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You love these Vietnamese sandwiches from a little mom and pop shop in the city center. They’re perfect. The tofu is soaked through and salted precisely to your liking. You go there so often that the people recognize you and know your order, the #4.

But, as one of the many small business casualties during this tough corona constricted economy, your favorite Vietnamese sandwich shop closes. After an appropriate time of mourning, you think to yourself, ‘I can make these sandwiches, it can’t be that hard — it’s just tofu, pickled carrots, mayonnaise, and bread.’

Alas, your attempt to recreate the beloved Vietnamese sandwich simply doesn’t live up to the standards you’re accustomed to. It just doesn’t quite taste the same.

It’s been a little over a week since the Above offices have started working remotely. While we don’t claim to be sudden experts in remote working, we have reflected together about how working from home has impacted us as a company and as individuals.

I think its safe to say many of us are experiencing corona-fatigue at the moment. …

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Left: American Renee who embraces color and the annual Texan tradition of posing with bluebonnets. Right: Swedish Renee who rejects colors but has grown to embrace the Swedish tradition of showing no emotions.

When I moved to Sweden four years ago to do a masters in applied cultural analysis (fancy term for cultural anthropology) at Lund University, the international students had a week-long orientation to prepare us for Swedish life. The topical spread of information was vast and wide, from lectures given by the Lund fire department on best fire safety practices (don’t cook anything drunk) to the Swedish grading system (don’t expect an ‘A’) to the brochures in our welcome package about the nuances of Swedish milk (Mellanmjölk är bra men Oatly är bäst).

Among the numerous lectures we had was one about culture shock. Any quick google search of “culture shock” will yield a graph similar to the one below. Our lecture proved to be no exception, as the speaker attempted to simplify what the emotional toll of living abroad would look like in the coming months for us in four easy stages: a honeymoon phase of romanticized newness would eventually give way to the shocking reality of uprooting one’s life before tapering off into adjustment, adaption, and general ease. …


Renee Semko Gonzalez

Cultural anthropologist, Sweden's favorite misfit, & occasional purveyor of beer @systembeerlaget

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