The ‘official’ title of the twelfth topic of the 30 Days Blogging Challenge is “Somewhere you’d like to move or visit.”. I’ve very much decided to go with the “move” options because for years I have been harbouring desires to one day move to a different country. Well, two different countries in fact which are – as you will shortly discover – really quite different. Realistically I don’t see us upping sticks and heading off to foreign lands in the very near future. But one day…who knows. Even if it’s just for a few months. But before I can even consider that, I have to pick where I would go and it’s a choice between….*drum roll*
A few years ago, I’m certain most people would have read those two countries and just hollered “Pick Spain you wally, it’s warm there!”. But over the last year or so, Scandi-style has becomes huge! Plus, having previously lived in Spain (and southern Spain at that) I can confirm it still gets pretty cold there in winter…as in minus numbers cold. So what appeals to me about each of them?
I’m reasonably fluent in Spanish. I originally studied on Saturday mornings for a couple of years until I was 11. I sadly had to stopped when my family re-located. However, when I started sixth form college I decided to do an accelerated A-level which took me from nothing to A-Level in 2 years. Spanish is a language I really connect with and I fell back in love with it whilst studying. I was loathed to give it up at University. Fortunately I discovered Durham offered a Mathematics degree with a year abroad…in Spain!
So I spent my third year living in Granada in Andalucia, the southern most province in Spain studying Maths at the city’s university. The first few months there were a massive culture shock. No class-based lessons can ever prepare you for living in a different language. But eventually I adapted. I embraced the culture and the people. During that year, the country became part of me. It made me realise how much I love being British (more than I realised!) but it also left it’s mark. A part of me is forever tied to that small, beautiful city in that vibrant and loco country!
Some of my favourite things about Spain are:
- The Culture: Spain is a super chilled out country. Many of you probably know the term “mañana” which means “tomorrow” – a casual term used to say that things can wait. Well that is how people live. And for a slightly neurotic and pedantic person, it’s quite therapeutic to live in that environment. I’m a more relaxed person from that year away and being in Spain still calms me down and encourages me to slow my pace;
- The Food: The food is amazing! I’m a pescatarian so the country’s obsession with ham does pose me a few issues. BUT I could happily eat tortilla Española and patatas bravas for most meals. I can never get enough of freshly gambas a la plancha (grilled prawns). Paella (seafood or veggie obviously) is incredibly morish. And champiñones de ajillo are delish!;
- The Language: I can’t be the only one who loves the sound of Spanish right? It’s very easy on the ear. It’s got a rich warmth to it that goes so well with the country. I love speaking it (although I’m a bit rusty these days) and I love being surrounded by it;
- The Music: From Sevillanas through to cheesy Spanish chart pop…it’s all AWESOME! The ballads are stereotypically dramatic. The ‘dancy’ tunes have you bopping round the lounge. To this day, one of my favourite albums is one I bought in Granada: Chenoa by Chenoa (check out ‘Cuando tú vas‘).
Sam and I went on holiday to Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden in November 2005. Whilst we loved Copenhagen, we found it quite difficult getting food because it was a very meat-centric city. However, when we crossed the sea to Sweden it was completely different; Every restaurant had a least one vegetarian dish. Not only that but everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. The city left a very good impression! So we ventured back in 2013 and visited Stockholm and Gothenburg, haing a fantastic time again (aside from the fact I had a streaming cold and it was really biting weather!).
The Swedish culture is hard-working but in an efficient and effective way. From what I’ve observed they like to ensure a strong balance between work and family life. There is a strong sense of trust and community within Swedish society. They also value the nature and outdoors which I think is so important for well being. I feel these are traits we’ve lost a lot of in the UK. But who wouldn’t want to be outside in the beautiful Swedish countryside. From the the diverse archipelagos surrounding the coast to the dense forest regions, there is terrain for everyone!
Also, one day I vow to learn Swedish. Having watched many Swedish programmes, I find the language really appealing. I enjoy that it has words which occasionally sound like English and make me get a sense of what is being said – even though I don’t really have a clue!
What I particularly love about Sweden:
- The Architecture: I love the buildings in Sweden. They are designed to suit the landscape and weather. In so many countries, when the wind and rain set in, everything looks really grim and soggy. But in Sweden the buildings either look incredibly moody and gothic, or provide some well needed spot of colour amongst the grey;
- The Family Values: Scandinavia as a whole really embrace children and support nurturing them. They also really support both parents working whilst giving children an equal calibre of care;
- The Pastries: There are some awesome cakes in Sweden. We went to visit the Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm; Whilst we were there I had the best cinnamon swirl I’ve had ever. Ever. Because we visited Sweden in November, we also got to try Lucia saffron buns. They were rather tasty!
- Swedish ‘Hygge’ = mys: When you live in a country that has such little daylight in the winter, you have to make your home environment really welcoming and inviting. When the cold weather sets in, Swedish homes, hotels, restaurants and other public spaces are built to cope with the cold. It’s not something that has to be survived through like in the UK. It is embraced and life is adapted dependent on the seasons.
So which do I choose?
I don’t think I can pick just one. Nor could I ever realistically permanently leave the UK. So I think that I need to split my year. Summer can be spent in the UK and Sweden. Spring and Autumn will be well suited to Spain when it will be sunny and warm, but not too hot. As for the winter – well I think the Swedish ‘Christmas’ vibe would help make me feel festive in the run up to Christmas. But when the winter hits in hard and Christmas has passed I suspect I’ll slope off back to Blighty again!
So the only outstanding question: how do I win the lottery to fund this?!
If you could visit or move anywhere, where would you go?!
Does anyone have any tips on how to get a lottery win?!
Feel free to take a look at all my 30 Days Blogging Challenge posts.