This weekend marks the beginning of Southern Swedens Sportslov – the week-long winter Sports Holiday.
I get the impression that you are supposed to go skiing but we will be using the school-free week to exploit our rail access to Europe. By my count our itinerary includes 7 cities in 5 countries (not including those we will just be seeing from the windows of the train).
I think one thing that Americans can’t really experience until they get abroad is the closeness of the diversity of the “old world.” Sweden is a country of only 9 million with its own culture, language and internal variation. Travel a few hours and you are in a different country with a different culture, language and ethnic landscape. I noticed the same thing in China – once you get out of the cities, you find that each village has its own accent and cuisine. For sure the U.S. has a lot of internal variation. But because the country is young and despite its size, folks are on the move, and we have such well-developed national brands/stores and media cultures, there is comparatively less regional cultural differentiation (although I will certainly argue in future posts that the mainstream culture of the US is built on the diversity of the population to a much greater extent).
At any rate, I will do my best to send some interesting dispatches from the road.