Friday, January 31, 2014

Your country sucks - Part I

“I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” 

You do notice a few things when moving to another country. Personally, having lived all over the place, I can tell you a lot about how previous axiomatic views have been turned upside down.

For example when I lived in Sweden I honestly believed that the Swedish healthcare system, despite year-long queues, was one of the best in the world and that our Swedish public transport system was second to none. Of course that is far, far from the truth.

I still believe that once you actually get help, especially for major surgeries, Sweden is one of the best, but other than that I can with absolute certainty say that the only country in Europe (which I know of) that has a worse healthcare system then Sweden is the UK (yes, I have lived there).

For minor issues in Sweden you need to call before and go to an assigned specific healthcare central in your area – sounds socialist and horrid yes? Well, it gets better. Firstly when you call you need to do so during certain hours, usually you have a window of an hour on, for example, a Tuesday morning, so good luck if you´re working... Secondly the low level of service and professionalism offered will make you feel like a dehydrated turd that happen to get stuck underneath the doctors/nurses shoe(s). Thirdly you will probably be in waiting, despite having a scheduled time, for an additional hour or so.

Despite what the UN and the Swedish government tells you the healthcare system is substandard in most aspects that count for everyday folk trying to get help for everyday issues.

And I did mention the year long queues for surgeries and major problems right? I have a close friend waiting for a heart surgery right now (have been waiting for months) and his operation was just moved a few weeks into the future because they got one (sic!) new individual who needed it faster. Isn´t that something? One new person shows up and a very important life-saving operation need to be moved weeks, so… where are the other doctors? Other hospitals? 

In countries like Estonia, Czech Republic and Germany (all of which are countries I have lived in) the level of professionalism and sympathy and service is so much higher than Sweden that you might be shocked if you move there. And they have NO QUEUES!

Although the Swedish healthcare system can be debated the Swedish public transport system cannot - it is so bad, so horrific and so crappy I do not know where to begin.

In Sweden it seems that Swedes are happy if there is one bus going each day if that that bus is only 5min late. The only metro system in the country, in Stockholm, is overcrowded and very difficult to grasp. Not to mention the prices. The cost of a monthly metro pass can feed a small African country for a week. The railroad system is getting old and train lateness is nowadays so common that people rather take that once-a-day-bus. I have seen a few expat Americans stating that the Swedish transport system is fantastic and easy. Every time I see such a comment I ponder on what a hellish nightmare it must be in the US. Even Greece (yes, I´ve lived there too), today, has a better public transport system then Sweden. In most Eastern European countries it is so much better that it will make Swedes cry from envy.

But moving on; we Swedes are told that people in other countries know of Sweden because we´re so great in Sports, that people in other countries know of Björn Borg, Olof Palme and that we are so great in staying neutral in all conflicts that our greatness is acknowledge everywhere. We Swedes are, if you listen to a school teacher, known for our work ethics, our equality and for being environmentally and politically savvy. People across the world know of Sweden because we are a fantastic socialist paradise and we have so many great companies. Basically Sweden is a magical place filled with rivers of honey and pink unicorns fluttering around spreading joy joy feelings.

The words “Bah, humbug!” have never been more appropriate.

People in other countries know of IKEA, meatballs and Swedish women. That is it! Most can hardly even point out Sweden on a map.

Sometimes, in other countries, Sweden is brought up in public or political debates, usually as a good example by liberals/lefties and once in a while you can hear of Sweden and Zlatan in the same sentence, but other than that? Most normal people around the globe have either never heard of or they do not care about that cold place with cold people at the edge of human civilization.

Not that such revelations is only for us Swedes, pretty much anyone moving abroad will find better or worse things with their new home. I also need to emphasize: “Moving!”, because a lot of times you hear fellow countrymen utter stupidities because they have been to the Canary Islands once and spent a summer cleaning fish in Norway and because of that they think they are so worldly.

The people having it worst when moving abroad are probably Americans. I do not think there is a more clueless group of people comes to the world and worldly knowledge. Americans seem to think that their country is in the lead and best in every area. The fact is that the United States has less then 5% of the world´s population, but have almost 25% of the world’s prisoners - which is the only statistics where the US is at the top. Well, there is one more thing; military expenditure!

Americans also seem to think that the world view of them is good, if not great. The fact however is the complete opposite; Americans are literary hated everywhere. Not only because of their continuous wars and mass murders, but also because of their arrogance and lack of worldly knowledge. Regardless of where I have been or to whom I´ve talked to, almost everyone despise, hate and loath Americans. Only the French can sometimes be mentioned with the same aversion but then mostly in a fun love-hate sort of way.

Don´t get me wrong, we all love American TV-shows and movies, and there are plenty of great American companies and seen over time the US is probably the most successful country that has ever existed on this planet, but (or perhaps because of that) there are so many issues – especially nowadays.

It is not only because of NSA, CIA or the millions of murdered, it is also a lack of understanding and very isolated world view (the world is located be between Main and California), and it’s the arrogance, it is all of it and so much more.

But regardless where you are from or where you are going remember that politics always suck; socialism and fascism exists universally in different forms and degrees; and there are pros and cons with each country. There are no paradises, there is no perfect society in existence, and people are basically the same everywhere.

You think there are huge differences between a Shiite woman in Iran and a Christian woman in Italy don´t you? Think again!

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