A Swede thing - with an Australian touch

A Swede thing - with an Australian touch
Is your partner born in a different country than you are? My partner is. It is something I can highly recommend, if you are not in a relationship already, go and get your love of life abroad! Every day is very exciting, fun and developing. It opens up your mind to something different, you get to learn new habits and it makes you grow as a person. Challenging from time to time, but nothing I would ever want to be without.

My husband comes from "a land down under" (Yes, I like the song "Down Under" by "Men at Work"!), and I am from the opposite side of the world. Australia and Sweden, two countries with much in common but at the same time so different, not just by distance.

Baa baa black sheep or Baa baa white lamb?
Swedes learn a second language in school from the age of 9 and a third language from the age of 12. The second language after Swedish is English and the third language is normally German, French or Spanish. Therefore, most Swedes speak good English. However, to learn something in school can be hard to practice when coming out in reality.

Do you say "cross your fingers" or "hold your thumbs", "like chalk and cheese" or "like night and day"? Idiomatic expressions is something we are not taught in school, at least not enough. Idiom is a manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language. Some examples below show you the English idiom to the left and how funny it can be if we use the Swedish translation to the right:

Wet behind the ears = Not dry behind your ears
Don´t catch your chickens until they are hatched = Do not sell the leather until the bear is shot
Tables are turned = Reversal of roles
Off the top of your head = On straight arm

As you can imagine, to feel lost in translation is very easy and something we joke about all the time in our relation. Misconceptions occur most often and we laugh a lot about the differences between English and Swedish.

In lyrics there need to be a certain flow to the music of course, but what is the sense behind the famous children´s song "Baa baa black sheep" that is translated into "Baa baa white lamb" in Swedish?

Lagom, Osthyvel and Snus
Living in Sweden you need to know what "lagom" is, how to use an "osthyvel" and you will get familiar with "snus", whether you want it or not.

In Sweden the word "lagom" is used most frequently. Everything and everybody are supposed to be "lagom". Lagom means not too much, not too little, but just right. To be average. To fit in. For a foreigner coming to Sweden this is very strange. Who wants to be average? Nobody of course. Not even Swedes want to be average. But when comparing yourself with other Swedes, you are not supposed to be better than somebody else, at least you are not allowed to say it or show it. Because then you are not "lagom". Since your average is not the same as my average, it is impossible to measure what is "lagom". In other words, pretty confusing to anyone.

An "osthyvel" is a cheese slicer. You find this kitchen tool in all Swedish homes and if you don´t have one, you are not lagom. No, just joking, of course! But honestly, you need an osthyvel when living in Sweden, used most frequently with all hard cheeses. The most popular one among tourists is the one with a wooden handle. I don´t know how many I have brought in to Australia, declared on my Incoming Passenger Card inspected on arrival of course, explaining that they are free from bark, insects or any other contamination. 

Snus is a moist powder tobacco product originating from a variant of dry snuff in early 18th century Sweden. It is placed in upper lip for extended periods.

Snus is commonly sold in the Nordic countries but sale is illegal in all the European Union except Sweden. Local varieties of snus, have been seen as an alternative to smoking, chewing, and dipping tobacco.

Snus usually contains nicotine, which is highly addictive, so nothing to recommend.

Take your shoes off
Due to the Swedish weather conditions (wet and muddy) it is obvious for us to take our shoes off once we have stepped into the hall way. You place the shoes in front of the big shoe collection (at least in our home) sorted in a two level "sko hylla" under the coat rack.

Coming to an Australian home there are no coat hangers and the shoes normally stays on.

Vegemite or Lingonberry
Vegemite is a thick, black Australian food spread mad from leftover brewers´yeast extract with various vegetable and spece additives. Filled with B vitamins.

Vegemite is used as a spread for sandwiches, toast and cracker biscuits as well as a filling for pastries. Vegemite is salty, slightly bitter, malty and rich in glutamates - giving it an umami flavour similar to beef bouillon.

Lingonberries are the Scandinavian equivalent to American wild blackberries. They grow abundantly on low-laying evergreen bushes throughout Scandinavia.

Lingonberry sauce or jam is traditionally served alongside the Swedish meatballs, potato pancakes and fried herring. And Christmas in Sweden comes complete with hot rice pudding, accompanied by lingonberry jam.

Driving to the driving school
After living one year in Sweden my husband needed to convert his Australian driving license to a Swedish driving license. To do this he needed to take some theoretical lessons but also driving lessons. Good learning, since we drive on the right side of the road in Sweden and as a lot of other things it is the opposite in Australia of course. I thought it was funny though, that my husband drove on his own to the driving school to get the driving lessons!

What are your experiences when it comes to parntership or a relation with a person from another country?
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