But, why Sweden?
I have been asked that question in varying ways many times since I arrived here nearly two weeks ago. "What made you want to live in Sweden?" Sometimes it is asked just after it is discovered that I am from California, and they often are simply referring to the Scandinavian weather, but a few times they have really wanted to know why I have picked this place out of anywhere in the world.
Over the weekend I attended a dinner party hosted by one of my Swedish friends. I had a long conversation with one of the Swedish girls there, and yet again, I heard that question. "And," she added, "do you really think you will like it here?"
"Well here's something that I think..." I started..."Swedes love their country so much, most of them seem to be really passionate about this place..."
And as I paused, I thought I could see in her eyes that she expected me to say something next that might possibly be negative, like she was just subtly bracing herself for my critique. I recognized in her eyes what I've felt in my own before when people say something critical about my country. I hurried on to finish.
"But when other people love their country too, and find much about it to appreciate, they often seem to be a bit surprised. "
Her smile spread across her face, you could now see her smile in her eyes again, and I went on to explain what I have learned that I like about Sweden and what I think I might love. Everything I've seen and experienced since I first met some Swedes quite awhile ago skipped through my head... the singing at dinner, their integrity, the love for the outdoors, their independence, all the friends I've made, ... the fact that I came here expecting no Swedish strangers to offer help at the train stations and when I arrived to Lund so stressed and tired and having no idea how I could get all my bags down and up the stairs from the station to the street yet THREE Swedish strangers came over immediately to help me carry it all...
Of course I picked Sweden. The list of reasons why it was a good decision grows longer every day.