It has been one week, and I am officially settled in here in Stockholm! Classes began yesterday, and I am gradually mastering the excitements of public transportation labeled in Swedish. I have not yet gotten lost, thank goodness, and Google Maps is a wonderful thing. Some things here are familiar; pickled herring and Swedish meatballs, for example, are staples at Jones family Christmas (your meatballs are better, Grandma!). Foods such as surströmming, or fermented herring, however, sound horrifying. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try that, but we’ll see!
On the topic of food adventures, however, the best and most exciting is the Swedish tradition of fika. Fika is a word, both a noun and a verb, I have heard several hundred times over this past week of orientation. It took only a moment to understand what it is, and believe me when I say it is wonderful. But what is fika, exactly?
Basically, “fika” translates to “coffee break,” but it is so much more than just a coffee break. It is the act of pausing whatever work or school you are doing, and, with family, friends, fellow students, or coworkers, you take time to enjoy coffee (or tea) and something sweet. The sweet pastry you eat during fika is called “fikabröd”—my favorite is a cinnamon roll, called a “kanelbulle.”
Here in Sweden, fika is a social institution and a necessary part of everyday life. It requires you to take a moment away from whatever it is that is occupying you and to simply enjoy a good cup of coffee and your present company. Not a bad plan, huh?
Anyway, if you are interested in more about fika, this is a very funny video of two guys explaining even better what fika can do. Daven has been playing it daily, and it has been stuck in my head for almost a week. Enjoy!