My original introductory blog entry got lost somewhere in the spiderweb, but the gist of it was that I was really looking forward to eating reindeer meat every night.
So I’m a law student in Lund,Sweden. I’m 2 weeks into my exchange, the orientation weeks have just finished and I would like to start by putting to rest some semi-popular myths about Swedish life (read: things I was told I should expect prior to arrival).
1) The people are reserved.
This hasn’t been my experience. Swedish people have been nothing but friendly from the moment I crash landed in my ten layers of clothes (don’t fly Ryanair, and, if you do, be sensible and weigh your bag before going to the airport otherwise you will be very uncomfortable, not to mention out-of-pocket, and people will laugh). For example when I was lugging my oversized suitcase to Stockholm central at five in the morning, a man driving an out-of-service bus stopped in the middle of the street and informed me that he was going to take me to the station. He did so, and refused to let me pay.
2) Females are much more open than males when it comes to anything resembling romance.
I haven’t really socialised with many Swedish males but I can tell you that they like to wear suits and 75% of them have the same weird haircut (which I’ll try to photograph on the sly next time I’m out). I met one without the haircut, but decided against making conversation when the first thing he said was that he hated the British.
The girls, however, seem very friendly, and reservation does not seem to factor into their ideas of social decorum. I quite like that, but do beware. When, on your first night in a new place, a native befriends you and asks to be “your wingman”, do not agree simply because you’re a bit drunk and think ‘wingman’ is just a funny word.
You see, when a Swedish girl says “wingman” what she really means is “massive pimp”, and before you know what’s happening she will have offered your services to what she deems to be the most reasonably-groomed random man in the bar. Both of you will laugh it off and if you’re lucky, you will never see him or his sober best friend ever again. If you’re me, you’ll bump into them everywhere you go.
3) They eat reindeer in mushroom sauce.
This is not the case! I am, from hereon in, disregarding Berlitz and all it professes to teach me. Apparently reindeer meat is uncommon and very expensive, much to my distress. They do however have meatballs in delicious, cheap abundance, and the best cinnamon buns I have ever sampled (resultantly, I have forbidden myself from going within 200m of any bakery at any given time). So I’ve bounced back.
4) Everything is expensive.
Not everything is expensive. Public transport (not taxis), balls of meat, certain less important groceries such as fruit and veg for example are equally or less expensive than in the UK. The only item that it really hurts to purchase is alcohol. You can get some beer/cans of cider/miscellaneous Scandinavian spirits for prices bordering on reasonable but anything else is inordinate and upsettingly priced. Stationary, too, is rather pricey, as are decorative items like posters. My room is hence decorated with a small chilli-pepper tree and a towel with pirhanas on it, and my fridge populated with unusually healthy items and something alcoholic called Caloric Punch.
I think I’m going to like it here.