Interviewing a Swede: Niklas Elofsson’s Responses
This article is written in response to an interview I conducted of Niklas Elofsson, who is essentially my boss when I work in Snerikes, the student nation I have alluded to in previous entries.
I know Niklas through my work in Snerikes, the student nation of which I am a member. I chose to interview him because I admire him for his work ethic and because he so strongly supports the work that Reach the World and I do through this system. He is also a student at Uppsala University, although he is a few years older than me. Despite our age difference, he and I share a mutual respect which stems from our appreciation of one another’s cultures.
What is your full name?
Where do you live? What is your house like?
In the suburbs of Stockholm near a part of the coastline called Saltsgöbaden. My home is a pink two-story flat in the center of the suburb. We have a small front yard, a large back yard, an attic, and a basement.
What is your family like?
I have one brother, who is 19, and four half-sisters, whose ages are 37, 32, 29 and 20. My mother and father are both corporate accountants who work together in the same firm in central Stockholm. All of my sisters studied at Uppsala University, as will my brother once he graduates from gymnasium, which is Swedish for high school. My brother is thinking of studying public relations when he gets to Uppsala, although he is still unsure. My sisters studied architectural engineering, computer science, psychology (and economics) and sociology, respectively.
How do you get around?
Mostly walking. I own a bike, but I do not have the time or money to get it fixed. For some reason, bike parts and repairs are quite expensive in Sweden.
What types of clothing do you like to wear?
I mostly dress for comfort. I usually wear a T-shirt and jeans with some comfortable shoes.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I think my favorite thing to do is play basketball outside. It is especially fun in the summer because in Sweden we so rarely get any heat or sunshine. Swedes love summer sports because they can wear shorts and t-shirts without freezing to death! Aside from playing basketball, I love skiing, sailing and swimming in the Stockholm archipelago. By boat, it takes about five hours to travel from one end of the archipelago to the other.
What languages do you speak? How do you say “hello” in your native language?
I speak Swedish, Norwegian, English, Spanish and German. My dad is Norwegian, which is how I learned to speak Norwegian, and my uncle’s wife is from Spain, which is how I learned Spanish. I studied English and German in school and have been practicing ever since. Hejsahn (pronounced hey san) is how a person says “hello” in Swedish, but is usually abbreviated to “hej hej” (pronounced hey hey).
Do you have pets?
I have two dogs: a Chinese Naked Dog and a Zoutton Te Teuller. Their names are “Perro,” who is two years old, and “Pamuk,” who is eight years old.
Have you traveled? Where have you traveled to?
Yes! I have been to every country in Europe besides Iceland. I have also been to Thailand, Ethiopia, South America and Oklahoma in the US. Traveling was awesome. By traveling I learned a lot about my own culture and society by comparison. Seeing different cities, cultures, religions, people, and societies taught me a lot about my own origins and the way I had perceived them.
What do you do for work?
Right now I am running the restaurant at the student nation, Snerikes. I also work seasonally as an event planner at different night clubs in Sweden, as a public relations consultant for a company called Venture Heat, and at a night club in Åre, which is one of the best places in Sweden for skiing.
Is there anything you would like to say to students in the United States?
If I could say anything to students in the United States, I think I would encourage them to travel as much as possible and to be receptive to what they see. America is a huge and very influential nation, but that doesn’t mean that Americans can’t learn something from other nations or other cultures. My own traveling has done me so much good and has informed my worldly view so dramatically that I almost cannot imagine having never traveled at all. It has helped me to understand myself, my culture, my country, and how they compare to others around the world. In all, I think that travelling is one of the most educational and fulfilling things a person can ever do.