I’m happy to be a Swede

When I was in college, we went to Sweden one summer, not unlike a number of other summers of my childhood, since my mother is from a small town in central Sweden. On this particular trip, however, my mom, dad, sister and I all stayed for three weeks in one hotel room in Uppsala, while my sister and I took a language course. With European hotel rooms being what they are and at that time in my life, let’s just say it was difficult to be confined in such a way. To boot, we were right on an intersection that, while not seeing much traffic, is friendly to blind people. Meaning it beeps. Loudly. Alternating between quickly when the pedestrians have a walk signal, and more slowly when they do not. So all through the night, my brain would rattle with a bee-bee-bee-bee-beep … beep … beep … beep … bee-bee-bee-bee-beep. I longed for mere Chinese water torture.

The carrot for enduring this temporary loss of sanity, along with a few more bureaucratic hoops, was permanent Swedish citizenship, which these days translates to EU citizenship. This has already been very useful, affording me flexibility in work trips to Sweden while my classmates fiddle with visas. (And since Theresa is married to me, she can easily get a work visa should we ever desire to move to Europe. Nice option to have, and one that many others would kill for.)

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being Swedish for the culture as well. I see a lot of how I am in the way the society works, both in good and bad ways. I feel I understand and fit in with both the timidity I disdain and the thoughtfulness I appreciate. Swedes have a very egalitarian perspective on society (as their government reflects … or is it the other way around?). And Stockholm manages to be the cultural center of Sweden while still feeling small and walkable.Sweden vs US Visa Info

But now there’s another new reason now to be pleased about being Swedish. When we looked up the visa requirements for all of the countries we were interested in visiting, we saw that many countries charge EU nationals substantially less than U.S. nationals for visas. I mean, check out the chart (click here to see a full-size version). At least Vietnam, Zambia, Brazil, Chile, and Bolivia all charge way more for U.S. visitors than Swedish visitors. I figure in total, my visa fees will be less than half of Theresa’s. So that’s useful.

I guess what I’m getting at is, thanks mom for pushing me to get my permanent citizenship. It’s an invaluable trait to have in an increasingly connected world. While my Swedish nature leads me to desire citizenship even without any benefits, saving a few bucks on my visas sure doesn’t hurt.

13 Replies to “I’m happy to be a Swede”

  1. Let’s consider some possible reasons for this…

    – Maybe American’s are perceived as “wealthier” and these countries are bilking them of that “wealth”
    – Maybe these countries realize American’s are generally assholes to the rest of the world, and for that they must pay
    – Maybe Swedes are perceived as “stingy”

    Just brainstorming here.

  2. Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile in particular have made their visas more difficult and costly to obtain for Americans in direct retribution for the way citizens of their countries are treated when they try to obtain a visa for the U.S. Brazil, for instance, also requires that U.S. visitors be fingerprinted and photographed. I can’t say it’s fun, but it is fair, I guess. Lucky Jeff. Or lucky us, I guess, since we’ll save a couple of hundred dollars thanks to that dual citizenship of his.

  3. Huh that’s good to know. But c’mon Jeff that trip wasn’t that bad…I remember forgetting to bring spare contacts or my glasses and thus having to go to a Swedish optometrist to get another prescription…the “not sale” sign we walked by every day on our way to class…and making you watch TV with headphones so as not to disturb the other 3 people within a 10-ft radius. I don’t remember the beeping crosswalk at all. What was the name of that American girl in our class who married the Swede that we were friends with? Anyway I say thanks to Mom too!

  4. Dual citizenship is awesome! I’m jealous. My brother was born in England and so could have claimed UK citizenship up to a certain age, but then the US would have made him get rid of his American citizenship… not really sure why.

  5. Holy moly Paulina, how could you not remember the traffic light? After about a week of it we complained enough that they moved us to another room on the back side of the hotel. I had forgotten about the TV though, that was also an annoyance =). I can’t remember the name of the girl either … I wonder if she’s still there? All in all though, I agree, it wasn’t a bad trip.

    Laura, I thought that as long as you had US first and then got the other citizenship, it was all OK. But I do know that to get US citizenship you would have to give up any other citizenships. Although I think that’s changed now too, since my mom has talked about being able to become a citizen now. Mom, care to chime in and let us know the real deal?

    Theresa also looked it up and found out that our children, because I am a Swedish citizen, can become Swedish citizens. Not that this is happening any time soon, but our kids can look forward to strange trips to the great white north.

  6. Greg, maybe it’s not the assholiness (does that equal a word?) of the Americans that costs them more, but instead the politeness of the Swedes gets them a discount. You forgot that in your brainstorming session. But Theresa’s right, it’s because America makes it hard on them, so they thought they’d return the favor.

  7. OK — I think the time has come for me to finally jump in and start making some comments. I’m glad you’re happy to be a Swede, Jeff (and Paulina too), and not only for the advantages it has given you sofar and will in the future — and Uppsala wasn’t really all that bad.
    I can now become a US citizen without having to give up my Swedish citizenship and the reason is that they changed the laws in Sweden 5-6 years ago to allow Swedish citizens not to have to give up their Swedish citizenship if they chose to become citizens of another country. I have been to several talks by immigration lawyers and they claim there’s no problem now having both Swedish and American citizenships. Regarding your children, my understanding is that they would not have the right to Swedish citizenship — I think I asked one of the immigration lawyers about that but I’m not 100% sure.
    I guess you have discovered by now that the visa form covers part of the text and I trust you will move it soon.
    As you know I’ve been a lurker (is that the right word and spelling?) of Lives of Wander and Spargel for quite a while and my compliments to both of you — I thoroughly enjoy being part of your thinking and planning for your big trip.

  8. I knew I’d get you to write on here eventually Mom! All it took was the right post, pandering to your sympathies. Has the US always been OK with you getting US citizenship without giving up your Swedish? I always thought that was a prerequisite to US citizenship. You ought to get that finished up before the 2008 elections so you can vote =).

    Anyway, on our computers there aren’t any issues with formatting, anyone else out there having trouble with the image covering the text?

  9. I am a Swedish/US citizen as well! Have been for my whole life, thanks to having a Swedish mom. I love having a dual citizenship.
    When I was in Europe, I got free entry into various museums and attractions for being a member of the EU (including the Colloseum).
    Go Swedes!

  10. Well SkÃ¥l to that! I have to admit, I quite enjoy my Swedish citizenship. I’m constantly amazed at how often it comes in handy. Uppsala is a very nice town, though a bit small.

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