Spring Break (Back in the USA!)

Posted on April 9th, 2013 by

I went back to the USA for Spring break; thus, my break may unfortunately appear boring or uninspired. That’s alright. I admit that I’m a home-body, but I actually do have an anecdote or two that will reveal some comparisons between Sweden and the US—I believe it’s actually more interesting to compare the two right after going back, because I was better able to recognize some differing American behaviors whereas previously, I wasn’t so aware of them.
I began my trek home on Friday, March 29th, having gotten to the airport many hours before my flight. I was nervous about travelling internationally by myself, but in the end it came naturally. There was some tension when I learned that the flight out of Stockholm to Copenhagen had been overbooked, but that ended up alright. The overbooking caused a delay which forced me to jog through Kastrup (Copenhagen’s international airport), but I ended up getting to Chicago and then back to Kansas City just fine.
Oddly, US customs required paperwork to be filled out on the flight and reviewed by two separate agents upon my arrival. When coming into Sweden, one simply goes through passport control and then walks right out after claiming their baggage, unless they have something to declare. On another note, I saw as many police officers in Kansas City as I did my entire two-and-a-half months in Sweden, which made me realize I felt more watched-over in my own country than when abroad. Even the American embassy in Stockholm was a giant, drab block of concrete surrounded by barbed wire as opposed to the pleasant-looking cottages that other countries used. I also recall mentally noting that entering O’Hare’s customs area felt like walking through the Death Star. Lots of gray and black. Oh well, I felt homey at my own house.
I have a few more small comparisons before I talk about what I actually did over break. The moment I got into the domestic portion of Chicago O’Hare, I noticed that yes, Americans are particularly loud. The chatter going on in the terminal and along the walkways rose above Stockholm street and café levels, for sure. Secondly, when compared to Stockholmers, Americans in general (myself included) dress poorly. This did not surprise me, but I’ve never felt underdressed just being out in public before. When I came back to the US, most looked pretty comfortable, to say the least; however, it must be noted that obviously there are exceptions to this rule on both ends.
As far as experiences go, I must say that the only thing that I’ve particularly noticed is the in-store experience. In Sweden, you swipe your own credit card, pour your own coffee at cafés, and bag your own groceries. I had one particularly awkward experience in Chicago’s airport when I stood there looking around for the credit card console, when the cashier had been holding her hand out waiting for me to give her my card. Woops. I have to say I actually prefer taking care of some of the little things myself.
As to what I actually did over break, my girlfriend, Renee, came down to visit (she’s from Minnesota). My parents and brother brought us along for a soccer game (KC Sporting vs. Montreal). That was a great experience—firstly, because KC beat its divisions number-one-ranked team 2-0; secondly, because it was Renee’s first time at a professional soccer game; and thirdly, because KC Sporting Park is rather new and was ranked the world’s number one soccer venue. I don’t know if that’s still the case. Anyway, that happened the day after I got back (didn’t really experience jet lag because I was able to go bed at about midnight right after arrival!). On Sunday, my Dad brought home some of my favorite donuts for breakfast, and later Renee and I went out to dinner. I seriously missed American food. Swedish food is pretty bland. Lots of meat and potatoes. But anyway, the week was filled with various outings (pretty much all food-related). We did go to KU’s campus in Lawrence, KS on Tuesday. I got to see some friends from high school, which was fantastic. On Thursday, I got to go to a concert with Renee. It just so happened that my favorite band, Sigur Rós, was in town on April 4th. I’ve been following them for five years and have never been able to see them live, because the year I started following them (2008) was their last tour before a hiatus, and this year was their first tour back. My friend’s dad manages the venue that they played at, so we got our tickets for free. I was able to buy a signed, used drumhead from a previous show. Best concert souvenir ever. Below are a few pictures from the soccer game and the concert. Notice I finally got a haircut. Sweet relief.

Signed drum skin from the band!

Signed drum skin from the band!concert3 concert2 concert1

Renee and I before the concert
Renee and I before the concert

Renee and I pre-soccer game.

Renee and I pre-soccer game.

 

 

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