Help yourself to a Slice of Swedish Hospitality

Written by on August 6, 2012 in Blog, Europe, Sweden - 16 Comments

Mia, David and Oskar from a Slice of Swedish Hospitality

The little blond two-year-old boy with an angelic face lifts his little arms up to me, motioning for a hug.

We’ve only met a couple of hours ago, but in the short time I’ve managed to secure more high fives than normal and gotten those adorable little kid giggles to come from him.

A smile lights up my face, and I reach down to Oskar and scoop him into my arms.

“Good night,” I whisper into his ear and wrap my arms around him.

Then, his mom, Mia whisks him and his older brother, David, off to bed.

“I’ll be back in a little and we can sit and have a beer,” she promises before disappearing down the hallway of her apartment in the heart of Malmo, Sweden.

After a long day of paddle boarding, exploring the eco-city in the West Harbour and dinner, I sink into one of Mia’s butter yellow leather couches with a beer in my hand and feel my body unwind.

This … this is perfect.

The balcony is perfect for summer evenings and beer with A Slice of Swedish Hospitality

A cold beer and beautiful balcony? Yes, please!

I know how lucky I am. And realize how amazing the opportunity Mia is providing me.

A Slice of Swedish Hospitality, started by Mia and her mother, Eva, promises to give guests just that — a true taste of what life as a local is like.

“This is about getting to know us Swedes, for real!” says Mia. “We believe the world can become a better place if we meet eye-to-eye and get a more humble feeling towards different cultures, social systems, political and religious views. New perspectives make me grow as a person and hopefully we can learn from each other.”

Having people over for supper is nothing new to this mother of two. In fact, as a child, living with her gardener parents, there were always people coming over for meals. Her mom always had an extra plate at the ready for guests stopping by.

The charming set up with A Slice of Swedish Hospitality

Ready for dinner?

Before the Slice of Swedish Hospitality was started, Eva and her husband (Mia’s father, Anders) would rent their house for tourists, often times inviting those visitors over for meals or games.

Mia recalls it fondly. “We would have a lovely time discussing life in our countries and how we got the everyday life together. We still stay in contact. For these people, it was the best experience during their vacation.”

So, who is this experience good for? My answer: anyone who wants to get a better understanding of life as a Swede. For me, it gave me insight into great places to visit while in the country, as well as a beautiful look at the culture.

The program matches visitors with a network of the company’s hosts and allows them access to a family’s daily life in their own setting — a private home. Whether a family with children who wants to meet a local family with children, to young couples and beyond, there are matches to create that perfect Swedish evening.

“When do you ever get the chance to learn about Sweden if you don’t already have friends here?” Mia asks. “Here, you have conversations for real and get a chance to ask questions about Sweden, try the food we eat, have Swedish coffee …”

As for the future of the Malmo-based program — the sky is the limit.
“We would like an even wider range of ambassador families to open up their private homes, and to be able to do even better matching,” says Mia. “We have a range of hosts from 24-year-old girls who are single and study to families with young children and teenagers, to retired ambassadors, gay, single dads and more.”

Before I leave for the night, I empty my wallet of American money.

A little time later, I get a note from Mia: the boys, even now, still play with it. I like to think for as much of an impression the family left on me, there is a little of me left in Sweden, too.

Editor’s Note: My time in Sweden was courtesy of Visit Sweden, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy. Want more on Sweden? Follow along in Twitter and Instagram, #myswedentrip.

 

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is a former career breaker and long term solo traveler. Today, she helps promote responsible elephant tourism and is the co-founder of #RTTC, a weekly chat on Twitter focusing on responsible tourism. When she isn’t writing, Diana handles the PR and social media for Save Elephant Foundation, which runs the popular Elephant Nature Park. Her writing as appeared in About.com, Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Luna Luna, Vegas Seven, World Nomads, Viator, CheapOair, OneTravel and more.

16 Comments on " Help yourself to a Slice of Swedish Hospitality "

  1. Cole @ Four Jandals August 8, 2012 at 7:41 am · Reply

    This is such a good idea. Would definitely love to live with a local family for a few days.

    • Diana August 13, 2012 at 2:56 am · Reply

      It was such a wonderful experience and now I have a new friend for life!

  2. Callie August 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm · Reply

    This is a great idea – they sound lovely! The kids are adorable…

    • Diana August 13, 2012 at 2:56 am · Reply

      Isn’t it a great idea? And the kids … I loved them!

  3. Federico August 14, 2012 at 11:11 am · Reply

    What a great opportunity to mingle with the locals!

    • Diana August 15, 2012 at 1:52 am · Reply

      It really was! I loved being able to see how locals live instead of just going out to dinner and spending time in my hotel room or at attractions.

  4. Ayngelina August 14, 2012 at 5:21 pm · Reply

    I love these kinds of alternatives, they make staying somewhere so much more special than even the nicest hotel would.

    • Diana August 15, 2012 at 1:49 am · Reply

      It is so true! Mia and her family were so wonderful and it was so nice to make friends with locals who I know I will stay in touch with.

  5. Cipri @Travelocafe August 14, 2012 at 6:34 pm · Reply

    We’ve been this summer to Sweden. I envy you for having this great opportunity to get closer to the locals.

    • Diana August 15, 2012 at 1:49 am · Reply

      It was a really lovely opportunity! I would do it again in a heartbeat!

  6. Ali August 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm · Reply

    This sounds really cool! I really enjoy seeing the touristy things when I travel, but the people are always what make trips so memorable. Staying with this family sounds like a wonderful experience!

    • Diana August 20, 2012 at 9:31 am · Reply

      It was really cool! I wish I hadn’t been so tired from the trip, I would have loved to have stayed at the house longer.

  7. Erica August 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm · Reply

    This is why I like Couchsurfing.

    • Diana August 20, 2012 at 9:23 am · Reply

      I loved your stories on CS.

  8. Abby August 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm · Reply

    Love this! How often have you wanted “mom” while traveling… A mother’s touch makes every meal better!

    • Diana August 20, 2012 at 9:22 am · Reply

      Mia was so awesome, too! I still talk with her.

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