oh Norm.

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I am well aware norms differ as you hop from country to country. Heck, norms differ between Magnolia and Capital Hill and that’s in just one city. My time at an international school taught me pretty quick that the differences in norms can be quite obvious…just walk down on the beach and take note of the topless women and men wearing next to nothing. Of course, these cultural standards are accepted and while traveling, it can be polite to adapt to the particular norm. Judgment still intact of course.  

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The clash can be tiny habit or a stark difference in value systems; and in parallel, I have come to notice a few differences between the Swedish and American way of life. From the time I wake up and sit down to a full Swedish spread of bread, meats and cheeses…wait, this isn’t lunch? Or even now, as I write on the train sitting across from a beautiful blonde Swedish lady, wearing a nice green skirt that conveniently shows off her completely unshaven legs. When in Rome. Haha, no I have not picked up that habit thank you very much.

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Aside from the day to day differences I have caught wind of while on Eastern realm of the world, there is a particular one worth reporting. Graduating from University is a feat in itself. Doing so and being my age is out of the ordinary over in this part of the world.

So here is the Swedish order: Graduate from High School. Either move to a bigger city or remain at home and proceed to work and earn money. Take some time, maybe 6 months or even a year and travel. Be an au pair abroad, backpack South America, maybe road trip America. Then, at the age of 22 or 23 go to University. Odd. This has me totally thrown. Take 3 years studying in the exact branch you see your future in. Graduate from college at 26 or so and then move on into the world. So technically I am at least 26 in Swedish years.

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After many conversations discussing this stark difference with many Swedes…I have come to see pros and cons to both sides. A true bi-partisan I am. (: The reasoning behind all this lies in the fact that “you cannot possibly know what you want to do with your life at 18” (since they pick a particular departments to study in…no gen eds) or that “with what experience do you have to bring to your studies that young? No travel, work experience, time to find yourself.” Parts make sense to me and others do not.

The point of this post is (well, to tell you – yes – some Swedish ladies still pass on the razors…haha) but more importantly that being here has made me feel so young. I thought this month long trip – several months after graduation – was even a little different than the usual one- week-post-grad trip that many Americans take. Wrong. I have been laughed and gawked at when I say my age and that I am indeed finished with my schooling. Even more so when I say I have a roommate who graduated in 3 years, another who was in her career at 21 and another who signed on with a Co. before graduation. We are apparently an odd house. Oh, if they only knew. (:

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Setting a standard and having goals is never to be frowned on. But being over here has caused me to at least take a moment and think. Many have encouraged me to continue my travels, move somewhere foreign, take an odd job; and while I am just writing not acting at this point…it still is funny how certain Swedish norms have affected me in ways others have not.

I do know that travel is awesome. Meeting new people and making new friends. Discovering all new foods. Not looking at my phone all day – or a clock for that matter. Seeing things built way back when. Obviously all these are not necessarily a life-long mentality I am trying to live out. But….I sign out as still, a happy camper.

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~ by Andria on September 24, 2009.

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