The Struggle – Israel vs. My Inner Swede

So the last few days I had some reasons to think about where I am in life; and with where I am I mean literally my location on planet earth. My location happens to be Israel. Maybe you’ve heard about it? It’s this tiny, tiny, tiny little spot on the map. On some maps it’s barely even included, and when it is, there is not even space to write the whole name “Israel” within the boarders of the country, so they have to write it somewhere out in the water and then put and arrow towards the little piece of land – it’s there.

There are so many places on the map which do have space for the name, so many countries on our planet, and still for some reason, the place that people seem to like to talk about the most is tiny, tiny little Israel. There are a lot of reasons for why people talk about Israel – however, I am not planning to discuss any of them. I am planning to be selfish, and only discuss my own relationship with tiny Israel.

Yesterday I did a presentation in my university comparing Sweden and Israel, my two homes. It forced me to once again think about some of the differences and similarities (only there are not many silimarities) between the two countries. It made me consider my own identity – who am I, and what am I? Am I Swedish? Am I Israeli? Or am I something in between? Or both? Or neither?

After a few years, people are used to me living here, and I am used to living here, and it became this normal thing; I think I adapted pretty well. Still every now and then I get the question from someone: “Why are you staying here?”, and I’m always tempted to blame Hummus for tricking me in to it.

The truth is, it’s not always easy. I grew up in Sweden, and Sweden is pretty far away from Israel in many aspects. Most of the things I grew up taking for granted is not something I can take for granted here, and the other way around. The side of it that many don’t always consider, is that after living here for this long there is a big part of me that considers this home, while in the same time there is a big part of me that considers Sweden my home, and also in the same time I don’t fit 100% in to any of the two – I end up feeling like a bit of an alien where ever I go. I want to point out some of the transitions I had to deal with as a Swede in Israel.

1. I had to give up on my deeply rooted need for standing in organized lines.

2. I had to get used to not playing in the snow in the winter.

3. I had to convince myself that water is exciting – and not just a usual, endless, every day thing.

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4. I had to stop expecting people to arrive on time.

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5. I had to give up on “lagom“.

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6. I had to stop expecting people to take their shoes off when they come inside.

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7. I had to get used to the idea of camels instead of moose.

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8. I had to accept that there is no Lingonberry jam in Israel (except sometimes in IKEA).

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9. I had find my own ways to celebrate my own holidays, since non of them are typically celebrated here.

10. I had to learn to get by without the Swedish lösgodis.

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These 10 things and many more with them. Bottom line, as you can see, it has not been easy. I have found ways around most of the obstacles, I have found substitutes for some of the things I miss, and I have found a lot of things in Israel which I definately miss when in Sweden.

As I see it, there is good and bad in everything. So if you have the choice, why not just take a bit of the good from everywhere, and make your own little mix (just like when you buy loose candy). I am stuck in the middle, in between cultures, and I kind of like it here.

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