In the past few days, I’ve done two things I never expected to do in Sweden: I went swimming in the ocean, and I went swing dancing!
Apparently the Gulf Stream reaches the west coast of Sweden, warming the water enough for swimming in the summer. On Sunday, I met up with one of my contacts here in Sweden, the lovely Lisa. We explored the Southern Archipelago of Göteborg, a string of islands reachable by ferry. We decided to go to Vrångö, along with tons of other people – it was a hot day, and the ferry was packed.
After walking around a bit, Lisa and I stopped for lunch at a fish stand by the water. I had a flatbread wrap with fresh, smoky salmon and roe spread, and it was delicious. I finally realized that this is what Swedes do on summer weekends – they go to islands, and they eat fish!
We kept walking until we found a little bay for swimming. A ton of people were in the water, and we joined them. Swimming in the ocean, in actual saltwater in a Scandinavian country, is not what I thought I would be doing this year. I’m so happy I decided to pack a swimsuit! It was glorious.
After swimming, we went to a cute ice cream shop. Lisa told me that it was a classically Swedish place and that ice cream is very popular here. I had seen ice cream (“glass”) shops everywhere but wasn’t sure if it was a big deal. I suppose ice cream is popular everywhere, especially on a hot day! At the shop we went to, they had flavors like “blueberry-vanilla swirl,” “licorice,” and “egg liquor.”
Next, the swing-dancing group in Göteborg! Through some Googling, I found a group called the “West Coast Jitterbugs” that has social dances every Monday night. I did some swing-dancing in college, so I considered going yesterday and figured out the 30-minute tram ride that would get me there. But I didn’t know anyone there, and I didn’t even know if you had to pay, and a big part of me wanted to stay home and watch a movie. That’s how I knew I had to check it out; if finding a dance that I loved here in Sweden meant going out of my comfort zone, well then, that’s what this year is all about.
I took the train out to an area of town I had never been to before and walked along a quiet street for 10 minutes. Eventually, I was surprised by a square filled with shops and restaurants. I found the West Coast Jitterbugs building, walked up to the door, and it was locked. I turned around to go straight home and get back on the tram, but I had come so far that I didn’t want to give up. I went back to knock on the door, and someone let me in and showed me the passcode for next time.
Long story short, I was swing-dancing in there for over an hour! It was a blast. I think I danced with 6 or 7 different people, and they were all lovely. They were surprisingly good dancers – who knew the Lindy Hop would be so popular in Sweden? I was a bit rusty, and they kindly gave me tips. I even made a connection for my project by dancing with someone who works on medical technology as a chemist. Next Monday I’ll be in Malmö, but I hope to go to one of their social dances again.