Cultural Differences Part Two
After some years in Sweden in the nineties I got in contact with Russian and Ukrainian families who were invited to our Church in Uppsala to attend bible school. It was completely new to them to be able to visit a Western country. I soon understood that the children could benefit from the Danish health care I had from my training. I visited the families and with an interpreter tried to bring the needed help teaching and showing things and asking about their needs.
The parents longing for material things made them do incredible things like buying things and then have nothing for food or go out and simply lock up the children at home.
In in that way there was a lot to talk about.
Of course I also saw that we had a lot to learn seeing small children eat soup with big lumps of meat and vegetables in it with pleasure and not much attention to their eating.
I longed to communicate on my own as an interpreter some times just forgot about the deal and spoke with the family about his own issues leaving me in an awkward situation.
Pictures from my trip to Smolensk Russia 1992
I made a huge jump and started to study Russian at the university at Uppsala. We had many subjects and one was phonetics and linguistics.
From my exams and homework
That leads me to ” O’ kanje “and “A’ kanje”. The art of pronouncing the vocal A more like A or more like O. In Moscow it’s regarded fine to pronounce it like the open O and out in the country of course more like the closed A.
Again this brings me back to my first visit in Manchester England in 1966 where the local dialect had a distinct closed pronunciation of the vocals. ( A bit like John Lennon talked).
I longed to learn English so I adopted this style, to the regret of my English teacher back home. I soon stopped. I suppose adapting to dialects has something to do with being musical minded I think.
I have been there twice and it looks like her illustrations
Another difference is the style of clothing or fashion even at the same time.
Moving to Sweden in 1990 I saw that the women had very silk like clothes on always shining somehow. In Denmark we are very “down-to-earth” so that kind of clothes never sell. The same with hair styles. In Denmark we normally always have windy weather so we can’t make fancy hair styles. In Sweden the weather is a lot more stable so you see so beautiful hair styles every where.
In Denmark you don’t see very shiny and diamond sparkling jewellery either. Nobody would like to wear them even if they could afford to buy them. In other parts of Europe these kinds of jewellery are seen in exclusive shops.
If have been tempted to buy something very different from the Danish more simple or modest style, I have not been able to use it at home afterwards, but to fit in to another country you have to adjust to live there.
The exception is that I loved the Swedish wooden houses so we had such one built here.
This journey takes me shortly to Finland in the seventies. I had met a Swedish speaking Finnish nurse at our common work at a ward in a hospital in Copenhagen and we became close friends. The stern and grave looking faces struck me, meeting her friends. I tried to laugh and make fun to see if I could soften up. I think it helped.
The heavy influence of the Soviet Union had made the impact as Finland was forced to buy worthless things like wooden or sheet metal articles for the kitchen. They in turn had to export their goods of better quality to the “Big Bear” in the east. Twenty years before my visit the country was worn down from the consequences of the WWII. Most of their children had been evacuated to the Sweden and Denmark and many had died and the lack of food was immense.
There is always a good explanation to everything.