Stockholm chronicles part 20: The Swedes and their country, part 1

After having been here for a few months and having gotten to know some Swedes I feel compelled to write a little bit about “them”. I´ve heard a lot of stereotypes over the years, some of which are more true than others in my opinion. So, here we go!

They must be Vampire Supermodels…

The first thing you´ll recognize when coming to Sverige is how stunningly good looking most people here are. And not only that, their fashion sense is on point as well. That´s not a stereotype, it´s a fact. I was astonished that nearly everyone we met was tall, in shape, well dressed and just pleasant to look at. In Sweden you will also quickly learn that basically everyone is a member in a gym and not just signs up but actually goes there to train. In Stockholm alone there must be around 60 gyms, I went to some of them to test train and they were all packed.

“You´re one tall c**t!”

The Swedes are really tall. I say that as a 1.96m (6 foot 4) tall dude. When walking through any other city, be it Paris, Berlin, Dublin, London, Rome, I´m always one of the tallest people around, I always stick out. Here in Sweden I am just like everybody else. I see guys way taller than me on every other street. The average height of people in Sweden is a whooping 1.86m (6 foot 1), that´s pretty impressive if you ask me. It also solves my problem of not finding clothes in stores. Here I´m just an average, hence I´ve got zero problems finding trousers my length or else.

Swedes are VERY helpful and friendly.

I´ve yet have to meet a Swede who is not trying very hard to help me if I´m in need. Be it at the Vet with my cats, in the supermarket, school, companies, city council, the gym or just about anywhere. I find the “Swedes are unfriendly and arrogant” stereotype not at all to be true.

“Take a number”

The Swedes had a smart way of circumventing the problem with queueing other countries (except the UK and Ireland) have. You take a number. In the DIY store, city council, electronic shop or pharmacy. It speeds up the process and actually gives you time to walk around and look at things while you wait and nobody can steal your spot. I really like this!

Reserving seats in the cinema

Oh, how have I missed this. No more “we have to be ther 30 minutes before the screening to get seats”. Here you reserve them online and they print the row and seat number on the ticket. You can even select the seat you want from a room plan on the websites of the cinemas. I love this!

TACK!

If you think of Canada as the country that always says “sorry”, think of Sweden as the country that always says “Thank you”. All the time. I counted an average of 5 “Tack”´s during one encounter on the supermarket cash register. It´s somehow hilarious at first but I already see myself adapting to it. I say “tack” a lot these days.

In touch with the body

Swedes have a very unique body awareness and culture compared to other western countries such as France, Germany or the Netherlands. That likely origins mostly from the Sauna culture you find here which is a huge thing. Being naked around other people is perfectly normal and nobody cares or is ashamed. I stood in the dressing room in the gym and around me some naked guys just having a casual conversation about training, no hassle getting dressed. Very weird for me indeed but then I remembered I was in Sweden.

The Sauna 

Everybody here seems to do and enjoy it – I must try it sometime and see what the story is with that.

The Alcohol situation

If you want to buy alcohol over 5% in Sweden you must go to Systembolaget. You will not find alcohol for sale anywhere else other than pubs or Systembolaget. It´s a government controlled entity that has the absolute monopoly of alcohol sales in Sweden. They close early and on weekends, so better time your visit there. No more “I´ll grab a bottle of Vodka from the petrol station” on Saturday nights when you´re on your way to a friends house.

More about how things are run over here in part 2 🙂

Catch ya later,

Stefan 


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