Gabi Froden: Take what you love and leave the rest
By Gabi Froden
I spent the summer in Sweden. Cycling down to the sea for a swim, picking blueberries and exploring a few forest lakes I hadn’t been to – it was a classic Swedish summer.
But something was off. When you don’t live in Sweden all year round and are not part of the Swedish system, you are so clearly on the outside. For example, in Sweden everyone pays with a service that is linked to your phone number. Super easy and straight forward, right? Yes, if you have a Swedish phone number.
To exit the supermarket after you have done your shopping, you need to scan your receipt – a receipt that you most likely just pushed down into your bag and now can’t find because you live abroad and aren’t used to the Swedish level of paranoia in food shops. In Swedish Ikea, you can’t just order a 60p hot dog over the counter. You have to order it at a machine. Sweden loves technology, so much so that it becomes a a hindrance, especially if you don’t live in Sweden. You just feel dumb a lot of the time.
Sometimes, when you feel frustrated by a place you love, you have to remember the things you think are important about that place. Like that there isn’t much rubbish on the streets or at the beach, or how light the sky is in June. There is a magic in the Scandinavian summers that is at odds with everything modern, like complicated receipt systems in supermarkets and advanced, but restrictive, payment methods. So, I pick what I love and focus all my energy on those things. That way, there will always be things to return for, like cycling to the sea, kilogrammes of free blueberries and beautiful, quiet lakes in the forest.
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