I recently returned from a 10 day trip to Göteburg, Sweden–and all I want is to go back. I only experienced the surface of the culture; witnessing an absence of social and economic issues when in reality there are problems. Sweden being a “Blue Zone“, most everyone is happy, equal, and the people who work at McDonalds, party with the lawyers and doctors. Whereas in the United States, those who work at fast food joints, or drive dump trucks, are looked down upon and “unsuccessful”. Even with the riots in Stockholm, Sweden appears to be an incredibly stable and peaceful country–a quality of life-utopia.
The architecture in Sweden is very interesting–a clash of the new and old. In districts like Haga, it is primarily old architecture that is similar to Palladian architecture (excuse my lack of technical architecture knowledge), yet modern elements play a large role in organization and transport. For instance, every few blocks there is a station filled with blue bicycles that citizens and tourists can use to get around–even the nostalgic streets of Haga. The pictures below do the architecture better justice than my words.
No one has an attitude in Sweden–everyone is fairly humble and will graciously speak to a tourist in English if necessary. Speaking to some of my Swedish hosts, they said that they must pass an English proficiency test in order to go on in their schooling from middle school, so naturally most everyone speaks at least english if not an additional language.
In addition to being a rather kind people, the Swedish are also very attractive. I saw less than 10 overweight people during my entire 10 days in Göteburg. They are healthy, fit, and happy. In the gallery above, there is a portrait of a man begging for money, who was one the few homeless beggars I saw during my stay. It is eye opening coming from a country where obesity, health issues, and homelessness are significant problems.
The school system is a little different from here in the United States. Kids start elementary school later, as well as high school. It is also very rare for a Swede to go to college directly after high school. Many are encouraged to take what we call a “gap year” for one or two years. To me, this is something very cool, because not only is there less stress, it allows students to think about what they want to do, and grow mentally before a new chapter of life. Instead of applying to each school individually, students apply to one program that allows them to list their top choices, and wait for their acceptances based primarily off of their grades in high school. Below are two photographs inside a Swedish high school in Kullavik.
The Swedish lifestyle is very interesting to me, and based on my experience I am considering living there in the future or possibly transferring to a film school in Stockholm or Göteburg. I know a majority of the social issues in Sweden are rooted in immigration, but we’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned for more posts on Sweden and my trip. All images (unless noted) © Eliot J. Grigo. Below is a portrait of me on my last day, taken by Maya Sosland.