I hope you enjoy this.
I understood AP's story about the Swedish meatballs, but I would love to
hear any other examples of culture shock that he went through. Do Swedes still
drive on the left-hand side of the road? Did he find anything over there he
wished that we had here in the States? Were the churches and methods of worship
similar to ours here? That's what I would love to hear about.
I'll tell one more story, which will hopefully be funnier than the lame
joke I posted above. I spent a week near Gothenburg, Sweden, celebrating
Midsummer's Day in 1991. (Two close friends are Danish, hence the joke above. My
grandmother was actually full-blooded Norwegian.)
Anyway, Midsummer's Day is a big celebration there, especially considering
the length of the year's longest day in those high lattitudes. I remember that
the sun went down at 11 p.m. and rose again around 2:30 a.m., and the
"nighttime" was more of a dull, gray dusk.
My hosts held a bonfire and set off fireworks to celebrate the holiday.
Then they took me to a Swedish sauna that was set right next to a beautiful
lake. "You're going to love the sauna," they told me.
Well, since I had been hitchhiking, I didn't exactly have a bathing suit,
so I borrowed one from a Swede. The Swedes translate the American word, "bathing
suit," as "embarassingly tiny, near-immodest, loin purse" or, more familiarly,
We went to the sauna, talked, laughed, and roasted until somebody said,
"Let's jump in the lake!" Before I knew what had happened, I had leaped from the
120-degree sauna into 60-degree lakewater. We returned to the sauna, and
repeated this every 20 minutes for about two hours.
I remember two things about the experience. First, it felt really good.
When I went to bed that night, my skin felt really soft and healthy. I'll always
remember that first great sauna, even if I haven't sauna-ed since.
Secondly, I'll never forget the embarassment I felt when I got out of the
lake the second time and looked down at my, er, bathing suit. I won't go into
gory details describing the effects of cold on the male anatomy, but ...
Those are the kinds of stories I love about Sweden--a most excellent
country, I must say. Let's hear more!