I'll start with a disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on Swedish culture-- After all, I've only been here for a week now. However there are some distinct similarities and differences I just can't wait any longer to tell you.
The first that stands out the most and may shock you (especially the ladies) is that men here wear engagement rings! Yes, it's true. We are being duped into the U.S. into letting our men have months of bachelorhood that we are not entitled to. When I shared with their culture how we do things they said, "Well, that just doesn't seem fair." I certainly agree, and have always. I wonder how these differences came to be and if we can do anything about it. Scott, you can count on me bringing this Swedish tradition back home :)
High Heels. We love to hate them in the U.S. They make us look more slender and are a great work out tool! I know it's the only workout I get some days (most days, if I'm really honest.) Here they don't wear them. They don't think they are practical. Well, they aren't, I'd agree with that. Nonetheless, I never feel more confident and sassy then when I'm wearing a dress with a high pair of peep-toe heels. Practical-maybe not, but worth it- definitely!
Walking! These people walk everywhere. Seriously, they're building a sidewalk to the U.S. so they don't have to take the plane! It's truly wonderful. Traffic isn't an issue and you get great exercise before and after a meal. I'm pretty sure my whole body is going to look much toner when I return because of all this walking. I have pains in my back I've never experience from hoofing it all the cities. Doesn't it make sense to walk and enjoy nature and the company of the person you're with, rather than to hop in a car, rush to your destination and listen the radio instead of to your partner? Our cities are of course more spaced out than they are here in Europe, where they planned for people to walk, but I think we all would agree we could make more of an effort to be green.
Languages are stressed here far more than in America. I can honestly say I haven't met anyone who hasn't know a bit of English; most know a lot. There are children here who speak English better than we do. I think it makes sense for children to learn a foreign language at a young age when we know they are sponges are learn more quickly. We take it for granted sometimes I think that everyone will speak English when perhaps it would make us better people to learn and language and relate to other cultures on their terms. I don't mean lose our patriotism, I mean gain better worldly understanding. This is one topic I need to work on. Deutsch hier ich komme!
And I'll conclude with food. These people love to eat wild game. It's not just the hunters who partake, no the whole community! Tonight on the menu amongst fish and chips and rack of lamb (which is what I chose) was a 100% bear burger. Yes, like Smokey. The other day there was reindeer...we all sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as two of my team members gobbled him up. Moose is also popular. I'm telling you the variety of foods on the menu here is just amazing. I'm waiting for someone to ask if our buffalo wings are really buffalo...I guess they probably assume they are, after all they serve every animal under the sun here.
Alright, as usual, it's now time for me to go to sleep. Tomorrow I'm off to see two television stations and then spend time with my host family. The family I'm staying with has a 12 year old girl who speaks wonderful English. I've promised her a jump on the trampoline and some time with the Nintendo DS. I think I may like this being a kid again thing :)