Posts about living in Sweden
In 2008, I embarked on an adventure that I never knew would impact my life. University was over. The recession was beginning. And my mind was in the clouds.
It has always been my 30 things to do before turning 30 to be able to legally live and work in a foreign country. I can check that off the list, as living in Sweden has completed this bucketlist task for me.
In my 28 years of existence, I have never been in to get the moles checked. I have a lot of them. In fact, I have a total of 12 moles just on my face. All of them are perfectly round and not the kind of moles you think of when you see the Wicked Witch of the West.
A colleague of mine said she was going to get a check up, and of course, that sparked my hypochondriac self to get an appointment as well.
With my nose stuck in my Google Maps on my iPhone to find the place somewhere in Stockholm, I trudged off on a sunny afternoon (of course, with the notion in my head ‘I hope this sun doesn’t give me skin cancer on the way.’)
When I got to the doctor’s office, I paid immediately 350 kronor ($52) and had my Swedish medical card stamped. In Sweden, when you reach around $150 dollars in a year of medical visits, you get everything else for free. Wicked.
The doctor was a tall Swedish man, who had slightly sweaty palms and a look on his face that can only be described as a ‘cartoon-ish look of horror’ because…..
I sat down. He sat down opposite of me. Then there was about 30 seconds of staring at each other before I finally said “so this is my first time to a skin doctor…” with a big smile on my face.
Doc with the thickest Swedish accent: ‘Oh……ehhh..does yur merther and ferther, brahder and si-sters have anything?’
Me: “No…I mean they have a lot of moles I guess, but no history of skin cancer or anything like that.”
“So why are you here?” He asked. I quickly explained it’s a good thing to do and he said “Ja…ja…a once in a lifetime thing!” Right…
The doctor looked at me again and we just stare for 15 seconds. Then he takes a big, over exaggerated gulp that did everything right to fit in with his cartoonish, gangly appearance. “Would you…err…uhhhhhhh….like to take….uhhhh”
He made a really weird, flappy hand gesture towards his shirt, which I knew, according to my friend, that I had to take off my shirt so he could see my skin to check. “My shirt? Yes….” I replied.
After all this, he took his little tool to look at my moles one by one, said everything looked fine, and then, it was over. This all took about 8 minutes.
I proceeded to ask him for recommendations on the best sunscreens to buy.
He had no suggestions on this topic.
Swedish ‘midsommer’ is the longest day of the year and also the first day of summer, believe it or not, even though it is at the end of June.
My idea of Swedish summer was basically based off of the banned German Ikea commercial, which is what many non-Swedes also believe.
I went to an new friend’s cottage, which is what most Swedes do (not go to my friend’s cottage, of course). The city of Stockholm was empty. It basically looked like a zombie apocalypse. You know when the street lights change to green and no one is there to go.
But I was advised to bring a ‘Swedish Midsummer starter kit.’ This consisted of the following:
1. Bug spray
2. Rain jacket (If Stockholm is anything like Seattle-I get it!)
3. Your own booze (I guess no one can buy enough because people drink like fish)
4. Snapps (38% vodka seasoned with cumin, anis and fisherman’s breath)
5. A life jacket (not sure why, as everyone just dove in regardless of their clothes and wallet)
6. Condoms (No worries, I used #1 to ward off the Swedish men so there was no #6 ever happening)
Usually Swedes dance around a Maypole that is supposed to represent the male anatomy impregnating Mother Earth. This is very cult-ish, as they sing songs about frogs that have no eyes and mimic the same with hand gestures. Not gonna lie, I would have danced like a blind frog too after some of those anis flavored snapps.
Women put flower circlets in their hair, and act like little fairy nymphs as they frolic in the long grasses of Sweden gathering a bouquet of flowers to put under their pillow. This is supposed to allow them to dream of their future husband, and if they do not dream about him–I guess they picked the wrong flower.
My midsummer was full of dancing to Swedish House Mafia, making new friends, and reminding myself of how amazing the world is when the sun never fully sets in the summers of Sweden.