Off The Post!
In Sweden, it’s allll about the Fika. Fika is a social institution here; it means having a coffee break and a treat. The word "Fika" can serve as both a verb and a noun and has quite ambiguous connotations, so the Swedes have fun with it. But it is a tradition central to Swedish life and one I have assimilated to instantly!
So here I am standing in line at Jacob’s Café, a swanky little spot in Haga, the oldest part of Göteborg, ready to have my first authentic Swedish experience. Of course, that means ordering my coffee using full Swedish sentences! Onset anxiety. But first, I have to figure out the Swedish crown. Time for some mental math … Kilograms to pounds, no … Celsius to Fahrenheit, no … Ah, crown to dollar! 22:00? Wait that’s military time! 22 SEK, I’ll figure out how much that is later. Ah, too late I’m in the front.
I’m tempted to jump out of line and find the nearest Starbucks. Instead, I look the barista in the eye with a big nervous grin – it’s time to complete the pass. “Jag skulle vilja ha en kaffee. Tack.” (I really wanted it decaf, but that’s just too complicated.) And now, he’s smiling back at me.
Three weeks later and I still get fjärilar i magen (butterflies) every time I attempt to speak Swedish. And somehow, nobody seems to completely understand me here even when I say the most basic things. Yesterday, I ordered ”en latte” (I’ve learned to keep it simple now), and still the barista looked at me like I was crazy. ”A latte?” Like always, it's a work in progress...
0-3. (1-2 actually)
The team traveled to Malmö for the Super Cupen Final, where the winner of Allsvenskan (FC Malmö) takes on the winner of the Svenska Cupen (us.) The level of play was a drop-off from the Champions League, in my opinion, but instead of taking over of the game, we somehow lost control of the reigns. Although I played well, I missed opportunity after opportunity in front of the net, but did not feel the gravity of my mistakes until Malmö came back to score two goals and win the game 2-1 in the 89th minute.
When I envisioned my first month playing for FC Göteborg, I imagined big goals in big games and big celebrations to follow. I thought I would have a hard time adjusting to the new social structure and cultural norms. After I had spent six months preparing my soccer, it would be a smooth adjustment, right? Well in reality, the opposite happened. Where I feared I would waver, I thrive. Where I once felt confident, I have been wavering. The worst part is knowing that nobody here knows the player I strive to be or the level at which I can play. My first impression has not been a good one.
When I retire to my apartment to listen to Tracy Chapman and feel sorry for myself, I try to remember that my story is still unwritten. What kind of tale would I tell if it all came easily? I know the hurdles make the race.
Now, we are in the midst of a two-week break before starting Allsvenskan. I know that the finishing is inside of me. For those of us who search for the back of the net, we know it comes in waves. So, I will ride the waves as they roll in and keep the faith!
A Game Day In the Swedish Life
Pounding the pavement
Stay the course
Happy Easter… I mean glad påsk!
Fika, see Off the Post!
Rediscovering The Game
A change of perspective