"Alla andra dagar ska vi det inte."

When I was in Santa Barbara during the holidays, I sat with some of my favorite people, cozied up on their couch, exchanging the life updates that aren't easily shared via facebook. There are a few common questions that I get a lot when I go back to the States... including, "Are you staying there forever?" and "Do you miss California?" and "Aren't you dating anyone?" Those questions I've come to expect and am used to answering.

But Darren gave me a new one. He said, "So, Corinne, I want to know this: what surprises you still about Sweden? About the country or your life there?"

I thought for a minute, delighted by the challenge of an unexpected question that I wanted to do justice to. I reviewed the last few months... there had been intense challenges and often confusion but surprise?... what really surprises me anymore? I realized that the answer was actually very basic. It wasn't very enlightening. It was simply this:

"I think that it still surprises me that, again and again, so many people I meet here just absolutely delight me.  It's hard to believe how common and strong it is, but wherever I go, be it an alumni dinner, a new office, a work party, a gathering of friends of friends, or something else, I'll end the evening having been greatly entertained and found another or a few more kindred spirits. Like 'I can't believe that the strangers placed to both sides of me and across from me at that dinner were all so fantastic that I didn't want to at some point escape the conversation.' Things end up that way for me nearly all the time in Sweden. Plus, the friends I already have here just keep getting better and better."

And nothing that keeps me here is more powerful than that. It's the only way I can manage to live so far away from those people on that couch and the many many more that I love that are all around the west coast of the States.

*****************************************************

I feel like it's time for a small update on what my Swedish life looks like right now. Those aren't as common as they used to be in my first year or so of living here, when everything was new and there were student traditions to share and holidays to finally be experienced and things to explain about what the heck I was up to here. 

Things are really great. Really fun and also peaceful and consistent. A true answer that I've been giving people lately about how I'm doing is that I've almost never been better; heart, body and mind. It makes me so happy to say that.

Work is great and getting busy. My colleagues are awesome. Since the beginning of the year, I live in a charming apartment with my Canadian friend, Allie, in a bustling, young and fun area of town. Our street is full of vintage shops and a gorgeous old church sits just a half block away; you can hear the bells ringing beautifully during the weekend days. I'm running a 10k race with a couple of friends at the end of March, so we go to the gym that's just two blocks away from me pretty often these days. Lots of friends live near me and I love that I can walk to and from them, or to and from anywhere really, if I ever allowed myself enough time to get places, which I often don't. The water around these Stockholm islands is largely frozen, and you can go out and walk about on the ice. It thrills me to do that. There's an ice skating rink just a couple blocks away from me that I often walk past and you'll see couples skating around together or parents playing some casual hockey with their kids, using shoes as goals. Sure it's cold and we're a little weary of winter here. But it's often very picturesque and the days are so much lighter now, and I really am not tired of snow yet.

This past weekend was a fantastic one. Friday was normal, as I finished the work day with a beer with my colleagues at our office, and then went on to meet friends at a new fun place downtown. We sipped beers and had slices of prosciutto and fig pizza, and went home around midnight. Allie and a friend were home having wine and I made some popcorn and we hung out til they went out. Saturday morning I went to a photographer to get some photos taken for my job, then for a run at the gym, and then met Linn and shared a huge coffee on our way to a progressive apartment party. Several of our friends live in the same neighborhood, intentionally, and they threw a party that started at 4 pm, moving from one apartment to the next, each one with a different theme. We drank mojitos and wine and waved glow bracelets and danced around and tried to keep track of our own pair of black boots among 40 other pairs taken off at each doorway. I made a snow angel in between apartments at one point. Sometime around 2:30 am the last of us left at the party tumbled out into the street, with all intention to go to a club or something and continue the fun, but collectively realizing a few minutes later that it had been a long night already, and though we are all quite the party champions, we were also pretty tired. Linn and I rode the bus away from Södermalm together, debriefed a bit, and then parted ways and as I continued on home I couldn't wipe off the happy smile from my face. Allie and her friend were back from their night out and still up when I got home, and we all shared stories of our evening before we went to sleep.

Sunday held a brunch and a walk around the water. It was sunny and gorgeous. One of the previous evening's party hosts, and one of my favorite Swedes, called me up to see how I was doing and debrief. We laughed about our antics and our friends' antics and got excited for antics to come. We talked about how great our friends are and how important it is to be intentional about who you spend your time with.  Finding those kindred spirits and hanging on to them, and such.

When we hung up, I took a dozen photos of the sun setting over the silhouette of Stockholm. When I got home, Allie was baking with a friend. For dinner we made the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese that she brought back from Canada, and then had some of her homemade peach pie.

It was a really good Sunday, a really good weekend. It's a really good year so far.


 This print is for sale at a little shop across the street from my place. I love it. 
"One day we will all die."
"All the other days we will not."



Stockholm, looking towards the west, at sunset yesterday. 

Comments

  1. Hi Corrine! I have just discovered your blog and wondered around for an hour, reading (and procrastinating from what I am actually supposed to be doing, which is writing my dissertation). I love it! I moved to Stockholm two years ago, probably for good, or at least for the foreseeable future. I identify with so many of the things you write about. There are things that I love dearly about Stockholm (in fact, I have been living in London for the past 9 months and have been missing Stockholm terribly). And then there's also the feeling of loneliness or foreign-ness that will forever be a part of any expat's life (I believe). I have a feeling that if we ever met we'd have a lot to talk about! Would you like to meet sometime for a fika around Stockholm?

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  2. Hello everybody
    I lived for a year in beautiful Stockholm, and afterwards went back to take photos of people and places. Stockholm is the most beautiful city I have ever lived in - and I have lived in many places! Now I published some of the photos on my blog:
    Thank you so much Stockholm, for everything! Street Style in Stockholm -
    http://alinasavin.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/my-life-in-stockholm.html

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Hi Corrine!

    I got stuck reading your blogg this friday evening. You write very well, how you experience our culture and it's also interesting how you analyze people.

    Anyway, the first things you wrote in this post I just feel that I have to comment. The reason why is because as a native swede I like this part of our culture which you are talking about. The relationship between people, the strong bonds between true friends.

    In sweden I believe it's hard to get friends, but ones you do, they will be friends for life. I really like that about our culture. I rather have quality than quantity.

    But it goes deeper than that. You mention for example that you don't want to escape conversations because you are often delighted by people. I think this is because swedes want to make friends, they are trying to see if you could be a potential friend/partner/etc, but they will make you work for it, since I think we want friendships which are stronger and have a deeper meaning.

    I strongly belive all of this is due to the fact that we are a very densely populated country. Friendship means more here. We need to take more care of it, since it's harder to make friends. But in someway we also want it to be harder to become friends, since we know that it will be more worth it in the end. So, there is some sort of dubble effect to overcome when getting friends, but ones you do, it will be amazing!

    It's almost like when dating girls. They will play hard to get, especially if they are interested in the guy and want it to last.

    Anyway, I'm happy for you, that you have got to experience this within our culture, since it's nothing you would have expereienced beeing here just a couple of months.

    Take Care!

    /Jonas from Gävle

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