Forköpsremsor. The patter of winter tires on worn tarmac. Blåbuss 3 mot Karolinska sjukhuset. The absence of overweight people. Påfyllning. Drunken happy people on the Tunnelbana. People that say hello to you when you go to the till at a shop. Showers that allow you to set the exact temperature but splash water over the entire bathroom floor. Doors so well insulated you can’t easily open them. Doorbells that make a rather lousy ‘ping’. Long door keys with a strange plastic bit on the end. Big blocks of mild cheese made by Arla. Polarbröd. The view across the water from Stockholm town hall.
Yes, I’m back in Sweden, and – for the first time in ages – I’m having fun here.
Any society has two sides to it, and how you think of a place depends on your state of mind. 2 years ago I was annoyed by Sweden. Today I’m annoyed by Belgium. Social norms are a restriction, or they are a way to get things done. Every second adult on the street pushing a barnvagn is either a society where not having a family is odd, or it’s a society that is thinking of the future.
In short, after now close to three years in the relative chaos of Belgium, the order and optimism of Sweden (and indeed Norway too – I was briefly in Oslo before arriving in Stockholm) is like a breath of fresh air. This is a society that feels less afraid of the future than others in Europe, is less stuck in the past, less beholden to old people, it’s a place that feels like it has its best days still ahead of it. Here and now I’m really appreciative of that.
Last but not least this street poster made me chuckle – in Sweden a postcode lottery really is a lottery, i.e. you win things. In the UK the term is used to determine whether you’ll get good treatment from the NHS or not!