Thursday, 31 October 2013

Question 13b: How different is your life now compared to how you would like it to be?

"Not having to work as much as you do."
"Would like more time to be creative."
"Would like much more peace and quiet, harmony/.../wish that more time was spent on my music."
"Would like more free time, spend more time with the kids and myself."
"I could do with more time, I haven’t finished what I want to finish every day, that’s quite frustrating."
I could give you even more examples of a wish for more time. Time to make, create, write. But also more time with friends, family and kids, more time to just be and work less. About half of the Swenglish participants, a bit more in Sweden, expressed that they wanted more time when I asked them how different their life was compared to how they would want to live. Three people also mentioned more money.
"I would like to gather my friends from all over the world and put them in the same place, then I would be happy." 
"They only thing I miss sometimes is to have someone to share my life with."
"I guess we'll have to go there after some wine."
"I think I'd like a relationship, but I have myself to blame for not working on it."
"I don't want to think about that; it just makes me frustrated."
"I'm half-way there maybe. I make tentative steps towards where I'm going, but am not as confident as I could be."
"I'd like more close friends around in my daily life".
"I'd like a life that didn't include anxiety, panic attacks and worries about another breakdown." 
"It's not too different apart from having a man and babies."
"I'm content, but at the same time there's this underlying feeling I want to be closer to nature". 
Five people spontaneously expressed that they lived the life they wanted to live and didn't have much to add. A longing for close relationships, as you can tell from the answers above, was a wish among many. However it was TIME that people mainly lacked. I've taken an interest in the question about Basic Income which could change society in such a way that people work less, have more time and feel better. You can read more here. And here you can sign a petition if you'd like the European Union to raise the question.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What's your earliest childhood memory?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Question 13a: How Different is Your Life Now Compared to What You Thought it Would Be Like When You Were Younger?

What I thought ...
When I was a teenager I thought that I would lead a "boring, stable life" when I was 30. That I would live in Jönköping (a smallish town near my hometown) in a flat that I owned together with a boyfriend and perhaps work at the local paper. In reality I wanted something different, but I found it difficult to point my finger on it.
Some kind of "rock 'n' roll-lifestyle" (as a metaphor for adventure, parties, travels, romances, writing and other artistic endeavours). And I did experience a lot of rock 'n' roll in my twenties even though it was more poetry than rock 'n' roll. I would never have guessed that I would be into Poetry Slam: I didn't even know what it was as a teenager. I would not have guessed that I would spend so many years in England either. Or that my first book would win a prize for the best debut novel. But then this "early mid-life crisis" hit me, the crisis that resulted in the Swenglish project
Rock 'n' roll is fun, but yet I yearned for a more stable life than the life I was leading when I approached my 30th birthday. I was fed up with being a constant lodger, moving around, doing day jobs, drinking too much beer, messing about and being far away from my family and my very very best friends. 
Now I'm renting my own flat in Gothenburg and am studying ethnology. It doesn't sound very rock 'n' roll. But the most important thing in my life is still my writing. The novels. The poetry. The performances. And I've started blogging for a local paper ... However, now and again a bit of rock 'n' roll happens (when I did a poetry gig in Gävle for example!), but the bottle of vodka that I got from an Englishman back in September is still untouched. That would never have happened ten years ago. 
What the Swenglish participants thought ... 
About half the people in Sweden and a bit more than half the people in England expressed that their lives were very or pretty different compared to the life they had envisioned when they were younger. Most of them, especially in England, had a better life than expected, but a few would have thought that they would be more successful in their jobs.
Six people (all above 30) thought that they would be parents by now. But there were also two people (above 30 as well) who were surprised about being parents at all.
Five people had not thought very much about the future when they were younger and had nothing to compare with. One participant expressed it in this way: "When I was a teenager I thought I would be dead when I was 27, everything after that becomes some strange bonus that I hadn't expected".
Seven people claimed that they had always followed their ideals, even though their lives looked different on the surface compared to what they had thought. Another person said: "I've made my life into the life I wanted it to be even though I couldn't express what I wanted". 
It's interesting to note that in some cases (my own case for example) there's a difference between how people thought it would turn out and how they wanted it to turn out.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: How different is your life now compared to the life you would like to have?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Swedish Train Custom

IMG_3910In Sweden there's usually a quiet area on trains and you can book a "quiet seat" in advance as well which I did last weekend because I wanted to study. I only had time to enjoy the peace and quiet for five minutes. A girl who was talking on her mobile took a seat near me. I thought that she would finish her call as the train pulled out, but she didn't. People around me exchanged looks and started to move about. No one said anything.
In the end the people around me annoyed me more than the girl on the phone. It was so frustrating that they kept quiet even though it was clear they got disturbed. I took a deep breath and asked the girl if she knew that she was in the quiet area. She didn't and finished her call. The other passengers didn't show any appreciation of me. Back to silence.
Usually I'm also one of the passive people on trains, so I'm very proud that I said something. I wouldn't say it's just Swedish people keeping their mouth shut instead of acting. It would probably happen in the UK too, or what do you think?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Question 12: Where Do You See Yourself in One, Five and Ten Years Time?

IMG_3860"Where do you see yourself in one, five or ten years time?" is a question that famous people often have to answer in interviews. Many of the Swenglish participants found it hard to look into the crystal ball ... ("It never turns out that way anyway.") I couldn't see any clear differences between England and Sweden when it came to future visions, so I've put the answers together. 
What's interesting to note is that 9 of the 30 people I stayed with have moved (or are about to move) since I stayed with them last year! Perhaps I set something in motion ...
In One Year
16 of 30 people thought that they would be living a similar life. However the majority of these people thought that they would have developed more workwise and most of the people who were into something creative hoped that they would have finished a book/a record/other creation.
6 of 30 people thought that they would have moved. Either to a place of their own or moving in with someone.
2 of 30 people thought that they would be trying for children.
3 of 30 people hoped that they would have found a partner.
In Five Years
Most people just wanted "more and better" of the same. Earn more money and work with what they really wanted to do instead of just doing a day job. Get more recognition for what they were good at. Someone wanted a more international life. Travel more. Some people mentioned buying a house. A couple mentioned kids or "more kids". 
In Ten Years
"I could be dead".
"If I haven't burnt out and am on sick leave I will have carried on with x and y and have specialised in some area."
"Then I've been married and am divorced".
Not everyone came up with "dark" answers. Once again many mentioned loving relationships and children and development in the area of their passion. One person didn't think of himself at all: he just thought about where the world was heading: "This civilisation is either gone or we will live in a completely different world".
9 of 30 mentioned that they wanted to live in a house and 7 of those 9 people wanted live in the countryside either with their family or in a community.
6 of 30 thought that they would live or work abroad or at least have a holiday home abroad. 
5 of 30 people hoped and thought that they would be more confident or have better self esteem. 
My Future Vision
In one years time my Swenglish book will be out in the shops, my English novel will be on its way too, I'm studying something, perhaps literature, psychology or anthroplogy and I'm doing performance poetry.
In five years time I'm working with several writing related projects, perhaps international somehow, and I'm madly in love in a good way.
In ten years time I'm laughing at the person I am today. And live I will. Close to nature. 
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: How different is your life now compared to how you thought it would be when you were younger?