Many people have asked me if I plan on changing the name of the blog since I no longer live in "Purple John." I thought about changing it, but ultimately decided against it. Purple John was our first international home, the first stepping stone on this international journey and so it stays.
Also, because we left Italy unexpectedly, I did not complete writing my stories from Italy down. I have jotted down so much more that I will likely be weaving a tapestry of stories from both Italy and Sweden.
To that end, here are my first observations of Sweden:
Many people forewarned us that Swedish people were cold and difficult to get to know. Fortunately, this stereotype has not proved to be true. Swedish people are really nice. They are quite cheery and helpful. Without asking, we have had people help us in the grocery store, on the street, on the bus. They just step up and help if they think you need it.
It is very clean here. There is an organization called Keep Sweden Tidy. I love it. They even steam clean the curbs.
Swedish people are very efficient. Driving home one day Lena and I saw a bus accident. The bus had crossed a street, taken out a signpost and slammed into a wall. An hour and a half later I drove past again to pick up Aleks and it was all cleaned up. You couldn’t even tell that there had been an accident there.
Swedish people like walking sticks. Walking sticks make me giggle and they are everywhere so I giggle daily.
Swedish people are very physically active and they like to be outside. Lots of running, biking, cross country skiing on skates, a game that looks like soccer but is played inside plastic bubbles, soccer, kayaking, swimming, windsurfing, wake boarding and lots of walking - with sticks.
There are many Swedish words that bring out my inner 10 year old boy - like vag, infart, kock. I can’t help it. I am immature.
There are a lot of Americans in Sweden and a lot of Swedish/American couples. One woman suggested it is because so many young Swedish girls go to America as au pairs and then the American men follow them back to Sweden. Cannot blame them. These women are gorgeous.
In Italy we heard British English everywhere. In Sweden you hear American English.
Swedes are environmentally conscious. Swedish people live by the core principle that members of one generation should act to conserve resources for future generations. Sustainability is a way of life. Some examples:
* Sweden ranks first in the EU in consumption of organic foods, they lead the way in recycling drinks cans and bottles, and get the highest share of energy from renewable sources.
* The Swedish government invested in new environmental technology strategies to establish favorable conditions for the growth and development of environmental technology companies.
* The city of Malmo is committed to making its energy supply consist of 100 per cent renewable or recovered energy by 2020.
* Swedish trains run only on renewable electricity from hydropower or wind power.
* The entire subway system runs on green electricity, and since 2009, city buses are being converted to biogas and ethanol. The target is to have all buses running on renewable, environmentally-friendly fuel by 2025.
In Sweden allemansrätten ("the everyman's right") is a freedom to roam granted by the Constitution of Sweden. This right means that every person has access to nature. Allemansrätten gives a person the right to access, walk, cycle, ride, ski, and camp on any privately held land with the exception of private gardens, the immediate vicinity of a dwelling house and land under cultivation. Such an odd concept for us Americans who put up signs and fences around everything.
Swedes like stripes - especially navy blue and white.
There is a preponderance of tall good looking people here.
I had no idea there were so many ABBA songs.