Funny little realizations that make Sweden different from Kenya (Part 1)


Written by Concillier

04 Mar 2019

I feel a little nostalgic about home when writing this. Today am sharing with you some of the funny little realizations that make Sweden different from Kenya.

1. The transportation system

Green gasbuss driving.
Photo: Aline Lessner/

One of the biggest things my hometown Nairobi is known for is its unique matatu culture which translates to artsy mini-vans that display the love for hip-hop, reggae and graffiti. A ride in a matatu will leave you entertained, stunned and exhausted from all the loud music, chatter and traffic.

Photo: This is Africa, Creative commons. ↗️

Sweden’s transport system is quite different on the other hand. The buses are quiet, operate on a schedule, little to no eye contact with fellow passengers and bus cards or phone application to get a ride. Due to other transport options such as trains and bikes, there’s usually little to no traffic. I remember reading Dena’s post (former digital ambassador) before coming to Sweden and it made so much sense afterwards when no one wanted to sit next to me on the bus. Curious to know why? Here’s the link.

2. Food.

Food in restaurant
Photo: Tina Stafrén/

Next time you are invited for a potluck in Sweden, don’t assume everyone eats meat! There is a large and growing vegetarian population in Sweden. Reading through Hazal’s post, you will get a gist of how vegetarian Sweden is. However, attending a Julbord might give you the impression that Swedes love meat. I don’t dispute either but what amazes me are the considerations done for peoples’ meal preferences even when signing up for events. This was entirely different for me because anyone from Kenya knows how the Nyama choma (BBQ meat) is one of the delicacies that everyone likes to partake in. And for some people in Kenya, a meal is not considered an actual meal unless it has meat in it.

3. Queuing and orderliness.

Friends taking a coffe outside.
Photo: Simon Paulin/

Most places in Sweden will have a ticket system which helps track queues in service areas. This includes banks, public offices and fast food restaurants. Only when your ticket number reflects, can you then go ahead and be served. It was hilarious how I used to go straight to the counter on the first days without a ticket, wondering why everyone else was just standing around. When you come to Sweden, please don’t be me :).

4. Respect for other people’s time.

Girl lying on a hillside while sunbathing and reading a book.
Photo: Ulf Lundin/

I quickly came to realise that people in Sweden will actually believe you when you say you are 5 minutes away so please keep time. It is probable that you had made the plan to meet a few weeks ago. This is simply because everyone is quite busy with life, family, school and tinder.

5. Booking appointments.

Young man talking on the phone.
Photo: Simon Paulin/

In most offices, such as Banks and Hospitals, you may be required to book a time to visit instead of just showing up. In all instances, you HAVE to keep time. If you cancel official appointments, it is possible that you might get a bill in your mail with cancellation charges. This was different for me because Kenya allows for a lot of walk-in scenarios and is flexible.

6. Paid to Recycle – Panta Mera

Recycle cans is something that is common among Swedes
Photo: Fredrik Nyman/

I recently earned 10 sweet Swedish krona from recycling and am planning to double this amount in the next few weeks! In Sweden, depositing aluminium and plastic cans via a bottle deposit machine will earn you between 1kr or 2kr per bottle. Kenya recently banned the use of plastic bags and will be coming up with other measures to maintain environmental sustainability. How I wish such an incentive was one of them!

I will be adding part 2 of Funny little realizations of how I find Sweden to be different from Kenya in the coming week. So if you enjoyed this read, be on the look out for more. I promise, it will be juicier!


Written by Concillier

04 Mar 2019