Getting in a car every time you leave the house
The automotive industry is king in the USA, which explains our lack of decent public transportation. This had led us to become extremely dependent on cars. I’ve seen people literally drive across a parking lot to get to another store, instead of walking. This addiction to cars disappeared when I moved to Sweden. I didn’t find myself needing one. I rode my bicycle to school, to my restaurant job, to the club, and on weekend outings to lakes. On colder or lazier days, I took the bus, which went throughout the city. If I needed to go to another city, I took the train. In my university town, Uppsala, I saw more bicycles than cars, and it really made the ambience of the town more charming and kept everyone from becoming obese. Better yet, cops won’t pull you over for drunk biking.
Wearing sweatpants outside of the house
In my first few years of college in California, girls would come to class in those damn Victoria’s Secret Pink sweatpants and Uggs. I was never a fan of this style, so Sweden was a welcome relief. The Swedes in my classes would never dream of wearing pajama wear to school. They wouldn’t even stoop as low as wearing something not completely fashionable. Swedes look impeccable, whether it’s at school, the grocery store, or the gym. If you’re going to be outside the house, you might as well dress for it.
Never taking afternoon coffee and pastry breaks
Americans ask each other “do you want to get a coffee?” and this usually signifies a catch-up or perhaps a first date. But this, is not a daily routine and only exists, as a way to talk to someone you have not seen in awhile or want to know better. In Sweden, “fika” is a daily coffee and snack break. Friends or colleagues take an hour or two or more to chat, gossip, drink strong coffee, and nibble on Swedish cinnamon rolls, fancy sandwiches, or hard bread with cheese and butter. Americans may see this as decadent, but in Sweden it’s as necessary as a lunch break. It’s a time to relax, indulge, and be with good company and I’d say, more places should do it.
Eating “crappy” chocolate
Europeans say Hershey’s is one of the worst chocolates around. I found this offensive. I love me some Kit Kats and peanut M&M’s. But once I ate a flaky Kex bar, a hazelnut Marabou, and a sticky piece of Daim, I was converted. Swedish chocolate may not have the reputation of Swiss, but I’d dare to wager it’s better.
Photo via Bodo
Buying alcohol at any hour
Despite our strict open container and drunk driving laws, America sells booze everywhere, 24/7. If I need a six-pack, I can head to the grocery store or even the closest gas station, even if it’s 4am. In Sweden, you must abide by the Systembolaget, or “government alcohol store”. It is the only place you can buy drinks that are over 3.5 % and in my book, anything under that percent is not worth your time. My first week in Sweden I brought beer from the local supermarket to a party and wondered why I wasn’t getting drunk. Oh, it’s 2%, that’s why. The worst part of this situation is that Systembolaget closes before the sun goes down on Fridays and Saturdays. You’ll see frantic students racing on their bikes to get their bags of Absolut and pear cider for weekend festivities. In Sweden, when buying alcohol, it’s best to go bulk. You never know when you’ll be able to buy it again.
I’m from California. I know what it’s like to be surrounded by beautiful people. Yet, I was able to keep a delusion that I was close to being one until I went to Sweden. The level of attractiveness there is unattainable. Americans have our diets, fake tans, and contouring, but Swedes just have good genes. Somehow, their bone structure is textbook perfection. It was disheartening and I felt like a fat, American troll. My friends and I would moan about how we’d ride our bikes through the rain and end up at class looking like drowned rats, while the Swedish girls looked like princesses. We wondered if Swedish men would take any interest in us, but it seems they can grow tired of perfection and our imperfections made us attractive. Score for the drowned rats.