Wednesday, November 14, 2001

When I lived in Barcelona, I told all my friends in the United States that I had no intention of becoming an expatriate, that I was American through and through. Which I suppose I believed.

''Ex-patriots are such an unhealthy lot,'' I said. ''They hang out in incestuous little groups and drink too much, complaining about the country they live in, having untidy affairs with each other and regretting it.''

And I had planned all along to go back at the end of my stay, which I did. But in-between I met the husband, and ended up despite my best intentions, an expatriate up in the far north reaches of the world.

I try very hard not to complain about Sweden, and I try very hard to avoid sundry groups of alcoholic expatriates that most definitely do exist, even in Stockholm.

But it does feel odd sometimes, not that I ever really miss the States. And of course there is an assumption made by certain other people that I won't stay. For instance, I just got a letter from the moving company that shipped my things over from the New World to the Old. The letter was in English of course, and noted that most people who move to Sweden only stay a couple of years, and wasn't I thinking of moving, and they would be happy to move me if, as most people, I was about to move since my two years were up.

The husband was quite insulted by this letter. It didn't bother me much. I think the reality is that most people don't stay.

Me, I'm in it for the long haul.

The Swedish word for the day is tålamod. It means patience.

- by Francis S.

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