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.
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.
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 …”
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.