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Fredrik Carlström is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Creative Director of Great Works America, a full-service digital marketing and communications agency that represents a diverse range of clients including[…]

Fredrik Carlstrom discusses the cultural transition from Sweden to the United States.

Question: How Has Geography Shaped You?

Fredrik Carlstrom: Well, I’m from Stockholm, Sweden, born and raised. I came to America in 2000, the day of the election. Got on the plane in Stockholm and Al Gore was President, and I landed in New York, and George Bush was President. It was an interesting moment. How has it shaped me? I think when I was in Sweden, I felt that I didn’t always fit in a little bit, and I think Sweden is a very interesting place, and I think it’s a very great place in a lot of ways, but it’s a little bit small sometimes. So I think I was really longing for more space.

Question: How was the cultural transition from Sweden to the United States?

Fredrik Carlstrom: It was pretty smooth. I mean, I think people who-- I mean, Sweden is-- I guess a lot of Western European countries is quite Americanized, so we get all your television and we get all your fashion and stuff like that. And I think what’s interesting about moving to another country-- had I moved to Somalia, for instance, I would have, you know, I would’ve gone to the library, or gone online, and sort of researched it, and I would’ve been much more prepared for the fact that it’s a Muslim country, they look different than I do, they dress differently, they eat differently, the topography is different. And so I think a lot of people do-- and I think I did it also, is when you come to America, you kind of assume that you understand it. You know, we look different-- you know, we look the same, and we speak the same language, and we dress the same. And then you realize that there are little subtle differences. You know, you date differently, you eat differently. And sort of smaller cultural things that are quite significant. So I think there’s a little bit of shock.


Recorded on: 6/12/08