A common feeling from many international students is they find it difficult to ‘get in’ with a the Swedish crowd. While in Sweden, it is typical that you want to meet the locals and experience the culture first hand. Even though most Swedes have excellent English skills, it can be hard to break that barrier and meet Swedish students.
Swedes have been plagued with a stereotype that they are cold and difficult to get to know. I have to say this stereotype is untrue. Swedes are both friendly and polite, but can also be introverted when getting to know them. Swedish culture cannot be compared to the cultures that are more extroverted and lively. While they may be more reserved than other cultures, it cannot be said that they are unfriendly or cold.
It can be difficult for international students to meet and befriend some Swedish students because they tend to be more shy with people they do not know. Some also tend to stick to their familiar crowd of friends.
However, when you get to know them it is easy to see that these stereotypes do not hold true. So here are some tried and tested strategies for meeting Swedish students:
- Join a sports team! There are many sports teams through student nations or student gyms. Swedes love to work out, so get out there. There are also many city teams if you want to meet people outside of the student circle.
- Talk to the Swedes in class! One of the best ways to meet people is in your classes, just say hi!
- Go to a gasque/sittning! All student nations have gasques and many student organizations have something similar. This Swedish tradition, including a three course meal with songs, games and drinks, offers the perfect place to meet new people!
- Try learning some Swedish! Swedes are very open to helping foreigners learn Swedish. Go for a fika and practice a new language. (Take any excuse to have a fika really!)
- Work at a nation! While the job might pay enough to support student living in Sweden, it is the perfect opportunity to meet Swedes.
- Share some of your traditions! Invite some Swedes in class to your Chinese New Year or Thanksgiving celebrations.
While it might seem difficult at the beginning, when you do you get to know Swedish students, introverted might not be the word used to describe them.