Do you dream or have you ever thought about doing an exchange in Sweden? So, get to know in today’s text some curiosity and fundamental information to avoid getting into trouble or going through embarrassment and inconvenient situations there. And of course, to make the most of your experience in the country!
They are very reserved
Having your own personal space is essential for a Swede. The simple question “How are you?”, For example, is not usually asked as often either at home or outside (college, work, etc.). Unless, of course, you really want to know the answer. That is, it is not common to ask this type of personal question just to break the ice, as here in Brazil. Chat with strangers on the bus? No way! Make eye contact with random people on the street? NO! Stop an acquaintance on the street to greet you? Unlikely, not least because, as I said, it is not very common to make eye contact, remember?
With that little introduction, you might even think that Swedes are as cold as the climate in their country, right? But calm that is not so …
… they’ll be super cool when they meet you (or if they’re drunk)
Why would you like to study in a country where people ignore your attempts to socialize? Because as soon as you meet, the Swedes will be really cool. When they ask you “how are you?”, It means that they will really want to know the answer and that they really care about you. In other words, Swedes are great friends!
In addition, after a few beers, every Swede will be your best friend. The typical shyness of the places is lost after a few sips and then eye contact will not be a problem anymore. And more … They will not pretend to beg you when they offer to buy you a drink. And this is a hand in the wheel, since alcoholic drinks there are not cheap rs.
So don’t be afraid to try to talk to Swedes. They may even be shocked at first to talk to a stranger, but it’s nothing out of this world.
How to say hello
There are some unwritten rules on how to approach someone in Sweden that are great for avoiding awkward interactions. For example, when Swedes meet someone for the first time (without ever having spoken before), they are limited to a simple and direct handshake. It doesn’t matter if at a business meeting or at a party, this is the standard form of greeting. Then if you happen to meet that same person on another occasion in an informal environment, then the hug is free.
‘Fika’ is essential
Fika is the act of grabbing a coffee and a candy to eat while you take a break from whatever you’re doing on the spot. This is almost an institution of Swedish culture and let’s agree that it’s not bad, right?
And there’s no bad time for good old Fika. Whether you’re working with your business colleagues or studying with the college group, don’t hesitate to suggest a break for fika. Rarely will anyone refuse! Just go to the nearest cafe and order a coffee and a Kanelbulle (cinnamon cake typical of the country), you will be one step closer to looking like a local.
Call people by first name
In Sweden, you can skip formal titles. I know, it can even be a little contradictory after everything you’ve read so far. After all, why just shake hands with someone you would call by their first name? Words like sir and madam are not used. In fact, there is not even a Swedish equivalent for those words!
Instead, you can simply call people by their first name, even if they are your teacher, boss of work or tenant in your apartment.
Sweden is much more than Stockholm and Gothenburg
As they are the two largest cities in the country, it is normal that most people only know Stockholm and Gothenburg, and sometimes neither the latter. But if you are going to exchange in Sweden, be sure to plan some weekend trips to explore other cities. And of course, you don’t even need to talk about the fantastic nature of the north and the beautiful beaches of the south.
And if you can, see if you can accompany a Swedish friend when he is going to visit the family in the countryside. It is a great opportunity to experience the true Swedish culture in a typical country house.
You want to discover other incredible cities in the country that may be your ideal study destination there.
You don’t need money
Remember, don’t spend too much on fees to withdraw from Sweden’s ATMs. There, almost no one uses money on a daily basis and many stores, including, do not even accept the famous notes as payment. The vast majority of people do everything with the same credit / debit card.
It is forbidden to buy alcohol in ordinary stores
In Sweden, you can’t just go into a supermarket and buy alcohol. There, there are Systembolaget, a chain of stores regulated by the government and exclusive for the sale of beverages with an alcohol content above 3.5%. The legal drinking age there is 18, but to buy at one of these stores you must be at least 20 years old.
It is also necessary to plan to buy, as they are not open 24 hours and the hours may vary from store to store. So there is not that old story of running to buy drinks at dawn for the “heats up” before going to the club.
Pack your bags thinking about a very cold winter
Depending on how long you are going to be there, remember to bring clothes that adapt to the local climate. There is a Swedish saying that says “Det finns inget dåligt väder, det finns bara dåliga kläder”. In Portuguese it goes something like this: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”. And that is the purest truth!
Swedish winters are very cold and summers are quite hot (at least by Nordic standards). So always think about practicality and don’t be so vain when it comes to getting ready. Being beautiful is the last concern of Swedes when it comes to getting ready to go out on the street in the freezing winter.
The Swedish ban on smoking
On July 1, 2019, a new law banning smoking in public places was introduced in the country. This means that you will not be able to smoke when you are sitting outside a bar or restaurant, at stops for public transport or near entrances to other non-smoking institutions, such as hotels or restaurants. If you are a smoker, always remember this to ensure that you will not violate any law by accident while doing your exchange in Sweden.