Sweden – land of lagom
Over the past year I have been creepily stalking my friend Jenny’s social media feeds, living vicariously through her. After completing her masters, my sorority sister took off for Sweden on a whim. With complete admiration for her fearlessness I knew Ihad to get there for a visit. It was different to arrive in a more urban setting after being in the mountains for a few days, but Göteburg is a manageable and charismatic city that I never felt uncomfortable in during my stay.
Seeing a familiar face when you’re far from home is an amazing comfort and soon after arriving at Jenny’s amazing apartment, we immediately busted out the wine and began sharing stories from the past two years. Her situation is pretty unique as she is a full time teacher at the International English School of Gothenburg. This has given her the opportunity to become fully immersed in Swedish culture and throughout our conversation she interjected bits and pieces of things she’d learned while living there.
The first that struck me was the ritual of Fika, taking time out of your day for coffee. Totally enthralled with this idea I was content to fill my time roaming the city going from one coffee shop to the next while my friend was at work. So, for two days I ogled the attractive Swedes, trying to figure out just how many of their outfits I could pull off, wandered the streets and ate pastries like it was my job (I mean, just trying to experience the culture, right?). From what I can tell Cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) are wildly popular. So much so that I noticed the local supermarket stocks Ben & Jerry’s cinnamon bun ice cream in mass quantity.
On Friday, Jenny and her friend Katie took me out to the Archipelago. I was amazed at how quickly we could be out of the city and to the small seemingly remote cluster of islands. Jenny explained that on Fridays it's common for the tram to be packed full of people still in work clothes headed out to the islands with a weekend bag. The one chose to explore that day was Bränno.
Due to the time of year the islands were very quiet. On top of that, no cars are allowed which makes this sleepy island totally serene minus the occasional cry of freely wandering sheep. We braved the chilly weather and took advantage of the deserted cottages in order to have a pear cider on someone's dock.
After we had walked the island end to end and hit up the only open cafe in sight, we caught the afternoon ferry back to Gothenburg and capped off the day with traditional Swedish food.
If there was one Swedish word to best describe my time it would be “Lagom” which means“just right” or “just enough”. The four days were a perfect combination of old friendship, relaxation and new things. My only hope is that someday, I too will obtain the magical power of being able to eat Kanelbullar and still look like a super model. Until then, I will just aspire to be like the Swedes.