Monday, October 6, 2008

Coming Home

Jennifer As Joe already mentioned, I got back just a few days ago from an unexpected trip to Michigan for my grandmother's funeral. Eight months in Sweden has not been enough to wipe out all memory of home, of course, and Michigan felt like it usually does (although sadder than usual, of course), but here's a few culture-shock sort of things I did notice.

  1.  I don't miss English. I felt compelled to read every billboard and piece of advertising that I saw. It's very tiring. I had no idea that it was so relaxing to be able to just ignore everything extraneous. U., a former co-worker of mine who has spent lots of time in cultures other than his own, told me that one thing he liked about living in another place is that it was nice to ignore things. I didn't fully understand him then, but I do now, and he's right. It's much more peaceful, being able to ignore ads and inane mobile phone conversations and the news. If I want to learn something about anything, I have to consciously pay attention.
  2. I do miss nature. Michigan seemed so green and lush, really just teeming with plants. (Perhaps the previous week's record-breaking rainfall and flooding in the wake of Hurricane Ike had something to do with it, too.) And on warm days in September, crickets cricket endlessly, and cicadas join in during daylight. I saw some cousins from Utah who usually come to Michigan earlier in the year, and they noticed it as well—the air of Michigan is a wall of sound this time of year. I also saw many blue jays and gulls and LBJs, red and fox squirrels, and of course one usually also sees chipmunks, possums, raccoons... there just aren't so many small creatures around in semi-suburban Sweden. On the other hand, lots of small cute critters means lots of road kill, and I don't miss that. Road kill is not pretty. I have only seen one road-killed animal in Sweden, a badger, and at the time, I was frankly so distracted by the fact that it was a badger (the first wild one I've ever seen) that I wasn't as appalled as I might have been. I'm sure Sweden has plenty of road kill, but I don't drive, so I don't see it.
  3.  Uppsala is my home now. Michigan is and will always be my base, sure, but coming to Uppsala was coming home. I'm glad to be able to say that I felt this way, because to tell the truth I was afraid that I might not. Probably this won't be home forever, but for now it feels as much like home as anywhere I've ever lived.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so, so sorry about your Grandmother. Good to read your post.