Köttbullar, nature, IKEA and the royal family. This is what comes to your mind when thinking about Sweden? Then you should definitely come and see yourself, that Sweden is much more than that! But what is more out of the cliché-box and what is actually typically Swedish?
Cinnamon vs Cardamom
You can hear Swedes discuss this topic very often and even if you as a foreign student go to a café you’ll soon stand in front of the question: Do I want to have a cinnamon or a cardamom bulle (bun)? Which one is better? This is where opinions part. Some say cinnamon is best, others can’t live without their cardamom bulle. If you ask me: cinnamon is definitely the best 😄
When there is sun, you go outside
If you stay in Sweden over winter until the spring starts, you’ll soon see people standing or sitting outside, face into the sun and just relaxing. If it’s at a train station, outside at cafés or in the park – Swedes really know how to enjoy and appreciate sunshine ☀️ To be honest with you, the first weeks, I was really wondering, what they are doing because sometimes it might feel a bit out of place. But you’ll quickly get used to it and I have to say, after a long, quite dark winter, you’ll probably find yourself standing or sitting in the sun. Maybe this is the first step to become a real Swede?
Lördag is Swedish for ”Saturday” and godis refers to “sweets” or “candy”. Therefore, Lördagsgodis translated means “Saturday sweets” and relates to the Swedish tradition of stocking up on sweets on the weekend. In every supermarket you’ll be able to find a wall full of sweets which you can pick and mix yourself just the way you like it. Especially families with kids, but also many adults will go to the supermarket and get some godis on the weekends – you should watch out for them. This is a tradition I could get used to super quickly – who doesn’t like some sweets on the weekend?
What is not a cliché in my opinion is that Sweden is a very equal country. You can also notice that at university, especially in group works. While other nations might be used to select a group leader or just have someone who makes the final call, Swedes do it differently: every decision is made in the group and everyone gets to raise their opinion. And this is how you might find yourself sitting in some group meetings longer than expected. Opinions might part whether this is a good or a bad thing. Personally, I like that everyone gets asked, and everyone learns to express their opinion. However, as a quite straight forward German, I also have to admit that the process sometimes could be quickened up, by just having one person making the call. I guess, a good balance is important here.
Melodifestivalen is the Swedish preliminary decision for the Eurovision Song Contest and is the most watched entertainment show in the Swedish public television. While other countries have smaller nomination shows or just announce their candidate for the Contest, Sweden makes a whole journey out of the decision. And the Swedes love it: this is a real Swedish tradition, and many families are watching Melodifestivalen together.
When researching for this blog post and talking to some Swedish friends of mine what they consider “typically Swedish”, I got a lot more answers than what fits in one article. Have you experienced other things in Sweden that you would call “typically Swedish”? Let me know in the comments! 💬
Have a nice weekend!