I arrived back in Sweden on Sunday morning. Had a small problem at passport control for the first time in my life. They of course noticed that I had a residence permit which expired last month and asked me if I was still residing in Sweden. When you’ve applied for an extension of your residence permit you are allowed to stay in Sweden but you aren’t really supposed to leave and come back while your status is unclear. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal since Americans can enter Sweden as tourists for up to three months, but fortunately I had brought a printout of the e-mail confirming that Kostia and I had applied for extensions. They disappeared with that and my passport for about 20 minutes while I entertained thoughts of being deported. When the officer returned she gave me a very gentle scolding in Swedish: “You’ll get to go in now, but you aren’t supposed to do it this way and if your extension isn’t approved you have to leave Sweden.” I didn’t say that she didn’t need to worry, if our extension wasn’t approved Kostia would be out of a job and we’d have to go somewhere else anyway. I just said thanks and went to collect my luggage.

Poor Kostia’s been stuck in Sweden all summer for the same reason – unlike Americans, Russians need a visa to enter Sweden, so there was no way he could leave and come back. Of course, Sweden is not the worst place to be stuck for the summer, but he does want to visit his friends and family and dacha. He’s been calling the migration board regularly, but the person in charge of our case has been on vacation for all of July. That sounds like an idiotic way to organize things, rather than just having the people not on vacation process applications on a first-come, first-serve basis, but I’ve reached the conclusion that migration boards the world round are able to operate in completely idiotic ways because the people who have to deal with them are usually not citizens of the respective countries and therefore there is no political incentive to listen to their concerns and complaints. Not happy with being in limbo for months and months? Stay home, sucker.

In any case, the person in charge of our case returned yesterday and Kostia phoned her. Apparently she was not very friendly and said that she couldn’t promise to speed up the process for anyone, but when Kostia checked his e-mail later in the day, he had received notification that our extensions had been approved! So tomorrow we’re off to the city of Västerås to get our stamps, and next week Kostia will squeeze in a trip to Russia before the semester starts.

In the meantime, I returned to beautiful weather in Sweden. Kostia and Dima met me at the train station on Sunday with Dima and Lenka’s car. While I was gone, Dima had passed his Swedish driving test – no small feat! We drove straight to the ICA Maxi supermarket to get picnic food, and after stopping at home we went to a secluded spot on a nearby lake where the water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature for swimming. Kostia and I biked to another spot on a different lake yesterday, though it wasn’t as idyllic, since it’s a popular destination, with camping and boat rentals and a cafe. As long as the weather is this nice and the lakes this warm, we want to go swimming every day, so I think we’ll return to the secluded place today. It’s quite a life of leisure we’re living. Ah, Sweden.