It's just that living somewhere is vastly different from experiencing it on a vacation or seeing everything in the span of a month or something. At first the new culture is entirely overwhelming and you just feel so alienated you can't make sense of up or down, but then your adjusting happens so gradually you barely notice it. Then one day you look at a photo of yourself and go, "oh my god, when did I turn into a Swede???"
A Less Bullshit Culture. I had never noticed just how badly gender stereotypes and stereotypes in general influence American culture. But I DESPISE it. Things like men shouldn't cry, girls shouldn't be manly in any way, dads shouldn't push strollers, women shouldn't have a shirt that shows any remote part of their bra (despite how awesome the shirt/dress actually is.) I remember in America, most guys I dated couldn't even cook and it was like a status symbol to not be able to do those 'womanly' things. I don't know how to even handle American culture anymore. I flipped out on Facebook when my sister and her friend were talking about how her son "shouldn't be called beautiful." WHY THE FUCK NOT, HE IS BEAUTIFUL. LET'S JUST INGRATE INTO A TODDLER THAT HE CAN'T BE CALLED BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE THAT'S A GIRLY WORD AND THUS BAD. Ugh whatever.
Sidenote, there are shared toilets here. That's right, men and women can use the same bathrooms. THE HORROR, RIGHT?
Better Food. Simply put, the food is higher quality. No more looking at the label and seeing 'high fructose corn syrup' on literally everything from soda to chips to pasta to bread. It just doesn't exist. A lot of processed foods as well as chemicals that are allowed by the FDA are banned in the EU, and even fewer are allowed in Swedish lands. The only thing I'm still crying about is the fact that Starbucks isn't allowed in the country for some reason. MAMA NEEDS A PUMPKIN LATTE
mmmm c'mere...shhh it's ok......
Less Shittacular Government. Say what you will, I make it known to everyone that I find the US Government the biggest joke in the entire history of the world. The NSA/Snowden situation is just the icing on a nasty smelly cake that people are getting diarrhea from eating. The government actually thinks it has any say at all in peoples' private lives, it spends millions/billions on war and the military, it gives not one single shit about agriculture, preservation, or the actual things it should worry about and instead rabblerabblerabbles on about vaginas and legislating them and a theory called "personhood" and pretending to be two different sects, republican and democrat (which are the same bullshit thing.) I never thought I would approve of a socialist country but damn if it doesn't work out pretty okay for everyone here. The system isn't perfect, but nobody gets offended at the word vagina, nobody tries to push for the Bible as a historical and political reference point, and nobody panders to the big corporations---because in Sweden, there ARE no big corporations. Okay, so there's IKEA.....lol. In other words the government knows its place, does its job, and otherwise butts out.
Water From the Tap Won't Kill You. I swear I won't ever stop talking about this and raving about it. As a person who grew up with a personal spring where we got water from, the idea that the nasty toxic waste of chemicals that most cities in America call 'water' are even allowed, let alone actually consumed by people. In Sweden the water is mindblowingly tasty. And clean. And you can just drink it straight from the tap. Talk about fucking luxury.
There's no Marry/Baby pressure. I never noticed this either, which is surprising since I lived in Utah, a place notorious for the Mormons and their 'get married at 15 and then make 3284 babies' mentality. People marry later (in their 30's) and have children later. There's no stigma for people my age who aren't married, and no stigma for people who choose not to have children either. Let alone that gay/transgender are treated fairly, can get married legally everywhere, and aren't fired from their jobs or ostracized by family. In Sweden, in other words, everyone shares my mentality: do what you want, we don't give a shit. Just try to be decent.
There's tons more than this, of course, but these are the main differences that I notice and appreciate and have gotten used to and now will have a difficult time readjusting to life without. Luckily it will only be temporary and I can get back to my open-minded Sweden. I'll leave out all the other goodies like the superior chocolate, the delicious semlor, and my boss's homemade elderberry syrup.