25 Impressions and Thoughts After 13 Months in Sweden

It’s time again to gather some impressions, observations, and ruminations I’ve had about my expat experience in the last few months. I’ve written about my impressions periodically during my year plus in Sweden. Here is a link to my previous one.

Ready?

Here goes:

Numbers:

  • I think, after a year, I have finally started thinking in 24-hour time. What trips me up the most often is writing the time with a period like this 9.00 instead of what I am used to, which is this: 9:00. Plus, the time 17.00 still messes me up on occasion…seems like it should be seven pm instead of five pm.
  • I also find using a comma instead of a period confusing. Four hundred and fifty kronor is written like this “450,00” so I worry, for example, that I am sending 450 thousand kronor to someone instead of 450.
  • Week numbers. OK, I could understand the value but I have met countless Swedes who don’t know what week number it is currently either. How can people refer to week numbers when most of us have no idea when Week #42 is…(To be fair, Ihave the same reaction when you tell me to exit the subway station and “head West.” Whah! Do I look like I know the cardinal directions at all times?)

Christmas:

  • Let me get this straight…Santa visits every Swedish household around the same time of the day on Christmas Eve and it always happens while Dad is out getting the paper? Got it!

Entertainment and Clothes:

  • This idea of booking a specific seat at a movie theatre is kinda cool. It beats worrying that you won’t get a good seat. You know in advance where you will sit. You can book the seat at home on your computer and then either print out the tickets or pick them up from a special machine in the lobby. (You can also purchase tickets in the theatre right before the show either from the machine or from a cashier.)
movie ticket machine

Self-service ticket machines in a Stockholm movie theatre.

 

  • Orange is the new black. Or, actually orange and black seem to be in the stores. I’m waiting patiently for the organge to leave. The black I can handle…
orange clothing for sale

Orange is “in” this year in Sweden and probably everywhere else, too…

 

Work:

  • Powerpoint presentations still knock me for a loop. It’s very common for the visual presentation to be in English but the audio portion, given by the presenter, to be in Swedish. For me, it’s hard to make the two fit together but native Swedes don’t seem to have any trouble.
  • Swedish massage is simply called “classical massage” in Sweden. When I was growing up I used to listen to the one Monty Python record I owned and several times on the record they would announce “And now, a massage (instead of a message…get it?) from the Swedish Prime Minister…”
  • I keep finding these freezers in Swedish houses (including my apartment) that let you take out an item but not immediately put it back in (ex. You take a portion of frozen vegetables to cook)…The freezer locks you out until it reaches a certain temperature again.

Cell Phones:

  • Callers almost never leave messages in Sweden. They assume you see that they called and that you will call them back.
  • The mobile networks don’t use visual voice messages either (where you can see who called and elect to listen to them in any order) don’t work
  • When someone calls you receive a text message telling you that someone called you. It almost always says (but in Swedish) “You received a call but the person left no message.” It feels strange to get these “non-messages.”

Apartment Living:

  • Lots and lots and lots of people in Stockholm and Uppsala live in apartments. So I visit a lot of apartments. It always amazes me that people just freely give out the code to the front door to nearly everyone: friends, delivery people, relatives even.
  • Apartments don’t have numbers. When someone comes to visit you, you just tell them which floor you live on. Your name is on the door. The mailman puts the mail through a slot in the door with the right name on it.
  • Nearly every apartment door says “Ingen Reklam” indicating that they don’t want any advertisements or snailmail spam. I wonder how many the mail person can actually off load?

Random Thoughts:

  • Why does it sound so bad to the natives when you swear in their language?
  • “Svamp” means too many things in Swedish. I’m just saying.
  • It’s cool that dogs need fewer monthly medicationss in Sweden…No flea control, no heatworm medication…
  • Hotels don’t have doormen. Is it just too darn cold to stand there? Or is holding the door open for people just completely dead?
  • There are very few college (or any other kind of) bumper stickers on cars in Sweden.
  • I love signs and marketing (etc.) phrases in English in Sweden. Here’s a picture of a takeout container…
takeout food container

I love seeing things in English in foreign countries. This takeout food container makes me laugh, not really sure why!

 

  • When you need to go to an ATM, you can go to any bank. You don’t need to find one belonging to your bank in order to avoid fees.
  • Checks are next to extinct in Sweden. Everything paid and debited electronically to you account.
  • I’ll end with this simple thought…I love snow on sculptures. I don’t know why…
snowy statues

I love snow on statues. Here’s one from the Carl Lineaus statue in Humlegården (park), Stockholm

 

  • Vyctorya

    vyctorynotes.blogspot.com says: Thank you so much for sharing your ruminations. I’d like to visit, and mabye live in, Sweden. Any thoughts about relocating there?

    • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

      It’s hard to get into the country unless you have a job offer in hand, are a refugee, or have a relationship with a Swede. But I love living here and recommend it!

  • Anders

    The freezer door locking is due to physics:
    http://thehappyscientist.com/science-experiment/freezer-fun

    • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

      OMG! This is brilliant! Anyone reading this should read the link. I thought it was somehtign the fridge did, not simple physics. Thanks for educating me! :)

  • Aidan

    Oh I love your language it makes me laugh hahaha

    • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

      Many thanks, Aidan! :)

  • Alexander Estmo

    Oh, hahaha… As a swede, I’ve actually not really thought about the ‘Svamp’-thing. But now that you’ve mentioned it… It really means A LOT of things!

    • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

      I’m just saying… Ha ha…thanks for commenting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emmanuelle.floquet Emmanuelle Floquet

    Merci Kristin! As I am newly moved to Stockholm from Manchester in the UK (although I am French…), I relate to a lot of your posts and it gives me food for thoughts and pounder!:) Thanks a lot!
    On the anecdote side, I hope that your doggy has an aera to run like the special ones I have discovered this week a bit everywhere. Such a good idea and helpful to dog owners in a big city. Also helps to keep things clean and no one can complain about the dogs running around on the grass. Clever these Swedes! Happy New year!:)

    • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

      Thanks for reading, Emmanuelle. I live near a park so that is handy. But I must say that it is a few blocks away and I feel bad for “Rabbit” who has to “hold it” all the way there. There are no closer areas and no grass between the sidewalk and road or anything like that. Sometimes we sneak out to the courtyard but this is discouraged even though I always pick up after her. Sounds like you are in a dog-friendly neighborhood.

  • Monica-USA

    Wonderful insight Kristin thank you for sharing. I love the part about the comma being used instead of a period for the currency. I had to giggle a little bit when reading the “caution contents maybe hot” picture. It reminds me of when my brother brought home a t-shirt from Germany with words in English and they had an extra word in it that didn’t quite work out correctly. :o )

    • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

      Thanks, Monica. Love that “contents are most certainly hot” container! Thanks for reading. :)

      • Monica-USA

        Yeah not a big fan of the Halloween colors unless it is Halloween!! :o )

  • http://www.interbridge.com/lineups.html trow125

    Kristin, I noticed a lot of orange and black clothing in Macy’s here in San Francisco, right around the time the Giants won the World Series. I thought it was a very lucky break for female Giants fans that they could buy fashionable clothing in the team colors! Orange and black will never go out of style here…

    • http://blogs.sweden.se/work/ Kristin Lund

      Yup, it’s definitely international. Unless you work for CalTrans (or are a Giants fan), there is just no excuse! I am trying to wait it out… Thanks for commenting.

  • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

    Haha I LOVED this!
    17.00 – messed me up SO MANY TIMES.
    Week numbers – never even tried. If it’s not in my iPhone’s calendar, I’m not going to remember. So please just tell me the date.
    Bumper stickers and mailboxes – Simon has been totally amused and a little bewildered by the American love of bumper stickers for colleges, sports teams, politicians, everything. Same with mailboxes. After we moved into our apartment, we got mail for the last three tenants for about a month until we talked to the mailman and asked him to filter them out for us. He couldn’t believe that mail just gets delivered to a mailbox regardless of whether the person’s name is on it or not!

  • Philipnathvvgnli

    Hi Kate, I have been reading your blogs quite frequently, between work most of the time..:) and being an Indian planning to move to my fiance in Sweden , i find your blogs very interesting..! in one of your blogs you mention that u feel like your spreading the sambo gospel and i cannot agree more!.. Information that couples need ..vital information.. is not easily available..nothing but jargon. I could relate to the feeling of helplessness and conversations being dominated by when and how.Anna ( my fiance) and I have been keeping things “alive” on SKYPE! ( which is ironical). But being apart is so difficult now, Specially with our careers ahead of us and when we may not be able to skype or talk as much..Any way..i just wanted to say THANKYOU from the both of us..God bless you and your husband..keep writing !..- Philip