What do Sweden, Denmark and Norway have in common with the United States? Not universal healthcare. Not strict gun control. Not free higher education. Ikea.
When I see that blue and yellow building, the feeling I experience does more for my mental health than my blue mood stabilizer and yellow SSRI ever will. Ikea is such an amazing place and there is nowhere else I would like to spend my time. It has everything a college student could need at affordable prices, the Swedish cuisine is delicious and the potential for people-watching is limitless.
On the day of move-in, I was able to easily head to Ikea to get the $14.99 lärbro, a couple fraktas, a $3.99 ullakaktus, a $4.99 justina and a $19.00 laiva to turn my dorm into a home. Other items people can acquire include silverware, duvets, pillows and pretty much anything else you might need from this place of wonder. Walking around the winding path of the store, you’ll pass all the essentials, helpfully reminding you of anything that you may have forgotten that you needed. Ikea is a fifteen minute walk (or a four minute drive) away from campus, which makes it easily accessible to even the busiest student. Since Ikea makes you build the furniture yourself, furniture prices are also significantly lower, which helps solve the constant college conundrum that is one’s bank account.
Ikea also provides extensive entertainment in the form of people-watching. You can see a new couple pick out their first piece of furniture together, a married couple on the verge of divorce because they can’t decide on a couch and small children gleefully getting an easel to pursue their artistic dreams. To watch a furniture snob sit on every single chair in the store to find the one while you recline on a balkarp with a new friend solidifies that relationship forever. To say that there are better or more interesting places to go than Ikea is a lie.
As your day at Ikea comes to a close, you realize how much energy that shopping and people-watching took out of you. For those desperate for a high quality, reasonably-priced meal, the Ikea restaurant is the place to be. Though the restaurant is currently closed because of the pandemic, anyone can buy the ingredients needed to make the entrees the restaurants usually serve so you can make a delicious meal at home. The mashed potatoes, or allemansrätten, slap, no questions asked. The meatballs, or huvudroll, are spectacular in my father’s objective opinion. For vegetarians like me, they also have vegetarian meatballs that are surprisingly well seasoned. Who needs Eggo toaster waffles when you could have Ikea våfflor? They have a large variety of cookies and biscuits that are perfect for snacking. Another go-to snack are Ikea’s chips. Lay’s potato chips cost 61 cents an ounce while Ikea’s potato chips are only 49 cents.
In my review of Ikea’s food, the dryck lingon organic lingonberry drink deserves a paragraph of its own. It is so good. It is my favorite drink in the world. While I struggle to put into words just how amazing this beverage is, leave it to the Ikea website to leave prospective consumers salivating: “Lingonberries grow in the forests of Sweden as an important source of vitamin C for moose, bears, wolves – and humans. Picked from August to October, the fresh taste of lingonberries makes them excellent for juice and jam – or for beverages.” How picturesque is that? Lingonberry juice can only be found at Ikea or Whole Foods, and since Ikea doesn’t have a new scandal every year, the correct choice between the two stores is obvious.
While I expected Ikea to struggle with the concept of sustainability because of how they encourage the consumption of products that will typically wear out after a few years, Ikea cares for the environment more than I initially anticipated. They have signed the Uzbek Cotton Pledge and the Better Cotton Initiative to stop their use of cotton made by forced labor and to subsequently source their cotton in a better, more ethical manner. They also only add chemicals to their products if absolutely necessary. Additionally, the company also has almost one million solar panels installed to power their stores, as well as other buildings.
All in all, Ikea is amazing, it makes me happy and I recommend that you try to find happiness there too.