Before moving here the biggest question I had in my mind was ” how Swedes really are”? But really honestly can someone please tell me? And all I got as an answer was pure stereotypes and misconceptions….
Well, here I am. Telling you, what I (and this is important to highlight) think about Swedish people, and how they’re like. Plus, I am going to give you some tips on how to become one (in case you’re wondering about the procedure). Trust me there’s no surgical change, there’s no secret ingredient to Swedes… Maybe a little bit of a different approach to a world and different traditions. But isn’t it just like with any other culture which differs from yours? How is so so special about Swedes that attracts you?
If you want to read a very interesting article about 11 weird things Swedes do: check this out!
1. Being humble
One of the first things I have realized that Swedish people are very humble. They don’t brag, they don’t necessarily like to accept your compliments, whether it’s simply just an “oh I like your shirt” or, more of an “academic compliment” like “I really liked your paper about the mating habits of white sharks”. It’s not about being unaware of your qualities. It is very simply about the idea that “no human is different from the other” and we’re all equal.
Tip: Be proud of who you are and where you came from, but don’t brag about your wealth, or externalities.
2. Finding the humor
Where I come from (Central Europe, Hungary) people are very VERY very pessimistic. We don’t believe that life can be good, we tend to complain, and complain, and complain. Sometimes I feel like that is what holds us together.
Swedes, on the other hand, are exactly the opposite. Yes it’s dark, yes it rains, yes it’s cold. BUT WHO CARES? Life goes on, and NO ONE, not even the sun itself can stop you from having fun. Do you remember the Sun from the Teletubbies? I feel like in Sweden it’s the clouds that set the exact same vibe on your day. It does nothing else but giggles, and nothing matters.
Tip: Be positive, and take life easy. Very cliche ‘advice’, but try to see the glass full. (This is DEFINITELY something I am trying to follow every day)
3. Appreciating ‘the little things’
Okay, nature is not something that can be labeled as a ‘little thing’ but we all forget to care about it sometimes. We just simply forget our surroundings. Swedish people are taking walks, they jog, they genuinely enjoy to be outside.
Hiking, swimming, wandering around, while touching, listening, and starring at the same time. I love how they just appreciate the clear air, the fresh and delicious water, and spend every time possible outside.
It makes me laugh every time how Swedes are smiling when a little sunbeam just catches their face. They just freeze and stay there breathing in its every molecule. Even in the city center. No matter how cold is it, if the sun is out, winter coats are hanged on their shoulder, and they just turning towards the sun like some kind of dazed sunflowers.
Tip: As soon as the sun is out, run outside and enjoy it! Our sweet Nguyen wrote an amazing and very decorative blog post about her latest adventure. Give it a look, and prepare to be amazed.
4. Fika culture
Northern and Western people are often labeled as workaholics and robots. Hmm…. every time when someone mentions this with a mocking tone, I tend to get very annoyed. Swedes do work, they work hard, but they know EXACTLY where and when to stop. If you’re working hours are over, during weekend, and holidays, you won’t be seeing a policeman in his uniform, nor your administrator answering your thousandth email. (Except some of our teachers… they even answer you at 4 am in the morning. But I am sure they are made of kryptonite or something.)
Nothing else proves this than the amazing, the one and only FIKA. At any time of the day, you have ti remind yourself to stop, have a good conversation with someone or with yourself (yep!) and just enjoy the delicious bryggkaffe and something sweet to eat.
Tip: I will not even try to further explain, check this blog post about fika culture out and you will get the general image.
5. Wearing ‘whatever’
What Swedes wear? Yet again, there’s no golden rule, but in general, Swedes are very fashionable. And the most fashionable thing about them is that they do not care about fashion (seemingly). Their way is gender-neutral, retro, SUSTAINABLE, recycled, clean, minimalistic, THRIFTED, free, extravagant. There’s no such thing that you can’t wear here. This is something I absolutely love and admire. You can wear whatever, with whatever, wherever. Isn’t it great?
TIP: Thrifting and recycling is not something that only Swedes can do 😉
6. Hating hierarchy
Everyone always calls everyone on first name bases. There’s no Mr., Miss, or Mrs., at the university there’s no Professor XY. But it can also a bit confusing when you don’t know who is the professor in the classroom!
Tip: When you introduce yourself in Sweden, the ‘who are you’ often means ‘what are you’ as well. Mentioning your profession, and interest can come handy later on 🙂
7. They’re just being Swedes
They say ‘Oj!’ all the time. It means ‘wow’, ‘really’, it means ‘excuse me’, it can mean a lot of things.
Swedish people also like to repeat words in a very cute way. Hej, hej! Tack, tack! Puss puss! Mors, Mors!, etc. It is adorable, and at least you can easily learn them 🙂
Tip: You don’t have to be Swede. Absolutely not. These are just small things that I personally noticed, but everything that is written above can be something absolutely opposite of what YOU have seen.
Generalizing, and creating stereotypes is unfortunately in our nature. But don’t let anyone (including me ) else influence your impressions. And don’t let your first impressions (especially quickly made ones) fool you. Just like everyone else in the world Swedes are unique, colorful, and beautiful. How do you see Swedes?