If you’re currently contemplating relocating to Sweden or have just settled there, there are cultural practices that you need to quickly imbibe to aid your absorption into the society. Some of these may appear strange at first glance, depending on what country you’re coming from. In this article, we will be shedding some light on what to know before relocating to Sweden, this is to help mitigate the cultural shock associated with relocation.
Interesting Things to Know Before Moving to Sweden
Swedish people adore coffee
The Swedes are among those who consume the most coffee. The “fika” custom, in which friends, family, or coworkers gather for coffee or tea with frequently something sweet on the side, promotes coffee consumption in Sweden. The majority of Swedes view at least one fika as a chance for socialization.
Physical lines and digital alternatives
You’ll be required to practice patience while you wait in a numbered line to be served at a pharmacy or the butcher counter at your neighborhood grocery store. A ticketing system, which is often a little machine hanging on a wall that dispenses number notes, is used at many businesses.
A ticketing system, which is often a little machine hanging on a wall that dispenses number notes, is used at many businesses. When you have your ticket in hand, you must wait until your number appears on a screen before going to the counter.
Do keep in mind that Sweden is a highly digitalized nation with a wealth of internet services. For instance, many tasks at the Swedish Tax Agency can be completed online. about 7 million Swedes filed their tax filings online in 2022. What a great way to reduce paper use in paperwork!
Get ready to learn Swedish
Many people consider Swedes to be among the top speakers of English as a second language. As a result, learning Swedish may take longer for you, because complete integration requires competence in the language. Your interactions with the government, such as those with the Tax Agency, will be made easier if you speak a little Swedish.
SFI classes, or “Swedish for newcomers,” are frequently taken as the initial step in learning Swedish, both orally and in writing. SFI courses are accessible and available through the local council’s continuing education program for adults.
Dads push prams daily
Sweden is a forerunner in gender equality, and the men there do their share of the work by remaining at home and caring for young children. Couples in Sweden are eligible for 480 days of paid parental leave, which can be split between the parents.
SFI classes can considerably increase your proficiency in Swedish, but don’t forget to insist on speaking Swedish with Swedes while you’re taking them. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Swedish people use informal names
Your doctor, professor at the university, and financial advisor will all use your first name while speaking to you and anticipate that you will do the same. In Sweden, regardless of job titles, which are also dropped—that is essentially the norm. Of course, there are a few significant exceptions to the rule. If you’re in a trial, up against a minister of government or a member of the Swedish royal family, you’ll have to get the title correctly.
You must attempt lingonberry jam
In Sweden, lingonberry jam is frequently served with a range of foods, including meatballs, pancakes, porridge, and black pudding (blodpudding). However, despite its sweetness, lingonberry jam is not frequently spread on bread.
Adapting to Lagom
In Sweden, there is a societal code of conduct that is particularly difficult to translate. The word lagom is loosely translated to mean “just enough,” “in moderation,” “suitable,” and other terms you can find in the dictionary. When referring to societal behavior, it is acting appropriately and avoiding overly emotional outbursts.
We won’t get into the specifics of this societal phenomenon here, but you will undoubtedly encounter it whether you consider it a norm or a cliche.
July is considered the slowest month
Sweden requires full-time employees to take at least 25 days of paid vacation time each year, and many do so in July, which is historically the warmest month there. Therefore, service will normally be slower. Numerous tiny businesses closed shop for the full month.
Large segments of the population are united by Melodifestivalen, the national competition that selects Sweden’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. It takes place every February through March and is a particularly nice diversion during the lengthy, gloomy winter months. Even said, some Swedes prefer the ice hockey world championships, which typically take place at the same time as the Eurovision Song Contest in May.
Learn to remove your footwear
In Sweden, it is common practice to remove shoes before entering private homes. Some merely attribute it to the fact that Swedes are prone to dragging in dirt since they spend so much time outside in the winter. Others claim that doing so shows respect for the house. In either case, you might want to reconsider wearing full-laced boots when visiting family.
Winters are chilly and gloomy
It’s no secret that Sweden experiences chilly, dark winters due to its physical location. There may be as little as three hours of sunlight each day in some northern regions of the country above the Arctic Circle during the depths of winter.
So while winters may be difficult, summer will make up for it. Sweden is one of the most beautiful places to stay in the world from May to August because of the lengthy daylight hours and temperate temperatures.
It is accepted practice in this area to always respect “time,” whether you are attending a friendly fika or an interview. With or without you, meetings will start on schedule. With or without you, the train will arrive on time. Swedes value timeliness.
The monopoly state-run alcohol industry
While you can buy alcoholic beverages at pubs and restaurants, there is just one place where you can legally acquire harder alcohol if you want to consume in private at home, and that is at one of the roughly 400 state-run liquor stores (Systembolaget).
Do not dispose your plastic bag
Sweden has a tax on plastic bags that went into effect in 2020. It is now set at SEK 3 (Swedish crowns), which means that most supermarkets will charge you SEK 6 or SEK 7 each plastic shopping bag at the checkout counter. It goes without saying that saving a plastic bag and using it again will save you money. Of course, you can either use your own bag or choose the less expensive paper bags.
National food days
Yes, the Swedish people do observe Christmas, Easter, Midsummer, and Walpurgis Night. The holidays honoring specific delicacies are almost equally significant. These include Cinnamon Bun Day (Kanelbullens dag) on October 4, Waffle Day (Vffeldagen) on March 25, and Shrove Tuesday (Fettisdagen), which in Sweden calls for a semla and meals are enjoyed to the fullest without feeling guilty.
Jeans constitute business casual
Sweden’s general way of dressing is uncomplicated, carefree, and informal. The same idea has subtly crept into more formal work environments. It’s likely that your coworker is dressed in pants and a long-sleeved shirt unless they are meeting with overseas clients or attending a high-stakes board meeting.
Not all healthcare and education are free
Most of the funding for the Swedish healthcare system comes from taxes. The most you may be required to pay for ordinary doctor’s appointments in a calendar year is SEK 1,200.
Sweden offers free higher education to inhabitants of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. International students have to pay to attend Swedish universities as of 2011. The costs that universities charge students range from SEK 80,000 to SEK 295,000 per academic year.
So, do evaluate the facts above as they’ll help you settle quickly once you arrive in Sweden.