Friday, April 17, 2009

Jag älskar Sverige

When I first heard that my mother was going to be assigned to Sweden back in 2003, I will honestly tell you that it was sort of a shock. Why? I had been in most parts of Europe but I realized that the northern part i.e. Scandinavia was a totally new territory to me, since the only thing I knew at that time about Sweden was not even IKEA, but Sweden equaled to the model Marcus Schenkenberg to me! Oh shame! It was also a surprise because I would have never thought to be going there one day, and even less to pack up my bags and move to Sweden. But as it always is, my excitement took over because discovering the new and unknown still remains my sweetest addiction.

Six years have passed since that first thought and I had the privilege to be in and out of that fantastic country from 2003 to 2007, with a lucky full year in 2004-2005. I had the chance to go from North to South, from East to West and also explore Stockholm to the fullest. Frankly, I do not even know where to begin with just how much I appreciate the "North". But September 17th 2006 might have been the best day to explain this certain admiration. It was election day in Sweden! And secondly, I was just extremely happy because I was able to walk out and go to church for the first time since my car accident in Portugal (which occurred early August 2006)! To be able to experience such wonders again after the crash, and why it had to be especially in Sweden on a very awaited election day: it is funny or… it just might be the reason why.

First of all, the system in Sweden, considered much as “capitalism tempered by a generous and interventionist welfare state”, is one of the prior things I admire about this country! I reckon it to be the "ideal" society, which all lands should look up to and follow. Yes, its people pay a whole lot of taxes -- as much as half of their salary goes into them; but is it not worth it knowing what the population gets in return? The health department is good, the welfare department is most generous, they have a great economy, they are admirable in advanced technology and arts. Furthermore, in my opinion, the best asset Sweden possesses is their educational system. Although students need to pay back their debt to society later on, not only do they not pay anything during their studies but in addition, students get allowance for actually going to school: not only those who have a scholarship, but anyone who wants to study can get the loan. How awesome can studying be? So even if the Social Democrats lost on that election day in 2006, I understand the system stayed as valuable as before.

Secondly, the capital city is simply sheer perfection: Stockholm has style and a unique aura. It is big enough to have the "full of life" characteristics of a metropolitan city, yet still small enough to have the calmness of a town as well. It is modern and chic! It’s royal and worth the Nobel Prizes! And of course, Stockholm is a catwalk for beautiful people! [Who ever said the most beautiful women (and men) are Swedish?] You see their simplicity yet elegant style in interior design; but it is their taste for fashion that makes Swedish people exceptional: their sense of fashion is unbelievably classy! The Swedes are definitely the best models/trendsetters in the world. People are approachable, friendly, open and everyone speaks English as if it were their mother tongue. And if you are fluent in German and English, then Swedish will be very easy to learn! On the downside, the capital city remains an expensive city, winter is ice cold, dark and you will probably hate the bouncers at the clubs when you get to Stockholm… But overall, the cultural scene and viking history, FIKA [stands for "get-together at the coffee shop"] with the Swedes, the long, long days in the summer and those incredible sunrises-sunsets (since there is almost no difference between the two) make up for it!

And last but not least, I love Sweden so very much because I know that in this lifetime, something will always draw me back there. Jag saknar dig, Sverige