Love Sweden? Want to tell the world? Here’s your chance! Become the curator of the @VisitorInSweden Twitter account and you too can share your views on the land of sill and dill! To get the full story – YLC caught up with its creator Paul Belben!
The @VisitorInSweden Twitter account offers Swedophiles the chance to air their views on this glorious country to a wide audience. From a small idea came big things: over 2000 tweets and 500 followers in six months and it’s only going to get bigger and better. But not without your help!
The account is the brainchild of Paul Belben, who lives in the UK, but loves all things Swedish. This is not just someone who has a passing fancy for ‘Dancing Queen’. This is a man who thinks he might have been Swedish “in a past life”, is making the effort to learn the language long-distance and who visits whenever he can. We know – because he told us!
Belben wanted to know if anyone else shared his passion and lo and behold – the Twitter account was born in January this year. The initial response was incredible and the account has gone from strength to strength, but it relies on support from non-Swedes either visiting or living in the country. We mean YOU!
So who are you, Mr Paul Belben and what’s your connection to Sweden anyway?
Paul Belben: Since 1990, thanks to my Mum, I’ve been a massive fan of Roxette. I guess that is where I get my Swedish obsession from. I’ve visited the country 4 times, and a 5th coming up in July to go and see Gyllene Tider. I have a few friends in Sweden now and my Swedish is getting better, albeit slowly. I’ve visitied Gothenburg, Halmstad and Stockholm before and I’d love to go to other places; the south of Sweden is so beautiful! About me? I’m 33, live on a small island in the English Channel called Guernsey and I work in IT.
So, what exactly is VisitorInSweden?
PB: VisitorInSweden is a Twitter account where different curators from around the world can talk about why they love Sweden. The only condition is that you can’t be a born a Swede.
Where, when and why did you get the idea?
PB: I was sitting in the Stockholm Arlanda Airport in January this year, and the idea popped into my head. The @sweden account is so popular, and I thought it may be a good idea to try and do something similar, but from a visitor’s perspective.
So what’s going well? And what isn’t?
PB: The response in the first couple of weeks was amazing. The number of followers was increasing day by day. It has levelled off slightly now, but we have gone over the 500 mark, so it’s all good still. The main difficulty is promotion. I have contacted a few different people connected with Sweden on Twitter and the majority do not seem to want to help. Getting curators can be difficult sometimes as well, although we always seem to find someone at the last minute!
Who can be VisitorInSweden; what does it take?
PB: Anyone who has visited and loved Sweden basically. Just as long as you’re not a Swede born and bred, then that’s fine. There are no rules on what to talk about; you just have to be interesting and willing to talk to anyone who pings @VisitorInSweden. You can talk about recommendations on things to do, where you’ve been, restaurants you love: anything at all! Expats currently living in Sweden are also welcome to take part; they often see things very differently to a local person and have proved to be very popular with our followers.
What can people do to get in contact?