Yesterday, I did something that I have wanted to do as long as I’ve known that I would be traveling to Sweden: visit IKEA in its home country! I’ve always pronounced it “eye-key-a,” but many Swedes pronounce it “ee-kay-a.” Either way, IKEA here in Sweden is exactly the same as it is in the US – consistent as always.
The main reason I went to IKEA was for lunch. I haven’t had Swedish meatballs since arriving in Sweden – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had them, at IKEA or otherwise. What better place to try them than at a Swedish IKEA? I thought it might be odd, getting lunch at IKEA at 2pm on a Friday, but I was so wrong. IKEA was packed, and people were sitting at almost every table in the huge restaurant area. I got in line for the cafeteria-style lunch service, which is very well-organized but took some time with the crowds there. I briefly commiserated with the woman in front of me as we waited. At least, I think we commiserated – she didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Swedish, but she was able to tell me that her son speaks English and studied abroad at University of Virginia.
Finally, I got to the food and ordered “liten köttbullar,” a small order of meatballs. For just 29kr – $3.40 – you get meatballs, mashed potatoes, peas, gravy, and of course, lingonberry jam.
I also walked around for a while exploring the planned-out bedrooms, offices, and kitchens – everyone’s favorite part of IKEA. The rooms were arranged by size in square meters. In one block of only 25 square meters (270 square feet), they set up an entire apartment complete with a kitchen, front hall, bathroom, living room, and bed.
I was picked up at IKEA by my Airbnb host and her friend John, who were there to pick up a mattress. We drove back to the city and hung out for a while, discussing technology and how everyone is addicted to their cellphones; how the housing markets compare in Sweden and England; and the Watson grant. John thinks the Watson grant could be made into a documentary – both the application process and the year itself. If anyone wants to do a Watson about film, I think that’s a great idea!
I still haven’t heard back from potential project contacts here in Malmö. Now that it’s the weekend, no one will respond to email or phone calls before Monday. In the meantime, I’m still working on finding phone numbers, as well as learning what people do in Malmö over the weekend.