My Grandfather was born in Sweden. A cousin went to University in Stockholm. One of my dear friends lives in the archipelago. I’ve travelled to Norway too many times to count. Somehow this trip never happened before and was so long overdue.
Because Norway is not Sweden. I’ve heard this before and wondered how it could be so. For many North Americans – the region of Scandinavia is the same thing as a country, having consistent values and beliefs holding it together. But in reality, equating a person from either Sweden or Norway is akin to mistaking a Canadian for an American. These slips are common and somewhat unsettling to the party being told they are the same as another.
For what makes neighboring countries unique can often be subtle. Small qualities, which on the surface are not immediately evident.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler, slam poet Shane Koyczan echoed Canadian sentiments in, “We are more”. Never before has a voice spoken so eloquently about those differences that a nation can hold dear.
And that is what I felt in Stockholm. Many, many distinct character traits which define a place, yet a comforting commonality to my native Nordic land of Canada. Maybe it is my long family history, or my friends who are living there, or the inevitable connection to Norway. Probably a combination of factors, delicately mixed to create a very pleasing visit.
I am bringing home some goodies. These will tide me over until my next trip. And they will be a touchstone when my daily routine and surroundings are lacking inspiration.