Since I work at the Embassy of Sweden as a tour guide, I get a lot of questions about what I thought of the country and my experiences living there. I tell them the truth — that I had a great 2.5 years there, had a satisfying job, really amazing friends, and a very comfortable, good life.
Most people leave it there, but there are always a few who press me for further information: yeah, but what about the winters? Isn’t it really cold and dark there?
I struggled to find a diplomatic answer for awhile because honestly, yes, it is really cold and dark during the winters, but the summer — once it arrives — is like paradise. I don’t want to sound too negative and scare people off, but I also don’t want to lie. My stock response now is that if I were to make a list of the positives and negatives of living in Sweden, the list of positives would be very long and encompass nearly all aspects of my life there, while the list of negatives would have just one big item on it (weather).
With all my efforts to put the impact of Swedish weather in perspective, it made me really laugh to read “A Dancing Queen Extends Her Reign” in the New York Times today. It’s an interview with Agnetha Faltskog of the legendary ABBA, talking about her new album, A. This is the first exchange in the interview:
David Itzkoff: Everything I know about Sweden, I learned from your songs and from Stieg Larsson novels. What else should I be aware of?
Agnetha Faltskog: To start with, the climate. It’s awful. We’ve still got snow here, and winter, and we’re waiting for spring. It’s getting on our nerves right now, really.
HA! So there you have it… even ABBA gets tired of Swedish weather! Although I probably won’t be incorporating this comment into my tours.