An alternative title would have been ‘how to be considered crazy by the locals’. And the answer to both would be: be yourself.
When you are an immigrant, or an expat, or a foreigner, or whatever you like to call it, you’re usually the weird one. Unless you only hang out with other expats, of course.
But when you hang out with the locals (I should start calling my Swedish friends ‘the locals’, it sounds fun) you will always be a bit weird.
You pronounce things in a funny way. My in laws constantly tease me with my pronunciation of ‘coffee’, which sounds more like the Dutch ‘koffie’. (But, my dear family, why don’t we talk about how you pronounce China (shina) and chips (ships)?)
You dress differently. Somehow it’s always obvious there has been some other influence in your style. Something that’s not Swedish.
There is innumerable things that instantly give away you’re not like them.
And that’s fine. Cause you aren’t. But you are still awesome.
I find it really funny to notice how things that are so very normal to me, are seen as odd to the Swedes. When I had planned to visit a friend who lives 10 km away, I first thought I’d take a bus, but then changed my mind when I realized there was no snow on the ground, and the weather was nice. I would bike.
Now here’s the part where I get honest. Cause I’m always acting all cool about us Dutchies who bike everywhere, and I biked 12 km to school (and back!) for 5 years when I was in high school, and my mom transported three kids on her bike at times, and we can bike even when we’re blindfolded and without pedals and this and that and so on.
Then I got on my bike, and after about 2 km I was ready to give up. I seriously considered turning around to get on the bus instead. The thing is, here in Sweden, or at least in Småland, or well at least here around this town they pretend it’s flat.
But people, it’s not. They’re lying.
The Netherlands, THAT’S flat.
Here, it’s like a tiny tiny uphill, so little that you don’t even notice but when you bike it’s like biking through dry sand. So I dragged myself over the muddy path, regretting this decision, dreaming of paved Dutch bike paths as flat as a pancake (?).
When I got to my friends house she asked if maybe I got lost – I think I looked a little bit disheveled after that ride. But when I told her I had biked there, I could see the look in her eyes. I’m pretty sure it meant ‘you are so awesome’ but another interpretation could have been ‘you are crazy’.
Either way, she would be right.
Hejdå from the crazy Dutchie :)