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I used to stay up late, crafting the perfect post, meticulously searching for the right words, the best phrasing and the funniest anecdotes. Now it's barely 10 p.m. and I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open.

Something keeps waking me up around 4 a.m. on work nights. I can't really get back to sleep and only doze on and off until the alarm blares to life 2+ hours later. I don't know what it is that is waking me up. Could it be the birds starting their early-morning chirp-fest since the light is brightening early again? Could it be some little mechanical ticker deep in the clock innards that makes a quiet noise loud enough for my subconscious to recognize as a signal and react? Some mornings when it happens I lie awake alternately obsessing and fuming about work-related issues. Some mornings I lie half-awake, thinking about things that I need to get done but not feeling any motivation for. Some mornings I doze off and clench my jaw so hard I re-awake with a migraine.

Someone who is moving to Sweden this year sent a bunch of questions to me, asking for help in finding out the information she needed about moving to a foreign country. There were about 20 questions this time around (it was her THIRD email). Among the typical questions about what to bring and what to leave behind, she asked me if the leaves change color here in the fall. I did a double-take and continued reading down her list. This was her last question, and I quote:

Metamucil: Aside from the obvious colon benefits, it is a healthy way to lower cholesterol. Can I get it there?

I boggled at the screen for a moment and then read both of them out loud to Anders who was sitting across the table from me*. And then I put my head down on the table and laughed for 10 minutes straight.

I sent the questions to my cousin Cate for help and both of us answered them all in replies to her. My response to the leaves question was: The deciduous ones do. Cate's response was: The laws of nature still apply, even here! Hee!

When WE moved to Sweden, I remember Anders being exasperated because I asked him if I could get Coca-Cola here. Someone else once told me they were asked if polar bears really roamed the streets. If you have moved to Sweden, what's the funniest/weirdest thing you wondered about before you arrived? If you are Swedish, what have you been asked that made you wonder about the intelligence of foreigners? And if you were suddenly to find out YOU were moving here, what bit of information about Sweden would you like confirmed or denied?
mood: tired
music: Loreen—Euphoria


You laugh but twice in my laugh I have experienced what I took to be weird seasonal abnormalities but which were totally normal to the people who lived there.

1) When we moved up to Maine from just outside NYC, I was dumbfounded as my German teacher explained to the Maine kids that in Austria and Germany, starting in about March, the days got gradually warmer and little flowers would start to come out and trees would get little buds, etc. I thought the main was more cuckoo than a clock until I looked around me and saw all the Maine kids genuinely surprised to learn how SPRING WORKS.

2) The year I spent in Wales I was surprised to discover that there was, to someone used to fall in New England, almost imperceptible color change on the leaves. Maybe two different kinds of trees got kind of golden. The rest just looked the same, maybe brownish if you got close enough. I kept waiting for fall to start but it never really seemed to go anywhere. To someone used to reds and oranges and yellows of the sort that take your breath away, you might not even notice. I think Wales was just so wet, you never got the cold, crisp nights you need for real color.

How did this woman get your name, anyway?

I feel like I know most of the basics but I guess I would have some SFI or mamaledigt question and I don't think I'd expect you to know given that it was a while back you did either.

Edited at 2012-03-12 09:46 pm (UTC)

Well, the leaves down here definitely aren't as DRAMATIC as those on the East Coast, but they DO still change color, though you're right: there is a lot more gold & brown than orange & red. :) How funny about the kids in Maine, though!

She emailed the inquiry form on the AWC site, and since I'm the VP Membership, I'm the one responsible for answering these. :)

I thought I wouldn't be able to get medical care for the first three years since I would "only" be here on a temporary permit. So I visited my friendliest doctor and got prescriptions for all the medications I might possibly need for the next three years. (I still have some of those pills in the drawer where I now store my Theraflu stockups, which turned out to be the only really important thing I couldn't get here.) Imagine my surprise when I got bronchitis that first winter and got the best and cheapest medical care I've ever had in my life.

I didn't think about Theraflu, since I never used it before I moved here, but I did tell her to bring OTC cold/flu remedies. :)

Hmm..When I was 19 I visited my relatives in NY (my first visit to the US) and visited different people for some 3 weeks and the wife of a second cousin of mine, a very kind woman, then in her 30's, asked me if we in Sweden had roads, like "we have in the States". To this day I don't exactly know what she really wanted to know. I'm *hoping* her question was intelligent and referred to certain road-design details and speeds and how you finance roads perhaps. But I can't be sure. Part of me will always fear that she in fact asked, if there are roads and highways in Sweden.

Sadly, she probably did. Heh.

Metamucil: Aside from the obvious colon benefits, it is a healthy way to lower cholesterol. Can I get it there?


I know! Hee! She could have just asked if she could get it, without going into details. :D

Waving Liz. No time to read, drat. But I miss you and your words. Grounding to see you here.

Waving back, you busy bee!

From Megsie

Well, at least you know she was "regular" in some ways!

I don't really know what I wonder about. I feel like after reading about you and Sweden for so long I have a pretty good picture in my head. Plus, I live in Minnesota. I feel like it MUST be quite similar, accept you are over there and I am over here. I guess I would be most concerned about what foods I could get and how my routines would change. That is about all.

Still thinking about your pie. YUM.

Re: From Megsie

Minnesota IS very similar but more so, environmentally-speaking to the middle of Sweden. Down here it's the farm belt. :)

Your routines wouldn't change much, though your kids' activities would, depending however on where you live and what's available. Activities for kids, especially sports, are not tied to schools here.

You can get most foods. The only things I REALLY miss are some of the Campbell's soups I can't get, cinnamon candy, and easy, cheap access to my favorite chips & candy, which is just as well. :) I CAN get Doritos occasionally and even Reese's and 3Musketeers but I have to pay through the nose for them.

i remember F asking me if the "borkborkbork" actually means something. :)

You mean it doesn't?!


So much is available on the internet that it's hard to think of a question...but I might ask about your favorite method for learning Swedish. I think day to day language learning methods should vary depending on what is hard or easy about that particular language, so getting an inside scoop would be really useful!

(If anyone wants to know my favorite tips and tricks for Czech, just ask ;-)


Hrm, that's actually not so easy to answer since it was so long ago that I learned Swedish. It helps in some ways that everyone speaks English and can thus help you if you get stuck, but it also makes things more difficult: EVERYONE speaks English with you.

Swedish wasn't hard for me to learn, since it is so similar to German (which I learned in high school) and English. Just getting over the fear of speaking was the hardest part.

Have to stop and really think about that -- between your blog, and my folks' trips over, and all the family research, daily life seems pretty well covered.

My parents spent a month in Egypt with Project Hope about 30 years ago; they had a cassette recorder with them (why, I have no idea), and one of the things they brought home was a tape of the sounds of daily life in Cairo. There were various dogs barking at several points, and our little beagle picked up her ears rather intently at that -- we joked that the dogs were barking in Arabic, and wondered if she understood what they were saying.

I wonder if dogs in Sweden bark in Swedish?

Dogs in Sweden say VOV VOV!

When was at Dell in Sweden, he talked to a guy, also working for Dell, who was in the US. The guy asked him about life in Sweden, and then further inquired as to whether or not there was advanced technology in Sweden like in the US. M hesitated for a minute, thinking We are both working for a major computer corporation, what do you think? before asking him exactly what he meant.

"Oh, you know, there's technology everywhere, here. Like, for example, we have these things called escalators. They're stairs. That move by themselves." Yes, folks, escalators--the height of the world's technology.

M assured him that there were indeed escalators in Sweden. He refrained from mentioning that Sweden was also able to keep the lights on. (There was a lot in the news about blackouts in California at the time.)

That's our favorite culture shock story. We talk about stairs that move by themselves often, more than a decade later. :)

hahaha! Seriously? That's awesome. Also TERRIFYING. I would have had a hard time resisting the impulse to seriously yank that guy's chain. "Moving stairs? Whoa! Get out of here!"

I have always wondered whether there is alpine skiing in Sweden and how much snow falls there in an average winter. I am sure I display my total ignorance of Sweden. I've traveled widely, but not to Sweden.

And, I was amazed to read that someone else, who I don't even know,is having identical sleep issues, right down to the time of waking, the clenched jaw and the migraine.

Well, there are no alps here and the highest mountain is only 2106 meters but there IS downhill skiing anyway. :)

I hope your sleep issues are getting better. Mine continue sporadically.

Boggled! A) a great word B) exactly what I would be...

I always feel like your latitude and mine are about the same. I don't know if they really are, but i assume... your weather is a lot like ours... Weird things? I dunno... but what I'd want to know is if we take a trip to Europe in 2014, can we come see YOU!?

We get less snow (usually) than you because we're surrounded by water on 3 sides but otherwise I think our climates are fairly similar. We're actually on the same latitude as Moscow, or Juneau (or Newfoundland), so quite a bit further north than you would think. :)

And YES, YES! A thousand times YES! :)

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