Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Allt om Sverige - All about Sweden

Hejsan! Jag heter William, och jag är an Amerikansk som bor i Sverige. Hello, my name is William and I am an American gent who is working and living in Sweden right now. My friend, Jonathan, recently asked me if I thought there was any way that I could contribute to his communications network, and I thought that it would be a great outlet for me to share my experiences living abroad. He agreed, and so I will do just that.

I have been living here now for two years, and am in the process of getting a contract extension for two more. During the past two years, I have not been back to the USA, though I will be visiting in May. I have become fluent in Swedish, and I am now learning the French language as well. I have met many Europeans here can speak three or four languages. I am just trying to fit in. As for how I spend most of my time, I am a researcher at a university here in the South of Sweden. I am living in Sweden's third largest city, called Malmö, which is in the very southern tip of the country, not very far at all from Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen.

I have plenty to to say about Sweden, and Europe in general. It has been an incredibly amazing experience here. I hope to be able to contribute around once per week. In the mean time, I will leave with a recent observation about a peculiarity of the Swedish language:

Last year, in May, I went out on a work assignment to Ethiopia, a scientific outreach between my department and a university in Addis Ababa. Having never been to the African continent, I was understandably quite excited about this. Hence, I was trying to ask my colleagues how I say in Swedish 'I am excited!' It was really a struggle to get a good answer. It seemed rather odd to me that this was so.

Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago, I was tasked with giving a lecture on my research topic to a small class of students at the university here, in English. After an intensive week of preparation, I gave the lecture, and as typically happens, I left the room feeling great about the whole affair. Really, I could say that I "felt like a million bucks". So again, turning to my Swedish colleagues, I tried to get an exaggerated expression in Swedish equivalent to saying 'I feel like a million bucks'. And again, it was a major struggle, and I am still waiting for a good answer. "Jag känner mig jättebra" - I feel extremely good, in the Swedish language just does not convey such enthusiasm

Point being- while Swedes, collectively (and believe me, they are a collective lot - more on that later) display a goodly dose of megalomania, there is also a rather modest down-to-earth temperament in this society.

Until Next Time...