This afternoon I met my new friend Jordan to enjoy two of Sweden‘s finest traditions – Fika and H&M. I met Jordan last week after responding to her post on expat website TheLocal where she had asked if there were any more expats around in Västerås. Kind of like internet dating but for making friends instead of finding a bloke 🙂 There seems to be a fairly big expat community here but it is not as easy to integrate into as the expat scene in Vietnam. This shouldn’t be a problem as Swedes are very amiable, hospitable and, language barrier aside, there are fewer cultural differences than those I faced in Vietnam, making it much easier to befriend locals. For today though it was nice to hang out with someone else who doesn’t speak Swedish, although Jordan’s attempts sound infinitely better than mine! We headed into town to a nice little coffee shop by the river for fika.
Fika is both a noun and a verb that kind of means ‘to drink coffee’. It often includes sweet breads, pastries or cookies too, sounds like my kind of thing! As I don’t drink coffee and usually have varm choklad I’m not quite sure that my version of fika is actually orthodox but I like the idea anyway. It was warm weather today so I had sparkling citron water and a chocolate chip cookie instead. It was good to share my opinions of Sweden with someone else in the same position as me and so we spent a happy hour discussing Swedish fashion, including the difficulty of buying clothes here when you’re only 5’2″, and the Swedish perception of British women (Vicky Pollard has a LOT to answer for).
After fika we headed off to the shops with H&M being top of the list. H&M originated in Västerås in 1947 as a women’s clothes retailer called Hennes (hers) and became Hennes & Mauritz in 1968 when founder Erling Persson bought out a Stockholm hunting equipment store. It has since been abbreviated to H&M. And so we headed to H&M, Västerås where it all started out – although I imagine that the store we were in today is a far cry from the one that opened in 1947. Three years in Vietnam has pretty much decimated my wardrobe thanks to dusty roads, cold water washing machines and eating too much delicious cheesecake; it is high time that I go shopping. And so a few shopping bags, and a lot of British pounds, later I left the shop one happy lady.
I’m kind of enjoying this lady-of-leisure routine. It’s just a shame that I only have a week of it left.