among the vikings
SETTLED IN THE SWEDISH PRAIRIE
FROM FIELDS TO FORESTS: as an AEM Consultant and designated “Chief Commuter”, I manage the fortunes of our northernmost PFG outpost to date in Copenhagen. I'm a mathematician with a soft spot for IT, and three years ago, I made the decision to swap Bavarian meadows for Swedish forests, Bavarian grouching for Swedish lagom and my mother tongue for the speech of my Scandinavian colleagues. Here are a few impressions of my chosen home among the Vikings, the cornerstones of Bavarian identity, and feeling at home on both sides of the Baltic.
HOME SWEET HOME: my wonderfully kitschy house in Hyssna is straight out of a storybook and hits every Swedish stereotype.
WHO’S TIRED? The sunshine might not make things as warm here as in Bavaria, but it certainly sticks around – at “Midsommar” (summer solstice), the nights barely get dark. During Midsommar, Swedish grills never stop – and neither do ours. ;-).
ASK A BAVARIAN
Swedish meatballs or Bavarian sausage?
Sausage in the morning and meatballs in the evening
Bavarian Alps or Swedish Lapland?
BMW or Volvo?
What makes the Swedish tick?
Lagom is a typical Swedish expression without a direct translation. It means avoiding extremes – so not too much and not too little of anything. Instead, you should aim for a Goldilocks-like “just right”. Lagom is an unspoken part of the program when you live in Sweden. Sometimes the Swedish take it a bit too far, which strictly speaking is not very lagom of them.
“Fika” is a bit like a coffee break featuring sweet pastries – and plenty of them. Nothing gets done without Fika – ever!
By definition, summer in Sweden runs from April to September. Pay no attention to whether the weather agrees or not. While foreigners only brave the cold and damp surroundings in long trousers and jackets, the Swedes enjoy the summer in shorts and t-shirt – no matter what the weather is doing. ;-)
When do you feel at your most Bavarian in Sweden?
When I catch myself grumbling (or whining, grousing, or moaning). The Swedish don't recognize it, don't do it, don’t like it and don't understand it. Bavarians can’t live without it – especially those from Munich... ;-).
How does the Swedish business mentality differ from that of Bavarians?
Not much! The Bavarian approach of “let’s take a look and then see how it goes” also holds true in Sweden – though the Bavarians are a little bit more committed to it. The same is true for the Bavarian attitude of “da kunntert ja jeder kommen, des hamma scho immer so gmacht”, which is a way of saying: ‘If it ain't broke, don't fi x it.’ The Swedish are less bureaucratic about it, though. MUCH less bureaucratic!
What do you miss most about Bavaria?
The Munich motto “live and let live”, the laid-back North Italian attitude, and – on principle – the grumbling. And, of course, the legendary pub discussions, which get loud, fervent and emotional. And it goes without saying: the pubs and beer gardens.
MY SWEDISH ESSENTIALS
The Swedish – who I hope will forgive me for this – seem to either love or hate old furniture, and all the pieces left behind in Swedish forests strongly suggest the latter. I even picked up this beautiful desk chair in the forest and upcycled it. Recycling is very important here, but I have to say, the forest seems like a pretty unsuitable collection point for unloved furniture. ;-)
It gets dark very early in the winter, and it's rare to find streetlights once you get off the paved streets. My head torch provides me with some much-needed personal sunlight in my new homeland... although you still don't want an unplanned after-work meeting with an elk – the Swedish boss of the undergrowth – whether you have a light or not. ;-)
Real Bavarian mustard, sweet and fi lling... I can't live without it! A foolproof cure for homesickness, and a must-have for the fridge. Any Bavarian friends who visit me in the far north know it, and as for the ones who don't yet – no more excuses! ;-).