Jane and I Called Sweden Last Week

By Isabella Waldron

Last Friday, I set down my homework, looked at the sun, and decided I might as well call Sweden. Thanks to a new initiative from the Swedish government invented to promote interest in Swedish culture, you can now dial a number that will connect you to a random, willing Swede. Jane S. ’16 and I decided to make use of the new initiative and dialed the number to test it out.

After a few rings, the fake voice of a machine announced, “Hello. Connecting to Sweden.”

We sat down in the sun next to a group of middle schoolers playing basketball, when a man’s voice said, “Hello?”

We turned out to be connected to three thirty-year-old Swedish men whose names we couldn’t quite understand. “So, what do you want to know about Sweden?” they asked us. We started off with easy questions, asking what their favorite and least favorite Swedish foods were. Favorites included meatballs and McDonalds and their least favorite was Surstromming — a fermented can of baltic herring that apparently smells like rotting death.

We also talked about the Swedish school system and taxes. As opposed to the $18374271038019230192301820182 dollars that U.S. students will probably end up paying to go to college, Swedes are actually payed $500 to go to college. This is because of the 30% income taxes that citizens pay (P.S. all this information is based off the three Swedish men, therefore if there are errors, blame them and/or a poor phone connection).

We talked about politics and discussed Bernie (they were fans) as well as Trump. They even asked us to predict if Trump would win or not, and I’ve never felt more like an expert in American politics.

They asked us where we were from and were quite confused where Oregon was. We tried to explain that it was directly above California, but this was only met with raucous laughter.

“Do you live in a three-floor villa with a pool?” one of the men said, laughing.  

“Well, no….”

I still don’t know if they got a good sense of how really un-Californian Oregon is.

They also seemed to think we Americans lack knowledge in Geography. To be fair, there are a shocking amount of videos on YouTube and late night TV of Americans failing geographical questions. They asked us where Italy was and we said we knew where it was. They asked us about Belgian and we responded the same.

“Don’t lie,” they insisted.

Despite their assumptions about our villa and lack of geographical knowledge, we had a lot of fun learning from our new Swedish friends. If you have a few spare minutes, I highly suggest giving it a try…just don’t bring up Surstromming.