WEST COAST ABROAD

Blog Travel

Throwback Thursday – Linköping with Love

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I personally went into Sweden, and the opportunity to live abroad, with the excitement and naiveté of a child and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  To be able to admire something new every day, learn, and grow in such a fun way was a gift at that point in life. In fact, it still is and I hope it always will be. As we all know because I’ve said it a million times, Sweden was the country I always dreamed of visiting. It’s where my family came from, it’s a land of beautiful…everything…people, nature, design, architecture; it’s a place that I felt I could identify with wholeheartedly and I COULDN’T WAIT to experience everything. Eyes wide open and plastered to the window taking it all in!

dog walks look different these days

Three years later, again like I’ve said before, we were ready to leave but it probably wouldn’t have taken much to convince us to stay. Linköping is a sweet little city with a lot of charm, a lot of accessibility, and I think if we were actually Swedish we could have assimilated into more friendships within town rather easily. I say that because an outsider really, really, needs an “in” into Swedish circles (I think most of you either are Swedish, or have a Swedish significant other, so hopefully you get it?). That’s fine, I understand and respect that. There are those rare Swedes who actually want to get to know the outsiders, Americans, too. Thank god for you friends! The times we were invited into Swedish houses and over for events were definitely times we’ll never forget or take for granted. Those Swedes can be a hard bunch to get to know, but once they let you in, they’re great people!

In town, we each had fallen into a routine with our own individual schedule and hobbies, all of which Linköping (Sweden in general) fostered beautifully! The infrastructure and our location allowed me to be fully independent of a car for nearly everything – it was awesome. We were able to explore, shop, dine, walk, play, and travel so incredibly easily. Not to mention, everyone speaks English, and even our basic TV played mostly American programs. Seriously, there is no better place for first time expats.

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I started this blog as an extended travelogue that happened to touch on the overlapping everyday life experiences as well. There is so much more I wish I would have written about, and so much more often I wish I posted, but I didn’t – and now I’m on to another adventure that I’d rather talk about! (Though, I will likely be posting more Swedish stories as time allows.) It became hard to write about Sweden because some days posts could easily dissolve into complaining for no other reason than cultures be different and I’d be venting. Other times I just didn’t want to let the entire world into our family life – and that’s exactly what I would’ve written about. The things I thought were important enough to send out into the world, I did post about. Like how nice pregnancy and childbirth were for me in Sweden. Or Pizza Hut. You see where my priorities lie 😉

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We didn’t check off nearly enough of our Sweden Bucket List – all of which would have been great to write about, but here’s what we did do in three years (in no particular order):

  • Had a beautiful, healthy, thriving baby.
  • Traveled to 10 different countries.
  • Visited countless churches, castles, museums, and tourist spots.
  • Wandered through many forests picking berries or mushrooms, or camping, or just walking the dogs.
  • Got lost on drives just to explore the country.
  • I got back into running again.
  • Matt continued his hunting and fishing – to include traditional moose and boar hunts, crawfish catching at night, salmon fishing, and so much more.
  • We celebrated midsommer, had the best julbord in town (dining with the chef!), enjoyed three annual semla tastings, fika-d (twice a day, everyday), and more!
  • We hosted a very traditional American Thanksgiving with a few Swedes, and also tried hard to decorate our house very “Swedish” for American friends visiting for Christmas.
  • We had all of our parents out to visit (and a few friends) – in which we took the train up north, rented out a stuga, and went to the same cathedrals and castles over and over and over again…
  • We took, and pretty much failed, SFI.
  • We finally went to ONE hockey game!
  • We sampled all the Swedish beers we could, and we sampled the bar/club scene…
  • Then we did the Baby Cafe, baby swim, and playground scene…alcohol really helps Swedes socialize, let’s put it that way. 😉
  • We then fell into the weekly lösgodis (bags of bin candy on Saturdays) scene and it was obscene…

It was an incredible three years.

When Matt and I met we talked about our plans for life, as you do. One of those crazy things we’d joke about was one of us getting a job and living abroad. Then Sweden bought Blackhawks, “Hahaha, we could go to Sweden!” Then, HAHAHA, we DID. I don’t think we’re super special, because many people have done the same thing, I’m just shocked I got to do it as well. Thankful is an understatement for this crazy life and this crazy journey in and out of Sweden.

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Linköping with Love was a great name for this space because I arrived in town in love with the adventure, and left (mostly) in love with the experience. Not to get too metaphorical, because snooooooze, but sometimes love is difficult and you can get burned at times, and it’s definitely all a journey, and that is exactly what Linköping (Sweden) was for me (us).

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A part of me will always be in Sweden, and we’ll always have good reasons to go back, so we will someday. Visiting will be so fun, especially sharing stories with Porter, and going back might be as magical as arriving for the first time. Possibly more exciting.

The past three years were honestly the most incredible, challenging, beautiful years I’ve ever had. I’m thankful beyond words for the experience, and I hope those of you Swedes who read this blog know that you have it so good, in such a great place (who am I kidding, of course you do!).

Tack så mycket, Sverige. Jag älskar dig.

 

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