To those of you who are reading this blog in another country other than Sweden, the point for you will be to have a window into what life is like at roughly 60 degrees north; to those of you who are here, congratulations. I hope you love it as much as I do.
Now let me introduce you to the person who will be your eyes and ears. My name is Ian Olson. I am from a small farming town in southeastern Minnesota, which is the second most northern state in the US. As with many others in Minnesota, I have a very strong Scandinavian ancestry that has had a strong contribution to my cultural identity. Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in rural parts of the state were exposed more to the rich cultural heritage of those Swedes and Norwegians who moved there in the middle of the 19th century. From Chicago to Fargo, the northern parts of the Midwest became littered with Scandinavians setting up farms or working in the newly developing cities. And for the past 4 or 5 generations, the Scandinavian mindset has been preserved as if in a geographic time capsule half a world away. I could dare say that it is the same pioneering attitude that propelled my ancestors to the United States as that which has drawn me Sweden. That and the fact that everything from the weather to the landscape is almost completely identical between Sweden and Minnesota. The only real difference is the latitude which at Minneapolis is just 45 degrees north.
So here’s to a great year of sharing with you all that Sweden has shown me and will show me. I hope in these pages that I will be able to make some suggestions and offer some advice with which to either assist in your journey here or to enhance you stay if you’ve already found your way.