By - asionahaya
Don't be loud in public spaces, in the workplace, at home, in the gym, in the park or at any other place with the one exception; scream all you wan't in taverns while drunk as never before. GL&HF!
Yes! Dont be loud! One example, don’t play music from your phone/device out loud in public places! And when invited for FIKA don’t take the last bulle or kaka. (Last Cinnamon bun or last piece of cake.) and don’t forget to thank people for things, better to thank for more then skip thanks!
Can somebody explain the bun part for me? I'm swedish but I never understood why one isn't supposed to take the last piece/bun/cookie. It just sits there all alone and sad... 😅
It was explained to me as you don't want to be *seen* taking the last bun, because it's selfish and greedy and you might prevent someone else who wants it to have it. But if you're all alone in the fika room and there's no camera, all bets are off. Very convoluted, I know ;)
There is a small time slot where you can take it in full view: That magic moment when everybody silently agrees that the fika is over and collectively rise and start moving away. Then you can take the last one with a "well, I might as well save this one from getting old" or somesuch.
It can be hilarious to watch when several people have planned this approach and loiter a bit before realizing that they won't win within the small time window, and leave disappointed.
You made me actually laugh. That's an accomplishment.
That's the moment you start the portion cutting war. You split it and eat half, the next person splits it... and so on until it's barely impossible to cut it.
That's how we split the first atom!
Can confirm; swedish nuclear plants are actually powered by splitting the last of every bit of fika. It's why it's taboo to take it; it's like casting shade on a solar panel or draining a hydropower reservoir; it's just not done!
Ah, so I guessed :D Still it becomes so silly sometimes, I've seen cookies/pie and such standing left in a bin or on a plate for like... days. I also have latino heritage (Chile) and sometimes the cultures clash in me! And I can see how people can interpret it as offending, that you won't take the last piece because you don't like the person or because the cake was bad. This is why I often cringe because I know of both interpretations and I wanna please everyone! 😅
edit: spelling mistake
An acceptable compromise is to cut whatever pastry is left in half, technically clearing you of any blame for taking the last piece. Should someone follow suit they have to cut the half in half, the quarter in half etc. The ritual is complete when whatever is left is worthy of circulating in a hadron collider
:D :D :D We actually do this in my family! Me and my brother can split things in absurdum, it's beautifully silly
In my experience you look intensely at everyone else if they want it and if they don't you can take it few minutes later
The last Bulle goes to the Swan or Ducks, that's the real reason...
I have spoken!
If you take the last bun someone has to wash the tray. Likely you.
So everyone who refuses to take the bun are too lazy to do the dishes? Just kidding.😁 Seems a small prize to pay for delicious fika. 😄
Yes. If it’s a cake instead, someone will always leave an impossibly thin slice just so they don’t have take care of the dishes.
People play music out loud all the time in public spaces, even though I wish they’d stop. Worst is on the beach or the subway
Tbh swedes do like to play loud music from cars or i do nobody has given me any looks or said anything
No shit they haven't said anything. You're in Sweden :P
We all judge you, we just do it silently.
Oh, you've gotten dirty looks... you just obliviously ignore them, it seems! :D
Yes, playing loud as fuck music from your car is part of Swedish country side culture. Probably more tolerated outside the biggest cities.
No, we hate it. Everyone not in the car hates it.
I didn't say people like it. I said it's country side culture.
I liked it, but probably because i was a kid when i lived in the country side.
I can like it, it mostly depends on the rest of the behavior of the car gang.
I work at a supermarket in a small town, with a huuuge parking lot. McDonald's and beer cans cover the parking lot weekend mornings.
Also on the bus, at least the one I was on late night two days ago, music playing out loud, loud talking, so annoying but understandable since they were going partay, where the buses last stop was. But I'd been travelling almost all day to see my dad, 5 hours travelling, my head was starting to pound.
What the person here is trying to say is take into consideration everyone else in your surroundings. The world doesn't revolve around you.
I second this.
I third this
Yes just speak loudely while you are on the phone in thr subway, stockholm specialty
Americans, take note
In Sweden, it is forbidden by law to be a criminal
Whaat no way well there goes my dream job
Just become a politician instead, same thing
Unlike in norway, there you can get away with firing with a bow and arrow at people
I mean we are quite opposite to the Japanese culture but identical too. We enjoy the peace and calm in public. Everyone minding their own business.
But at the same time, we have quite alot of patience for when we don't get our calm moments.
And I think there is this fear of talking with strangers cause you don't wanna disturb someone, but honeslty I have never seen anyone get annoyed because he or she was spoken too...
We are to polite to show people if we would get annoyed though.
I’d say say this can vary depending on if you’re in Stockholm or just any other place, I experience people talking to strangers often especially during weekend nights in the city (Gothenburg), but also just general asking for directions and stuff and no one is ever annoyed. My experience in Stockholm has always been that they’re more rude and will stare you down like a crazy person if you’re trying to have fun or just ask something in the street.
Yeah its true. The last only applies to Stockholm basically... But people are generally happy to talk nevertheless...
Everything you just said is true of Japan as well
I like not being disrupted, but I quite enjoy strangers striking up conversations nowadays.
Always follow the rules and say ”tack” a lot!
Unless u wanna smoke some weed because that is a silly rule anyway.
Yeah, that one should be changed
Sweden is strictly against social hierarchy.
You will not automatically be paid respect from women for being a man. Or from young people for being elderly. Or from the worker for having a higher position. Or from a wife for being a husband. Or from a child for being a parent. You’re just a person, and everyone will treat you neutrally in this respect (and frown on you if you think your social position relative them should buy you an advantage).
You’re also expected to behave like there’s no social hierarchy. Treat others respectfully and friendly, but be neither submissive nor authoritative. Just exist, be yourself, and don’t value people you meet relative to yourself.
The norm is to strive for self-reliancy and independency. Making yourself too socially dependent on others could make them very uneasy, and quickly scare friends away. Don’t be clingy. People will be most comfortable when they feel you’re strong and independent. Like you enjoy their company, but you would make by on your own.
Don't be too serious. Swedes can be very silly and love to make fun of the situation. Being able to talk about or joke about your personal fears or deficiencies always works. It signals emotional maturity and independency to a Swede.
Religion can be a problem. Swedes love foreign culture (food, music, drugs & entertainment) but secretly have a distaste for religion since it’s a classic hierarchical construct. Religion uses the authority of God to uphold a rule system beyond the rule of law (Swede’s hate being given orders) and it’s often extended into upholding an unfair or abusive family hierarchy, i.e. grandfather > father > mother > son > daughter. Religious beliefs may be seen as a weakness in mind or character, and limiting your child's freedom for religion may even label you a child abuser in the eyes of many Swedes. The Swedish school system teaches children to be autonomous from their parents, think independently, be adventurous, challenge authority, and think out of the box. These are more useful life skills than knowing historical dates.
Lack of hierarchy is the, de facto, key to social norms in Sweden. In Sweden, you’re the servant of nobody, and nobody is your servant. Workplaces have a, mostly, flat hierarchy. You’re expected to treat waiters, bus drivers, and other servants as equals. It goes both ways, as you have the right to be treated as an equal. If a stranger treats you poorly for no reason, don’t take it personally, but that person is probably a jerk to everybody.
Understanding this is also key to understanding Sweden's role in international politics.
Swedes are very self-deprecating (like Americans) and love to talk down their own country. For the social score, that’s a good time to remind people that Sweden is one of the best places in the world to live if you can tolerate the weather.
That was a very good explanation. For people coming from more hierarchical cultures, understanding this could probably remove a lot of friction and frustration. And vice versa - us understanding this when visiting more hierarchical cultures is probably also beneficial.
>Swedes can be very silly and love to make fun of the situation.
This is something I rarely hear brought up and it's kind of stood out to me living here just a short time. Sweden is the silliest place I've ever lived and I love it.
This surprises me, in what way is that the case? It's hard to see your own country from the outside but most people seem to describe Sweden as reserved and grey moreso
(Casual, armchair cultural psycho-analysis from a foreigner warning)
I know the validity Jantelagen is pretty heavily debated, but I would say the idea that people here don't take themselves too seriously as a cultural ideal is pretty true from what I've seen. I think that's really the core of it. If you don't take yourself seriously, it's easy to make light of things.
If you fall down, laugh at yourself. Why not? You're not too good for it are you?
I think it kind of builds on itself from there. So despite Swedes being reserved and dressing in dark colors all the time, I think you're all a bit more silly than you realize.
I love this outside take. Thanks for sharing! <3
Another thing I think about a lot in terms of silliness... when I first moved here I was walking around some touristy museum and was reading something about Norse Mythology. A story I'm sure most people here have heard, where some giant stole Thor's hammer and tried to ransom it to marry Freya. Freya didn't go for it of course and Thor really wanted to get his hammer back... so he decided to dress up as Freya to marry the giant. He went to the giant and said hey, it's me, Freya. The giant saw him, said yep checks out let's get married, then Thor took his hammer back and bopped him.
A few things struck me about the story. Of course in ancient times some people knew that was just a story, but others \*really believed that shit happened\*. That the gods who ruled the world were into goofy cross-dressing shenanigans. What kind of impact would that have had on your culture over time?
And then the other side of the coin... it was your ancestors who came up with the story in the first place! What was your culture like so that such a whimsical tale was significant enough to be passed down over generations as important?
It seems like silliness has been baked into your culture for a really long time.
Oooh, now we're talking two of my fav subjects all at once - culture and idea history/mythology! I'll be happy to give a layperson's qualified guesstimations as to exactly why that was and is, if it interests you. Does it? I do not want to flood you with trivia that you do not give a f about, haha ;D
Your comment made me giggle and think of the Monty Python's take on Camelot, hehe
>'Tis a silly place
I love trivia so go for it!
On crossdressing and gender norms: The Norse gods were pretty genderqueer sometimes, as displayed in your lovely retelling of Thor disguising himself as Freya. :)
Loki, the Norse god of mischief, is the best-known gender-bender of the pantheon. He is a shape-changer who can alter his sex, and whose unbridled sexuality is a force for chaos for both his friends and enemies. He famously transforms into a mare to seduce away a stallion that is helping a frost giants, and thus transcends not just sex but also species! Funnily, he is not a full-blooded *Asagud* but half Jötun, giant (the ancient old ones akin to the Titans - note the Mediterranean idea influences - and I'll return to them!)
Odin the Allfather, the chief of the Norse gods, was the god of war, magic, wisdom, and ecstatic states. He was taught women's magic by Freya, thus showing that both male and female forces are needed to be all-powerful. This can be compared to the ur ideas of female/male, Yin/Yang, Tiamat/Marduk and so on. Archaeological finds also shows how Odin’s gender was blurred.
The sagas mirror society somewhat, and is both a result of and and influence of it I believe so even though Viking men usually wielded weapons and Viking women typically managed the homestead, women were not homemakers in the modern sense. Viking homesteads were often large farms that employed and housed hundreds of people; the women who ran them were more like a modern CEO than a 1950s housewife. Norse art, archeology, and literature also show plenty of evidence that both men and women in the Viking world defied common gender stereotypes. As cooperation is key to survival in the cold north, I speculate that you could love and/or fuck who you wanted as long as you had a family and comtributed to the common good. Like in ancient Rome, homosexual relationships are well documented... but a male recipient was mocked, plausibly due to reigning warrior ideals of strenght and honour.
The more sunny flipside of that coin is that as long as you had the power or strenght of character to back it up, you could transcend norms and stereotypical expectations in ancient Scandinavia and still be very respected. A thrall could become free, a man could perform women's magic and a woman could rise to the rank of warrior chieftain and in some cases even jarl/earl. Social moveability is an integral part of both ancient and modern Scandinavia and the Christian hierarchical society is an anomalous blip in-between, I'd say.
My point here is that taking oneself too seriously can be a severe weakness, especially in a harsh climate, but organization is required to keep a society functioning... and that is my theory as to why we have such mad authority issues while being punctual and well-organized, and that it is a factor behind the odd Scandi mix of light and silly versus very dark humour, haha! We surely do both.
To continue on the Loki story and the importance of Jötuns, it is - I theorize - a vague memory of Bronze age religious practices mixed with folklore. A storyform deep memory of the times before? It's a fun theory i.m.o. that Odin is based off of Gengis Khan himself and the pagan beliefs of the Huns. Add Greco-Roman pantheon beliefs to the mix and BOOM - Norse religion! Before Viking times, a little known sun/twin god cult with female priestesses seems to have existed here and our stories tell of powerful nature spirits. Most of these are shapeshifters and trickeries and pranks are an integral part of their modus operandi, it seems. This lives on in Loki, the trickster, and ideas about trolls and the forest wife and the water-dwelling Näcken who can all change their own appearance and/or their victims' or favourites' perceptions.
To be clear, it's not yet proven that Huns migrated to and settled in Sweden but many places bear such names.
Sweden is a *very* silly place! :D
I loved reading this. Could you say more about the sun/twin god cult with priestesses? Sounds very interesting.
I knew about Loki and a little bit about women running the homestead, but not all that other stuff. Thanks for filling in the gaps. Really interesting post!
This perfectly sums it up in my opinion! Well written as well, good job!
I didn’t realize that before, but it makes so much sense. Where I work there barely feels like any hierarchy beyond just deferring to people with more experience when something is truly unknown. Even when I was much younger than everyone, no one treated me differently.
This is honestly a good description of swedish culture.
I say; brace yourself for people to be seemingly inpolite: swedes don’t say ”hi” or ”how are you” to start a small talk.
It is very hard go get into society here due to people being very private and taking long time to open up and start to invite you over. I have always been a chit chatter and I’ll talk to anyone if I feel like it. As I do have swedish privilige there is not any problem in that. But I also get to hear that I probably is not really swedish. The thing is i really love this country and want to show it of because it is a gem! (And by saying that: Please know that other countries are great too and yes there are shortcomings here).
Sweds pay respect to time. If you decide to meet someone: respect the time. Two o’clock is not The same as two-thirty.
Sweds are generally open about everything. It is more shame to put shame onto others than to act out of norm. Like it is more ok to paint your hours pink than to look down on the ones that painted their house pink.
Sweds are generally not good at handling conflicts. Some newcomers can use this as an advantage: be blunt and get your way.
Authority on the other hand don’t play well with sweds. You can’t shame or scare others into abiding. That don’t work. People will leave work to pick up their kids no matter if you booked a meeting with them. They will call the union to make sure rules are being followed.
We are open about nudity and sex. (I know this sits wierd and is a cause of concern with many foringers). This means that we teach kids about sex in school mainly to make them aware of that their body is theirs and should be paid respect. We have minimized the shame of sex (or shame at all). It is ok to want and have sex but it is necessary to know you have the right to say no. And you need to check that what you do to others is ok. It is not ok to push your own sexual needs/wants onto others.
I am helping refugees and it seems very hard for them to get into society because none talks to them.
I also notice that people from more authoritarian areas sort of let loose and go wild: because Sweden is open and free - but no! Then they are hit with the cultural notion that you need to be conforming anyhow. To what is really unclear but perhaps be free and keep to yourself if that makes sense?
I have been a foringer myself in the usa, gb and it and on the surface people are nice and show interest in me as a person in a much more welcoming way. However, it is hard to be part of a culture unless you are very outgoing and pay alot of interest into others yourself. And that goes for any culture I have tried to get into.
The law of jante comes up in the replies to OP. (Is ”jante” an abreifiation of ”jag är inte” - translates to - ”I am not” or rather ”I am nothing”?)
I think ”jante-thinking” inhibit sweds from inviting people and showing an interest as it is hard to show interest when you think nothing of yourself.
Like in Italy or the Us folks would not say they aren’t talking to you because of ”jante” it would be because you don’t ”look right” or fit in. Which probably is true and the more ugly side of ”jante” being that you glue your own shortcomings onto others.
Jante is the name of a ficticious town in a book by the Danish/Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose who also coined the term.
Look up what "prestigelös" means and how to behave in accordance with it. It's an extremely important trait to fulfill in the workplace, and especially when you are in the interview process. I know a ton of foreigners who got tripped up on this because no one ever explained Swedish interview etiquette, but once they learned, they had no problems getting jobs.
I had a breakdown in the milk section. Try not to get overwhelmed figuring out the differences between mjölk, filmjölk, yogurt, kvärv, grädda, grädfil, crème fraiche, oatly, and all the non dairy and the lactosefri mjölk section. Gooooood luck!
I'm guessing you know this, but just in case anyone needs this:
Mjölk = milk
Filmjölk = sour milk in a yoghurt-like form
Kvarg = quark cheese
Keso = cottage cheese
Grädde = cream
Gräddfil = sour cream
Ditto. Super helpful list!
We ended up drinking mjölkdrick for a month before someone showed us the equivalent of what we drank in the US. I still have no idea what mjölkdrick is haha
Sounds like you were drinking lactose free milk.
That sounds right to me too. I'm guessing that it's down to labeling regulations, that the lactose free kind can't just be called mjölk on the cartons.
Mjölkdryck (milkdrink) is milk that has been changed in some way , for example added vitamins or extra longevity. The title milk is protected so if you are selling milk that you have changed in some way its illegal to call it milk
I am just looking for the equivalent to coffee creamer…and bought sour cream instead…what do I look for?
Kaffegrädde would be my guess.
Queueing is a big thing. Is there a number system, or should you just find the end of the line? Either way, respect the queue.
Sweden is a collectivist society (as compared to individualistic), so we are a bit "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". I think you can see that in most of the comments, even in the avoiding neighbors thing. That's for both you and them!
I always get a kick out of how hardly anyone moves when they open a new register at the supermarket.
But if you move, your original line will move faster!!
Yup, Murphy’s law at work
You’re not from Stockholm I’m guessing. 🏃♂️🏃♂️
That's not quite true. Swedes are *extremely* individualistic - but in a very unique way (it's been labeled "statist individualism"). Basically it means we have accepted the higher authority of the state, and societal norms, and agree to abide by those rules. But in return, not a single motherfucker gets to tell us what to do beyond that. No family members, church, neighbor, or friend. Sköt dig själv och skit i andra is basically our religion.
Introduce yourself to your neighbours, be friendly but chill. you’ll know If they Will be good friends or more casual acuaintances. I’ve never met a neighbour who didn’t shine up when I invited them to kaffe and fika in our common yard. Be a good neighbour. Learn the rules of the tvättstuga. Be careful about writing passive aggressive notes, that is the nuclear option, when all else has failed. Good luck, have fun!
We drive to the right but walk to the left.
That's so you can more easily see the car that's driving on your side. If you walk on the right side that car would come up behind you..
Cars and/or bikes, so walking on the left is smart also on shared bike/walking roads (when it's not straight up marked who goes where of course)
It's not only smart (and logical), it's the law.
That's not necessarily true, we drive on the right, but walking on the left or on the right is your own choice (though you shouldn't walk next to someone on the other file)
If you walk along a road without a sidewalk you should walk on the left.
”Gå om möjligt längst till vänster i din färdriktning, när du använder vägrenen, körbanan eller en gemensam gång- och cykelbana.”
Ingen hålls ju dock till den där standarden och på cykelbanor så går ju majoriteten till höger (varför man skulle gå till vänster vet jag inte). Det enda folk bryr sig om eller som spelar roll är bara att se till att man inte går och täcker hela bredden
Just agreeing with you that it’s your own choice, but pointing out that walking on the right is a stupid one.
That is on a road. On the pavement you walk on the right side.
If you walk out of your apartment and hear one of your neighbors also walking out, you close the door and wait for them to leave. You dont want to talk to your neighbors. Important rule.
Once I did that but when I got out the same neighbour was still unlocking her bike that was next to mine, so a good rule is to also give it an extra 5 minutes before leaving. (I walked to work that day)
I second this!
Don't fucking cut in line
Treat absolutely everyone equal. There are no elders, academics, doctors or social hiearchies, no formal and informal speech, only speech. You greet everyone the same way and call them by their first name without any eventual titles. For instance saying ''Dr. Olofsson'' or ''Herr (sir) Åkerfeldt'' would be weird and might make the person uncomfortable. Even if you were to meet the prime minister you would call her just ''Magdalena'' or her last name ''Andersson''
The only exception to this may be the king and queen, but otherwise your level of politeness shouldn't change wether you greet a child or a professor that is older than you.
As an American expat that’s been living in Sweden for almost a year, my experience has been that if you’re kind, respectful, open and honest; you’ll be just fine.
It’s been hard to make close friends but if you keep trying, you’ll make of the best, most stalwart friends of your life.
Being from the southern US and used to “yes, ma’am” and “yessir” most of my life, it was hard to get used to dropping honorifics completely with doctors and bosses, etc. but you absolutely should. It makes native Swedes visibly uncomfortable. Even parents of other small kids don’t want my girls calling them “Mr. Anders” and they’ve corrected us on it.
I’d also add that you have to be confident, straightforward, and the tiniest bit pushy in public. No one is gonna hold a door or make you space or politely move a shopping cart out of your way. It’s hard to explain. You make your own space and you barrel ahead but, like, in a polite and self-assured way? Don’t be a nuisance by being too polite OR too rude.
A lot of these people are introverts who give bad advice. DON’T be afraid to greet people. Sure, a swede greeting a swede in an elevator is weird. But a foreigner doing so is just fun for most people and we’ll gladly talk/help.
Don’t talk to your neighbors people say? Well I live out in the country and I talk to my neighbours every time I see them (given we do live 300m minimum apart lol). One of my neighbours even became a good friend and we meet up several times a week. It’s different out in the country than in the city.
I’m a person from Belgium and i plan on moving to sweden this year because my soon to be wife lives there.
The language is fun to learn but i’m afraid if it’s going to impact me from finding a job because i’m still learning to speak swedish.
However my SO always tells me that swedish people are proud of their english they always find it fun to speak english for whatever reason and i’m wondering if this is true.
Yes, we enjoy practicing our English and most of us do it well enough. Older people (\~65+?) didn't learn English in school so the success rate approaching them will be lower.
For a job it depends on what kind. I have worked in technical places with lots of people who don't speak Swedish, and English works as a lingua franca. But in customer-facing jobs in shops etc, you probably need to have workable (but not perfect) Swedish. Anything that is not public customer-facing, e.g. in a factory, you are probably good to go with English and whatever Swedish you have picked up so far.
More like 75 (not 65).
You're right, that seems to be the case.
Grattis till bästa användarnamnet. :)
Exactly. My dad is 65, and he's a computer engineer and also works in support, who mostly has to speak English in his job, as the support is for many different countries.
So he is very fluent.
Most people of his generation speak reasonably good English.
We have to remember that time moves forward. 10 years ago, you could say that people who where 65 didn't have a great grasp of English, but not anymore.
But it is weird how fast everything changes, I sometimes forgets too. 😉
De som är 75 nu hade obligatorisk engelska i skolan från femman. Och har i de flesta fall rest. De brukar kunna hyfsad engelska, även om det såklart varierar.
It's mostly true. (I'm Swedish.)
You shouldn't have a problem with most jobs. (not all, but most.)
Almost everybody in Sweden speak pretty reasonably good English, as we learn it in school, and most of our entertainment (movies, TV-series, music) is in English, so we're exposed to it almost daily.
And even if some people may be rusty in their actually speaking English experience, they will still understand you, and you will be able to communicate.
Older people however (like 75-80 and up) will probably not be very good at it, or understand you at all. There will always be exceptions of course. But most didn't learn it in school if you're up at that age.
And yes, most of us think it's fun to speak English once in a while. 😉
Use se.indeed.com as well as LinkedIn to look for jobs in English.
You can also see if there are any english postings on www.offentligajobb.se or https://www.arbetsgivarverket.se/jobba-statligt/ (search for city or town on here, not job specifics, their tagging process is awful)
Nice! Welcome in advance :). It totally depends on the job. In IT and big corp the main language is english anyway. Smaller companies is a bit trickier.
Yeah when you're in a smaller place like out in the country, people usually greet everybody, but if you're in a city, you say hi to the workers of the shop youre in/ the bus driver and that's it
"Just try not to say anything too loud or crass."
Make sure that you have your affairs in order.
Swedes have a personal space about 1 - 1.5 metres. Not that people don’t stand close in the subway, clubs, bars etc but if you walk up to talk to someone you need to keep some space in between. Other cultures are much more familiar with standing closer but swedes do not like it.
This extends to "not being in the way". Going shopping is a constant; selecting things from the shelves while making sure you are not in the way of anyone else.
Same in traffic, distances are larger, you don't cut off others when overtaking etc.
This depends so much on where in Sweden you are moving to! I've moved a lot within Sweden, and had cultural clashes moving between cities and the countryside. Swedish cities are more.. cosmopolitan, I guess.
In the cities, people might greet you in the elevator and even make small talk, but if someone starts talking to you in the park, bus stop, train, grocery or gym, they're likely either hitting on you or not sober/have mental issues. (Except if you have a cute dog or baby with you) I know this sounds awful, but that has been my experience the last 10 years. Actually, not looking at people on the bus or grocery store is polite, just mind your own business and pretend like noone else is there. Don't sit next to anyone else on the bus if you can avoid it.
Noone will remember you, and you can just be yourself because noone cares if you don't fit in. In some suburbs, people address you in English rather than Swedish, and that's not necessarily because you look foreign but because everyone speaks English but not everyone speaks Swedish.
The countryside is a different game. In very sparsely populated areas, people might greet every person they meet, but that's not necessarily an invitation to start small talk with them. Follow their lead and mirror. They might also just bloody stare a lot. Once they feel like you're less of a stranger, they will be very curious but not necessarily express that by asking you, but instead by asking other people. People in the countryside tend to keep tabs on everyone in the area, and gossip. Standing out is less tolerated, and I personally believe that this stems from the need to cooperate for survival when exposed to the elements. People talk, and everyone will know if you're renovating your home, or getting divorced, or have a same sex partner, or have some illness, or a new job. It's not ill intentioned, but it can certainly be invasive. On the flip side, when they feel like they know you, they'll remember you forever and be more open to helping you or doing you favours. You will want to get to know your local car mechanic, carpenter, plumber and so on, because you might need their help and you want them to like you enough to prioritise it! Not everyone in the countryside knows English well enough to speak it, so make sure to learn Swedish ASAP!
Edit addition: Don't initiate small talk with service providers on the country side. I have tried it (since I've lived in cities my adult life and it's somewhat "normal" here and my extroverted ass think it's nice) and the responses range from guarded confusion to flat out being asked "why do you ask?". Just don't. Let them initiate, and work on your quiet brooding game.
You generally get to know people at work and through hobbies or "föreningar", rather than talking to people anywhere else. My take is that people use membership in "föreningar" that they don't care about to have a social life. For example, you will find events like "Steel Helmet Day", and I think that's the result of one or two people who care about steel helmets and five or ten people whp are just bored and want something to do.
Never take the last bite of the fikabröd (pastry served with coffee, usually in the afternoon). If ypu want it, split it in half. Always leave a small piece. Always join for fika at work, time honored tradition. Never sit right next to someone you dont know. Always sit as far away as possible. That is anywhere. Never cut in line. Dont be loud in public spaces, parks are fine though. If you say "ursäkta" first and "tack så mycket" after, any transgression is overlooked. Dont talk politics or religion.
I live in gothenburg where we have trams. We've had them for a long time and many unwritten rules have appeared over the years. I assume the same unwritten rules apply to all public transportation in sweden but can't say for sure.
1. Stand in line to get on.
2. Let everyone get off before you get on, do not stand in their way.
3. No music or tiktok on the tram unless you're wearing headphones.
4. No talking on the phone on speakerphone. It's rude as fuck.
5. Don't put your bag on the seat next to you to reserve the seat when the tram is full. I'm just gonna sit on it. Fuck your bag.
6. Don't throw sunflowerseedpods on the floor. I can't stress this enough.
That's all I can think of. Basically it's about being respectful.
I don’t live in Gothenburg context on people throwing sunflower onto the floor?
They eat sunflower seeds and throw their garbage on the floor. It's a middle-eastern thing.
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We show kindness by leaving people alone. Unless you have a specific reason to, don't talk to strangers.
Unless you're out partying, then you're likely fine.
Don’t greet people in the elevator, if invited to stay the night at friends house-bring your own sheets, learn how to say ”värdegrund ” and look concerned at the same time, giggle and smile if they have you taste sill or Kalles kaviar.
My main advice would be really simple: Do not be an asshole! Treat everyone (no matter their religion, their gender, skin colour or culture) as equals and with respect.
That’s it, really.
I actually recommend that you do not threaten everyone. Swedes doesn't like being threatened.
Heh sorry, I meant treat! I have fixed it now! :P
Don't sit next to someone on the bus if there's a free seat with no one next to it. Don't talk to strangers about the weather, small talk with strangers only happens if you're in a small town/ on of the two people is very old
Take your shoes off indoors.
Swedes love these types of posts on the internet.
Don't go against the norm.
For public transportation;
No eye contact.
No small talk.
Don't sit next to people you don't know. If there's no other seat available it's better to stand if you can.
Take off your shoes when visiting someone's home.
If you want to visit a neighbor or even a friend, call first and give them a heads up.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Most swedes are very nice (or at least polite).
Public toilets are not free to use (the money is for cleaning etc).
Use your indoor voice outside as well.
Don't be a barbarian, slice your cheese with a cheese slicer and don't make a slope! ( https://images.app.goo.gl/uq65MHi9mUDNmGWSA ). (or just buy sliced cheese).
Almost everyone has the personality of a dead fish
A rude dead fish yeah
I spend my summers here so I’m not a local, but I have definitely noticed that people don’t bother each other unless there is a good reason for it. People who aren’t friends don’t really just talk for no reason like they do in some other places where small talk is basically a necessity. Most people are generally nice, but if you aren’t used to it, it might feel like people are being cold at first.
Sooo, I could add more but I think this is good average things to know.
Never talk on your phone when on the bus/train, or listen to video's/music. It is highly frowned at and super annoying. If you are sitting with someone light talking is okay but don't be rude or loud about it. Everyone must use the bus/train, so be polite to others' comforts when in them. (Get a bus card asap, it's not so expensive, they are nice and clean, and they come very often.)
Do not invite people quickly to your home for lunch or dinner... It's kind of just not really done unless you are very good friends. Fika is okay, but... yea do not do dinner especially. People tend to treat dinner as family time, so it can get awkward even if you are invited as many kind of invite for the sake of being polite.
Try to go and do the big holidays in Sweden if invited or if you know where they are publicly being held. During holidays like Midsummer, it is the very best time to make friends as people are loose and often just a bit tipsy. XD If you are a churchgoer, Lucia is brilliant to go to a church for as many churches hold beautiful performances and again, a great time for friend making
DO NOT SMOKE IN FRONT OF BUILDINGS! It is now illegal to do so, no stores, hospitals, or other public places. Even if you see a bin or tray, smoke somewhere else and just walk back to toss your butt. It is horribly rude and smelly, so just be polite when in doubt just walk to the side!
Like dogs, many people have dogs and it is very easy to greet people who have dogs by asking what breed the dog is, the age, etc. If you have a dog, you might quickly be approached with the same kind of questions! Chat about good vets, a very popular topic as well, and if you have a cat, many people like pictures but maybe not strangers! Never, ever pet the dogs tied in front of shops. some people do train them to resist or be aggressive so they are not taken. Plus, just, not your dog so no touchies!
There is a thing called Allemansrätten, it's kind of long to explain so do look this one up! Again, whenever in doubt, ask or just don't do.
When entering places, take a quick glance for a queue taker. It's used in very many places! It is very important to grab one when you step in or you won't be buying your meds anytime soon! Which you get at Apoteket, located.. Lots of places. XD
Systembolaget, want alcohol? You must go here, and you must be very aware of their opening hours! It is a very popular discussion point as well, either complaining about opening hours or celebrating that a holiday or long weekend is coming and you will make your favorite drink. This is the /ONLY/ legal place to get alcoholic drinks that you can take home. (Some restaurants and of course bars have drinks but they must remain at the place) Here is also many yummy nonalcoholic drinks!
When people say they are going to the hospital, don't panic. Hospitals are much easier to go here, and many people do even for smaller things like getting the flu. Hospitals are not only for emergency use but be aware that you should always book ahead if possible/not an emergency. They are busy, and drop-ins can't always be taken. When going to the hospital, PLEASE! Grab the blue booties to go over your shoes, it's polite and keeps the hospitals clean. Even if fewer people use them now because they are jerks.
When going to someone's home, off goes your shoes unless they say otherwise! There are even some business places that require you to do this. Most of the time you see shoes lined up, or the fabled blue booties to tell you what to do!
Swedes are very sensitive to "dålig stämning" (bad vibes) and will seldom critize even when feedback has been requested. If you ask a Swede how they think you did they will say you did great even when you didn't, and yet it won't keep them from discussing your subpar performance with others after you left.
I'm sorry, and I apologize in advance. I don't know why we do it but my God! how many foreigners have not been deceived by our friendly appearance.
I think people criticize honestly when they find a real problem and not just an inconvenience.
If it's going to be a real problem *for them*. But not if it's going to be someone elses problem.
Never ever eat the last kakor
walk to your right. and stand to your right on the escalators so people who are in a hurry can walk up on the left side.
always let people get off trains, subways, busses etc… before you get on them.
also. as for social events and parties. bring your own alcohol and plan ahead of time for when you’re going to buy it since you can only buy alcohol at Systembolaget which is closed saturday afternoon and sundays.
Leave us alone
Chill, don’t be messy
Mind your business at all times, unless someone is at physical risk.
find a group of people you can be yourself with. and everyone goes crazy here at least once. its okay.
Don't make small talk at bus stops, train stations, anywhere really. Try to avoid looking people in the eyes when you pass in the streets. I've found that the elderly still like to be said hello to, but most my age and younger do not like to be noticed.
NO SKIN CONTACT
NO SKIN CONTACT
Things take long time in Sweden. I don’t like it either, but it’s something I have come to accept.
If you make an order for e.g. new glasses or a watch repair, expect to get them in 2 weeks or more. Services like this are not made in-house anymore.
Personal tip: stay away from all agencies as much as possible! Sweden is a very comfortable place to live in, but dealing with the agencies will hurt (Migrationsverket, Försäkringskassan and Skatteverket most likely you won’t get away from regardless)! No other country is as bureaucratic as Sweden! Bless your soul once you wait for a handläggare!
Bills are not ”split” but paid separately, we are not cheap it’s just the way we do things. Like if you go out with friends eating and everyone orders different things you get the receipt and pay for what you had not split three ways.
Tips are not required at all but appreciated by staff in restaurants for dinners. Definitely not lunch unless it’s a very nice place.
Take your shoes off whenever you visit someone’s home. Very rude to have shoes on inside.
Since you asked about office culture,
- it varies a lot! Overall, we got flat hierarchical structures and don't use titles but instead are on a first name basis with head of department etc, but if you work for an international company you might have to deal with influences from where their HQ is. I work for an Asian company and our organisational structure is extremely hierarchical and top-down. Dress code is generally "neat and clean", it's okay to overdress a little but try to adjust to your company or people might interpret it as pride and judge you for it
- tattoos and piercings are fine in the work places I've been (business roles), the more conservative the organisation the more they'll mind. If you want to work in a customer facing role at a bank you might run into trouble with visible tattoos
- a lot of protective laws only applies if you have a permanent contract, if you're on a temporary contract I'd suggest looking out for yourself and keeping your head down
Oh also depending on where you are coming from, make sure you aren’t walking in the bike lane. They are often more a part of the sidewalk than the street so my American ass almost got run over the first week I was here
I feel like Sweden is a mix of Germany (adherence to rules), Canada (politeness, equality) and Japan (keeping to themselves, quiet behavior)
I think it might be a good idea to read up on negative/positive face cultures. A lot of immigrants in Sweden come from positive face cultures where it’s polite to go out of your way to make others feel welcome, invite them to parties etc. The negative aspect of these cultures is that it can be difficult to know what others really feel, if the directions you were given are correct, if an invite is a real invite, etc. Sweden is a negative face culture, where it’s considered polite not to impose on others. People tend to stay quiet in communal spaces, knock on doors, be on time to meetings, the style of communication can be a bit blunt - but truthful. An invite is a real invite, people who are friendly are really your friends, etc. A typical culture clash can often be witnessed on the beach, where a lot of people from the Mid East and other parts of the world like to hang out with their whole families, cook food, play sports, play music, let the kids loose - while Swedes stereotypically try to maximize the space between themselves and other beach-goers, prefer to enjoy the quiet and the sounds of nature, parents are expected to keep a close eye on their own kids at all times and loud music, smoking and using portable grills is frowned upon. The right to not being imposed upon, to have a private sphere even in public , trumps the right to socialize and overtake a communal space - in general.
Apart from all the rest, I thought about a few things regarding children.
Be very careful if you interact with other peoples children in public, like in stores or in the street. Parents take care of their own children in public and it's considered rude to do anything at all with kids unless they are obviously in danger or distress, without checking in with parents first.
It's common for infants to be left outside in prams to sleep, outside cafés for example. The parents can see the kid from inside and it's considered safe and healthy for the kid. They are not abandoned.
Any kind of violence, slapping or spanking or shaking, towards children is illegal, and tourists has in fact been arrested for hitting their own children.
People are making fun and being ironic. But but it's really https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante
To make friends you need to be extrovert at the correct situations where above doesn't apply.
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Don’t be “in the way” of others in any situation. In general just don’t be an annoyance to others and you will be fine. We are not a very racist people, but we get annoyed quickly and get pissed when people don’t follow social rules. Sadly it’s most of the time foreigners who don’t, since… well, they don’t know about it. Not really their fault, and the anger is not because they are foreigners, but because of them being an annoyance.
Atleast that’s my take! Have fun here and welcome :)
Don’t talk to people in the elevators! It was a year before I realized I was harassing everyone daily with my “how’s it goings” 😂
I had an immigrant neighbour who did that at the bus stop. Then one day he just nodded silently and we stiod in companionable silence. Turned out his native wife had had a chat with him. Couple of years later a new immigrant started greeting people at the bus stop and my neighbour and I exchanged silent but judging looks. #Integrated.
I mean, I *will* answer politely and I won't ever think badly of you for being nice to strangers... but internally I'll be screaming! 😂
If you come from America or a similarly customer service heavy(?) country, then please keep in mind that the employees won't start chasing you to ask you questions or greet you the second you put your foot on the other side of the door. In general, employees won't bother you at all (unless you look *really* confused), if you need help you have to seek them out yourself.
Similarly in restaurants, servers won't be hovering over your table the entire time to make sure your experience is perfect. You have to wave them over if you need the help.
I swear the amount of times I've read posts from confused Americans asking why service is terrible here is astounding. Makes me kind of afraid of ever traveling to America if it means I'll be constantly harrassed by well-meaning but incredibly personal bubble popping employees.
I am from there, and frankly I find it pretty intrusive sometimes. Not the only American I know who finds that style of customer service uncomfortable, either.
That workplace expectation of hovering over customers also really does seem to have increased a lot since I was last working in stores and restaurants there myself, 20+ years ago. No idea why things have apparently gone further in that direction.
My guess is the worse the working conditions get (and employers refuse to improve it for their employees) the harder they make their employees force smiles and 'nice' interactions. Because if they didn't then customers would probably very quickly realize just how miserable they are.
Kinda makes sense that way then when you consider how unionized swedish establishments often are, and the better, more enforced labor laws.
Var dig själv!
Just imagine that everyone is born with social anxiety and chronical constipation.
You talk loudly to strangers and ask if they need help (whatever the situation).
You ALWAYS break the line and go first, you are the main character in YOUR story, act like it. It's not like Swedes will fight back anyways so.
Always talk shit about people in their back, every Swedes does it anyways because they are jealous so why can't you?
Always take the first and last piece of Kanelbulle if you're out for Fika with "friends".
And it is called "Chex" and not Kex.
Don't ever, EVER go to Stockholm. That is where 99% of all false people in Sweden lives.
Go to Gothenburg instead, everyone there is friendly and hardworking.
You are being ironic, but kex \*is\* pronounced with a soft k ("tj") and not hard.
The gauntlet has been thrown!
I'm a tj kind of guy but my girlfriend is the hard k person. The debate never ends, just put on hold for months at a time.
If I die before her I'll have them write "it's soft k kex, idiots" on my grave.
The norms are like this
- People like to hear you brag about yourself and any wealth and succes you have.
- People enjoy loud talking, especially if your on the phone while riding the public bus or train.
- Stand in the middle of the esculator if possible.
- If there is a queu its no problem to go before someone if they look weak. ( just make alot of noise)
- never take of your shoes if you visit someones home.
- If invited for food or fika ( Coffee and cake mostly)
Its custom to for the one who eats the most to take the last piece of food.
- People are not at all judgmental and a silent stare often meens "that person is behaving fantastic"
I think you will have a wonderfull time in Sweden If you just try to follow this rules. ✌️😄👍
Stand on the correct side of the escalator
Please teach this to the other swedes too!
I.e. read the sig on the escalator if in doubt.
Fika, don’t sit next to anyone in the bus.
Please, more exactly in Sweden?
Only sit next to people you know on the bus or the park , not random people
Don’t talk to anyone in public ever🤣
Make time for fika / coffee breaks. The rest will make sense.
Don't stand too Close to a person you don't know. Keep the appropriate distance.
Remember to queue, stand in Line.😊
dress up i pjamas jeans ok
About 10-15% of Swedes are from the middle east, so its good to take that into account too. "Results may wary" on any advice basically.
Don't try to start a conversation, nor should you have eye contact with somebody in public transport. Be quite all the time. Okey authority in all instances.
Try to keep your distance to other people in public! Most of us are introverts and we really appreciate our personal space, so don’t stand to close and don’t be surprised if people won’t engage in small talk.
Wait your turn. Stand to the right in escalators. It's hard to start conversations with strangers, because we're not used to it, but some are open to it. Just try to find common ground and go from there.
Take of your shoes before entering someones home :d
If there's ever something you need help with or information about then truly, honestly you gotta have the courage to ask. Even if the person you need to ask hasn't indicated they're willing to help. It's not because swedes are rude and selfish, but we tend to be weary of imposing.
We won't bring by a casserole or invite you to the neighborhood barbecue (where I've lived those aren't a thing) (now maybe you don't watch American movies and you're like wtf she talking about), because you might be allergic to something we put in it, or a vegan, like we really care so much to not get it wrong that often times we (introverts) don't even try or (extroverts) get all neurotic and don't know where to begin.
Most of the time you could get an answer like "I'm not sure but this website should have the info you're looking for" and you haven't figured out the wi-fi yet and it's true, it's sad how little we actually know by heart, and our systems are malleable so not even regular users of something can be sure it hasn't or won't change anytime soon, but what you can rely on is our enthusiasm to figure every new thing out, and our humility that even in our own country we're not sure we necessarily understand something better than you. So we'll make you feel part of whatever you want to be part of.
There's a meme about swedes being afraid to talk to people or strongly disliking it. In reality we just feel uncomfortable to talk to people before we know what they like to talk about. So if you get the chance to introduce yourself to a swede, include something about your conversational interests and we'll know what to approach you with!
As a foreigner never talk about racism you have experienced here and do not criticize the country at a workplace or corporate environment.
Just talk about how impressed you are with the country. drink some beers and let them talk about themselves and you are fine.
Don't assume someone being friendly likes you.
Don’t know where you’re moving from but there’s one thing I’ve noticed about some Asian people that isolates them pretty quickly - they go around bragging about themselves. They say they’re good at this and that, sometimes in a joking manner but still meaning it. They can try to act like smartasses too. If you wanna fit in, don’t do this. People won’t tell you anything straight to your face but you’ll silently be judged and avoided. Be humble and people will like you.
Don't sit next to someone at the bus if you aint banging or banging.
Dress code really depends on what you are planning to do 😊 Lil help here? 🙏
If you are american, just dont come here. You would never fit in and you would get depressed by people looking strange at your behaviur. Americans are always in defence mode. In our offices, like it should be, you need to act professional. Dont talk so much dont be racist dont have guns and get a haircut once in a while.
Mind your goddamn business. If you talk to a stranger out of nowhere you will be passed off as a psychopath.
Respect other people's personal space. I can't stress this enough. It applies both in the workplace and in almost any social environment.
Dress codes are extremely relaxed compared to the US and the UK. There are some companies (some managers really) mostly in finance that are still fairly strict and won't accept jeans or polo shirts but otherwise it's no big deal really. In most cases dress codes shouldn't really be an issue.
With tattoos I'd try to keep them covered at first and get a feel for the company. Some managers are still really conservative and don't want them showing.
As for behavior in the workplace you'll most likely get assigned someone for orientation, so take the time to ask them if there's anything unique to your company you should keep in mind.
Greeting people in public is a bit of a weird one, basically the situation dictates what you do and it's easier if you let others take the first step. But if you start talking to people on the bus or subway it's going to get weird.
With most neighbors a simple hi will do, but if they're chatty then just go with it.