We have another of the amazing Swedish four-day weekends when no-one works from mid-afternoon Friday until Wednesday morning. The trouble is, I am in a very poor position to take advantage of this holiday. My primary problem is that I have no money. I mean, literally none; I had to get a new bank account for annoying bureaucratic reasons, and of course the new card didn't arrive til Friday after the banks had shut early due to the holiday, and I can't activate it until places are open again at 10 o'clock Wednesday morning. I have food in the storecupboard, so I won't starve, and I have a season ticket for transport, so I don't have to stay at home. But the number of fun things I can actually do in a strange city with no money is rather limited!
The second problem is that my phone chose the extremely inconvenient time of Friday afternoon just before the holiday to die. So I can't phone my friends here and suggest hanging out together, nor can I occupy my time by phoning my friends in other countries, which is one thing I was hoping to do with the bonus free time. And of course I can't even start the process of getting it fixed until Wednesday...
However, in spite of these annoyances, the weekend started well. Some work colleagues invited me to a pubmeet held by a largely virtual group of English-speakers living in Sweden. I had a very enjoyable evening, because even though pubbing isn't really my scene, it was outdoors so not smoky and the background music was ignorable, and because I suddenly got to meet 70 new people at once. Social contact is very, very good, and they seem an extremely pleasant, and pleasingly mixed crowd.
The downside was paying over £7 for a shot and mixer (which I wouldn't have ordered if I'd known!) and over £5 for a beer. Apparently this is normal for Sweden, but eek! And that ate up my entire "budget" (the cash I happened to be carrying in my purse when I realized I was not going to be able to get any more late on Friday) for the weekend.
This is why you don't order alcohol when you're short on money! Silly girl. But ugh, I hope you have enough food in the house. Can't you withdraw money from your English bank account and just suck up the exorbitant fees for using an overseas ATM?
I have plenty of food in the house, don't you worry about me. You know I'm a hoarder and I always have several weeks' margin in terms of stored non-perishables.
The thing about buying alcohol is, well, I wouldn't normally budget to do that at all, not for its own sake, because I'm just not that interested in alcohol. But I really wanted to go to this social event, because it seemed, and indeed was, a great way to meet people. And since the event was being held in a pub, I couldn't very well not drink anything. I could have ordered soft drinks, but I have yet to find decent soft drinks here, and I don't particularly want to pay pub prices for Sprite.
I would have nursed the T&C all evening except I discovered that there was German wheat beer and I got overexcited. (Up until that point, I hadn't found any alcohol I actually want to drink in this country either, which is why I started with spirits.)
Oh, you're right, I haven't. I figured that if I found something I really wanted to do specifically, as opposed to just generally fun stuff, I would do that. It turned out that my new much more helpful bank was open half of today, so I was able to activate the card. And I now have money to spend tomorrow, which is the main festivity part of the holiday, so it's all good. Thanks for the good advice, though.
I might be more comforted if I had a clue who you were. The fact that some entirely random stranger has just bought a new phone doesn't tell me very much, whereas if you are someone I know we can mutually sympathize. In my case it's not the phone that's dead, it's the line (I happen to have a spare phone, for some random reasons, so I could test this.)
Ah, thank you. I can quite often guess that you're you, but in this case I had no idea. Also, I think my sister is reading occasionally and I'm trying to encourage her to sign her comments; that one could have been from her.
It's a little unfair to convert directly to pounds because the exchange rate skews things a little. But considering I can get a basic but decent meal here for about £4, £7 for a drink is way too much. I thought maybe it was one of those stupidly expensive bars, and that we'd decided to go there because there's probably a limited number of places that are reasonably central and have space for 70 people (not all at once, over the course of the evening, but even so). But I asked around and apparently, no, these are standard prices for Stockholm. I think I shall declare myself teetotal in future.
Scandinavian alcohol prices are TERRIBLE. I hope you'll manage and have enough to eat and everything until wednesday!
I remember how inconvenient I found the banks in Norway, they closed so extremely early and it sometimes felt like they were never open when I needed them to be open. I also spent a lot of time arranging my account and having to activate and everything. But in the end it all worked out just fine! :) and luckily I always had the option to withdraw money from my dutch account (despite the stupid useless big fees they charge).
I'd basically be quite happy not to drink at all, alcohol is not an essential part of my life. And at least I'll know in future and not be completely taken aback by paying twice as much as I'm expecting.
I think I'll be about the same with banks; once I have things set up, I won't have that many reasons why I need to go into the bank in person. But everything is definitely less convenient here than what I'm used to. They don't have chequebooks, and it is not possible to have a basic current account without paying a not insignificant monthly fee, which I find really annoying.
The downside was paying over £7 for a shot and mixer (which I wouldn't have ordered if I'd known!) and over £5 for a beer. Apparently this is normal for Sweden, but eek!
I get the impression everything is expensive in Scandinavia, because they have a more socialist state than we do. The flip side of that is that there have been surveys recently which show that Scandinavian countries have significantly higher life expectancy than the UK, that the people there are happier, that they have better perceived job security, that the indicators of the country's stability are higher, and so forth.
Think of it like the way Americans boast about their country having a higher GDP (or whatever) than the socialist democracies of Europe: true, things are cheaper and people get taxed less, but the price to pay for that is very much less of a welfare state, and think about where you would rather live.
Which is not to say in the longer term you'd prefer to live in Sweden than the UK, but it's a useful way of thinking about it in terms of the higher prices whilst you do.
Yes, I do take your point; hairyears said something similar a while back. Things are generally expensive here, but the quality is also good. It's just that I have just now discovered that alcohol is disproportionately expensive, compared even to the prices of everything else.