March 9, 2013

Why We Should All Move to Sweden

Josh and I are members of the life-changing (albeit controversial) online network known as Couchsurfing. While most people would discourage sleeping on the couches of strangers in foreign cities, Josh and I can't recommend it enough! That is, if you do it safely . . . i.e., through Couchsurfing.org where members are verified by local community leaders before they can surf or host.

Basically, Couchsurfers get to spend their world travels crashing with locals for free instead of paying for a hotel. In return, you promise that if you are ever able, you will do the same for a traveler passing through your home town. After surfing with fabulous hosts in both London and Stockholm, Josh and I were finally able to make good on our promise to return the favor when a guy named Joel decided to take a bus from Toronto down to the American East Coast. 

Our postcard from Joel
I accepted his couch request when I thought he was a Canadian . . . Imagine my delight when I realized that we was natively from Sweden, the country where Josh and I left our hearts almost one year ago! Joel stayed with us for two nights. Their was sangria, beef stew, Taco Bell, late-night explorations of Wegmans, some jokes about Swedish and American stereotypes, and a lot of guy-talk about hacking computers and playing RTS games. 

Joel was a pure joy as a guest, and we were truly blessed to spend time with him. He reminded me of everything that Josh and I loved about Sweden and everything that we love about Couchsurfing. In his words, "Facebook is for staying connected with old friends, and Couchsurfing is for making new ones." I compose this post in his honor :-)

For the record, I love Abba.

Reasons Why We Should All Move to Sweden:
  1. They are one of perhaps three European countries that the crippling economic crisis has not affected. They must be doing something right.
  2. They have free health care, free daycare, five weeks of vacation, and paid maternity leave. No, wait! Make that maternity and paternity leave. You get fifteen months of paid vacation if your wife has a baby.Whoa. It's basically an amazing place to work.
  3. The people are environmentally responsible, and they have acres of sparkling clean forests, air, and water to show for it.
  4. The previously mentioned forests, open air, and water. Such a unique and beautiful landscape! Pine trees and lakes everywhere.
  5. The houses all look like pictures from a country calendar. Wooden, brightly painted, and white-trimmed.
  6. They come from Vikings. But seriously, there's a lot of history there.
  7. They embrace whole foods and good home cooking
  8. Their pop music makes ours look like the thumping, bumping, grinding, whiny whore-fest it is.
  9. They are responsible for both H&M and Ikea. (UPDATE: Let's not get into the horsemeat issue . . .)
  10. They make kids pick a "major" in high school. Talk about preparing for the future.
  11. They're doing this about body image issues.
  12. They always take a coffee break called "fika" halfway through the morning and halfway through the afternoon. I like a country that respects coffee! (which Joel does not like, btw)
  13. They have Stockholm. Enough said.
  14. They created the Nobel Prize.
  15. This happened there.
  16. And this is happening now.

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