A: The spelling of my name, Maia, actually makes pronunciation a little tricky. I pronounce it MAY-uh with a long “A”.
Q: Why and when did you move to Sweden?
A: For whatever reason, it never occurred to me that I would marry internationally. Then I met my future Swedish husband, Magnus, in graduate school at the University of Oregon. We got married after we graduated and moved to Boston for work. After our first daughter was born we felt that our location didn’t really make sense with my family in Utah and Oregon and Magnus’ in Sweden. So after seven plus years in Boston we decided to give Sweden a try and moved here in February of 2008.
Q: Can you speak Swedish?
A: That depends on who you ask. My parents say ‘yes, very well’ I say ‘a little,’ and my 5 year old daughter says ‘no.’ I’m a little embarassed I’m not in a better place with it after this much time here, but I’m afraid I am no language whiz. I do still have dreams of being fluent some day. In the meantime, I’m continuing to take classes and at least I can get my general point across and no longer break into a cold sweat when a stranger asks me a question in Swedish.
Q: Do you know what part of Sweden your ancestors are from?
A: My father’s mother was a full-blooded Swede. Her father was a Swedish immigrant and her mother was born in the US to Swedish immigrants from the area of Småland. My grandmother’s father (on my father’s side), Emil Rohden, grew up on a small farm called Rud Matsegård in the area of Sweden known as Västergötland. There were seven children in the family. Two brothers emigrated to the US and stayed, Emil in Iowa and his brother in Chicago. The other five siblings remained in Sweden and many of their descendants still live in the area around Rud Matsegård. I have been fortunate to meet many of them. They are really lovely people and knowing that I have my own relatives here makes it feel a bit more like home. The bizarre part is that was when we learned that my husband’s ancestors also came from a farm called Rud Matsegård. Turns out there are two farms across the road from each other, both with the same name. So our relatives were actually neighbors. Even though it would have been a distant relation, it was a big relief to know our relatives came from different sides of the road. But honestly, what are the odds of that kind of connection? Amazing.
Q: You grew up in Utah, are you Mormon (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)?
A: No, but I did meet with Mormon missionaries while I was on a college student exchange at Louisiana State University. So I’ve taken ‘the discussions’ and know that the Mormon church wasn’t the right choice for me.
Q: What do you miss most about the US?
A: Aside from the obvious answer of family and friends, I miss English. Yes, most of the people in Sweden under age 50 speak English very well, but it’s not the same as being able to turn on the TV and understand everything on the news, or to be able to read all the signs you see, or to simply understand your neighbor when they speak to you in the hallway. After English, I really miss the food. That list could go on and on, but the short list is Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, and being able to eat really good food inexpensively.
Q: Do you take your own photos?
A: Yes, I take all of the photos unless otherwise noted. I have a Canon G12 and a Canon PowerShot SD4000IS. I don’t have any fancy lenses or lighting. I use natural light and don’t do anything funky like using glue instead of milk so it will appear more white. My family consumes the food that is pictured. I don’t really do any food styling aside from the occasional obsessive compulsive preoccupation with something like the best placement of a sprig of mint.
Q: Where do you get your information about things like holidays?
A: I use a combination of sources. I often look at various websites but get the bulk of the information from multiple printed sources from the library. They are more reliable and all that translating helps me with my Swedish.