Making new friends and Swedish Midsummer

What a spring so far!  I’ve been working hard in Stockholm but also did a decent bit of traveling around the world both for work and pleasure.  And of course, I’ve been enjoying every (warm) moment of the spring. I hope all of you have been enjoying the weather equally much I have been!

I thought this time around I’d post about two things: 1) a recent trip I took to the US, and 2) the Swedish midsummer festivities this year.  These two things, located on two different continents, really highlighted how Swedish I feel when I’m in the US and how American I feel when I’m in Sweden.

I recently traveled to California and Oregon for 3 wonderful weeks of vacation.  I went to the wedding of one of my oldest friends in San Diego, my sister’s medical school graduation in San Francisco, and visited my friends Josh and Kellee and their adorable son Judah in Portland, Oregon.

The weather was PERFECT every single day.  I always tell people that the best time to visit San Francisco is around mid to late May.  I was not disappointed!

Jumping ahead to Portland – I arrived on a Thursday morning and found out that every 1st Thursday, the apartment complex hosts a happy hour for its residents.  Awesome, I thought. Free beer and food!  Josh was at work, so right before we went down, Kellee told me, “Okay, I’m going to depend on you to make us some new friends!”

Selma and JudahI started on my first beer (which was delicious!) and looked around at the crowd. I couldn’t help but notice how many young couples there were with young children.  This seemed like a good place for Josh and Kellee.  I turned back around and saw that a new couple had just showed up with their kid.  The kid was bigger than Judah and was really cute!  What really struck me was her shirt.  She had a yellow soccer jersey, and you could just see the brand, “SOC.”  I thought to myself, “wait – that’s the brand that Stadium sells.” Stadium is a Swedish sports store chain.  I immediately asked the couple, “Hej, är ni svensk?” to which they answered in the affirmative.  Turns out that Erik, Johanna, and their daughter Selma had just moved to Portland a week ago, and the shirt Selma was wearing was the Swedish football jersey since it happened to be Swedish National Day!

Long story short, we became fast friends and hung out a ton during those few days I was there.  They were a lovely couple – and it was so cool to have met a couple with a child since they could spend time with Josh and Kellee also.  I guess that’s what happens when you go abroad – you seek out people that you’re familiar with (whether subconsciously or consciously) and that commonality forms the bond.

What’s a bit odd about the whole thing is that I felt rather Swedish in that situation. I was in America, my home country, seeking out other Swedes.  I guess 5 years and 10 months in a country will do that to you!  #trulyswedish

The second thing I wanted to talk about was this year’s midsummer festivities!  My friend Laurentiu hosted a combination birthday party/midsummer party with his girlfriend Sandra.   The party was in Göteborg which is about a 3 hour train ride from Stockholm.  They borrowed Sandra’s sister’s house which had an awesome covered terrace.  We had welcome drinks, traditional Swedish midsummer food (with amazing cake, I must say), and even a fun quiz game.  (I found out, for example, that strawberries, which are known as “jordgubbar” in Swedish, actually used to be called “ananassmultron” (True story! Check out this link)

After dinner, they converted the terrace to a dance floor complete with a DJ booth, two computers running Spotify, large speakers, lasers, strobe lights, and a FOG MACHINE.  Yes, for a house party.  It was freaking amazing.

When people asked I met Laurentiu, I answered that we knew each other from my apartment building in Stockholm.  Everyone thought that was really funny since people don’t really talk to their neighbors in Sweden, let alone become friends!  I guess that’s the American bit in me…

And with that, I’d like to wish everyone a fantastic summer!

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