When I first arrived in Sweden with a single suitcase the first question for months that I was seemingly ever asked was ‘why would you come to Sweden??’ with bemusement in their voice rather than contempt.
It was abbundantly clear that swedes, well stockholmers at least anyhow didn’t seem overly enamoured with what Sweden had to offer them.
I thought people were crazy at first. When I arrived it was peak summer, everyone was happy, everyone was off work, the days were wonderfully long, sunny and warm. Every single person I knew or met had a summer house, or their grandparents did.
Everyone worked, everyone was healthy, everyone had gone through university for free, everyone dressed well, no one seemed to have any qualms with their life at all so why was it so strange that I was here?
Coming from a pretty working class background and having been at the cruel hands of fate more often and more cruelly than you’d wish on your worst enemy I’ve experienced countless heartbreaks, agonies and struggles.
In Sweden sure people go through some things, everyone anywhere does, but there is such a social safety net, such good infrastructure and support systems here that there is always someone or government there to pick you up when you fall, or catch you before you’ve even fell.
If you look at the percentage of lottery winners that blow the lot and end up broke it’s staggering. It is human nature not to appreciate properly that which is handed to you, only to miss it when it’s gone.
I can relate to this with Sweden.
It’s about 5 years since i first arrived and it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride trying to settle in. It’s notoriously hard to make friends here or find social groups unless you’ve been to school here or find a job with lots of pleasant colleagues. Common courtesy in public is in embarrassingly short supply sure, but when you finally break into a social circle it’s a constant stream of fikas, gatherings / parties in people’s apartments in the winter, or chilling in one of the many beautiful parks in the city in the summer.
I left Stockholm June 9th as I’ve said before chasing business success. But for two months before leaving I had finally began to crack the back of settling in finally into life in Sweden. I had doubts whether I should leave but with the ticket already booked I threw doubt and caution to the summer breeze and jumped on the plane.
As soon as I was landed in Calgary airport I knew I’d made a mistake.
There was no soul, no culture, no history. Sure everyone was super friendly and polite, courteous beyond belief but they ( not all ) lacked depth and I longed for someone to bump into me without saying ‘ursäkta’ or to cut right across my path without even a glance.
Stockholm is a truly wondrous city as in the city itself. It is so rich in architectural beauty, history and elegance it’s hard for anything to compare. Especially when you place that in the middle of beautiful countryside and waterways and fill the streets with cosy cafes, boutique stores and a world class public transport system to get you around the place.
Place in those streets some of the best looking and best dressed people on earth and you will be extremely hard pushed to find anywhere better to live, and that’s before even taking into consideration things like the cleanliness of the city streets, the pollution free air and relatively safety.
I am so incredibly proud to be a part of this city because I have experienced a lot, lot worse so i can properly appreciate Stockholm for what it is and has to offer. It is of course not a good thing to wish people to experience the cold brutality of the real world to give them an appreciation of what they have here, but a little shake to wake them up wouldn’t harm anyone especially if it made people appreciate what they have.
The grass truly isn’t always greener.