last year The Local set up a blogging function, just around the time I was leaving Canada and moving back here. When I was in Dubai I ran my own blog, mostly as a way of keeping people up to date on life over there, and wanted to do something similar with my time in Stockholm. Conveniently, The Local provided a perfect outlet for my ramblings, and fitting that it’s hosted on the very site that was my first foray into understanding Swedish life. So thanks to them for that.

(As a complete aside, I must say this 29-Day Blogging Challenge was a better idea than the reality. I’m getting what I call ‘blogger’s fatigue’ – a lack of enthusiasm for these daily posts. But I press on, determined not to be outdone, and will complete the task I set out for myself what seems like eons ago. But once this textual marathon is done, I’m taking a much deserved break.)

Previous posts: Introducing the 29-Day Blogging ChallengeA is for AnonymityB is for BussesC is for CanadaD is for Dogs;E is for Expatriate; F is for Failure;G is for Google; H is for Hedgehog; I is for Indian food; J is for Jill, obviouslyK is for Kurt CobainL is for ListerineM is for Mac&CheezN is for NightO if for Olfactory DysfunctionP is for Photography; Q if for Quest For FireR is for Religion; S is for Stockholm

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