My Shoes Kept Getting Me Into Trouble

Shoes trouble

My Shoes Kept Getting Me Into Trouble! Written By Charity Butler

While playing softball in Sweden I had the opportunity to visit a fourth grade class. Prya, one of my teammates, works at a local elementary school. She asked me to attend class with her.

You see, students in Sweden begin learning English formally at age six. I was scheduled as a special guest during the English lesson.

I took my seat in the back of the class until it was my turn to speak.

As I surveyed the young crowd, a thought crossed my mind. Why were all the students wearing socks and no shoes? Even the teacher in the front of the class was only wearing slippers. Maybe this was a special day? Is this a treat during story time?

The next question that came to mind: “Where are all the shoes?” I did not see a pair of shoes anywhere in the room. Finally, I asked Prya to explain the barefoot mystery.

“Oh, the students are not allowed to wear shoes inside the classroom. They put them on the shelves in the hallway.” Then I looked down and realized she is not wearing shoes either.

I was the sole-bearing, shoe-wearing guest of honor. All eyes were about to be on me, and I was in violation of school rules!

It was a close call. Fortunately I was able to slip my shoes off to the side at the last minute. The students were thrilled to speak with a “real American.” I narrowly avoided a Swedish social disaster.

The following day, however, I encountered my second shoe episode. This time, I was unable to elude the incident with such grace.

“You want me to do what? Take off my running shoes before we go in the gym?” I asked my teammate, Lina. I was terribly confused as we entered the new workout facility in Skovde (the town where I lived). We were greeted at the front door by several shelves full of shoes.

Here we go again. I have to work out in my socks, too? This is crazy!

The situation is not as bizarre as it first appeared. In fact, it is actually brilliant.

In Sweden people are supposed to have indoor shoes as well as outdoor shoes. When exercising inside they are expected to bring “indoor shoes.” Changing from street shoes is a requirement before entering the workout area. This keeps the floors and other equipment spotless.

I missed the shoe memo… again. As a result, I did lift weights wearing only socks on my feet! Studying in socks is normal here. Lifting in socks, though, is not. I was obviously the confused American who did not know the rules.

People were probably making fun of me in Swedish, but I would not know the difference. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Being in another country and another culture provides for all kinds of misunderstandings and “Cultural Snafus.” Living on another continent, though, brings the diversity of life to light. The norms and expectations are different here than in the US.

This world is full people, ideas and ways of living that are, to us, atypical. Most of the world does not live the way we live in the US. They do not think as we think. Any softball player who has the opportunity to travel, whether it is to another city or to another country, go for it! Your experiences will be invaluable.

Although the process may involve misunderstandings, potentially embarrassing moments and shoeless workouts, I was ecstatic to expand my world view and understand more about the beautiful country of Sweden. Where could fastpitch take you?

Fastpitch Magazine

Charity ButlerCharity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.

Charity, a Two-Time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, played Division I softball at the University of Southern Mississippi. Upon graduation, she launched a professional softball career that has taken her across the U.S. and literally around the world.

Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.

Charity is the founder of Exceed Sports, LLC, and of the I Heart Fastpitch Campaign Join Charity On: Twitter, and on Instagram

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