Well, after over 2 years of living in Sweden, it’s time for my boyfriend and I to say “hej då”, or goodbye, as we make our way back to Canada. The move is exciting yet bittersweet – although I’m looking forward to reuniting with friends and family back home, I know I will truly miss life in Sweden.

After living in Sweden for this long, I’d say I have pretty firm grasp on the culture and societal norms. But believe me, that did not come easy. When I first moved to Sweden, I experienced plenty of confusing and embarrassing moments being a newcomer to the country.

Before I move to Canada, I thought it would be a great time to share with you some of my personal insight into Swedish society. And if you’re visiting Sweden soon, maybe I can prevent you from experiencing the same awkward moments I did.

So, without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for blending in with the Swedes:

 

  1. Wait your turn.

Sweden is known for having an organized and orderly society. So it may come as no surprise that there are numerous ticketing systems in place. These systems can be found anywhere and everywhere from grocery stores and pharmacies to tax offices and banks.

Besides ticketing systems, there are plenty of other queues you will experience in Sweden – even while waiting for the bus! Learn to exercise your patience and you’ll fit right in.

Julien Bourrelle’s “The Social Guidebook to Sweden” illustrates an all-too-familiar situation for expats in Sweden

 

  1. Cut the small talk

As Swedes tend to be fairly reserved, “chit chat” and “small talk” with strangers or even neighbours is virtually nonexistant. Swedes may even go as far as to doing a window or peephole check before leaving their home to ensure no one else is around!

Don’t take it personally – Swedes are simply content to keep to themselves. Coming from a sometimes overly-friendly country like Canada, I definitely experienced a bit of culture shock with this one.

 

A delicious spread of Swedish “fika” from Vete-Katten cafe in Stockholm

  1. Partake in daily “fika”

If you’ve never heard of “fika”, it won’t take you long to learn the term once you arrive in Sweden. Fika is essentially a dedicated time to enjoy coffee and sweets while socializing with friends, family and coworkers.

Swedes may have fika daily, sometimes even twice a day. There are so many delicious Swedish desserts and pastries and fika is the perfect opportunity to enjoy them.

 

Nordiska Kompaniet

NK is a luxury department store in Stockholm, carrying the top Scandinavian brands

 

  1. Dress to impress

The Scandinavians are known for having a great fashion sense and the Swedes are no exception. This is especially apparent in Stockholm – almost everywhere you look, both men and women seem to have a very put-together yet effortless style.

Achieving this sense of style may be a daunting task to some but I’ll share with you an insider’s tip: black is always in fashion!

 

Sweden’s beautiful south coast in Skåne

5. Get outdoors

This is one of the things I appreciate most about Sweden. Talk to a Swede and almost every one of them will say they love the great outdoors. They enjoy being in touch with nature, from hiking and camping, to scavenging the beloved chanterelle mushrooms in local forests.

What’s more is that Sweden prides itself in its right of public access, which means everywhere is essentially open to exploring. And with such a beautiful country, the opportunities are endless.