A Guide To Be 'Scandinavian': Things To Know About Swedes

#1 Swedes love their coffee

Few people drink more coffee than the Swedes. In Sweden, coffee drinking is fostered through a tradition called fika – in which friends, family or colleagues meet for coffee or tea, often with something sweet on the side. 

Coffee consumption

In 2012, the average Swede consumed a staggering total of 7.32 kilos of coffee. The EU average was 4.83 kilos per capita, according to statistics by the International Coffee Organization

#2 Wait in line

From the pharmacy and tax office to your local grocery store’s meat counter, you’ll be forced to exercise patience as you wait to be served in a numbered queue.

#5 You will squeeze food out of toothpaste tubes

To prepare you for your first visit to the cold foods section of a grocery store, understand that in Sweden, tubes are also used to package foods such as caviar, mayonnaise, mustard, and other similar condiments.

Treehotel. Photo by Peter Lundstrom

Treehotel. Photo by Peter Lundstrom

#7 The Swedes are an outdoorsy bunch

Okay, maybe not all of them. But many. In Sweden, all year round there’s at least one activity that can be enjoyed, come rain, shine, or winter blizzard. And the government has made it easy to enjoy Sweden’s nature by giving people the Right of Public Access, Allemansrätten. 

The Right of Public Access

Allemansrätten – the Right of Public Access – gives everyone the right to enjoy Sweden’s outdoors. It allows the public to roam freely, even on private land, to camp overnight and to pick mushrooms and berries. The right also brings responsibilities – to treat flora and fauna and other people’s property with care. It can be summed up in the phrase ‘don’t disturb, don’t destroy’. The Right of Public Access is written into the Swedish constitution. But it is not a law as such, rather a custom or part of the cultural heritage that has evolved and become accepted over the years.

#9 Lagom

There is a societal code of conduct in Sweden which really has no direct translation. Loosely translated, the word lagom means ‘just enough’, ‘in moderation’, ‘appropriate’ and other synonyms you can pull out of the dictionary. When used in reference to societal behaviour, it means blending in appropriately without extreme displays of emotion.

#12 Take off your shoes!

You’ll quickly notice that shoes are taken off when entering private residences in Sweden. Some explain it with the simple fact that Swedes spend a lot of time outdoors during winter and are prone to dragging in dirt.

#13 Winters are cold and dark

It’s no secret that Sweden’s geographical location makes it prone to cold, dark winters. At the depth of winter in some northern parts of the country above the Arctic Circle, you might get as little as three hours of sunlight per day. Winters can be rough, but you’ll be rewarded during summer. Long hours of daylight and moderately warm temperatures make Sweden one of the most beautiful places to be in during May to August.

#14 Be on time

It is common knowledge here that ‘time’ should be respected at all times – regardless of whether you’re going for an interview or a friendly fika. Meetings will start on time with or without you. The train leaves on time with or without you. Swedes value punctuality.

#16 Keep that plastic bag

Think twice before you toss out that plastic bag. Most Swedish grocery stores charge you for plastic or paper bags in an effort to keep waste low and encourage recycling. Swedes like to keep it sustainable.

#19 Business casual means jeans

General everyday fashion in Sweden is simple, relaxed and casual. This same concept has seamlessly seeped its way into more formal business settings. Unless your colleague is meeting foreign clients or attending a high stakes board meeting, chances are they are wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.

Written by Lola Akinmade Åkerström: Full article