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Ten more of the Swedes' quirkiest habits

Doug Lansky · 3 Sep 2010, 13:37

Published: 03 Sep 2010 13:37 GMT+02:00

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A few weeks ago I wrote a piece in The Local about quirky Swedish habits. As one reader (username: bungle) commented: "I could make a long list against the UK and the US too, but what's the point?"

The point, dear Bungle, is that these little cultural traits are what differentiate us. And now that our increasingly homogenized planet is bursting with McDonald's and H&M stores, these quirks should be considered as cultural nuggets.

They're also fun. Sometimes funny. Sometimes annoying.

And many of these things may either go unnoticed, or we were so busy being a polite observer we might have repressed a laugh when we first saw it, then gotten used to it. By all means, we should encourage expats around the world to enjoy such observations, even if they sound like thinly veiled rants.

The idea isn't to take them so seriously. Or turn it into a superiority contest. Or suggest that Swedes should be sent off to behavior-modification treatment. Or suggest that we don't enjoy living here.

There were over 100 comments on that previous article, many with fun insights. I borrowed my favorite from those comments (#1 below) and thought of a few more. There's no shortage of these, so please list any others that come to mind.

1. Dish rag dangling over faucet to dry. Several made mention of this mildly repellent Swedish custom. Yes, it does seem odd to spend 5000kr on a designer, chrome faucet then cover it with a disgusting dish rag. When I asked several Swedes about this, their first reaction was? "Oh, is that a Swedish thing?" Yes, it is.

2. Lame Mini-Golf (aka Bangolf). Swedes had no problem turning their bowling alleys into hip evening entertainment centers with music and disco-lighting. This same creative ingenuity seems to be sorely lacking in Swedish mini-golf, which is as uniform as it is unimaginative. In the US, at least, nearly every course is a cornucopia of scaled-down world wonders, windmills, smoking volcanoes and skyscrapers with all the twists and turns of an advanced plumbing system. Some even offer glow in the dark courses. In Sweden, mini-golf seems to be the staple of every campground and if it looks as if they all bought the same red metal kit, it's because they did. Played it once, you've basically played the entire Swedish mini-golf circuit. (Note: I'm not much of a mini-golfer or a bowler -- this is just an observation.)

3. Loud wardrobe of male news/sport TV personalities. This is not true with all the news and weathermen, but on some of them you'll see the most bizarre, blinding color combinations. Or combos that might work at a cocktail party or during the Pride parade, but just seem inappropriate for TV journalism. Silver ties with red shirts, fuchsia ties with green shirts. It's so distracting, who the hell can concentrate on what they're saying?

4. Too early birthday wake-up. I know my kids love this one. I'm the one in my family who has a hard time with it. I suppose it's just hard to get into a festive mood at 6am. My English brother in law calls it a bad-breath conference of the sleep deprived. "So when are we supposed to give them gifts?" some Swedes asked. Oh, I don't know... how about at the birthday party when everyone else gives them gifts?

5. "Fy fan vad vi är bra!" Upon graduation from gymnasium, you've probably seen the drunken teens soaked in beer dancing on the back of trucks that slowly drive through the city. No problem with this. The one thing that seems so oddly out of character for the otherwise humble, jantelagen-following Swedes is when they sing "Fy fan vad vi är bra!" ("Goddamn are we great). Swedes would find it distasteful if a Swede sang this after winning a Nobel Prize, so why is it okay following a basic high school graduation?

6. Swedish meteorologists. Now here's a great job. What other career lets you completely screw up your work about 80 percent of the time and stay employed. Not sure which is worse: meterologists who can't forecast the weather or those of us who keep returning to check their crap weather forecasts and then making decisions based on them.

7. Customer service. It's common to hear expats vent over frustration with this. True, Swedes didn't exactly put the "service" in customer service. It's not god awful, simply because Swedes tend to be very polite. Same goes for waiters/waitresses at most mid-level restaurants. It's probably a combination of a lack of financial incentive (lower tipping culture) and simply not being exposed to a culture of waiting/customer service over the years.

Story continues below…

8. Opinion void. Next time you're at a dinner party or social gathering, keep an eye out for a Swede voicing an opinion. Any opinion. On anything. It's pretty rare. And if they do, not much chance another Swede will dare voice an opposing opinion. It would shut down the party with awkward silence. There is some sort of pre-agreed pact among all civilized Swedes not to disagree.

9. Secret breakfast rules. Swedes will put apple sauce or jam on their cereal (nothing wrong with the taste, just seems weird if you're not used to it). You see this and get the feeling that anything goes, combination-wise. So you start experimenting a bit. Then they'll look at you weird if you put cheese on the same piece of bread as liver pate. Or make some other mixing faux pas. It's as if there's some secret book of what breakfast items may or may not be combined.

10. Combiningwordsmakesitdifficulttoread. Some of us are really trying to learn this language. We could use a little help. Not much, just a little space or a dash here or there would be nice -- so we know where one word ends and the other starts. Otherwise, it's a bit tricky to figure out words like rusdrycksförsäljningsförordningen or the notorious NORDOSTERSJOKUSTARTILLERIFLYGSPANINGSSIMULATORANLAGGNINGSMATERIELUNDERHALLSUPPFOLJNINGSSYSTEMDISKUSSIONSINLAGGSFORBEREDELSEARBETEN.

Doug Lansky (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

01:30 September 4, 2010 by dizzymoe33
Ha,ha,ha love it-just love it. I am sure to the Swedes that have spent time in the US probably have some similar lists about us also. I would love to see a list like this from a Swedes point of view.
06:44 September 4, 2010 by countrysidedrive
I got a couple that I find odd.

1-How about hanging clothes in the bathtub to dry. Makes it very difficult to shower in the morning when clothes are drying. I never did understand why they can not dry someplace else that is not in the way.

2-Mixing everything together on a dinner plate. No separate flavors just all one big flavor.

3-Shopping carts with wheels in the back that rotate like the front. This makes controlling the carts very difficult and even dangerous when on a slanted slope. I don't know how many times I have seen a couple of weaker people attempting to push from the sides so as to not loose control and slam into a parked car.

3-Automatic door openers that do not open automatically as you walk forward. They slowly open so that each and everyone must stop before entering.

4-No screens on windows or doors. I love fresh air but not the bugs.

5-Doors. Some you push some you pull. Some you have to turn a knob up or down. Push or pull. Absolutely no consistency.

6-Very opinionated statements based on no facts just how they feel. And will argue there statement as if it is fact when right or wrong.

Note: I love Sweden and Swedes. No one or no society is perfect. Just some things I have noticed that could be improved on. Just like when I look in the mirror. Imperfection makes us unique.
10:38 September 4, 2010 by lungfish
How about:

- no shelters for sitting outside, or verandas, wide eaves, etc.. In a country with lots of bad weather, there is virtually no protection for sitting or standing outside. Maybe it's assumed that we should just not be outside???

- no fast food other than korvs and the gatukök stuff. There seems to be a much greater variety of forms of fast food in other countries.

- zero hobby electronics shops. In other countries where I've lived, every shopping mall has at least one electonics hobby store selling kits, integrated circuits, etc.. This is nonexistent in Sweden. Clas Ohlson is a very lame partial gesture in this direction.

- the big one for me: a strange kind of mismatch between how people believe things are and should be and how they really are. There are official stories of how Swedes and Sweden are that diverge hugely from reality. E.g. the supposed equitability of the real estate rental system that in reality creates a massive financial distinction between the have's and have-nots, and the supposed openness to immigrants while one can be told by a Swedish guest speaker in a COMVUX Swedish language class "it doesn't matter whether you learn Swedish or not, as an immigrant you will find it almost impossible to find a job here, unless you have a relative who can give you one".
12:04 September 4, 2010 by Frobobbles
Swedish mini-golf courses were actually inventive and fun years ago. Then something tragic must have happened.
13:11 September 4, 2010 by calebian22
"a bad-breath conference of the sleep deprived" Hilariously, accurate.

Here is one that could go under customer service. If I am going to pay 5 kr for the privilege of using a public toilet, why is it dirtier than a Taiwanese cop-o-squat hole in the ground public toilet in downtown Hsinchu?
15:37 September 4, 2010 by mikmak
Oh god not another one of these pieces, do they bring you out when the commenting rate drops below some threshold?
18:13 September 4, 2010 by gunnar2010
It's great that you have extended this. I totally forgot about the dish rag. My mom and family would also hang it on the faucet. So very unsanitary.

1. Blood pudding, so aweful. Loved the chocolate pudding in the trangle packaging though.

2. One thing that I love about Sweden is that they understand about volume control. Just go to Ikea in Sweden and then one in the States. Swedes are soo much quieter than Americans. In Sweden, in any resturant I could actualy hear my kids talk. What a consept. The music is not loud and I can actually enjoy my meal. One of these days I will loose my cool. I want to tell the loud mouth next to me, shut up, I am eatting here and you are just not that interesting.

3. The rules are the same for getting on a train in Sweden as in Japan, line up and almost push It reminds me of meat being squeezed into a sausage.
19:35 September 4, 2010 by countrysidedrive
A quirk against all peoples. Talking in public on your cell phone like no one can hear you. I find it very rude to hear about your personal issues spoken loudly and with no concern to others.
03:00 September 5, 2010 by repat_xpat
If there was anything good to eat in Sweden, you wouldn't be putting apple sauce on cereal. I can think of a great Italian restaurant, a great French restaurant., great German restaurants ..., but I don't know of a single Swedish restraint outside of Sweden. The food in Sweden just plain sucks -- except the onion gravy over bacon!!).
09:21 September 5, 2010 by madpaulie
One thing i find Strange and annoying is on public transport why do they always sit on the aisle seat and put their bags on the window seat, and when asked is the seat free they look at you in fear move their bags BUT instead of moving in a seat they make you climb over them to sit there. I've even had people totally vacate the seat and stand up just to avoid sitting next to me.

Oh! and nobody seems to give up their seats for the elderly unless forced to do so
16:35 September 5, 2010 by tin tin
How about the the " take a number and wait in line for every thing "
18:00 September 5, 2010 by EP
Number 7: "Swedes are polite ". You must be joking. How is it polite not say hello in the mornings at work? Interruptin when you're talking to someone without saying exude me and ignoring you as thoughbyiu don't exist. Bumping in to you and not saying anything. Spitting everywhere. Swedes are a bunch of farmers trying to act sophisticated.
20:35 September 5, 2010 by Twiceshy
This one makes me just nutz!

Charge 5 krowns for ICE or ICE water. And then you charge me 25% TAX on top of what should be FREE!

Just crazy!
21:10 September 5, 2010 by GMona
There were a couple of things that are not just Swedish. I live in the US and I gotta tell you that Americans can be very rude. Whatever happened to thank you and excuse me? And as far as cell phone use I really hate it when in line to pay for something and the person in front of you is on the cell phone and not paying attention to what is happening right in front of them. So everyone has to hear about whatever and wait for them to finish their conversation before they can pay for their stuff. And restaurants -don't get me started. I can see why other countries think that Americans are loud and annoying. I am an American and I think that all the time!
22:25 September 5, 2010 by Daveo
And what's deal with slamming the toilet seats all the time? Are people afraid to touch them or is because most don't wash their hands afterwards and just kick it with their sandals. Every day the lady downstairs wakes up at 5:30 and wakes me up at 5:34.
02:36 September 6, 2010 by Da Goat
This reminds me of the American spy's during the war that got everything right except they ate with just forks which the Germans saw straight away !

Europeans always use a knife and fork but the yanks forgot this!

took the poor yanks awhile to work out who was leaking the identities of the secret people, before they realised that as soon as they ate they were putting up their own hands!
10:32 September 6, 2010 by Åskar

Sorry Doug, but in this case English is the odd man out. You can do this in all Germanic language except English, which is too influenced by French (after the Norman conquest).
11:57 September 6, 2010 by floridatjej
Hmm........I don't think all of this is true.........The Swedish food does NOT suck, and for you foreigners that felt badly treated in Sweden by Swedes, maybe it's your own behavior that made a Swede treat you the way they did.
11:57 September 6, 2010 by deaninsweden
Interesting article and comments. My own initial Swedish quirk that I have observed is that it seems totally acceptable to ignore your friends whom you maybe dining or socialising with and have an hours long phone converstaion.

most countries would put the phone on silent and call back later. Seems the Swedes have the opposite approach.
13:14 September 6, 2010 by Swedesmith
1. Jokes: not that Swedes don't have a sense of humor, but when is the last time you heard a Swede say, "so this blind nun with a parrot walks into a bar..."

2. Garbage day: it's supposed to happen every other week at a certain time but there are all these super secret holidays that only the Swedes know about.

3. Fika: actually a pretty fun custom, but I always got a kick out of seeing these big, burly construction workers sipping their coffee and eating pastries on their break.

4. Goddis: have you ever seen so much candy!

5. Lack of originality when naming businesses: here in the US, where every business has to have some clever, catchy name, it was weird to see a hair cutting business simply named Frisor, or a fast food company named Snabmat.

Overall, a wonderful place to live and just thinking about it makes me a bit homesick.
13:23 September 6, 2010 by cymbios
One thing that always makes me laugh is the faces of the three other drivers upon realisation the the "höger regel" isn't gonna cut it when there are 4 cars at a crossing. I am invariably always the driver that breaks the deadlock and just drives.
14:09 September 6, 2010 by soultraveler3
1) What almost every swede says in public is to support the status quo, for example, (they all support immigration) turns out to be complete BS 99% of the time. They just say it because that's what they're supposed to say, and the worst part is that they know it. It's more important to uphold appearances than to be honest.

2) The whole jante law stuff bothers me on a really deep level. It's disturbing that people would ever accept it. The idea of "lagom" as ideal is really horrible.

3) The food is boring and lacking in variety.

4) Crazy amounts of candy eaten every week.

5) Fika is awesome.
16:38 September 6, 2010 by BrittInSweden
Number 1 isn't Swedish. I know many people in many countries around the world that do it including UK and USA.

Number 9. Having sandwiches for breakfast is more weird than whats in the article.
18:21 September 6, 2010 by SGJamie
11. It's funny that people have wooden floors because they are afraid of too much dust collecting, yet many people have loads of trinkets and plants on shelves, windowsills and on tables covered in dust.

12. Contradictions..... everywhere! When a school is done for the day the kids are supposed to put up their chairs. If they don't, the cleaners are still supposed to clean ALL the dirt in the room or the school complains about them. A factory worker is always told to work faster and smarter. Yet, when no parts are ordered for him/her to assemble, he/she still gets in trouble for not working faster and smarter.

13. This number doesn't seem to freak anyone out here... hehe.

14. Cereal isle.... corn flakes.... corn flakes.... Special K.... corn flakes..... Harve Fras..... corn flakes.... Special K Berries..... corn flakes.....

15. Older folks always seem to break out into some folk song bearing relevance to any current situation. There's a folk song for everything. It's adorable!

16. Frogs go "quack" here? According to number 15, there's a song for that. I thought ducks made the noise... not frogs.

17. Hard cookies.... enough said. Kids here LOVE my chocolate chip cookies because they are soft. They eat them as if they did not know cookies could ever be soft.

18. Ironic that the school and teachers treat the kids as if they are angels, but still have huge repair bills when kids break stuff or sabotage the school. How did that happen?

13:38 September 7, 2010 by witsltd
Can you also write ten good habits of Swedes?

I lived in couple of countries, and one quirky habit of foreigners is to find quirky habits of the natives.
20:04 September 7, 2010 by ubpurple05
Good things about Sweden that I have noticed:

1. Appears that the police are actually pretty decent and take care of people, not jerks like in the U.S. for the most part ~ at least from what I have seen. (My 21 year old son visiting imbibed a little too much one night and they drove him home!! In the U.S. they would have arrested him and charged him with a crime, and that would have been just the beginning of a huge nightmare)

2. Women, for the most part, wear sensible shoes and actually walk, saving the cruel high heels for a party or once inside the office, etc. Having suffering feet just stinks, but in the U.S. you mostly see women in high heels all the time ~ ergo, podiatrists make a killing!

3. While I do miss my American treats, the food overall is much better for you, even if there isn't as wide a selection of crap. I was amazed about the candy, the Swedes sure don't look like they eat a lot but they do.

4. Eating or drinking out is so expensive really, people tend to cook or eat at home much more than in the U.S., personally I think this is a good thing.

5. No Swede will drive a car if they have had a drink, period. If they know they have to drive, they won't even have one beer or a glass of wine, this is impressive.

6. The parks are amazing.

7. The public transportation is reliable, unlike most of the U.S.

8. OK, its gotta be said, they are a good looking group of people, there's just no contest. So the scenery is pretty good, just be careful riding your bike - if you are a guy, you might have a huge wreck trying to girl-watch while riding at the same time. Also, they age well, might be genetic, but most of the middle aged people I have met look amazing, its just wrong! :)

9. You can get good deals on vacations to amazing places.

10. People mind their own business ~ I have lived in my current flat for a year and never even seen the people who live in the other two flats on my floor!!

We have chucked at the get ups of the people on the news, what were they thinking? But hey, whatever. Also we have been impressed by how Swedish women think tights are pants too, interesting :)
12:25 September 8, 2010 by swdorset
Haven't read all of these comments but this one deserve more than one mention.

The fact that it's absolutely socially acceptable (required?) to drink yourself completely numb during Fridays and Saturday evening but that having a beer on a Wednesday merits a call to the AA..
12:53 September 8, 2010 by spo10
oh i love this! thanks for the quirky facts!
15:44 September 8, 2010 by ivey007
Lots of good things about Sweden and that is why I am here. However this is about listing things us "Immigrants" have noticed as either odd or bad manners in our opinion. Lots of good one have been taken so here are a few that are mainly driving related.

1. U turns are legal unless sign says otherwise.

2. Legal to talk on Mobile phones whilst driving.

3. Not saying thank you when a door is held open.

4. Indicators are not used by Swedes for some reason. Perhaps its too considerate to let the person behind you know you are about to cut them up or knock them off their bike.

5. Its ok to stare at people and not expect to be asked why.

6. One must provide their own birthday cake at work

7. Its ok to pretend you are home sick and cant work

8. Builders need to finish work at 4 and work half day Friday. Oh and also start at 6 so as to wake everyone up.

9. Delivery companies cant tell you when they will be round to deliver so best just take the whole day off work and wait at home for them.

10.Its ok to break numerous laws as long as its "studenten".

I could go on, but then I would just sound like a moaning git ; ) A
17:26 September 8, 2010 by Michael Whitfield
Having read the list of alleged quirky habits or unusul activities of Swedes, I fail to see anything that I would consider off the chain or wierd. Pretty much normal stuff. For the person who thought Swedish food 'sucks'. You cannot be serious! Most of the cuisine in Sweden is outstanding. I have never had anything inedible when I visited Sweden. Well, perhaps Surstromming might seem strange. Everything else is quite tasty. Besides, a country that makes Maribou choklad can't be all bad.
22:30 September 8, 2010 by ROCNY
What about taking your sweet time lining up all the bar codes on your groceries in order to help the cashier when in fact, you are slowing down the line? This used to drive me crazy, but now I think it's quite charming...
22:36 September 8, 2010 by mikewhite
Well the principal thing I notice in the street in the summer is the occurrence of a certain fraction of the population who appear to have been subject to a tandoori, they are reddish-brown. Not fake-tan orange !
00:58 September 9, 2010 by Micaela
I live in Australia and I have visited Sweden once and loved it. I think it is great that each country has its quirky behaviour. That dish rag thing happens here in Australia too. I think the food in Sweden is superb. I did notice that they do not engage people around them such as when you are at the shops or if you hold a door open for someone. In Australia shop assistants could easily have a conversation with you about anything and if two people meet at a doorway and one person allows the other to enter ahead of them the other person will say thank you (and we are supposed to be a bunch of hicks). I could not get over the number of different lollies (candy) available at the service station. It is great that Sweden does not have too much in the way of calorie laden take away food, probably why the Swedes are trim, taught and terrific. I love Sweden and cannot wait to visit again.
16:50 September 9, 2010 by Lukas Stockholm
Not sure I agree with point 7 about customer service. I do find the Swedes very customer friendly and polite, though you normally have to ask for help in a shop as they don't want to intrude (which is just the way the Swedes like it). Why on earth do you think you only find Swedes working in the bars and restaurants of Oslo and in the shops of Copenhagen? Because they don't know customer service? Rather the opposite! Try being served by a Norwegian in Oslo, they are rude, unwilling to help and they're always right, even when they're wrong. Try a Swedish waitress/waiter in Oslo, and see if you can spot the difference in their approach!
18:21 September 9, 2010 by anony1
11. All star converse shoe is the most popular shoe among swedish girls, they wear it with sport jeans as much as they wear it with formal dress at parties!
23:20 September 9, 2010 by Blanc
I think its totally different with these things depending on where you are in the country, regarding how much one engages strangers in conversation or things like that.

5. Well, it isn't really just a "basic high school graduation". Nowadays 98 % of teens or something graduates, but that wasn't the case before, since it isn't mandatory and 9 years in school was more common some years ago. In some aspects its more like graduating college.

But still, I think the parties and the drinking has really spiraled out of control. Once again tho, thats very different from where you live. In Stockholm its probably real bad, where I grew up it was all fine and no excess drinking - on the trucks at least.
01:35 September 10, 2010 by xenyasai
Quirky habits? Really? Seems more like complaints to me.

Either you really hate living in Sweden or you seriously need to improve your writing, as these quirks seems closer to annoyances, and not to mention extremely broad assumptions.

I have a few comments regarding each "quirk", if I may:

1. This is not unique to Sweden. We do it Norway, it is done in Australia, The Netherlands and I have even noticed that some do it in England. So is it unique to Sweden? Hardly. Would I call it a Swedish quirk? Not likely.

2. Is this really a quirk? The SUV is very popular in the US, but I would not call that a quirk. So, the simple miniature golf courses is not what I would call a quirk. Or would you call the unique architecture in Amsterdam a quirk too?

3. Again, this is not a quirk. This is just a cultural difference, that it is not wrong to dress a bit nicer and unique. And who are you to say that this wardrobe is not professional? If you are that conservative, that you get upset by the wardrobe of a news resporter, you truly have come to the wrong country. And your comments regarding "Pride Parade"? Disgusting! I guess you have an issue with gays too?

4. Now that is a quirk. I am far from a morning person, but that is the only early wake-up I actually enjoy. You are surrounded by a bunch of people you love and try to cheer you up. Seriously, how can you not like that?

5. Like someone else said. This kind of celebration can be different, depending on where you live. Also, just because Sweden has Jante Law doesn't mean they are not allowed to be proud now and then you know. This is what most people try to do, ignore the Jante Law and show they are proud of their accomplishments.

15:37 September 10, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
I agree with the secret breakfast rules and the minigolf.

Breakfast: Usually in a smorgasbord format, but apparently there is some "order" of which you eat and apply toppings or make breakfast sandwiches. Dude. It's all the same. Its just a collage of calories. If some order was so important, don't present it like a smorgasbord. I like wholesome swedish breakfast, but I find that swedes take it more seriously than most. Often refusing to speak to you, or start other tasks of the day unless the formalities of yoggi are completed.

Minigolf: So true! Then, you rent this Captain Caveman style "clubs" to whack around a rubber wrapped steel ball dimpled in the shape of a prehistoric golf ball. Often played on unkempt outdoor courses with such original course designs as "90* right angle into the hole" as the finale. Maybe this is why swedes think they are good at golf.
21:23 September 10, 2010 by Toffee_apple
I know a lot of others posting have talked about how many suggestions here are actually "complaints" instead of being quirks or habits (as the article suggests). But a a habit can be defined as "an established custom" and one of these type of habits that really annoys the hell out of me is the ridiculous "telefontider" (telephone times) that exist in many places, especially with doctors/clinics.

Where I come from I can call a doctor or, for example a dentist, at any time during business hours which is normally about 9am-5pm. Here in Sweden, businesses are usually open 10am-6pm. But most doctors (at least in the public sector) that I've come across have telephone times for only one hour per day such as 9-10am, sometimes even shorter like 40 minutes. I've been here 12 years and I'm still trying to figure this one out. Nowadays, I go to private doctors who have telephone times all day. If I have to go through a public one then I make appointments via the net because I just find one hour of calling ridiculous. Why can't doctors just have secretaries? They do in the private sector.
01:04 September 11, 2010 by iridesce
Quirky .. interesting choice of words.

Coming home to the US after my first two weeks in Sweden:

Many people in the States are just morbidly unaware of how walking / biking on a daily basis contributes to health and a better outlook on life. Not to mention all those tight butts.

The unspoken Swedish attitude towards the value and upkeep of their homes practically screamed in my head as I viewed dilapidation and neglect of homes here. The neat red and white homes with uniform tile roofs, which are definitely quirky, played over and over.

The wheels of cheese in every household, with adjacent slicer. Though there are many choices of sliced cheese and small blocks available in most stores here, wheels for the most part aren't available.

Signs informing drivers about upcoming traffic cameras. In the States the governments are pretty sneaky about such things as cameras ( which are typically run by private companies ) and are seen as revenue sources.

Little booths in town squares during preelection campaigning. Not so much screaming and yelling as here in the States.

From what I understand, individual Swedes cannot / do not sue each other. This alone would cause massive unemployment of lawyers in the US.

No gargantuan blinking signs next to highways, in fact no commercial signboards on highways at all. Though the stretches of imagination Swedes exhibit when not considering a semi trailer with obvious advertising to be, well advertising, makes me smile.

Again, the obvious health of most Swedes ... makes my home look like a third world country.

My now Swedish son put it best " Its just easier here. "

Next trip will be in the dead of winter for the acid test.
03:55 September 11, 2010 by glamelixir

Spot on! hahaha So true.

I must add that they take numbers because they are unable to respect people standing on line or even try to make one (bus stops), that is why they need to get organized with numbers.
12:35 September 11, 2010 by Jafo
Um Number 6. I disagree i think its just they learn from Florida then move to Sweden lol!
19:47 September 11, 2010 by gunnar2010
Swedes are incurrable optimists, when it comes to the weather,. I have heard it so many times, Tomorrow we should have sun. And of course, it rains like something else. The comments about Norweigian's being rude...well all I can say is, You must have met my family. ( i really got a kick out of this opnion) I have been telling them for years that they are so darn rude, they think they are always right etc. Oh and it's all about them. Not all Norweigians are rude! I love looking at two Swedish Real Estate Websites, Bospindeln and Hemnet. We have been in the Real Estate for years. Some Realtors in Sweden are great at listing a home others need to hire a Stager. I have seen everything form pictures of tiolet paper strewn across the floor to toothpaste in the sink to dirty laundry. Lately I have noticed pictures of just a chair or a flower or food on a counter. As a buyer I want to know how many bedrooms, baths and square footage. The pictures of these homes are flawless. I can't forget to add, what is up with the plants crawling on the walls! Why is that a selling feature.
21:40 September 11, 2010 by diegoveggie
what about the snus thingy? at some point swedes thought: why smoke tabacco when you can put it in a small pouch and insert it between your gum and your upper lip? and when you are done with it you are left with horrible breath and brown teeth. and yeah, then throw it away on the street.
23:26 September 11, 2010 by wxman
Talk about eating habits. Back in the early 1960s, my Swedish grandparents invited my grandfather's brother and his wife to spend the summer with them in Chicago. On one occasion, they brought them over to our house for a summer cookout. My father (not Swedish) prepared several meat items on the grill as well as a few side dishes. One of them was an American favorite: corn on the cob. Although my grandfather's brother was accomodating, his wife refused to eat eat. I recall her saying, "What do you think we are, pigs?"
13:35 September 12, 2010 by Suntiger
1. Dish rag dangling over faucet to dry.

I'm curious about how this is unsanitary. Isn't it more unsanitary to just leave it in a crumpled heap on the bench?

The faucet is clean (usually) and hanging the dish rag there allows it to dry out instead of lying in a soggy heap and breed bacteria.

Maybe this is just cultural ignorance, but what is considered a hygenic place to put the dish rag in other countries?

2. Lame Mini-Golf (aka Bangolf).

No argumants there. There are mini golf courses that show some inititative in their design, but alas they are few and far between.

3. Loud wardrobe of male news/sport TV personalities.

Don't really watch TV, though it might simply be a response from viewers (or a tip from the TV company's PR consultants...) about newscasters etc dressing too conservatively/boring previously.

Or they really are colour blind.

Or grew up during the 80's.

4. Too early birthday wake-up.

I donät know... While I don't want to be woken up too early, I like being greeted with breakfast on bed on my birthday. (8 in the morning is ok, 9 is preferable).

5. "Fy fan vad vi är bra!"

I think this is a remnant of the early 20th century. Most people then went to school for 7 or 8 years and then started working. Completing the gymnasium was a considerable accomplishment back then.

However, people seldom throw away an excuse to party, espeially in a culture where being quiet and not sticking out is emphasized so heavily, so that part remains.

Although in the recession during the 90's with high unemployment, this was (half) jokingly referred to as 'the last supper of the damned'.

6. Swedish meteorologists.

I think that applies to meteorologists in general, though my experience with foreign ones is limited. ;)
19:50 September 12, 2010 by janswed
Swedeshave a congenial inferiority complex underpinned by a belief they are a superior race,this fundemental conflict makes them nuts, and this is the basis of much of their art from Strindberg to Bergman. All in all Swedes are so fundementally human that i cannot help myself but love them,revell in their humanity and do my best to walloow in their insanity.
20:43 September 22, 2010 by mikewhite
The way "aha!" appears to be an actual word in speech rather than just an exclamation.
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