Surviving the Swedish culture as a foreigner

I don’t want to write some boring intro anga sijui Swedes this Swedes that. This article is about surviving Sweden as an immigrant. So let me get straight at the point…. Here goes…..

What to do

1. Be considerate of distance and limit the amount of touching in a conversation. It can cause discomfort for your Swedish counterpart to invade their personal space.

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2. Try to participate in ‘fika’ (coffee/tea, light snacks and conversations) if the opportunity arises. Many Swedes enjoy fika in both the workplace and in their day-to-day lives.

3. Engage in conversation about nature. Swedes are proud of their natural landscapes and many enjoy spending time in nature.

4. Be punctual for any appointment. Swedes place a high value on being at any appointment just on time (not too early, not too late). If you will be late, let your Swedish counterpart know.

5. Try and remain tidy as Swedes believe being neat reflects a sense of consideration towards others. For example, avoid littering, walking into someone’s home without taking your shoes off or spitting in public.

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Do not’s

1. Do not boast about yourself or exaggerate your achievements. Swedes appreciate a sense of modesty.

2. Do not make jokes or refer to stereotypes about different ethnicities or cultures. This is likely to be met with disapproval.

3. Be aware that raised voices and highly animated body language may irritate or exasperate your Swedish counterpart.

4. Exercise discretion when discussing the arrival and settlement of refugees and migrants in Sweden, and be aware that you may not be able to presume somebody’s position or education on the matter. Avoid making comparisons with Australia’s migration as it occurs under a different context and scale.

5. Avoid making comparisons between Sweden and other Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland) that homogenise the people.

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