Even though I have been learning Swedish for about three and a half years, I had never really seen the country. Of course, I’d been to Stockholm many times and it still counts as one of my favourite cities ever. Also Malmö and Kalmar I had visited for one or two days each and crossed the countryside in trains. But somehow, that was not the “real Sweden” for me.
Workaway seemed to be the perfect opportunity to see more of this extremely big country with relatively few people 😉 As I have one week left of that experience now, I must say it certainly was. Even if things didn’t work out as planned, especially in the beginning… 😉 Looking at the map, it’s quite impressing that I managed to get to so many places in almost exactly 2 months! Of course, this was thanks to great hosts and amazing friends – thank you so much!
Now, what do I think of Sweden after those two months? You get it from the headline: I love it!!! Not only because the neighbour was so impressed with my Swedish that he thought I’d been living here for years 🙂 Not only because I was extremely lucky with the weather and only had one day of (really heavy!) rain so far. No, mainly because of 2 things: the nature is absolutely amazing and so are the people!
I have met quite a few natives now that were not directly related to workaway and every single one of them has been super-friendly, interested, happy to speak Swedish with me and just treating me like a normal person, not a tourist 😉 I can’t say this as a rule, but to me it seems that life is a bit slower here, people are more relaxed about time and “achieving” things. (This meant that I was quite stressed when I passed through Stockholm 2 weeks ago…. there it’s hectic 😉 ) It was a big change for me at first, coming from a job where the work never seemed to end no matter how fast you tried to get it done. But by now I have got used to it a bit and it feels ok to maybe not finish something in one day 🙂 That in turn makes me calmer and more relaxed.
The nature: You’ve seen the pictures (and if not, check out the flickr link 😉 ). There is just so much space in this country and nature is just around the corner most of the time. You can walk into the forest and pick any berries you see, drink the water from lakes and rivers and generally do what you want as long as you respect the nature. You can get absolute silence, you can see so many stars at night and if you are lucky, even the Northern Lights (haven’t given up on them yet!).
During those summer season months, I have also seen a lot of tourists from other countries, mostly Germans of course. And I think I understand now why they love coming here. Those of you who live (or have lived) in Germany: re-read the last two paragraphs and let me know if you need any more explanations. I don’t think it’s all about Bullerbü and Astrid Lindgren, but about getting away from the neighbours and the hustle and bustle. Correct me if I’m wrong 🙂
Yes, Sweden, you have won me over big time! In a different post, I will talk about funny things that you only find here, and of course I am aware that not everything here is perfect. But I do have a good feeling about you and me and I will come back 😉