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Human Stories

Quarantine Stories: Gabriella, Sweden

Even though the lockdown situation is different in every European country, we all had to adapt our habits of eating, cooking and grocery shopping. Several people across Europe have opened up about the way their lives have changed during these strange times.

Gabriella (38), Gothenburg, Sweden

'My partner (42) and I normally work in Bergen, Norway, but are currently staying in Gothenburg, where we are from. I am a biologist and defended my doctoral thesis on the day Norway went into lockdown. It was a bit chaotic and of course not what I had imagined–but I made it! We spent another two weeks in Norway after it closed down, but knowing that the situation in Sweden was more relaxed, we decided to move back there temporarily. We are very lucky to have that option. 

In Norway, everything felt really chaotic, the shelves were quite empty, and I tried to limit my shopping to once a week. Here in Sweden, it is a bit different. I go grocery shopping quite often but am still very conscious about the issue. There are no restrictions on how many people can enter the shops simultaneously, but there are still signs that warn you to keep a distance. When you stand in line, people still try to stay away, but it is not always possible. And then you have the odd person of course, who doesn’t get it and squeezes into the line. 

We are pescatarians and prepare fresh meals every day. But our diets have changed a lot after moving back to Sweden: food in Norway is very expensive and – I feel bad for saying this – the price does not always reflect the quality of the products. Here in Sweden, for the same money that I would spend on the cheapest cheese and coffee in Norway, I can get very high-quality food. In Norway, we ate a lot of Thai and Japanese-style salmon, with rice, cabbage, and soy. Now our diet is more varied, since here you can also find more varieties of vegetables. I also started buying little extras like Parmesan cheese, which I would never get in Norway–the import tax is so high! 

Everything is still open in Sweden, so you can still go to cafes, which I do every now and then, but only at times when they’re less crowded. We do the same at the gym, since we are both climbers. 

Having a toddler at home has made this situation a bit more difficult, especially when it comes to working from home! In relation to food, I would say that it just takes up a lot of time, when other than working and playing you also have to cook three times a day instead of only once. For us, it wouldn’t matter to push back a meal, but I feel responsible for her and her routine, and that is, of course, a bit more stressful. She eats the same things as we do but used to get her lunches at daycare, which often included meat. That means that I need to prepare some extra meat for her now, even though we don’t eat it. I want to make sure that her diet is diverse enough. The good thing about day-care in Norway is that sometimes they would give them sandwiches for lunch. In Sweden, that would be a no-go. But seeing that a whole country was brought up like this, I don’t feel like a bad mom when I now do that too sometimes.'

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