Sweden: A Few of My Favorite Things
Although I noticed many differences that I wasn’t sure if I loved or hated, after two weeks in Sweden there were definitely many things I loved. Here are a few of my favorite things:
1. Subway Pre-parties:
The swedes definitely know how to party. I was shocked to discover however, that you can just drink openly on the subways and trains and no one will say anything as long as you’re behaving. The subway culture in general is such a thing they have a TV series just about the metro. Downside: I did have to dodge a huge thing of vomit when I got back on at four am, and in the morning it definitely smelt like last nights drunk McDonald’s.
2. Kitchen Design:
Most people know the Swedes have impeccable minimalist design but their kitchens take that to a whole new level. In the newer apartments you can’t tell the dishwasher from the garbage, they are all hidden together so that the counters and walls look like one cohesive setup. This was confusing at first when I couldn’t figure out how to throw my trash away and panicked, but it grew on me.
The first thing I noticed was how few people were walking around with to go coffee cups (i.e. Starbucks) and how many people were sitting at the numerous coffee shops, at all hours, chatting, drinking and eating. This has a name, Fika, and it’s used as a verb. Getting fika means sitting down with a friend(s) and enjoying a coffee and a dessert- traditionally a cinnamon bun. As a culture, this is something most Swedish people do regularly if not daily.
4. Drinking Culture:
Swedes love to drink. Drinking bottles of wine at dinner with your parents is normal. Drinking bottles of wine and cider with your friends is normal. Staying out until five am dancing is normal. And boy, can they handle their alcohol. Maybe it’s the drinking age being lower, maybe it’s the general polite culture of Sweden, but no matter how much Swedes are drinking, as a whole the environment still feels very safe and mellow yet it is so much fun. This was the biggest cultural difference in comparison to the U.S. for me- the juxtaposition between night and day in Sweden and how much they can maintain their composure in what would normally be a wild environment in the U.S.
5. Grocery Stores:
Many (not all) grocery stores have you scan your own groceries (think wedding registry price guns) so by the end of your jaunt around the store, all your items are already rung up and you can easily check out with just a few buttons and a swipe of your credit card. Fun fact: this was not at all intuitive to me and took an embarrassingly long time for me to stop putting all my fruit and veggies in the basket without weighing and scanning them right away but once I got the hang of it- wow! Brilliant.
6. Tap Water:
Pretty self explanatory- but boy is it pure.
7. Dinner Parties:
I love eating out, as do most of my friends. However, there is nothing cozier than the dinners in Sweden and I was so impressed by people’s ability/willingness to cook real dishes. When you say, “let’s do dinner,”in Sweden this usually means at home whereas in America, that almost always means going out. The dinner’s that I had at friends houses were delicious and we cooked flavorful, amazing meals, dessert and all. I would expect this at someone’s parents house, but not as a usual activity with friends.
8. Football Games:
And by Football I mean Soccer of course. I had the pleasure of seeing a game in Stockholm and it was nothing at all like the games I’d been to in the U.S. The fans got extremely creative in the way they cheered their team on- there were numerous fire works going off (Causing the game to have to shut down until the smoke cleared) and different controlled fires and sparklers and songs in some of the sections. If you have a chance- definitely go see a game when you’re visiting. Just like the night life, even though the crowd was rowdy, excited and over the top, they weren’t out of control or inappropriate like you would expect in the U.S.
9. Stockholm Public Library:
Last but not least…because it was so amazing it deserved it’s own category even though it’s a very specific place. The Stockholm Public Library or Stasbiblioteket, was beyond beautiful, clean, and any book lovers paradise. I would spend every day there if I lived in Stockholm.