Last year I found my favorite Swedish word... at least it's my favorite so far.

It literally means "the wild strawberry patch", but idiomatically means an "underrated gem of a place, that often has personal or sentimental value." My life up til then had always been full of smultronställen (plural) but I'd never had a word for them. Like the waterfall in the redwoods by my summer camp in Santa Cruz. Or the spot in the trees with the hammock on my college campus in Santa Barbara that I'd lay in late at night. I'm keeping my eye out for new smultronställen here in Sweden of course... I think Scandinavia is the type of place that is full of them.

I got to thinking about words that we don't really have a direct translation for in English... I love those. When I looked some more up, I realized I've been missing out on some words that I really could have been using during my time so far in Lund.
Here are a few:

1. Dépayser: (French) to give the feeling of not being in one's country.
...Yeah, I know that feeling. Like when I get lost trying to find the post office. When I'm not allowed to do certain things because I don't have a Swedish version of a social security number. When I'm surrounded by people all understanding what announcement has just been made and I am left confused. But sometimes I love Dépayser... I'm not supposed to feel like I'm in my own country, and it's often thrilling.

2. Pochemuchka (Russian): a person who asks a lot of questions.
I'm back in school. With that, comes stuff like, "So when you say our essay is supposed to be 1000 words, does it matter if it is font size 11 in Helvetica?" Everyone loves the compulsive question askers.

3. Litost (Czech): a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.
...One's own misery? Maybe tearing your nylons, shirt and necklace as you bike through the rain, trying to locate a bank that goes by a different name and is on a different street than they say online and getting there 10 seconds after they close their doors at the unimaginable weekday hour of 3 pm, missing the last train back to Lund from the next town over because one of your buses failed to arrive on time and having to share an expensive cab home. I know, poor Corinne, life is so hard. I probably don't really know anything about Litost.

4. Pohmelyatsya (Russian): the act of sobering up by drinking more, likely to ease the pain of hangover. Roughly equivalent to the euphemism "hair of the dog".
...So this is a universal concept.

5. Yoko meshi (Japanese): literally ‘a meal eaten sideways’, referring to the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language.
...Swedish and me. Every day. A chorus of words around me and in my head. Repeating what I hear, trying to use it myself, understanding the question posed by a Swede but missing one key word in order to properly respond back. Like trying to eat sideways, for sure.

6. Esprit de l’escalier (French): a witty remark that occurs to you too late, literally on the way down the stairs.
...Most of my best comebacks are a little too late. Here and at home. Great phrase.

7. Hygge (Danish): It describes a scene, a feeling, a vibe. Having family and friends over. Everyone wrapped up in blankets on the sofas, close together. Light some candles and maybe a fire in the hearth. Hearty food and drink. "Raise a toast or two, or three, and feel the warmth flow around the table. Look at each other until you see the candlelight shimmering in each other’s eyes." That's hygge.
... I've always noticed that Swedes love the word cozy. It makes so much sense that for Scandinavians, special terms for coziness like this Danish one must be used to convey just how meaningful and appreciated scenes like these are. It can be so cold outside. And that makes them create special scenes on the inside more intentionally. I haven't had Hygge back home like there is here, and I've had some experience with it already in Sweden and can't wait for more.

There are so many more wonderful untranslatable words, I think I'll put up some more again soon.


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