United State National team midfielder Yael Averbuch checks in four games into Göteborg FC’s season. We get an introduction to some Swedish culture and how it differs from the US, a look at how Göteborg’s season has begun and a lesson – okay a very mini-lesson – in the Swedish language.
Hello from Sweden! It is finally Spring here, which means a “balmy” 54 degrees Fahrenheit. When I packed my bags and left for Sweden last August to join Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC I didn’t really have any concept of how far North it is and what the weather would be like. I left a NJ summer and arrived to what I would consider chilly spring weather. It was also interesting to look out the window at 10:15pm and it still be fairly light outside. This changed gradually as we descended into winter. But as an American, visiting the Northern city of Sunnanå, where it is light nearly 24 hours in summer and dark the entire time in winter, it was fascinating. I wouldn’t consider myself well-versed in Swedish geography, nor have I traveled much outside of our team travel to games, but I do feel that I’ve gotten a good sense of the culture and have created a nice lifestyle for myself here in Göteborg.
Everyone is Sweden is friendly and speaks wonderful English. The other English-speakers on my team (Camille Levin, Anita Asante, and Jodi Taylor) and I are going to start Swedish lessons, but we have gotten by just fine with knowing very little. Our coach speaks Swedish at training and in meetings, but our teammates translate for us and by now we recognize enough (especially numbers) to figure out what is going on in training. Swedish life is very laid-back and health-oriented. There is a large emphasis on enjoying the things you do, the food you eat, and your time. This translates onto the field as well. Doing things the “right” way, even if you have to slow them down a bit, is emphasized. There is also a very collective approach to the style of play. My team plays very well together, and highly values cooperation and cohesion within the group.
As for my daily life here, I find that I have a lot of free time. I take the tram (above-ground subway system) to training and pretty much anywhere else I need to go. It stops right near my apartment and also close to our stadium and all through the downtown area. Most days after training I spend my time walking through town (if the weather is nice) or visiting one of the hundreds of amazing coffee shops in the city. I’ve spent hours in coffee shops on my computer, talking to friends/teammates, or sampling the great food and treats they sell.
We are four games into the regular season and have tied three and won one. The league will have a summer hiatus starting late June. During that time I’ll come home to relax and then get back into training before the second half of the season starts up early August. Sweden is a very comfortable place to live and play. So far my experience has been enjoyable, and interesting at the same time. Much of Swedish culture I find differs from how I was raised to think in the U.S. and it’s cool to see how that shapes what happens on the field and with team dynamics. Ok, time to head off to training!
“Hej då” (bye) from Sweden!
Yael Averbuch is a midfielder for the US Women’s National team and for Göteborg FC in Sweden. She also contributes to the New York Times Goal Blog (which you should all go and check out if you haven’t already).