Surprising Encounter

After yesterday’s post, the day turned into even more of a success than I expected! Which reminds me – I should not be using words like success. My mom told me the day I left to “manage my expectations” throughout the year, which is a very good piece of advice. Specifically, she meant that while I might be hoping for all sorts of deep connections everywhere I go, I won’t be staying anywhere for more than a couple of weeks or months – I will be transient in people’s lives. I have to realize that I’ll be meeting people with full, busy lives. Lives that didn’t include me before my arrival and won’t include me a month or two later. And especially with a grant as unusual as the Watson, going into it with any kind of expectation can set you up for failure. I feel like you just have to jump in without any expectations and see what happens. Chances are it’ll be very different than what you imagined, and that has to be okay (so mostly I haven’t imagined much because I find it so hard to picture what the whole year will be like!).

Just for fun – a polar bear statue at the waterfront, a 5-10 minute walk from where I’m staying. I have an odd love for polar bear statues, so I was super excited to see this.

Well, as I was leaving the mall, I ran into someone who had helped me switch phones. We ended up taking the tram back in the same direction and swapping numbers. At night, I went out with him and his wife for a drink! Their names are Lahod and Georgiana. They were nice enough to pay for my beer, as alcohol is definitely not in my budget! I had a Swedish lager on draft and learned that “un öl, tack” is how you say “one beer, please.” The couple told me that we were in the Linné district, where there are lots of shops, bars, and restaurants (this district is covered by Lonely Planet and is closer to the center of the city). I learned that Majorna, which is basically where I live, is a good neighborhood but a mostly hipster one.

Over drinks, we talked about their lives, health care policies in various countries (I had to ask), and what I’m doing in Sweden. Georgiana is not a Swedish citizen, though Lahod is, and they are working on getting her access to health care. Anyone with a Swedish ID (like a social security number) can get free health care, and you can get an ID without being a citizen.Georgiana should be able to get one easily because she is married to a citizen and has a job in Sweden, but she is still waiting and needed to resubmit her application for an ID because something went wrong the first time. She is nervous about her application because she is pregnant and needs access to health care more than ever right now. However, she finds the people reviewing her application rude and hard to deal with – she said that this ID process is the only time she’s encountered negative attitudes in Sweden. She’s supposed to have it by 5 weeks from now, so I hope it works out. I found this all very fascinating. Also, I was home by 10:15pm and it was still light out. Incredible.

This is a huge ship used entirely as a parking lot! Hilarious.

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