In the previous posts I’ve covered my experience with Swedish people in the past, as well as some aspects of Swedish society, such as customer service, cooperation, etc. Below is the promised ‘part III’ which is more focused on the personal qualities of people in Sweden. Enjoy!
1. Gender roles are less prominent in Sweden than in other countries. Here men and women are viewed as equal and some jobs that would be considered typical for men can be done by women as well. The idea behind it is that nowadays it is all about using technology rather than applying physical strength, therefore the technology allows women to do things that only men could manage in the past. The household roles are also less traditional and men are often involved in taking care of the kids and doing things around the house. After we had fika at church once, who do you think was washing the dishes and cleaning up afterwards? The guys, while I was sitting on the sofa chewing a sandwich and chatting with the other girls (see pics below). And when a few people cook together their involvement in the process doesn’t depend on the gender, they are all equal and can participate as much as they want. It was also a nice surprise to have doors opened in front of me and being paid for on a few occasions, which I absolutely didn’t expect. I’ve been told that women in Sweden may reject such behavior towards them, that’s probably the reason why men may not do it. It’s just hard to know what reaction it will trigger.
2. Cleanliness: I just love this part. People will never touch any common dish with the spoon that they have used, or will never offer to drink from the bottle they have drunk from. In many countries people just don’t care about it. In Sweden you can come to a young person’s apartment, and it will be hard to tell if it’s a guy or a girl who lives there, the place is likely to be neat and clean regardless of the gender. Sweden is a place where you won’t have to struggle with any hygiene issues.
3. Sense of humor: If you are talking to a Swedish person and do not understand what the person is trying to say at some point, there’s a high chance it is a joke. That made me a little confused in the beginning, but once you know it is a joke, it becomes funny 🙂 The jokes are said with a serious face expression, in the same manner as the rest of the conversation, so there are no non-verbal clues to understand that it is a joke. You can only figure it out from the words being said. When we were at a hockey match once, a guy said quite seriously that we had to return there for fishing in summer. My first reaction was: “What? At a skating rink?” I think in Sweden people tend to associate any ice with a lake, as they have so many lakes and usually use them for ice-skating in winter and fishing in summer. And then when I asked why the hockey player was scratching the ice on purpose, the answer was: “That’s probably for the fish…” 😀
4. Intelligence: All the games we played with friends were somewhat based on using your brain. For example, you need to know some facts from history, geography, etc., or you need to apply some logical thinking. People like watching meaningful movies, the ones that encourage you to contemplate and make some conclusions. I also got an impression that sometimes things can be done quite slowly in Sweden, but at the same time everything is well-planned and thought over before the implementation. I think that’s one of the reasons why it is such a technologically advanced country.
5. Personality: In general, Swedes are kind, attentive, and loving, even if it takes a while to realize that. Even if they don’t talk to you much, they usually pay attention to everything you say, and will keep that in mind. If you initiate a conversation with strangers, they are usually happy to respond, but they are not likely to initiate it themselves. I think in Sweden there is also more trust among people and you are unlikely to be cheated or taken advantage of.