The first word I learned in Swedish was “fika”. Although this word translated into English simply means, “coffee break”, during my time spent in Sweden I have quickly come to the realization that that translation is inadequate. “Fika” represents the business culture of the entire country. It doesn’t mean you grab a cup of coffee from the company machine and retreat back to your desk, as we often do in the States. “Fika” is about being with one another; getting to truly know those who you spend 40 or so hours a week with; it is about being part of a community and realizing that although important, work is not life. This was the first and most important lesson I learned upon arriving in Sweden.
Now as to why I am here: as a part of my bachelor’s program at Arizona State University, it is mandatory that all students take part in a traineeship abroad. My traineeship is through SACC West Sweden, in which I will spend 4 weeks learning about regional development. Since regional development is often times a collaborative effort in Europe, I will split my time between several organizations. My first week was spent at Fyrbodal Kommunalforbund, Position Vast, and Innovatum. During my first week, I gave several presentations on regional development in Arizona and attended several presentations on startup incubators and regional growth in Fyrbodal.