Today's millennials, or Generation X, have the advantage that, unlike their parents, they can live exactly the way they want. They often refuse to be bound by the rules, unless they sign up for a mortgage or start a family, they live in a democracy, they are able to stand up against stereotypical social expectations. Many of them work as freelancers, so it's usually not a problem for them to turn their lives upside down almost overnight. That was also my case. I decided to trade Czech Republic for Sweden. Why? And why right now, when the huge scare called coronavirus is still looming over our heads and Sweden received the ominous red light from the Czech government?
I started thinking about moving to Sweden two years ago, so it isn't an impulsive decision. But then fate put a relationship in my way and I decided to reconsider my plans and stay in the Czech Republic. The situation has changed, though, and I immediately knew where my next steps would lead. Why exactly Sweden? There's a number of reasons! I love the fact that wherever you live, you're just a step away from nature and greenery, I love the Swedish mentality, including men's approach to women, I love their natural elegance, I love Swedish architecture and last but not least, part of my family lives there, which influenced my decision. From my visits so far, I knew what I was getting into and that I wasn't in for any kind of culture shock.
Stockholm's architecture and weather remind me of Prague. If you've lived under the impression that the temperatures here were around ten degrees above zero in summer and ten below zero in winter, let me enlighten you. The climate is almost identical to ours and usually doesn't differ more than by a few degrees. What I knew would be an issue was the language, but no guts, no glory, right! Fortunately, English is so common and at such high level here that, unlike in the Czech Republic, everyone will understand you, including senior citizens, which is definitely not common in our country. More often than not, employees of the Prague public transport cannot answer even the most basic question for tourists, which, in my personal opinion, is really sad.
I find that Swedish is quite a specific language, and I must admit that I have as much trouble pronouncing most of the words as foreigners do when trying to say "řeřicha". But that's fine, maybe in half a year I'll be able to have a casual conversation over coffee without breaking my tongue. Until then, I'll be attending language courses, which, by the way, are free of charge for foreigners.
I didn't do any extra preparations for my journey to Sweden, because my family ensured that I'd have the necessary background support to start my new life. All I had to do was pack my suitcases and head to the Prague airport. When I was leaving the Czech Republic a few days ago, there were no more than 6 flights on the departure board for the next 24 hours. There were strict security measures at the airport, you had to state the reason for visiting the country at the check-in desk, absolutely all the shops were closed and you had to make do with a coffee from the vending machine.
When I arrived in Sweden, one of the first things I did was throw away the face mask at the airport. I must admit that I am slightly skeptical about wearing them and the possible side effects, although for certain vulnerable groups of people, they can, of course, provide the necessary protection. But I've never liked following regulations, so I really appreciate the fact that in Sweden, they only issued recommendations and face masks are optional. But don't think that Swedes take the coronavirus lightly! That's just a picture the media are trying to paint. The Swedes are keeping their distance from each other without being forced to do so, and when I was picked up at the airport by my acquitances, we refrained from hugging each other. In shops, they have to keep enough space between each other, or the number of people inside is limited, and some establishments close earlier, just like in other European countries. The coronavirus also wrecked the Swedish National Day celebrations.
The renowned Nationaldagsgaloppen horse races, which traditionally take place on June 6, have been postponed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Part of these races is a competition for the most original hat, and so all the ladies have been deprived of the so-called Hattparaden this year.
This year, the Swedes have largely decided to cancel the annual events in parks and town squares, which are traditionally accompanied by an entertainment program, as well group picnics and barbecues with friends. But it's raining cats and dogs outside anyway, which makes it hurt a little less…
So far, I've been here for a relatively short time, but I managed to meet actor Dolph Lundgren on the very first day. That's a good start, isn't it?! What to visit in Sweden when you come here? How are the Swedes different from the Czechs? What about Swedes and fashion, lifestyle or Swedish cuisine? What joys and sorrows await me here? You can look forward to my observations from the land of the Vikings in our new section. Hold on to your hats, it's going to be a wild ride!