Moving to a new country certainly presents challenges, but for me a new start also means all things are possible. It hasn’t always been easy, and as I creep toward my third year in Sweden, it becomes increasingly apparent that this country offers a great deal of cultural and lifestyle options that are, well … gloriously Scandinavian. Here are just a few ways to bring Scandinavia into your life.

1. Health. There are a good many expats who complain that Sweden provides less healthy choices than their home country. I simply don’t believe it. Sweden is the land of healthy, active people – to not take advantage of the lifestyle is to miss out on many benefits of Swedish living. The air is clean. The drinking water is magnificent. And the foods are not filled with pink slim and chemical processing. This summer, I will be pursuing a more healthy attitude. More outdoor time. More exercise. Better eating. Good living.

2. Beauty. You know it! There are some breathtakingly beautiful women in this country. How do they do it – besides amazing genes? Sweden is an expensive country in which to buy cosmetics. Gone are the days when I could purchase Chanel, Lancome, and Clarins – these items are just out of my reach here. But, along with the healthy lifestyle, taking care of one’s self is important and I want in on the Swedish beauty routine. Apoteket, offers a gal on a budget many options. Just the packaging on some of these products begs you to take them home. The ingredients are simple, fresh, and pure. Some of my favorite Swedish brands are Estelle & Thild, and Björk and Berries. Fantastisc!

3. Scandinavian fiction and literature. Sweden boasts an incredible 99% literacy rate. Swedes buy a lot of books, and as you probably know Sweden has produced some of the best crime writers ever. Having already read Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg, and of course, Henning Mankell … I’ve also loaded up my tablet with plenty of Swedish fairy tales, folktales, legends, and Norse mythology. They are magical.

4. Scandinavian art and design. Swedes totally get design and it’s apparent everywhere. Branding, packaging, interior design, shop boutiques, clothing and fashion – it’s all right here for you.

5. History. Vikings, runes, and stone-age hunter gathers, the history of Sweden began some 10,000 years ago. If you are a history buff there is a lot to learn and explore. History informs the present … and besides, it’s just plain cool.

6. Fashion. It’s not just about H&M. Scandinavia produces some of the world’s best fashion. Wrap yourself up in warm sweaters, a pair of Acne jeans, and don’t forget the scarfs and boots. To me Swedish fashion has always meant clean easy style and casual form. Just check out Tiger of Sweden.

7. Travel. Travel to any of the Scandinavian countries is only and hour or two away. The Fjords of Norway, design in Copenhagen, hospitality in Finland. Don’t have the money or budget for a trip? Take a day trip or pick up one of those great travel books at your local bookshop and travel vicariously until you can book the flight.

8. Read the Papers/Watch the news. Nearly all Swedish newspapers are available online. Bring a bit of Sweden into your life by reading the headlines at:

o Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm)
o Göteborgs-Posten (Gothenburg)
o Svenska Dagbladet (Stockholm)
o Sydsvenska Dagbladet (Malmö and Lund)
o Metro

So there you have it. Eight ways to bring Swedish culture into your home and heart. Enjoy!

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