10 Ways to Embrace a Scandinavian Lifestyle in 2015
The beginning of a new year always seems so fresh to me – it’s as if all things are possible, new starts are obtainable, and past sins can be forgiven. As I creep toward my third year in Sweden, it becomes increasingly apparent that this country, which I’ve come to call my home, offers a great deal of cultural and lifestyle options that are, well … gloriously Scandinavian. Was this not apparent to me in the past, you might ask? Of course it was. One of the reasons, besides moving to Sweden for love, was to come to this country to embrace the beautiful things it offers it’s residents – I’ve just been too busy learning and attempting to integrate to be able to truly take advantage of the nicer things that Sweden brings. This year that all changes. Join me in bringing a little more Scandinavia into our lives.
- Health. There are a good many American expats who complain that Sweden provides less healthy choices than their home country. I just simply don’t believe it. While America may provide many more options and brands on their supermarket and retail shelves, Sweden is an extremely healthy culture. To not take advantage of the active and nature loving lifestyle is to miss out on many benefits of healthy living. The air is clean. The drinking water is magnificent. And the foods are not filled with pink slim and chemical processing. This year, I will be pursuing a more healthy attitude. More outdoor time. More exercise. Better eating. Good living.
- Beauty. You know it – There are some breathtakingly beautiful women in this country. How do they do it – besides just amazing genes? Sweden is an expensive country in which to buy cosmetics and health & beauty aids. Gone are the days when I could purchase Chanel, Lancome, Clarins, and the like. These items are just out of my reach here. But, along with the healthy lifestyle noted above, taking care of one’s self is important and I want in on the Swedish beauty routine. The Swedish pharmacy, Apoteket, offers a gal on a budget many options. Just the packaging on some of these products begs you to take them home. The ingredients are simple, fresh, and pure. Some of my favorite Swedish brands are Estelle & Thild, and Björk and Berries. Fantastisk!
- Cooking. My reputation for cooking isn’t a good one. Barely able to boil water, living in Sweden has somehow inspired me to learn to cook. This is, after all, a country which celebrates food with special days marked on the calendar – fettisdag or Fat Tuesday in February, and kanelbullens dag every October 4th are some examples. In an attempt at inspiring me – or maybe it was just in a fit of survival – my fella purchased us a new induction stove. I have to say, whatever his intention was, it worked at making me feel at home, and my love of gadgets will not let me allow that stove to sit idle. So this year, I purchased for myself, a new Swedish cookbook, Vår Kokbok. It’s the least I can do – provide my guy with some decent Scandinavian homemade cooking. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get good at it.
- Scandinavian fiction and literature. Sweden boasts an incredible 99% literacy rate. Swedes buy a lot of books, regularly visit the library and museums, and unless you are living under a rock, you know that Sweden has produced some of the best crime writers ever. Having already read Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg and of course, Henning Mankell … this year will see me reading Swedish fairy tales, folktales and legends, Norse mythology, and perhaps even The Prose Edda. I’ve already loaded up my tablet with plenty of Nordic mythology and history books.
- Get caught up with the language. Of course, knowing the language of your new homeland is not only good manners but also the inroad to integration. This is the year, I swear, that I come up to speed with my Swedish.
- Scandinavian art and design. Swedes totally get design and it’s apparent everywhere. Branding, packaging, interior design, shop boutiques, clothing and fashion – it’s all right here for you. This year, I’ll be sharing more of this efficient Scandinavian design sensibility with you.
- History. Vikings, runes, the sami, and stone-age hunter gathers, the history of Sweden began some 10,000 years ago. If you are a history buff, there is a lot to learn and explore here. History informs the present … and besides, it’s just plain cool.
- Fashion. It’s not just about H&M, but Scandinavia produces some of the world’s best fashion. Wrap yourself up in warm sweaters, a pair of Acne jeans, and don’t forget the scarfs and boots. To me Swedish fashion has always meant clean easy style and casual form. This exploration of Swedish style is something I’m looking forward to sharing with you through articles and photography.
- Travel. Travel to any of the Scandinavian countries is only and hour or two away. The Fjords of Norway, design in Copenhagen, hospitality in Finland – It’s all right next door. Don’t have the money or budget for a trip? Take a day trip or pick up one of those great travel books at your local bookshop and travel vicariously until you can book the flight.
- Read the Papers/Watch the news. Nearly all Swedish newspapers are available online. Bring a bit of Sweden into your life by reading the headlines at, of course, Nordstjernan, and:
So there you have it. Ten ways to bring Swedish culture into your home and heart. Have a very happy, very Swedish, New Year!