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.

Concert Hall in Stockholm

My second week was spent with Vastragotaland Regionen’s External Relations Unit. During this week, the Region hosted both the North Sea Commission Executive Committee Meeting and an event with Goteborg & Co. at the Konserthuset in Stockholm which I was able to take part in.

I was able to learn a lot during these first two weeks, about business in Sweden, business in the region, and cultural differences between the United States and Sweden. One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is whenever I talk to Swedes I am always asked the same three questions: why did you choose to come to Sweden? What do you think of Sweden now that you’ve been here? And what is your opinion on the U.S presidential elections? Honestly, I chose Sweden because I knew practically nothing about the country before I came here. It was new, it was different and I was curious. As for my opinion on the country now, I absolutely love it. I love the people. I love the food. And most of all, I love the deep respect for nature. The people are very friendly and every place I’ve been to here feels safe. Lastly, as for my opinion on the U.S presidential elections: we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

My next two weeks will be spent with SACC West Sweden. I will be attending several business meetings with Swedish companies learning about what these companies look for when they are considering investing in the U.S market. I am excited to continue learning and see what else Sweden has in store for me.

Marstrand Fortress