Life has been busy lately, or at least it has felt that way to me. I'm actually on an international trip for work as I type, and happen to have just a few minutes before meeting some colleagues for dinner. I miss the kids terribly, but because I've been fairly busy on this trip I haven't quite reached the point of "if I don't go home this instant I will surely die from not seeing my children for so many days." Anyway, since I am in Europe for the first time in my life I thought I would explore the obvious differences I have noticed in my few days here.
1. The first thing I noticed was in getting off of the airplane when I arrived in Stockholm, people don't practice the, what I thought was universal, "let the people in front of your row out of the plane before you barrel through to get off the plane." I was a little ticked to not be able to get out of the plane when it was my turn per se, and couldn't believe that the people in the rows in front of me were allowing people from the back of the plane to get off before them. I have traveled extensively by airplane in the US, and this practice is not even questioned there. I also experienced a similar thing when trying to get off of the express train from the airport into the city, I was basically dumbfounded. My colleague thinks this might just be a big city thing, but since I have been to plenty of big cities in the US I don't think it is.
2. People assume I can speak Swedish, but are very polite when they realize I can't and quickly/easily switch to English. I am very thankful for this, and I think more than makes up for people wanting to get the hell off of the airplane.
3. It is very common for people to drink beer on their lunch breaks here. I am told it is a weak beer (perhaps what we would call 3-2 beer, but I'm not sure), but I was absolutely shocked to see my Swedish colleagues drinking beer at lunch (and more shocked that it was just included with the special they ordered). This just doesn't happen in the US, although I'm sure many people would like it to.
4. The hotel rooms don't have sheets on the beds. Instead they have thin comforters with duvet covers on them. This wouldn't even bother me except for the fact that I am so very used to cranking up the cold air in hotel rooms to help me sleep better, and here there is no A/C in the rooms. I wake up all hot and sweaty because of the comforter (if there were sheets I would just use a sheet as I just HAVE to have some sort of cover when I sleep), open the window, then stay awake because of street noise.
5. I have no concept for how much money I am spending when I use Swedish currency, this despite having converted some money and knowing that conversion rate.
6. In many ways the climate/scenery here feels like I could be in Northern Minnesota and not in Sweden at all. The trees are the same, the ducks are the same, and the weather is similar. If not for the fabulous old buildings I might even be fooled.
I'm sure there are more, but those are all I can think off right now.