After over two years, 100 weekly blog postings, hundreds of fikas, a few trips here and there and a lifetime of adventures and experiences as a privileged temporary local in Sweden, my days of watching and living everything Swedish are coming to an abrupt end.
On November 3rd (less than a month), I will step on a plane that will take me away from Sweden, only to return someday as a visitor. Where that plane will take me is something for a later blog entry, but for now I want to consider, in the midst of all the things I have experienced and enjoyed in this great land, a few of the things I wish I had been able to fit into my all-too-short Swedish escapade, but sadly did not.
In good ol’ American optimism, the following list can also be considered a list of goals for me to accomplish as a visitor to Sweden in the future, because I hope to always have a trip to Sweden planned in my future. Like most Americans I have talked to who have at one time lived here in Sweden, I shall miss it terribly when I am gone.
10 regrets, also known as goals for the future, from Sweden:
10. I never made it north for the midnight sun experience. In fact, even more than the midnight sun, I would have liked to get to the north of Sweden to compare and contrast the Sweden I have come to know with what life is like up there. Most people around here with whom I share this regret gently reassure me with the following words, “That’s okay, Sean. We’ve lived here our whole lives and we’ve never been up there….”
9. Not only did I never make it to the famed (at least outside of Sweden) Ice Hotel, but I didn’t even do the Ice Bar, which is located in Stockholm and Copenhagen. I take solace in the fact that this is a touristy experience that I never did, but then again, I loved all the other touristy things I did in Sweden (Skansen and the Vasa Museum over 10 times each – c’mon, I had visitors, of course!).
8. I never learned to like, or really even try, the Swedes’ beloved caviar-in-a-tube or liver paste that spreads like butter , both popular with the over 1,000 fikas in which I participated. Okay, I’ll admit, this one is NOT a goal for the future.
7. Unless something strange happens in the next few weeks, I will never have had to experience anything remotely having to do with Sweden’s health care system, which makes my personal defense of this “socialist” system a little weaker to my American friends and family…
6. In addition to the north, I missed Dalarna, the Glass Kingdom and the island off the east coast of Sweden, Götland, which apparently has an outstanding medieval city in Visby. And if that’s not enough, with all the travel I did, I never made it up to Norway…..ouch.
5. Though it vastly improved over the course of time, my “sj” and “sk” Swedish pronunciations always revealed me to be the English speaking soul that I am. I hate those letters….
4. Bilar and Äntligen bread, two of my favorite everyday foods in Sweden, are two of the many things I will regretfully need to be weaned off of.
3. The Royal Palace at Drottningholm. Yeah, missed that, too. But I saw the Vasa 11 times….
2. I never walked onto someone else’s property, threw down my tent and sleeping bag and stayed overnight. Nope, won’t be doing much allmänsrätt in the U.S., that’s for sure.
1. You know those high taxes I’ve been paying from my salary and every last cinnamon bun or train ticket purchase? Yeah, those high taxes. Well, I won’t ever see one krona of that in paternity leave, retirement, health benefits or education. Of all my Top 10 lists, this is the strongest #1 ever. This is one big regret that will take a long time to get over…