Monday, October 20, 2008
Swedish Fun Facts: One Last Time...
It’s been over two years, but new things keep popping up in Sweden (or old things that I realize I never mentioned on Linköpinglivin’), so settle in for one last go 'round of Swedish Fun Facts:
*Swedes refer to the weeks of the year not as “the last week in February” or “the middle weekend in October,” but, predictably in Sweden, the weeks of the year all have numbers. The first week in January is Week 1, the fourth week in January is Week 4, etc. Christmas is always Week 52 and as for the other week numbers, who in the world could ever keep track? Well, not even the Swedes. That’s why they have a handy website: http://www.vecka.nu/ Just click here and all your woes about the weeks will be solved! The numbers of the week starts to work as soon as you get a calendar which includes them…
*Many of you have started to notice the wide array of “köping” towns located in southern Sweden. In addition to Linköping and the previously mentioned Norrköping and Söderköping, there is also Nyköping, Enköping, Jonköping, and just Köping. Köpa means “to buy” in Swedish and these were commercial towns on the way from Stockholm to Malmö and the rest of Europe in days gone by.
*Sweden is a country, similar to what is well known about Japan, where guests are generally expected to remove their shoes upon entering a home. Those shoes are usually full of snow, mud, rainwater and such that mess up what is usually a nice Swedish hardwood floor.
*Worldwide opinion considers Swedes to be very open about sex and there is a strong perception of strong promiscuity among Swedish women. This mis-perception came from a Swedish film in the early 70s that pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable and became internationally acclaimed. The fact is that Swedes are very modest in public and are extra sensitive when a woman is publicly degraded for the sake of advertising or tabloids.
*However, Swedes are also known for letting go a little bit when they leave the boundaries of their own country! Apparently, lagom (“not too much, not too little, just right”) often only applies to a Swede only while in Sweden…
*In Sweden, if you don't want to receive advertisements in your mailbox, you merely need to post a sign or attach a sticker "Ingen reklam, tack," which means "No advertisements, thanks." How un-American of them!
*I heard recently that as high as 4% of the Swedish population traveled to Thailand last year alone (approximately 360,000). That’s the same percentage of Americans that OWN a passport… (other recent popular travel spots for Swedes escaping the darkness of winter have been the Canary Islands and the Costa Del Sol in Spain).
*Swedes usually consider November the longest month of winter (even though it’s not officially winter yet) because it’s too early for snow, but it’s getting darker and darker every day and the next festive occasion is still a month away… Glad I’m skipping town before November’s darkness arrives!
This has been fun. There’s plenty more interesting, curious and unexplained fun facts about Sweden and her people, but you’ll just have to come here and find out for yourself from now on. I will leave Sweden in two weeks.
After lamenting recently about my overlooking of Stockholm’s bar made entirely of ice, I decided to try it out during my last trip to Sweden’s capital. Tons of fun, as I knew it would be. It was really "cool."
Unexpectedly, I had one more visitor to Sweden, the last of my 26. Kelly Ronan, a former student with whom I worked at the University of Washington made the trek up from Romania where she is working for the fall. From Stockholm to Linköping, IKEA to the Ice Bar, frukost to fika, Kelly was a more than memorable final guest. Thanks for the impressive pilgrimage, Robo, and for our continuing friendship long after Seattle.
1. One recently-captured crayfish looks much bigger than it actually is in the hands of a student with whom I work.
2. That is one American-sized kanelbulle found in a storefront window in Linköping.
3 - 5. Friend and final visitor, Kelly, enjoys a boat ride and a cold bar in Stockholm.