We had company the other night and during one conversation in which the words utlänningar (foreigners) and invandrare (immigrants) were thrown about rather casually, in not so flattering ways, I restrained myself from pointing out that I was both. I think it's too easy for people to forget that, sometimes, even though it's all too easy to hear it in my accent when I open my mouth in Swedish.
Because I don't wear a veil or drive a taxi or sponge off the government, I don't earn the negative stripe those labels can, unfortunately, all too easily acquire. Someone made a comment about the fact that all the taxi drivers are foreigners. And I thought, well maybe, but isn't that the same EVERYWHERE? When you come to a country as an adult, especially if you are a refugee, and even more especially if you are from a region that is not looked upon as supplying the right KIND of immigrants, no matter how educated you might be or how hard you try to fit in, driving a taxi might be the only option that opens to you.
And I know plenty of white American educated people here who haven't had it all that easy assimilating: who haven't been able to learn the language well, or find a job, despite years in Sweden. It's easy to be negative both ways when things don't go the way you expect them too, and when people don't fit into your expectations.
I don't mind being an immigrant and a foreigner, though my back does sometimes get up when I hear people (usually at work) badmouthing Americans, as if we're all the same, and their annoyance with someone's behavior somehow justifies their stereotyping. I know my colleagues in other countries probably do the same thing about the Swedes here at our corporate headquarters.
It's too small a world, full of too many people, to allow these kinds of cultural snobberies to dominate. We all have something to give and something to bring to the place we're in. Variety IS the spice of life.
The allergy treatment was awful and yet, not as bad as I expected, though it was bad enough, for someone who gags easily. They stuffed anesthetic-saturated gauze up each nostril for 10 minutes and then replaced them with fresh samples for another 10 minutes. I could actually breathe through them, but it was not a good feeling. Then, after the inside of my nose was sufficiently numb, they made me lie down on the gurney and they shot MORE anesthetic into each side with a THREE INCH NEEDLE. I closed my eyes immediately to avoid watching it loom at me. I couldn't feel it at all, thank God.
Then they stuck an electric probe thing inside and zapped the hell out of my nasal passages for a couple of seconds. And THEN, just when I thought everything was over, the doctor stuffed MORE gauze in each nostril, this time saturated with antibiotics to prevent infection and I had to keep it there for AN HOUR. Now I have to rinse my nose 3x a day with a saline solution.
GAH. This had better work, is all I'm saying.
And finally, while I was having ten tons of fun at the allergy clinic, Anders and the kids and his family were out driving around the east coast in the sunshine and at some point they stopped along the way and bought some refreshments, and Karin came home with this gum. I can't get a picture of HER wrapper because none of the cameras are cooperating, so I'm linking to someone else's, but WTH? I am equal parts amused and appalled :D Chicle CAMEL BALLS bubble gum. Liquid-filled!