20 things to know before moving to Sweden

9 June, 2013 at 09:39 | Posted in Culture, Society | Leave a comment
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by: Lola Akinmade-Åkerström

As diverse as Sweden is, there are a few societal norms that are distinctly Swedish. Understanding a handful of them will hopefully prepare you culturally before you relocate. When you’re invited home to a Swede, you’d better be on time and take your shoes off, writes expat Lola Akinmade-Åkerström.

For decades, Swedish culture has been boiled down to four stereotypes we know so well — ABBA, blondes, Volvo and IKEA.

Though the above are evident in Sweden’s society, the country is rapidly becoming richly diversified. Aspects of various foreign cultures are woven into everyday life — from music to food and fashion. With a relatively high quality of life, solid infrastructure, and basic access to healthcare and education, a steady number of people continue migrating to Sweden. As of 2008, there were roughly 200 nationalities represented in Sweden, making up 14 percent of the population.

That said, there are a few societal norms that are distinctly Swedish, and understanding some 20 of them will hopefully prepare you culturally before you move:

1. Start building your coffee tolerance

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), Sweden ranks second in the world after Finland in terms of coffee consumption per person. Coffee drinking is fostered through a tradition called fika — in which friends, family and/or colleagues meet for coffee or tea.

Coffee and cake
Fika is often enjoyed with freshly baked pastries such as cinnamon buns (kanelbullar), collectively called fikabröd. What makes the concept of fika intriguing to foreigners is the sheer frequency at which it is observed each day. It’s not uncommon to grab a cup of coffee after breakfast, after lunch, before dinner and after dinner. This tradition is an opportunity for Swedes to set aside a few moments each day for quality bonding over coffee.

Read more: 20 things to know before moving to Sweden – SWEDEN.SE

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