[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 29 March 2004]
Got a couple of giggles from this You know you’ve been in Sweden too long checklist. Of course I’m coming at it from the opposite side, looking more at things I’ve forgotten about Swedish society and the adjustments I’ve made to American culture. And yes, being able to write the phrase “American culture” without any hint of sarcasm or denigration means I’ve been in-country for a long time.
And that is one of the least charming ticks of my native land: Everybody listens to American music, watches American movies, and wears baseball caps and other clothing detritus of American culture, but actually considers America to be populated solely by yahoos and idiots and regards it as a terrible, terrible place.
That particular mental juxtaposition always sticks in my craw when I’m exposed to it.
Nevertheless, some highlights from the list:
3. The first thing you do upon entering a bank/post office/pharmacy etc. is to look for the queue number machine. Yes! I miss the queue number machines so much.
16. You associate pea soup with Thursday. Pea soup, mon amour, how I miss you. Pea soup and pancakes for lunch on Thursdays–I get all misty just thinking about it. Soooo gooood.
55. You think that riding a bicycle in the snow is a perfectly sensible thing to do. Of course it is. If we had snow here in Phoenix, you bet I’d ride my bike in it.
71. You have only two facial expressions, smiling or blank. An open and welcoming culture it ain’t.
75. You get extremely annoyed when the bus is two minutes late. Bus schedules are there for a reason.
80. When a stranger asks you a question in the streets, you think it’s normal to just keep walking, saying nothing. Strangers are to be avoided at all cost.
81. You’ve been engaged for four years and don’t have any plans to get married. I could never understand the American trenchant for getting married right after you start dating. Correlated to a 50% divorce rate? Hmm….
105. You get offended if, at a dinner party, someone fails to look you in the eyes after raising their glass for a toast. Toasting is an important art. Don’t mess it up.
121. You think it is normal EVERYTHING is regulated and you obey the rules voluntarily. Otherwise it would be total chaos.
142. You talk of –10C as ”10 degrees cold”, when in Australia +10C would be considered cold. And who else calls +1C, ”one degree warm”! Puts hair on your chest, that climate.
177. You wonder how you ever lived with wall to wall carpeting. Hate, hate, hate wall to wall carpeting. Worst idea ever.
229. You say “I’m almost annoyed” when you’re as furious as humanly possible. This is probably part of where the notion of Scandinavian sang-froid comes from.