North vs. South

After 3 months living in Sweden, I´ve found enough situations worth mentioning in a post! And I do not wish to offend any Swede 😉

You’ll find out that you can buy almost everything you need at a gas station (from frozen meals – including a selection of vegetarian!), fruit, yoghurts and cakes, to car batteries and other car-related stuff.

You’ll find a quiet environment at your office (no phone calls, no chip chat) and everyone focusing to get things done.

You’ll need to rush on weekends if you have shopping to do, because most of the shops will close at 3 pm! Exactly, 3 pm!

You will be very careful where you park your car (to avoid parking meters, parking fines and most important, to prevent your car from being stuck on snow, once you arrive, a few hours later!)

You will get used to the fact that Swedes do not like to talk with strangers, and avoid the human contact so typical from Southern Europe! Some say they might use the stairs just to avoid conversations while in the lift…

You will have your colleagues laughing at you when you ask them: “What do you use to cook?” – Butter, of course, or liquid margarine”. Olive oil, please! (I am really glad I had 2 big bottles on my container!)

You will find a lot of food that comes out from tubs (sauces, and even cheese and bacon) – this serves a practical purpose – picnicking!

You’ll hardly find small bottles of liquid yoghurts (thank God there’s Lidl here!)

Specially being a Portuguese, you will find odd that you can only find frozen codfish. I am not complaining! In fact, I think I prefer this one, because I do not have to desalt it for almost a week. Still, it’s strange, considering it is mostly fished in Norway and shipped back to Portugal. They could ship some dry codfish for Sweden, as well…

You will get laughed at when you tell you eat at Mediterranean times (dinner between 8 and 9 pm), because most of the Swedes I know have dinner at 5.30, 6 pm, even in Summer, when the Sun doesn’t set! That does not make sense at all, and I will remain in a different time zone. I can do with the lunch at 11.30, but not the dinner at 5.30!

Even though they are a Socialist country, they import a lof of stuff from the USA. You are likely to find here much more fast food chains than in other European countries, but at least, they have their own Swedish chains!

You’ll get used to your car being as if you were rallying every day (due to an interesting mix of snow, gravel and sand).

You will find out soon that if you use 50 letters to write a sentence, you will only pronounce 30. So, why do they use the others? That question remains unanswered…

They are the best non-native English speakers, and you will be grateful for that a lot of times!

Welcome to the land where women are equal to men! Don´t expect a Swede will hold the door for you or get something you left on the floor. This is not Greece! But do not be surprised if a man stays as much time as home as the mother, when the baby is born. And do not wonder when they go alone for a walk in the park with the kids.

You will spend 2/3 of the year looking at the ground as you walk, for fear of falling on the ice. And when you fall, you will carefully look around, and hopefully no one has seen you falling. I don’t know how they do it, but I have never found a Swede falling… And most of them don’t wear studs on the shoes.

And last but not the least, do not be surprised if a public service really works well. This is Sweden. People work efficiently and there is no corruption. Just a quick example why all the mail is delivered so fast: the mail cars have the steering wheel on the right, so that the driver doesn’t have to get out of the car to deliver each mail personally. Look at the amount of time they save!

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And even with all these differences and stuff you might miss from your homecountry, you’ll still love Sweden and Swedes 🙂

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4 thoughts on “North vs. South

  1. Adorei o texto! revi-me em tantas coisas que escreveste na minha propria situacao aqui na Holanda! No chatting during work, jantar cedo no matter what, lojas a fechar super cedo, comida em tubos, iogurtes individuais sao raros e o “fim do cavalheirismo” com a igualdade entre sexos. Talvez quanto mais a Norte mais estas coisas se sentem…!

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  2. 🙂 engraçado ver que já na holanda existe estas semelhanças todas… tem mesmo a ver com a mentalidade do Norte da Europa, na qual se insere tbm a Holanda.
    Mas os iogurtes individuais n entendo mm! é a refeição favorita e mais pratica para beber quando se esta no trabalho ou a passear!

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