As American’s we take it for granted that at nearly anytime of the night if a craving hits us, or we have a late night at work and need to pick up some groceries, we hop in our cars and head to the nearest grocery store, Wal-Mart, or takeout. For most of us that means a 5 minute drive, maybe less maybe more. This is something that is really taken for granted. You don’t realize how nice it is to have stores open 24/7, or open late, not to mention the average American household has at least 2 vehicles to take them to these places. This is the consumer driven world American’s live in. “I want it all, and I want it now” We create this culture, the stores are open because of the constant need to beat out competitors, and give the public what they want, which is everything at their finger tips, whenever they want it. Whoever does this best, and the quickest, wins.
Let me be clear here, I too took advantage of this. 22:00 rolls around, I have a craving for FroYo, you bet there is a place open for that, and even if it’s a little out to the way, we hop in our cars and satisfy that craving. Then there is the haven of Starbucks, the endless options of 1000+ calorie coffee like drinks and at only $6 a pop! Let’s not forget the app, spend more money and you get STARS! We have all been guilty of this, and I am no exception. It’s an elaborately spun web, that at one point we all get trapped in. It wasn’t until I was visiting NYC and wanted to find a local coffee shop, stood on one corner, looked up and there in my view are at least 3 Starbucks. I was looking for that Central Perk Friends type of experience. The big business, pushing out the small local businesses. That was the last day I bought Starbucks, and I will keep it that way. Now, that is not to say there are not stores like this in Sweden, I have already noticed a large coffee chain that mimics Starbucks. This happens all over, however, the easy access everywhere is not as common. Perhaps in the city areas, but certainly not in every town. There are significantly less stores you can just run into at any hour of the night,and get anything you desire. Getting what you need, what you want, takes time an planning here.
It was our first full day here in Malmö, and we need some groceries in the house so that we can fix some basic meals. There is a slight problem though, we arrived but were not left the WiFi password, and have no data. We had no contact with the outside world. You don’t realize how dependent you are in the internet until you have no way to access it, and no close by location to hop on free WiFi. Despite having no internet and no navigation, we decide to set out on foot towards what we think is town, our logic was to go back the way we drove in the previous night. Every house we passed, checking our phones to see if we can find any open WiFi, but there was no such luck. The road we are staying on, is a very long, very straight road, and no short walk to anything that resembles a town. We were navigating blindly, but I did remember seeing a pizza place on the way in, so worst case, we grab some pizza and at least have some food in our bellies and possibly some WiFi so we can contact our host for the WiFi password. He is on vacation for nearly 2 weeks, so our only hope to get WiFi was to contact him. But we needed WiFi to contact him, you see the dilemma here? We get to a main intersection, spot the pizza place as well as another cafe, and then I look up and see a sign with the name “ICA” and an arrow pointing to the location. I remember seeing that name on a grocery bag someone was carrying earlier in our trip, we decide to follow the sign and there in front of us is a grocery store! Success!
At this point we walked about 3.9km(2.44 miles), so this was no short walk. We navigate our way through the store and select some essentials that will get us through the next few days and allow us to cook an actual meal. Now with one full backpack, and a full paper bag, we make our way back to the house. Keep in mind these bags are pretty heavy, containing items such as bags of potatoes, meats, produce, etc. Holding a heavy paper bag another 3.9km back home was not as easy as it sounds, my arms wanted to fall off, or it felt that way. I could feel the tension in my elbows, switching hands every few minutes for a moment of relief. I am not complaining, but this is the reality of our experience. All in all about 7.9km round trip, or just under 5 miles. Well worth it I assure you. Get home, and cook a hot meal! I have never had a tastier hot dog and potatoes! You appreciate your food so much more when you really have to work to get it.
We are adapting to this new lifestyle, one that is not of convenience. A place where everything is not at your fingertips. Making a nearly 8km trek for groceries and then carrying them back, is no easy task and there were moments along he walk I thought how much easier it was to have a warm car with seat heaters to hop into and drive to the store. But we didn’t move here for convenience, we moved here for an improved lifestyle, and anything worth doing takes work, it takes effort and rarely is it easy. This is part of our new experience, and we are loving it!