A Smiling Face in My Head

Liying Feng

Chinese

当我第一次听到瑞典的时候,头一件进入我脑海的是一幅绘声绘色的欧洲风光画,画里有房子,森林,还有街道转角处传来的音乐声,我几乎可以想象到映像里的憧憬浮现出一个欢乐的笑脸。其中一个最重要的原因是我的好奇心吸引着我想去到瑞典游览和学习。我感觉很幸运地拥有这样一次留学的机会。


 


瑞典是一个45万平方公里的北欧国家,地处挪威以东和芬兰以西,南面与丹麦一峡之隔,我们这次要去到的是瑞典的首都城市斯德哥尔摩,它有700年的历史,非常漂亮的地方并且历史文化丰富。瑞典是世界上人口自然增长率最低,平均预期寿命和老化程度最高的国家之一,是北欧最富有的国家之一,与此同时,瑞典还是有名的福利性中立国家,我在网上搜索瑞典时,发现在瑞典街头有许多象征着和平和自由的雕塑。和平和安宁也许是瑞典和瑞典人们的一个标志。


 


此外,我认为瑞典是一个神秘的国度,它自身独具一格的文化背景和政治特点,历史上瑞典从丹麦独立出来之后,在两次世界大战中保持中立国家态度,这些在很大程度上避免了战乱带来的毁坏,保存瑞典的完整性。基督教是瑞典的国教,他们同时要求国王必须是基督教教徒,瑞典的学校也时有宗教教育,超过88%的瑞典人的信仰是基督教。另一方面,瑞典被称之为最有创新型的国家,世界上最有影响力的瑞典人之一,阿尔弗雷德·诺贝尔,他在去世的前一年写下遗嘱,用他所有的积蓄成立诺贝尔奖基金会,每年颁奖给为人类在不同领域做出杰出贡献的人。除此之外,在新现代社会生活方面,如果你也在使用SKYPE拨打国际电话或用SPOTIFY在线听歌,他们也同时归功于瑞典人的创造。瑞典很有特色的一点是,瑞典人既保留了他们历史传统文化,同时也在新新领域占领着非常大的影响。


 


在政治制度方面,瑞典是全世界仅存25个的君主立宪制国家之一。我曾经参观过英国的白金汉宫,感受到皇家的气场非常有影响力,同样在瑞典,皇室家族是一个十分特别的上流社会,它的政治意义不同于一般贵族,我还记得2010的时候,在电视新闻里看到维多利亚公主的结婚庆典,整个过程就好像现实生活里的童话。


 


关于瑞典,我有很多想要知道的东西,他们完全不一样的历史背景一定产生了很多我们做事情时候的不同方式,了解和学习另一个国家的人们在过一种怎样生活会是一件非常有意思的经历,就像回忆起当时第一次来到美国的时候,我也经历了从完全陌生的学习、交谈和烹制食物,经过一段时间,我发现留学最有趣的一个方面就是观察周围的人,从其中学到新的想法和方式并和自身的情况,游览一个新地方是一件很容易的事,想认真地认识一个地方却没有那么容易。我希望尽可能多地认识瑞典,尤其是它的体系和文化,这次一定会是一次很棒的学习旅行。#


 


 


English

When I hear the word Sweden, the first things that come to mind are lots of beautiful European images, houses, forests – classical music wafting around street corners. I am an international student from Hunan, China studying at the University of Miami. In Sweden, with my University of Miami group, I expect to find a beautiful country and a high quality of living.  I can almost image a smiling face inside my head when I think of Sweden. One of the forces pushing me to Sweden is my curiosity about the country. It’s lucky that I’ve caught this chance to study aboard.

The Kingdom of Sweden is one of the largest northern European countries with an area of nearly 175,000 square miles or 450,000 square kilometers, set between Norway and Finland and, to the south, Denmark.  I will be spending three weeks in the capital city of Stockholm with other University of Miami students and our professor. Stockholm is a city known for its beauty, rich culture and 700 years of history.

Sweden has a high standard of living. It has one of the world’s longest life expectancies, 81.4 years, and one of the lowest birth rates.  Among the possible explanations for the low birth rate is that women are attending school longer and, studies show, higher educated women tend to have fewer children. Also more unmarried couples are living together and unmarried couples, data shows, are less likely to have children than married couples.

Sweden’s tax rate is relatively high, but the state provides health care and other social services at a level of quality unknown in much of the world. I’ve seen photographs of sculptures in Stockholm, representing peace and freedom and I think of these as symbols of Sweden and its people.

Sweden is known for its position of neutrality on international issues. Sweden tends to avoid military engagement in international conflict. Yet Sweden has a long history with the North American Treaty Organization Allies on security issues.

I think of Sweden as a somewhat mysterious country with an interesting cultural and political background.  Sweden gained independence from Denmark in 1523. During World War I and World War II, Sweden chose not to take sides. More than 88 percent of Swedes identify themselves as Christians.

Sweden has a reputation for innovation.  Skype and the music service Spotify, which provides free Internet phone calls and free music, were developed in Sweden. Sweden is widely known for its leadership on environmental issues. In 2010, Stockholm was designated by the European Union as the greenest capital city in Europe. For Sweden, the environment has become a business. The country exports its know-how and technology to China and other countries.

Sweden is one of 25 countries with a constitutional monarchy in which the head of state operates within the parameters of a constitution. This contrasts with an absolute monarchy in which the leader gets all the power. And it is different from a democracy in which government leaders are elected.

The first constitutional monarch I learned about was Britain’s. When I had a chance to go to England I visited Buckingham Palace, the home of Britain’s royal family. I was amazed to learn about the British royal family and how it is supported in luxury by the British people and often proudly portrayed as a grand symbol of Britain. We have great leaders and national heroes in China, but they are nothing like the royal families of Britain and Sweden. The royal families fascinate me. When I watched the wedding of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria on television a few years ago, it was like a fairy tale come to life.

There are lots of things I want to know about Sweden. Since they have a whole different history, there must be many things they do differently from people in China and the United States.  It will be interesting to know how the Swedes live and relate to each other and to people from other countries.

It makes me think about when I first arrived in the United States.  I didn’t know how to speak English, study or cook. After a while, I discovered the fun of learning from others and combining new knowledge with the knowledge that I had grown up with and nurtured in China.

It is easy to visit a new place but it is hard to get to know that place. I’m looking forward to learning everything I can about Sweden.   This is going to be a great study journey. #

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