Well, I finally arrived into Sweden on Sunday, after an awesome weekend in Norway! In fact, I was disappointed to leave Norway and I didn't think that I would be sad -- but I was. The people there were very nice and friendly and I spoke and met all kinds of people. I seriously was lethargic and lazy on Sunday morning and didn't do very much. Even today, I am still weak from the weekend -- it included a really demanding workout at the gym that made me sore even as late as last night. I missed my original flight to Sweden, but luckily I was easily accommodated on another flight.
When I arrived into Sweden, it was exactly the same as when I left it during my two day visit for the job interview. The weather was surprisingly warm, the IBMers were nice, and the taxi driver felt compelled to provide me with an education, which I must admit, was quite helpful. He basically outlined what he thought was the state of racial relations in Sweden. He was an Iraqi that moved to Sweden. I asked him how well immigrants are treated (for all of the fancy terms, I guess I am basically an immigrant -- just a self-supporting immigrant). He said that basically if your skin is not white, then it is assumed that you are poor or somehow lower than everyone else. He said that I would face an unique challenge -- being black on the one hand, but American on the other. He theorized that many people would make assumptions at first, but then ultimately "be put at ease" once they realized I was an American. It'll be interesting to see how correct he is. To be fair, I've met some really nice Swedes. To be balanced, even my guidebook notes neo-nazi activity in Sweden (including an annual rally in Stockholm) and says that some clubs/bars have subtle racist policies at the door. But above all else, I will make this determination for myself. If after some period of time I truly feel that the environment in unsupported, I can just simply apply for a Norwegian work permit and spend the remainder of my assignment there. But above all else, I will be positive about this. We have the same activities and attitudes in parts of the US, and like in the US, I will cross those bridges when I come to them.
As I become used to my Swedish surroundings, I find that I am starting to be able to make sense of words and phrases -- basically I am in survival mode. People here speak English very well and I am glad that they do. However, eventually, if I am to learn Swedish, I have to find ways to further immerse myself.
There's a lot on my mind at the moment and I am still very exhausted. I hope to make a full recovery by Wednesday. I need to get back to the gym and exercising and being active. But for now, back to work!
Ciao and Love You Journal!