I’m on my summer vacation and will be for the next few weeks. Wow, that still feels strange saying it… but I have to say, I love it.
Swedes go through a miserable winter every year and are thereby rewarded by an amazing summer. This summer has been pretty “lagom” – not too hot and not too cold, a little rain and a little cloudy. It’s already starting to get darker every day – after midsummer, we start losing sunlight and it is remarkable how quickly you notice. The sun is still up by 4 and doesn’t set until 9:30 but in just a few more days, we’ll have lost 25 minutes of sunlight. And the days will only get shorter…
To make the best use of their limited summer, Swedes typically take long summer holidays. By long, I mean between 4-6 weeks of vacation. This doesn’t mean that they spend all of their time abroad. Many will take a small trip to a warm and exotic place for a few days, and then when they’re back they’ll go out to their small summer homes and spend quality time with their families and friends out in the beautiful Swedish nature. Others will stay in town and go out on their boat for a few days at a time. As my American colleagues have come to understand, don’t expect anything to get done at the office during this time – everyone’s on vacation.
I’ve adapted to this tradition too, but it took some getting used to. In the US, I was fortunate to have a great job that gave me 22 days of paid vacation. That’s just over 4 weeks of paid vacation. However, I would be lucky if I could take more than 2 weeks off at any given time. People would look at you weird and question your commitment to the job if you planned to take all of your vacation at once.
Not in Sweden! Here, everyone takes a long summer vacation, and it’s expected. So I slowly adapted my vacation schedule to the same as the Swedes (roughly week 28 or 29, or early to mid July) and decided to take 4 weeks off.
I’m only into week 1 so far and it’s been fantastic. Started off with a great trip to London and now I am back in Stockholm with absolutely nothing on the agenda. Just the way I want it, actually. I work so damn much during the year with meetings booked every hour that this is a nice change of pace.
It’s nice to be Truly Swedish, isn’t it?