HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Words: Johanna Graflund
Sweden is a country often stereotyped as having ditsy blondes – that is, however, a misconception! Located in the north of Europe this country has a lot to offer as among the mountains and untouched forests you will find its beautiful nature and animals. Not forgetting of course, the stunning architecture in the lively cities and in the countryside. So it’s not hard to understand why about nine million people, including myself, settled in Sweden.
Prejudice about Sweden
Even though many would deny it, the fact remains that some people do have certain prejudices against Sweden. You might fall into the stereotypes of silly blonde girls, the shy people or even the suicidal. Due to the weather and the long dark winters people in Sweden are portrayed as suicidal and depressed, and for sure, you will get a little bit gloomy when you don’t see the sunlight for more than a few hours a day. However, this doesn’t mean we consider suicide... You might also be surprised to find that the people are in fact not shy or boring. They might be a little bit reserved and aren’t going to tell you their life story right away, but they will be friendly and kind. They certainly won’t be stupid as intelligence does not stem from hair colour...
Behind some of the prejudices of Sweden, my country offers a lot more to be discovered. When I say Sweden, some of you immediately associate it with the special fish called pickled herrings, a dish the Swedes eat to celebrate ‘Midsummer’, which is a festival in June that includes dancing around a huge maypole.
In addition to the weather, Sweden has a great diversity between the landscape and nature. Along the countryside you can find high mountains, deep lakes, vast coast-lines and big forests.
You might also know that the liquor Absolute Vodka is made there. As Sweden is an attractive market for large corporations. You may be familiar with the furniture company IKEA, or Volvo cars? Or you might have heard of ABBA or the modern DJ trio Swedish House Mafia. Look at the IT inventions as well, both Skype, a programme that enables people to talk to each other over the internet, and the online music service Spotify are Swedish inventions.
Behind those big companies and names there is a great country that is built on safety and trust. A country that wants the best for its population. In Sweden it’s compulsory to graduate from an intermediate school and it’s free to go to university. The government tries to develop the country in every way, so it benefits all of the nine million people who live there. We also have quite a balanced socio-economic environment and there isn’t a high number of homeless (although numbers are on the rise). On the other hand, Swedes are some of the highest-taxed people in the world.
Nature & climate
As one of the largest countries in Europe, Sweden has a big diverse climate and biodiversity. There is also a big difference between summer and winter, unlike some other countries. In winter time the temperature can reach lower than minus 30 degrees Celsius with lots of snow. But on the other hand, it’s a great experience to discover Sweden during the winter because the snowy weather results in up to 200 ski resorts for you to enjoy! If you’re not afraid of a chilly atmosphere, you could find yourself sleeping in an igloo or a hotel made of ice. While you’re in this mood you should really try to get to see the Northern Lights, an extraordinary show of different coloured lights. Besides that, you can enjoy a ride on a dog sled, catch fish from frozen lakes, experience an ice swim followed by a warm sauna and many other snowy activities. In Sweden there is a saying ‘there is no bad weather, just bad clothes...’
In addition to the weather, Sweden has a great diversity between the landscape and nature. Along the countryside you can find high mountains, deep lakes, vast coast-lines and big forests. This, of course, also has an impact on the flora and fauna. Sweden has a great variety and rich wildlife with everything from wolves and bears to elks, wild boars and foxes.
Every winter I ask myself, ‘why am I living here?’ And then, very soon the spring and summer arrives and the answer is easy: because I love my country! When I start to think about it, the dark long winter may not be as horrible as it seems. It is actually really cosy to celebrate a snowy Christmas, an occasion many people don’t get to enjoy.
I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes Sweden so special. Maybe it’s the different landscapes. Or that we have a lot of freedom. We have a thing called ‘Right of Public Access’ which means that we are allowed to move freely in the wild – which means you can go hiking, walking, camping, skiing and practise almost every other outdoor activity you can think of, as long as you take care not to damage anything.
I believe in the old saying ‘home is where the heart is’, and I know that even though I complain, where ever I am in the world, I think a piece of my heart will always be in Sweden, a beautiful country in Northern Europe.
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