Perhaps this should have been my first “From the Past” post, but I honestly don’t think it’s going to hit me for a bit that I’m, well, in a different country.  I can almost guarantee that England won’t be different enough for me to notice (not because of the language non-barrier, but because I’m an Anglophile–I honestly understand British humor and literature and attitudes five times better than anything American on average), and those first few days in Sweden I’m pretty sure I’ll be terrified of being sick more than noticing that I’m in a different culture.  Sad, huh?  Also, it takes me about a week to decompress from “work mode.”  Once I’ve decompressed from that, I’m pretty darn sure all the culture shock that has just flown straight over my fried brain will start making itself known.

I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.  I guess I’ll find out.

I think the thing that’s going to throw me the most is the language.  This is not because I’m entirely unused to Swedish–I’ve heard bits and pieces around my entire life.  My father lived in Sweden for two years when he was young and became fluent.  He brought quite a few of the traditions home.  He instilled a deep love for the food and culture in me.  I’ve learned songs in Swedish, I’ve been read comics and faerie tales from Swedish copies, and am well-enough familiar that if I concentrate, I can pick out basic meanings of phrases.

BUT

I studied four years of German in high school.  Swedish is just similar enough to German that sometimes I get thrown completely off.  Thankfully, I’ve had six years to forget all my German (NEVER thought I’d say that), so hopefully I won’t be as thrown as I fear.  Then again, Swedish is just different enough that even when I feel like I’m doing well, I know I’m just barely catching the gist of the phrases.  When my father’s speaking.  When some stranger who I’ve not had a chance to become familiar with the cadences and tones of their voice speaks, I’m positive I’m gonna die.

As for the food, I’m pretty sure my stomach will react as it does with anything new: DIE DIE DIE DIE JOIE DIE!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh well, I’m willing to suffer for good Swedish cheese.

Wait, what? you say.  Not chocolate?  You may not know this, but I gave up chocolate for six months back in May (two days ago as of writing, over almost two months ago as of posting).  I am allowing myself to cheat on my birthday in five days (but I’m not counting) and in the meantime I am finding bars of European chocolate and stuffing them in the bottom of my suitcase.  At home, I will freeze them until November, when I can again eat chocolate.  Bad timing, I know, but it was the healthy thing to do and will hopefully keep me from gaining too much weight when abroad.  Unless I O.D. on that wonderful cheese.

Anything else, and I’m comfy with the shock.  I mean, ultimately, I’m looking forward to all of the culture shock (except what my college roommate and I call the “Angry Kitty Tummy,” or the DIE DIE DIE state of digestion).  Something new, something exciting, something I am totally and completely unprepared for no matter what I do.

That’ll be what makes the entire vacation worth it.

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