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'We never had a single conversation with a Swede'

The Local · 15 Aug 2011, 09:55

Published: 15 Aug 2011 09:55 GMT+02:00

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My wife and I visited Stockholm in 2003; we had a wonderful time and promised that we would return with our three children.

The vacation decision this summer was left to my daughter; it being the occasion of her graduation and 21st birthday.

When asked, she said she preferred a European city holiday rather than a beach holiday; and each city European city has so much to offer: Tallinn, Paris, Warsaw, Florence – all of them are great.

I, however, suggested Stockholm.

I knew it was worth seeing being one-third water, one-third urban space, and one-third greenery.

Not only would a visit to a Nordic country be something unique, but experiencing the longer days (even though we live at the 55th parallel in Newcastle) would be something new as well.

And we were all aware of the enormous impact many people from Sweden, even with its relatively small population, have had on the global stage.

So, we thought, it would be quite interesting to see the centre of it all and learn more about what makes Swedes tick.

We were all very excited about traveling to Sweden. We booked the hotel and the flights; we bought tourist guides and even ordered the Stockholm Card.

Now, we are always good guests, we always talk in English and not in Punjabi, and we dress just like any other European family.

We also mess around and laugh and carry on like any other family out enjoying themselves.

In Stockholm, we stood patiently in line and said 'Hello', 'Hej hej', 'Thank you', 'Tack' and even the American-style 'Hi, how are you?'

In other words, we were obviously tourists.

We went to Gamla Stan, visited an Italian restaurant and were served by a Turkish guy posing as an Italian.

We also enjoyed great service from the black Brazilian taxi driver, the Turkish kebab house owner and the pleasant girls in the Efva Attling jewelry shop; one Swedish, one mixed blood, both stunning.

The young Swedish girls in McDonald's were great, as were the chefs serving us in Åhlens.

All over the city, every financial transaction was polite and professional. The Swedish girl at the Modern Museum was especially attentive.

We carried out extensive visits to Gamla Stan, Norrmalm, Södermalm and Djurgården.

It was first on the street, then in the National Museum and then at Drottningholm, however, when we began to notice that matters were a little off key.

We were often stared at in the street. We could not understand why as we dress as everyone else, except that we are brown.

We were the only non-whites in the National Museum's Atrium restaurant. The Swedish couple at our table made no conversation even though we said ‘Good morning’.

They were replaced by a mother and daughter from north London, who were I believe Greek or Greek Cypriot, and we had a great chat.

Later in our trip, sitting in the cafe at Drottningholm, my wife noticed that we were being stared at again.

At one point I felt like I should explain that Indian people also appreciate beautiful places and fresh air and green trees and the superb cultural heritage of Sweden.

On the tram I offered an adjacent seat to an elderly woman accompanied by her husband; she didn’t acknowledge me and moved down the tram.

Sitting directly opposite a couple in a deserted tram I tried to catch their eye to exchange a greeting; they looked straight through me.

Waiting in line, a young blonde mother dropped one of her baby’s possessions.

I asked my wife to retrieve it, by now assuming the mother wouldn’t take kindly to me.

She didn’t say thank you.

Again on a crowded tram a woman was very curt telling us to move further in towards the middle.

At Gröna Lund, waiting for my daughters to get on and off a ride, we were surrounded by Swedish people, but once again there was no conversation or as we like to say ‘banter’.

We smiled and cooed at babies in their prams. Anywhere else in the world this would result in a smiling pleased mother.

In Sweden we got a hard stare.

We kept doors open as we went through them.

No one noticed.

A family in Skansen sat at our table, they did acknowledge us, but their whole conversation was in Swedish; they made no effort whatsoever to interact with us.

Story continues below…

My daughters went out on our last Friday night, the night of the great tragedy in Norway.

I texted them to be very careful and come home in a taxi from their last venue; I was following events on TV and Twitter.

By this time I was getting paranoid. Whey they finally arrived back at the hotel they told me they had a great time but never got to speak with any Swedes, instead feeling forced to spend time with some more outgoing American tourists.

In fact, aside from in a professional setting, we never had a single conversation with a Swede.

This is a matter of great sadness to us.

It seemed to us that the Swedes seem were using the Swedish language as a barrier to discourage exchange, even though most speak excellent English.

They did not seem interested in a social discourse with non-Swedes – or non-whites, maybe. Many Swedes were off hand, cold, and very few acknowledged us.

In my hometown Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, we now have some one hundred nationalities living, working or studying, and we have very little communal tension.

Most of us speak Globish; a truncated version of English with a vocabulary of some 5,000 words, which serves you virtually everywhere.

In Newcastle, a visitor is sure to receive a warm welcome and a kind word from any member of the community, black, white or brown, Chinese or South Asian.

My daughter would love to live in Stockholm but my advice is that there are many easier cities for someone like her to make her home – especially our own.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:30 August 15, 2011 by JohnAndersson
I don't think this has anything to do with the colour of your skin. It is simply the Swedish way, especially in Stockholm. Calm, quiet and reserved. You leave all people to their own business and mind only to your own. This culture allows for more harmony and peace, however, less interactions between strangers.
10:46 August 15, 2011 by Twiceshy
Why would you expect people at restaurants to talk to you? Most likely they're there to eat and enjoy a good time together, not to talk to strangers. I've been to restaurants in many countries in two continents and it is very rare to talk to strangers at restaurants.

The same thing goes for your experiences at public transportation... it's not really a place anyone expects to talk to strangers, no matter which country you're in.

That said, it is true that Swedish people are quite lacking in communication skills. I don't know if you can attribute your experiences to any racial bias, because Swedes simply don't talk as much compared to other people, even less with strangers... What would be considered awkward silence everywhere else, seems to be rather normal here.
11:17 August 15, 2011 by bells on the knight
i have worked across 4 continents over the last 30 years and never "expected" the locals to approach me, smile, invite me for drinks or whatever.

As in any culture, job or situation you need to "earn" your respect.

This chap clearly needs a reality check.
11:29 August 15, 2011 by Tennin
Welcome to Sweden! Sadly they stare at people, especially if you don't look Swedish, they weren't taught not too. The culture is very different here compared to English speaking countries where Thank you, you're welcome, pardon me and excuse me are used very often. If you compare Swedish culture to the Romance countries or even England, it's not as warm and inviting at first.

People hardly ever say hi to strangers. Even if they know each other they don't say hi all the time. There are some racists here that will say something mean to you or give you the dirtiest look, but then that's everywhere you go you'll meet people like that if you're different from the general population there.

But I do notice a huge difference in the way Swedes treat me when I'm alone or when my Swede is next to me. They're 100x nicer when he's around then when I'm alone.
11:39 August 15, 2011 by Rick Methven
"It seemed to us that the Swedes seem were using the Swedish language as a barrier to discourage exchange, even though most speak excellent English. "

The usual misnomer of native English speakers.

Just because Swedes all learn English, does not mean that they all are happy speaking English, they are often wary of speaking English to native English speakers, in case they make a mistake. Very few of the Swedish members of my family volunteer to speak English with me.

If the OP and his family want to go abroad and speak English with strangers, they should try the Costa del Sol where the only language spoken is English even if it is Spain
11:50 August 15, 2011 by Purisai
Agree with you Tennin to some extent. However, according to my experience it is not true that this behavior is not intentional racism and is merely the fact that people lack manners or haven't been trained in small talk.

So sorry for your terrible experience and unfortunately you are not alone. We have experienced this the entire 3yrs we have been here. Like you- we are of Indian origin but US citizens and dress and look obviously westernized. At first we noticed obvious stares and ignoring our existence meted out towards us by the elderly population and now we have even noticed the same from middle aged and young adults. We have learned the language enough to pick up some words from their conversations and we know that they are discussing us. At a Valpurgis celebration-when my kids ran to check out the fire we heard a few young boys discussing our girls and they said "Här kommer mer skit från Bangladesh-here comes more crap from Bangladesh". Thank goodness my girls did not hear that.

Yes, there are nice people too in Stockholm- unfortunately they were vacation while you visited.
12:18 August 15, 2011 by Twiceshy
I also get the feeling that you might be too bold in your approaches to strangers... Not everyone appreciates strangers saying "good morning" to them at restaurants, this is not unique to Sweden.

The same may or may not be the case for your approximations to babies, etc. It's hard to know from your text how obvious/loud you were about it... Maybe people simply thought you were annoying, did you consider that possibility?
12:32 August 15, 2011 by Larry Thrash
Color of you skin? There are more "brown" people than caucasian on the trains at night and all over the place. In the real world whites are less racist today than any other racial group.
12:36 August 15, 2011 by flintis
I have lived & worked in several cities across Europe, Strasbourg, London, Liverpool, Moanchester, Lyon, Amiens, Toulouse & more, & can honestly admit that Stockholm was the easiest place to make conversation, with women. That's propbably while after what feels like 50 yrs I'm still here with my Swedish wife.
12:58 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
Oh! I hear you!

I am blonde and can pass for Swedish inspite of my Scottish/ French heritage. I get very friendly acknowlegements and smiles.....until I open my mouth. Then, the fact I am not Swedish is self evident, by my smaller swedish vocabulary and, to be honest, poor pronuciation. I have been hung up on, ignored, had backs turned to me an actually had people roll theie eyes and sigh when I tried to talk to them. Even my own husband from time to time will revert to speaking only Swedish if he is discussing something with friends or family and he knows we have differing viewpoints.

I agree 100%, Swedes use Swedish to keep you out of the club. It is as simple as that.
12:59 August 15, 2011 by Uggla
It's because 99% of Swedish people are racist just to proud and obsessed with looking perfect to admit it.
13:28 August 15, 2011 by Smokebox
The swedes are very rude. You can get a hej in the smaller towns. Give a swede a couple of drinks and they will talk your ear off in any language.
13:41 August 15, 2011 by rami_20
This is my fourth year in Sweden. I attend SFI classes and my Swedish is coming along slowly but surely. I still prefer conversing in English since my pronounciating is ,depending on who you ask, still quite bad.

In my experience, most of the comments are correct. Yes, some people do have difficulty speaking English and in the same way as I'm very conscious of my bad Swedish, they are aware of their bad English. Having said that, some people might also consider Swedes to be plain and simply rude. Whats wrong with greeting someone or saying a simple "Thank you" or simply having consideration for anyone else?

As for using Swedish to exclude non-Swedes? Definately! I've noticed in the office how when I express an opinion other than the agreed one, the Swedish becomes incomprehensible. Also when theres more than two Swedes together they will almost always speak Swedish even though you spoke to each of them one on one.
13:48 August 15, 2011 by Sheila Craig
I totally agree. I have just returned to Sweden from a six week holiday in Spain and latterly in UK and was absolutely amazed at the difference in manners.

In one area I stayed in there were many chicanes in the road and no one ever failed to obey the law, always waiting if the obstruction was on their side. Nor did they fail to acknowledge, with a wave when you had obeyed the law and waited for them. Bus passengers always thanked the driver when they got off the bus.

I was about the get on to an escalator in London and a couple stepped across me, I said in a stage whisper, 'They could be Swedish' and guess what? They were!!
14:05 August 15, 2011 by Zantos
Like said earlier, I'm sure this had nothing to do with the color of your skin or your origin.

It's just that people in Stockholm seem to be the same as in Helsinki; they have forgotten their manners, they are too scared to open their mouth and somehow, they seem to accept to be part of the "treadmill", so they get frustrated, feel like everyday is the same, and they don't do anything about it. So they become miserable.

This appears to be some kind of Scandinavian disease and it must be dealt with.
14:26 August 15, 2011 by Shibumi
I am as white skinned as it is possible to be and cannot count the times I have been ignored in Stockholm. It is the norm here. They often put more effort into ignoring you than if they would just interact "normally" by saying "Excuse me" or "Fifth floor please", etc. And never mind a short friendly chat with a stranger... it hasn't happened to me yet in 4 1/2 years!

I'm getting used to it now, but in my early days living here I would realize on Monday morning at the office that I had not exchanged a single word with anyone since leaving the office on Friday. I would sometimes cross the street where I wasn't allowed to in order to get honked at and prove I'm not invisible!

Fortunately, I made some friends rather quickly (2/3 of them expats) and I don't feel so isolated anymore. But it's tough at first.
14:32 August 15, 2011 by lovebobu
Please don't use the FRENCH excuses that this is a Swedish-way of living.

of course ordinary people are generally races (or which a better word, dislike the difference), but it's a matter of how well you keep it to yourself and presented yourself out.

so whenever u come to sweden for vacation or work, do not expect them to be nice, because the more you know them, the more you know that u are excluded (with conditions that u are not white and/or cant speak swedish).
14:35 August 15, 2011 by karex
@Zantos, I don't think that Swedes have forgotten their manners because you can't forget something which you've never had. They've just never been taught, possibly because their parents never thought it was important, not sure the reason really. I am even more apalled by people who eat with the mouth open, blow their noses at the dining table in front of other diners or do even more disgusting things which I won't mention. The culture is just different. Their values are other things...

It is true that in smaller towns and in the countryside people are a lot more friendly. I lived for 4 years in a small town of abt 100 thousand population, then moved to the countryside in a community that is so small it can't even be called a village - just a collection of some houses, a school, a café a church and cemetery - not even stores. My Swedish husband was surprised with our welcome. He said that in two months we met more neighbors in our new place than we did the 4 years in the previous town... One of our neighbors even came by with flowers and cake to welcome us! The only other place that I had experienced this was in the US...

The phenomenon of the bigger the town the "cooler" the people I have experienced in just about every country I have ever visited, except Korea - the kindest most polite people I have ever met. I haven't been to India yet. :)
14:35 August 15, 2011 by Wajih
I am not swedish, but I will not agree with the approach of the person who wrote this article. Swedes are silent in general. You guys need to spend few more time with swedes. I think you want very fast.

But there is some degree of racism in Sweden as well but one can find this in very country of the world. We really need to ignore it and tell good thing of foreign countries, to make the world better place
14:49 August 15, 2011 by bells on the knight
12:58 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee

get rid of your hubby, and get a date with me - lol. I'll talk to'ya in your preferred language
15:21 August 15, 2011 by crofab
This is really an absurd article that shows a lack of even a basic understanding of Swedish culture. Swedes aren't particularly racist, especially as there are many Swedes nowadays who aren't white. As a white foreigner, I can say that I experience the exact same kind of things pointed out by this author, so I really doubt it has anything to do with skin color. The fact is, it is just part of Swedish culture to not interact much with strangers on the street.
15:36 August 15, 2011 by smashthebookies
I have lived in Sweden for 3 years, I am an Englishman from London, and I can assure the author of this article that they were not ignored because of the colour of their skin...they were ignored because they did not have blonde hair and look Swedish.

I have lived for more than six months in several countries including the US, Holland, Spain, Mexico, Cuba and travelling around Asia and I have never experienced a LESS friendly race of people than in Sweden. Comparing them to the hospitality of the Mexicans is like night and day...and as for expecting a 'Thank you'...forget it.

The Swedes are taught to obide by the law and cope with long winters but they are not taught good manners or how to be friendly to strangers.
15:47 August 15, 2011 by terriergirl
The gentleman mentions that he comes from Newcastle - which is a very friendly place. If you are used to locals as friendly as that (I've never met an unpleasant or standoffish geordie) then I would expect most people would seem aloof in comparison. I moved from a capital city to the north-east of England and was amazed at how friendly people are here. I enjoyed my time in Sweden and the Swedes were pleasant enough but you can't beat Newcastle when it comes to being friendly.
15:54 August 15, 2011 by Dr_B
I would agree with quite a few people who have responded on here and avise try not to take your experiences too personally as they seem pretty standard for anyone who has visited Stockholm regularly.

My wife (who is from Stockholm) and I we were there just a few weeks ago on holiday and I don't think we had any kind of social interaction with anyone outside her family (and we were out and about an awful lot). What amuses me the most now is how angry my wife (having lived in London for 4 years) now gets with her fellow Swedes about how rude they are to each other, pushing and shoving on the train, no please or thank yous, trying to ignore you on buses when they have their bag on the only spare seat! I can see the funny side in it all and we are planning to move to the city before Christmas so I can't complain too much. Hope you enjoyed the rest of what the city has to offer, its a stunning place in the summer...coming back to London has been a sobering experience in the last week so it has kind of put things in perspective for me.
16:33 August 15, 2011 by zircon
To keep your mouth shut is a good privilege. Sweden looks fine. But don't complain about arrogance when you meet with one just asking for directions or the name of a street. Just say plainly as you want to look: "Ah, yes, it's overthere and there." Thank you. And walk away. In England that's called politeness. But try this somewhere else in Europe and you'll hang for it.
16:35 August 15, 2011 by lovedealer76
We all know people don't like to speak swedish cause the language in it's self not sexy at all,it's not a secret.

Why many people around the world like french,english and spanish cause when spoken it's so appealing to the ears and your so interested in learning.

Sorry swedes,all i can appreciate in your country is your gorgeous woman and that's if they can treat a man good though,which i'm yet to experience.....not joking
16:40 August 15, 2011 by countrysidedrive
Even in Sweden to Swedes Stockholm has a reputation for not being very friendly. So I wouldn't worry about it to much because even Swedes think Stockholm is unfriendly. Maybe race has to do with it. But Swedes are not typically public with their racist thoughts, if they have any. Publicly thay are very polite and respectful. Swedes in my opinion are a conservative people who are very nice and friendly. I think its just Stockholm. Over the years Stockholm has for one reason or another became a not so friendly city. Generally speaking.
16:47 August 15, 2011 by soultraveler3
Karex in comment 18 is right. You can't expect people to remember kindness, friendliness or proper manners if they were never taught them in the first place.

The author of this article didn't get treated like that just because he's "brown" he was treated like this because he was in Sweden and that's how people interact with each other here. Being "brown" probably didn't help him though since there is a strong undercurrent of racism here, but that's a different conversation.

99% of Swedes were never taught basic manners, not the same basic manners that people from English-speaking countries are anyways.

They're not taught that it's polite to interact, say hello or converse with strangers, it doesn't matter if you're in a pub, waiting in a queue or walking down the street. They're not taught basics like making sure a door doesn't slam into someone's face behind you, giving up your seat for elderly people on a bus, making eye contact with people, making sure you don't spit right in front of someone, saying excuse me etc. I have to agree with Karex as well when he spoke of people not even chewing with their mouths shut here, you even see it at nice restaurants, maybe it's a little leftover viking lol. :)

Swedes more often are taught to mind their own business and to not bother anyone else. Most take that to the extreme of not making eye contact, avoiding speaking with strangers at all costs and even shoving past or running over you with a trolley in stores instead of saying excuse me. They'd rather invade each others' personal space than acknowledge each other by speaking or eye contact.

It's just the way they are, it's a culture where you're not supposed to "bother" others, not supposed to complain (even when you should) and where you're not supposed to stand out or draw attention to yourself.

If your daughter wants to live here she needs to understand and accept that.
17:08 August 15, 2011 by Uncle
Who strikes a conversation in a restaurant with the people sitting nearby, or in a bus in any major city??? Is it common in London? Is it Ok in New Delhi? In Paris? In NYC?

Why in my right mind, would I start asking questions about the life of people on the street who happen to stand nearby, unless it is "what time is it now" or "how do I get someplace?"?

Why is it BETTER to strike wonderful conversations with myriads of laughing people on the street, as the writer describes other cities, than to enjoy my thoughts in peace when riding the bus?

Furthermore, why in the name of Lord Almighty, is there are requirement for non-English speaking country citizens to cooperate and flow with the amazing stories that the writer could surely enlighten the citizens with? If people CAN, why should they WANT?

I CAN sing. I sing Awfully. Disturbingly badly in my own opinion. Should I join every singer that I happen to hear on a radio because I physically can produce loud and long sounds? What if some freak likes these sounds? Should I sing to him, although I am really disturbed that people around me can suffer and bleed from their ears thanks to my efforts? That is exactly how swedes feel about their English, even if it is perfect in the ear of the listener.

As for rudeness, I agree. No "sorry", but "oj". Barely a "tack" when assisting with the stroller.

I believe that this is because swedes do not want to disturb you with their communication. It is sort of an attempt of being as non-seen non-disturbing as possible.
17:18 August 15, 2011 by ropheru
I think you should also consider that you can't judge the Swedish people just in one semester experience. I come from the Philippines and in my country everyone are friendly especially to strangers. Too friendly that they think asking private questions like: "How much is your salary? Are you married? How many kids do you have?" is just normal. In Sweden...it's no no!

I been living here in Sweden for more that two years. In the beginning it's hard for me too to see and feel that people are very unsociable. I feel alone in a stranger land and I feel the homesickness more than in any country I have been to. Our neighbours in our apartment building seldom says hello or try to have a conversation with me or my boyfriend, let alone talk everytime we bump to each others at the top of the stairs. It's just the nature of the Swedes--being private people. After sometime, I begins to understand the Swedish way. I also react when I started living here on the first months. I used to say to my boyfriend that the Swedes are cold. In my country we knows almost everyone on the neighbourhood and there are pros and cons on that--which I have tackled above. I have also been traveling in different countries including Africa, it's only here in Sweden that I feel this unfriendliness in the beginning. BUT this is not being racists (of course there are some racists) it's just that it is quite strange to talk to people you don't know or outside your family members or not circle of friends. The Swedish people are very welcoming people once you know them and they will accept you regardless of your nationality. They mind their own business and they expect or assume that you also mind your own business. Engaging them in a conversation without knowing them sounds so strange.

Today, I'm beginning to be one of the Swedes too. Sometime, when people started talking to me in the train, tram or busses; it makes me feel akward. Because I'm already so used to not talking to people I don't personally know. It's strange when someone started a conversation with you on public transports. If you live in Sweden for some time, you'll learn that the Swedes are actually polite for not bothering you. It is impolite to talk or bother people you don't know. Simple as that and it's nothing personal, I would say. NEVER say also that they were not taught good manners at home because that is a BIG "word" lie. The family in Sweden is just the same as the family you have in England or wherever in India. They were also taught about manners and being polite to people.

I think you experience what we called "Culture Shock" and if you come back to Sweden with anough knowledge about their ways, culture and nature, you'll learn to travel here with open mind and enjoy your and your family's trip. The Swedes will probably then say hello to you guys....
17:27 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ uncle

what a load.

If you don't fit the visible mold you aren't in the club. I have never in my life met a population so pompous, brainwashed, closed, silently racist and, to use a swedish term, upnosed. But they hide behind the press that Sweden is such an open, welcoming, modern country. I will say, Swedes are EXPERT at their own p.r. and painting themselves a very beautiful propaganda portrait of sweden for the rest of the world to swallow.....but once you get in it is a totally different picture.
17:30 August 15, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
This is a funny forum, all these postings about what YOU think, is proper behaviour for a native Swede.

From a native Swede's viewpoint all you non Swedes

are just as odd as you think the Swedes are.

However the big difference is you are in their country and you are being critical of their lifestyle, so why are you in Sweden ?

I think you should all get together and spread the word that Sweden is a terrible place and under no circumstances should anybody go there.

The Swedes will love you for that, and if you are in Sweden and decide to leave because of their behaviour, coldness, etc.. you may find a surprising number of them offering in a most friendly way to help make your exit easier.
17:49 August 15, 2011 by Uggla
Such a typical cold and self-absorbed Swedish response. Sheesh, I dislike the cold, rude and selfish Swede. Wake up dudes the world does not revolve around you.
18:04 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
@Gamla Hälsingebock

I rest my case. You yourself have only proven the point.
18:08 August 15, 2011 by Migga
What do I think? I think I feel sad for you. Sad because you see something that isn`t there. Sad because you relate everything to race. Sad becaouse you see yourself as a victim. Sad because when you are looked upon you see it as beeing stared on with hatred.

Did your daughters go out of their way to talk to some Swedes when they were out and about? Or did it just happend that they ended up talking to english speaking guys? Or were they "forced" by the Swedes to talk to someone else who spoke english? Ridicoulus.

This short story is sad because the person writing it sees evil racists at every turn. Racists who stare them down, don`t acknowledge them and don`t say thank you. Just because he didn`t get the experience he thougt he directly relates it to the colour of his skin and that the Swedes are racists.

As I said, I feel sad for the person writing this. Hopefully his narrowminded views won`t transfer over to his kids. I welcome them to Sweden. Brown, Black, White or Yellow.
18:11 August 15, 2011 by Uggla
What Gamla Hälsingebock doesn't realize is the attitude they talk about is the Swedish version of "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!" and is what the rest of the world calls Nationalism.
18:26 August 15, 2011 by local-aam
In my experience, Swedes only talk to the strangers when they are drunk. They say "You need to go to the night clubs and get drunk to make some Swedish friends". I know people who never visit night clubs and never got a Swedish friend in their 2-3 years study period in Sweden. Swedes are robotic, very strange (i never understand their thinking) and a little rude but most of them are still good human.
18:34 August 15, 2011 by Uggla
Well I am "white" and from America and my husband and now children are Swedish. I have been here 5 years. I have made only one good friend. All my husbands family smiles to me face and talks bad behind my back and lies all the time to my face. Swedish people typically only think of themselves and are cold. Lucky my husbands is not a typical Swedish person. I moved here thinking that I was moving to the place of my dreams only to find out that I moved to the place of my nightmares.
18:43 August 15, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
Oh, God!

This site is sooo much better than TV!

I was very polite and showed you what YOU really are, a bunch of "Snarks". LOL X3

A few well chosen words and the loonies slip their collars.

Please reply your intelligent words need to heard and laughed at.

Why are you so obsessed with the behaviour of the Swedish people?

I guess you're just "wanna bees" and realize you'll never be...like a Swede, that is...............

Again please reply.
18:47 August 15, 2011 by Not Dumb
Comment: It was late summer, about 1999 or 2000, when I traveled from Dalarna to Stockholm, as I did monthly then. I went to all the same places I usually did, same coffee houses, same restaurants, same office supply store, but things were very different for me.

I'm a white American, but had spent that extremely sunny summer out on a lake everyday, fishing. In other words, I was 'beyond tan', and 'darker' than I had ever been. And, it made a difference.

I too was stared at repeatedly, just as the folks in this article say they were, stared at to the point that I checked myself twice in restroom mirrors to see if there was something causing such stares. There wasn't.

At an office supply house, I was actually followed by a guard at one point, the fellow standing behind me. When I turned and asked if I could help him, he seemed shocked, exclaimed 'you're an American', and added a flustered 'no', and quickly moved off. At a coffee house I frequented, the same stares from even the gal behind the counter, but just until I got very near her, then she exclaimed, 'oh, you're the American', and became her usual friendly self.

Some patrons at various places greeted me with unusual stares too, and again, the reactions I received that day were so much that twice I entered a restroom to check my appearance.

It's apparent what my conclusion was and is, and I imagine it would be most beneficial if everyone could spend a day similarly. In The States, I could never be mistaken for a black man, so never could truly understand what feelings such conduct left in a person - one can sympathize, but there is no substitute for experience. Here, I have had 'the experience', and it was not very pleasant.

I believe racism and xenophobia to be societal diseases, and like any maladies, worsen when denied or ignored. Of course, I can only speculate if that's why the SD is today in the Riksdag.
18:52 August 15, 2011 by Nightlight
To people who are so quick to condemn Swedes for their "lack of manners": What manners? Who says what "good manners" are? You should realize that what in your culture passes for desirable social behaviour might not be so desirable in another culture. Your attempts to be "well-mannered" according to your values (i.e. outgoing and chatty with strangers) might just make you overbearing and nosy in a culture where minding your own business and not intruding on other people is seen as a priority.

That being said, most big cities all over the world tend towards what is usually perceived as "rudeness", which means being focused on yourself only and ignoring the multitudes with whom you're forced to share daily space. This is a simple psychological response to living in crowded, fast-paced environment.

I certainly would not expect to have impromptu chatfests with strangers in the street or waiting in line. Also, having lived in what seems outwardly a friendly and chatty culture for the last three years now, I can count exactly zero friends - all the people I knew through work or hobbies only talk to you when you're there in front of them, and otherwise have no interest in maintaining contact. So really, making friends is not only the function of what the society seems like on the surface.
18:59 August 15, 2011 by Uncle

"I have never in my life met a population so pompous, brainwashed, closed, silently racist and, to use a swedish term, upnosed. "

Oh, yeah.. by classifying ALL the swedes with your definitions, you show quite well what is not being racist... Good example.

What I do not get is people, who consider themselves "multicultural" because they love the Zulu culture or think that it is cute when people point at white people in Malaysia, cannot accept swedish culture of being reserved and not bother your surrounding.

HOW is it possible not to accept a culture like Swedish one, but happily love cultures that encourage marriage to 4 women, legally oppress "darker" people or touch foreign women when they walk on the streets???

How that THIS settle in the "multicultural" liberals minds?
19:04 August 15, 2011 by Uggla
Here come the Swedish democrats spouting their racist banter once again! Don't you guys have a racist forum you can spout your nonsense to?

The fact is that most Swedes are racist, even my Swedish husband says they are. They just would never admit it because they don't want to look bad, but their actions speak louder than words.
19:06 August 15, 2011 by Iraniboy
As a tourist I don't like people to banter and start random conversation. Instead I expect a warm welcome from Hotel and restaurant receptions and good behaviour from shopkeepers! Something that works excellet in Sweden but extremely poor in other countries! With all due respect, the worst I experience has been in France and Italy!

So I agree with Johnandersson
19:07 August 15, 2011 by bells on the knight
jacquelinee certainly is up-nosed not wanting a date with me to clarify what a true swede is - lol
19:23 August 15, 2011 by skatty
Interesting article about conversation with Swedes!

I can say the problem is partly Xenophobia, partly racism , an partly the Swedish culture itself; however, if a foreigner live for long time in Sweden, then I suppose he/she learn the Swedish way of communication. Anyway, this has happened to me, when I live abroad (outside of Sweden), I get remarks of being silent or unwilling to speak with people in the new environments, but when I come back after some years, I get remarks that I am speaking too much! It takes some months for me to adjust myself to the new situation; however, I don't think this method work for tourists and I don't recommend Sweden as a country for tourists, who are looking for excitements. I think Sweden may be a good recommendation for tourists, who are looking for silence and relaxation in a summer house near a lake (something like a voluntary exile)!
19:28 August 15, 2011 by eddie123
interesting article and pretty interesting comments. this is the first time on this site that i find meaning and agree in principle with view points expressed in an article and the resulting reader comments. i'm equally impressed that readers have made comments in good taste. i thoroughly enjoyed reading this tread. kudos.
19:49 August 15, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
I live in New York City, it is not uncommon for people who live in apartments to not know/speak to the person in the next door apartment...They just come and go, for years, possibly a nod no more, even in the elevator.

I am living in my house since 1975, I have never had a conversation with my next door neighbor that lasted longer than it took to say hello.

So I guess I am the "bad" guy, not my neighbor, right?

Or any one else that I mentioned.

Wow, how cold, xenophobic and rude New Yorkers are to each other, never mind strangers.

My late wife was a lunatic!

Yes, she was Irish and in her time if she met a stranger walking on the road they would spend an hour or so just talking and enjoying each others company.

These people are really sickos, imagine talking to strangers!!!!!

So there has to be a meaning to all this...here it is... if you don't like cold aloof people don't come to NYC.

If your meaning of a full and rewarding life is to be shaped by long conversations with strangers...go to Ireland.

Somewhere between these extremes a place exists that all of us could enjoy.

Swedes are people too, you needn't "bash" what you don't understand.

On a lighter note, Saudi Arabia has a nice open and friendly society, and I hear Zimbabwe is nice this time of year, Korea has many virtues, India is really not that hot, and China is the place to go if your job was exported, you may get it back for say $25.00 a month.

Won't mention Afghanistan , etc

But you picked Sweden...I wonder why?????
19:54 August 15, 2011 by Captain Judgment
It is easy to conclude what you have about Sweden. But perhaps your perception was based upon your own frame of reference and not a Swedish one. Amongst the US, UK, Australia, Canada, the common culture between all primarily English speaking countries is similar. People smile. They observe the same "physical space" when they walk on a street and say "excuse me" if they get too close. They small talk. From living in Stockholm for five years after living in the USA for over twenty plus years (having been born in Manila), I have noticed that there is just a different temperament to socialization in Sweden. The rules of customer service, physical space, politeness, and small talk are all quite different here. Also, I have noticed that when I speak Swedish I have an entirely different personality. Instead of my outgoing warm personality in English, I become a little bit more withdrawn and definitely less engaging and certainly less funny only because when I think in Swedish it takes a little more time to find the right word, a little bit longer to parse what someone said and come up with a response, and it is usually the case that my jokes (once translated) or "plays on words" or witticisms are just flat because of the timing delay and the delivery. Knowing this about myself speaking Swedish, imagine the potential shifts in personality and perceived friendliness when a Swedish person is required to speak English to someone in their own country because you do not understand their language. If one were in the UK or USA and someone insisted in speaking another "first world" language other than the local English...such as Japanese or Spanish,,,one might find it difficult to get a question answered, much less make a connection with another person. I think this is closer in truth what you experienced. I think you were trying to communicate through a "veneer" of English culture in Sweden and were disappointed that the responses you received were not similar to those in the UK or what one might expect in the US. Swedish people are warm, funny, tolerant and kind but friendships can take longer to create. They certainly have for me with Swedes. So perhaps, a one week vacation with your children was too short to make connections without a Swedish friend acting as a cultural "intermediary" introducing you to people and bridging the cultural gaps. Sometimes "reframing" an experience with the right cultural perspective can go a long way to explaining untoward behavior.
19:56 August 15, 2011 by Northshore
Hey here's a thought.. why didn't you try to speaking to them in Swedish?

Is it because you Brits think everyone speaks English, even the Indians?
20:08 August 15, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
@ Captain Judgment

It is an old fact of life that you will never be able to express yourself as eloquently in a language you needed to learn, as the language you grew up speaking.
20:28 August 15, 2011 by Smallnose
If you want to become friends with Swedes, it helps if you met them already during their university years or earlier. Also it helps if you meet Swedes who spent time abroad, world trippers and expats. 30-somethings and 40-somethings are not looking for new friendships in Sweden, at least that is my experience.
20:33 August 15, 2011 by diegoveggie
sad to hear this happened. but im from argentina, and have lived here for a couple of years, and yeah, im brown. still, people are generally friendly, and i have quite amazing swedish friends. i guess it was just bad luck? hope they come back soon
20:37 August 15, 2011 by Greysuede
Better Swedish coldness than English "warmness"!

Let Sweden be Sweden, Britain Britain or Great Britain or whatsoever! Amen!
20:42 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Gamla Hälsingebock

"I guess you're just "wanna bees" and realize you'll never be...like a Swede, that is..............."

Sorry love. Don't want to be like a Swede. I don't want to turn my back on the Elderly people in my country who are being abused in care facilities. I don't want to need an ambulance and call repeatedly and be refused and end up dying. I don't want to be misdiagnosed with cancer from the incompetence of Swedish medical labs. I don't want to have my breasts cut off when I do not have cancer and have the government say " I can understand you are frustrated" I don't want to be one of the 3,000 medical malpractice complaints since 2009 that have yet to have even 1 investigated and inspite of all this blatant information, hide my head in the sand and say " We have the best medical care in the world"

I don't want to have a home that needs repairs and not have anyone to fix it because I will only hire a Swede. I don't want to be so closed minded and foolish to think that my tiny country of 10,000,000 is the hub of all human culture in the 21st Century. I do not want to turn my back on the language that is the basis for all computer driven programs and the official language of the worlds business structure and systems while stubbornly clinging to a language that is heading down the path of Latin and within a short time frame will become obsolete. (Don't believe me? Look athe the way English is being incorporated into your advertising, music, television programming, dialects, youth culture)

I believe in pride in ones country, pride in the country you live in even if it is not your homeland. But the blind conceit of the brainwashed Swedes is amazing. Not ALL Swedes are so naieve and dim witted. There are many brilliant, intelligent, influential, modern Swedes who value their land, are bright enough to envision change which will help ensure it's survival and will grow, evolve and change, as every culture must or become extinct.

@ bells on the knight

I am far from upnosed. I am old enough to know what a man is suppose to be and that has NOTHING to do with his nationalitly. I have a Swedish husband, Swedish children, Swedish friends. They, of course, are not the bigoted, meglamaniac Swedes with a superiority complex as many others I have had the joy of dealing with, even in Government positions. Wake up Swedes, the world is going to bowl you over while you are in denial.
20:54 August 15, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
@ jacquelinee

Lovely post so optimistic.

So how is you relocation planning coming along?

I think I feel sorry for your husband.
21:01 August 15, 2011 by skatty
@Captain Judgment

There are some points, I would like to mention.

There is a comment mistake that many immigrants believe that friendship with Swedes depends to time. There have been many researches and studies, which prove many immigrants in Sweden, have not any Swedish friend at all, even after more than two decades life in Sweden (of course I am talking about the majority, not few ones). It's actually more common for most of immigrants not having any Swedish friend than having one; however, many immigrants learn to live under circumstances and expectation as far as possible, and regarded to this fact many learn to accept their tasteless way of communication, in the Swedish cultural frame.

Another matter is that English culture is not an alien culture in Sweden, most of TV programs are broadcasting in English (films, music,). There are different people in UK and US or anywhere else, who may also be considered dull. But there are some mentalities, which are more obvious in some societies than others. For example, It's obvious, when I walk in a perk, somewhere in London in an early morning, and somebody pass me and say "Hello"; when this never happen in Sweden (as a matter of fact mostly try to turn their face to other side to avoid eye contacts)! This is what it's called cultural differences.

I personally do not appreciate Swedish culture, but I respect it, and as a residence in Sweden, I try to follow and adjust myself to the expectations as much as possible, which include Swedish language speaking, just as much as it's needed. Not more or less!
21:26 August 15, 2011 by superturbo
Hilarious that someone can go to a city for a few days and expect people to come up and hold a conversation just like that. Never happened to me whenever I have been in other countries. But of course it must be because they were all racists, yes that must be it. Damn all those Londoners, americans, chinese etc., they were all racists all along.
21:30 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Gamla Hälsingebock

My relocation is Svin bra! I have relocated to Sweden after all. I have kept my Canadian Health care up to date however, in case I get ill. Definately want to go to a country with some medical accountability to avoid dying from malpractice. However, I am getting the H. out of Sweden before I come to old age. I don't want to be abused and end up with bed sores full of maggots in some Swedish deathcare home.

My husband ( if I may quote) says he is glad to be married to a woman who is not a Swede. Most of them have forgotten their femininity and have forgotton how to be givers as well as takers. Maybe he has just had really bad luck with Swedish women. I really can not say, before my time. I do know that I treat him with the love, respect and consideration that he deserves and it is reciprocated.

Jag tror du är vad som kallas en gubbe. Kanske du behöver för att bli modern för att vi är inte i medeltiden idag.
22:27 August 15, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
Too bad youth is wasted on the young.

What happened before is what got you here!

"love, respect and consideration" your words sound nice here on this forum, but they are so easy to fake.

I feel sorrier for him now and all those masculine Swedish women as well.
22:47 August 15, 2011 by tolerance
This is part of the abnormalities of this society. So much need to be changed...i hope they will when our children are our age. I have lived here for ten years. i posses good swedish language, masters education but cant find a suitable job. Have always worked for international organizations and even now am forced to work abroad and leave my young child to seek a good job.

Someone help us to help us!
22:55 August 15, 2011 by Ivan Juric
I agree with the first comment. After my first visit to Sweden this time last year I found it to be safe and harmonious though not a very sociable place as opposed to where I'm from (Australia) lots of sociable people but this also causes the problem of alot of morons being more confident in making a nuisance of themselves.
22:56 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Gamla Hälsingebock

Feel what you will, that is your perogative, and it is inconsequential to my life. I know who I am. I am not a liar, not a phoney and I certainly CAN see the forest inspite of the trees. I do not have my mind so far in denial that I can not see things that are wrong and I am willing to help try to change them for the better even if it means changing my viewpoint by not standing on residual vestiges of obsolete practices, yet still try to maintain the rich traditions of heritage.

My marriage I do not have to defend to anyone. My husband is loved and pampered as he deserves to be for being such a wonderful man. He knows it and his opinion of our marriage is the only relevant and important one to me.

By the way, thanks for thinking of me as young. Just because you are older it does not make you a kärring or a gubbe. THAT is a state of mind, not a statement of age.

This family in the photo looks like a lovely happy family. I am proud they do not isolate themselves to the "sects" from their own origins and can appreciate all people and want to get to know them and their cultures. I could certainly befriend them. You on the other hand are an entirely different story.

If the GUBBE fits, wear it.
23:07 August 15, 2011 by Haubits77B
Hell, you people have to learn how Sweden works! First of all, there are a lot of things you can and can not do if you want to get accepted by the people over here! For example: it´s okey to make jokes of the King's sexual life - but don't dare to question his right to rule the country! Never talk about how mutch money you earn - not even in company of you're best friends! Never say you are better in something then anybody else - quite the oposite: tell everyone that you are usseless! Do never talk about politics when it's not election time! Never speak when you're not spoken to! Understand that the worst dressed men are often the most wealthy ones! Never say that you like forengers! Never question the right of free men to carry weapons and shoot animals (and foreign berrry-pickers). And NEVER say what you realy think about anything - let the elders do it for you.

If you follow this hints, you may some day be accepted as a white man(woman in Sweden!
23:34 August 15, 2011 by wonderer
I have been in sweden for almost two years, travelled a lot within stockholm. What I can say that the author is right to some extent and at the same time he had a rough day, as he did not meet with a cordial swedish personnel who are not great in numbers but also not a rare species. It is obvious that one should not expect that fellow passangers or travellers will start talking without any reason. But at the same time staring is not a normal thing you should expect(which is usually done by old swedish generally). In a train or bus they prefer to sit beside a white guy rather than a brown guy which is quite understandable if you you place yourself in a similiar situation. LIke if there are seat available beside a foreigner and a local, many might prefer to seat beside the local. fellow Sweden has lot of multicultural people but it is quite normal that for this very same reason their respect and priority among themselves will increase. Lastly I would like to say I felt there is a bit of racism among some white ppl here, but the good thing is that: generally they donot show them verbally.
23:37 August 15, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock

You are really confused and a super Snark. LOL

Everything you say is demeaning of the Swedish people and then you mention preserving heritage...most certainly you mean a heritage other than Sweden's as all you do is make remarks about how bad it is.

I guess none of what you fault Sweden for has never happened in another country, all bad things are Swedish only right?

But the worst part is that you seem to relish saying derogatory remarks about Sweden.

It seems that the spite and meaness in you is natural to your character...you sound like a mean, nasty person. I think you enjoyed your listing of "Swedish only" faults.

Believe it or not I have some sympathy for you...filled with all that anger and bile... I guess you need an outlet for it and the Swedes are your target. Something about you isn't right and I feel that on Monday morning your husband is happy to go to work and get away from you.
00:41 August 16, 2011 by colombianska_tjej
Well, i think this is plain cultural shock. it also depends on your personality, if you're outgoing and you grew up in a society that encourages small chat and talking to strangers, then going to Stockholm will be quite surprising to you. If you're a quieter person, as I am, you'll find it comfortable. but I akcnowledge that is difficult to make friends with swedes, as they're always in their own businesses, and sometimes they tend to ignore you.

I think that if you go to a different country, even if it's the next country to yours, you have to be informed of the way people is and what they consider polite or impolite, as those things usually change from one country to another. And after that, you have to act according to that knowledge. When you go to another country you have to adjust yourself to the ways of the country, instead of making a whole country accept your uses, just for the sake of respecting the other culture. That was the case for me, and I think is the same case for every tourist or inmigrant, no matter which country comes from or goes to.
01:11 August 16, 2011 by _Miriam_
Comment: Posts #31, #33 and #43 - Amen!

@ Gamla Hälsingebock

You sound exactly like all ignorant, prejudiced, racist Swedes who use the same stupid question over and over again as an excuse to everything "If you don't like so and so, then why are you here?" How juvenile.

Now, judging by your narrow mentality, I'm sure any argument with you is hopeless, but let me say this: Just because you move to a country to study, work or whatever, does that mean you have to like everything about that damn country? No, it sure as hell does not. Also, we're not being critical of Swedes lifestyle, it's their evident lack of manners we're pointing out. Thank you for proving my point, by the way.

"Just because Swedes all learn English, does not mean that they all are happy speaking English, they are often wary of speaking English to native English speakers, in case they make a mistake. Very few of the Swedish members of my family volunteer to speak English with me."

If they don't feel comfortable speaking a language they have been taught in schools for many years, then why should foreigners who try so hard to learn the Swedish language in order to fit in society feel happy about speaking it with such terrible pronunciation and inadequate vocabulary, when they could easily converse with almost everyone in English? Not saying they should speak English all the time, but sometimes one just has to, you know. Especially when still learning. But no, you get looks of disapproval as soon as you open your mouth, whether it was Swedish or English you were speaking.
01:32 August 16, 2011 by laurelhurst1
I am currently IN Sweden....The first visit by anyone in my family since we left almost 200 years ago. I can say this....not much has changed. My family is polite but not overly open. They keep to them selves, they work hard and are very focused.

I am the odd ball in the bunch. I'm a chatter box! I talk to everyone and my family members have complained about that my entire life. I have even gotten the Swede's here to talk to me a bunch! I held up the line at customs when I entered the country because the customs officer wouldn't stop telling me about all the sights to see. When I got to the hotel, an absolutely beautiful blond talked my ear off and my son was very impressed (he's 16 so any very cute girls get his attention). My daughter always tells me, "why do you have so many friends?" I tell her, "if you are true, thoughtful and kind, the people worth talking to will speak to you and the ones that won't aren't worth talking to anyways!"

If people don't want to return my conversation, I show them how confident I am by ignoring them in such a way that they know it. They also let them feel and know I don't give a $#@% if they ever speak to me again. I do it in such a way to let them know, they should feel privileged to speak to me because I am a good person and I know it.

So, I guess....don't let it bother you and you'll be better for it.
02:37 August 16, 2011 by rise
@ laurelhurst1

"If people don't want to return my conversation, I show them how confident I am by ignoring them in such a way that they know it. They also let them feel and know I don't give a $#@% if they ever speak to me again. I do it in such a way to let them know, they should feel privileged to speak to me because I am a good person and I know it."

Eh.. okey... Was it you or your son who were 16 again? I never want to be anywhere near a person like you; I can't stand people who just loves hearing their own voices and really are enjoying their own endless monologs. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk!! Have you ever asked yourself how incredibly irritating and annoying a "chatter box" really can be!?
02:41 August 16, 2011 by DAVID T
I for one would not want a conversation with this lot - They might bite
02:51 August 16, 2011 by pseuzieq
Your experiences don't sound unique to Sweden at all. Nor do they sound race related. They sound like the reaction I'd get on the train in LA, Atlanta, etc.

People just require a lot of proof of appropriate psychological boundaries before they'll invest in an exchange. There's too much danger of getting into a conversation you don't feel like maintaining if you're overly friendly with strangers. Easier to play oblivious and keep moving......

Don't take it personally.
03:00 August 16, 2011 by rise
There's a Swedish word for it: "ordbajseri". Which means, for example, when a person is just speaking endless nonsens only for the sake of speaking: he/she is just acting with "pooping out words"... What is the point with it, really? Other than annoying people.
04:00 August 16, 2011 by darthur954
Having read most of the comments, I feel sympathy for the Swedes. I'm American, and I have heard all sorts of reasons from Europeans why we are the most annoying people on the planet, with perhaps some justification (we are supposedly loud, ignorant, arrogant, and so on - I know we wear silly caps, chew gum, eat bad chocolate, and mass produce lousy beer). I have not been to Sweden yet, but what I have learned is if you visit Stockholm, just leave them be. At least they are very good looking.
04:16 August 16, 2011 by sobhan
Swedes talk less and say more.Obviously nobody likes to talk to unattractive people unless they absolutely have to. What nonsense! Swedes are not like Anglo Saxons or Indians who talk your ear off with endless small talks but that means nothing! Much ado about nothing! GO AWAY! I LOVE SWEDEN.
06:42 August 16, 2011 by chameleon7
As an Australian living in Stockholm for the past 18 months, I have observed the 'Swedish mask'. My philosophy is 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do', so don't take it personally! On the other hand, my experience with my apartment neighbours has been pleasant and 'chatty' - also a Swedish stranger started talking to me on the train recently when he overheard me speaking English to my daughter. Of course you are treated as more of an equal if you can speak reasonable Swedish as well! You can always find situations to reinforce your personal beliefs, whether they are positive or negative... I am really enjoying my time here

in this beautiful country!!
06:59 August 16, 2011 by Uncle

"If they don't feel comfortable speaking a language they have been taught in schools for many years, then why should foreigners who try so hard to learn the Swedish language in order to fit in society .."

Because them foreigners bless swedes with their wonderful presence in THEIR country. Swedes in US start speaking english immediately, whereas here there are endless posts "it's my fifth year in sweden and i started SFI and nobody wants to be my friend" bull.

There is a total rejection of the swedish culture that is called "lack of manners". Because apparently they are so rude that they would not talk english to some strangers in a middle of the restaurant.. ALAS! How oh, HOW can one be so rude and racist?

Look at indians for example. Such a wonderful country, where levels of brown define your social status... or iranians that are SO SO SO open minded (except for pakistanis, jews, kurds, turks, russians, arabs and afghanis). Look at africans, who are so so so open minded constantly towards other nations.

Look at spaniards, french, italians, russians and germans who would not LEARN english out of principal and national pride.

But the swedes, oh, them swedes, they would not start speaking other language, when I want them to. What a display of hatred and racism....

Mmm, mmmm (movement of the head to the sides)..
07:59 August 16, 2011 by Prat
You did well to find this forum. And your provocative letter now provides many with fodder for debate... Sweden thanks you for contributing.

My spouse raises the point that this time of year, people in Sweden are in shock & sadness at the advent of Autumn. It is high summer elsewhere, but we are beginning to feel the cold winds & darkness of winter. People are more cheery in May...

I feel the size of your contingent (5 people) would stifle interaction.

Would you return to Sweden?

Are you whingeing also about your hometown, and other places you visit?

If it weren't trouble with people, maybe the food or weather would be deficient.

Dig deeper. Try listening more.

08:15 August 16, 2011 by scrawler
Swedes are good only in looks not in mannerism, ethics..bla blaa.. and they are very laziest people on earth.

They are introvert people.. I know am not here to judge a people but the situations I confront in Sweden made me to say like this. ! I know exception never make rules but major of people thoughts are similar. Even sometime I feel this is the place for exile.
08:42 August 16, 2011 by DinVitsippa
I am american and moving soon to Stockholm to join my Swedish partner...if I took the advice of most people on this forum I would run the opposite way. I have visited Sweden many times and never experienced any rudeness. When we were shopping the employees would speak to me in Swedish but as soon as they realised I was English speaking they were happy to speak to me in my own language. I think Sweden is a beautiful country and the people there have always been friendly and polite. I cant wait to start my new life with the love of my life. :)
09:11 August 16, 2011 by Sinikka
In Australia were I live (Finnish-Swede) its common courtesy talking to everybody around you. Swedes and Scandinavians need to grow up!!!
09:14 August 16, 2011 by Migga
What is good manners? What is good ethics?

Is good manners and ethics the same in every country?

Is something considerd good manners in the US considerd good manners in Sweden aswell?

Perhaps in Newcastle it`s good manners to engage in a conversation with the people sitting next to you in a restaurant. In Sweden that`s bad manners. It would be considerd rude. It would be frowned upon becuase in Sweden you don`t disturb the intimate conversation between close ones at a dinnertable.
09:36 August 16, 2011 by gh2008
after my first winter in Sweden i realized that not so many nations would survive this extreme weather. in fact, any other nation would become extinct due to these weather conditions. on the contrary, Sweden is, let say, one of the first 10 progressive countries on earth. Swedes were/are not lazy. they worked hard to establish their life standards. that said, i, a foreigner, appreciate their values and i never hesitate to adopt such culture.
09:49 August 16, 2011 by Learner2011

In a nutshell, people from Sweden, Finland and Norway are different in strange sense. Yes, It is true that people from the same country or even the same family could behave differently and think differently.

But Swedes, Finns and Nordmenn are TOTALLY different and quite many foreigners strongly believe that (Swedes, Finns and Nordmenn) are lacking some natural human feelings. Sorry I do not mean to be mean and I truly respect Swedes and Finns because I lived among them.

I know that the Swedish or the Finnish culture is what it is (being reserved - according to you), and we respect it. But again, this is just a discussion and foreigners have the right to respectfully criticize what they noted.

No one wants Swedes to butt in and just disturb and interrupt people in trains or buses to prove they are open and friendly. But I lived and worked in France and there I saw the majority of the people say "Bonjour" and "Bonsoir" to everyone (Including strangers). Also, at work the majority of them check hands in the morning and friendly-kisses for ladies. Also, I lived 2 years between Spain and Italy and I can conclusively say it is very easy for me to communicate or be a friend with anyone but not Swedes, Finns and Nordmenn. I and most of the foreigners I know feel sad about how the Swedish or the Finnish culture is not open enough to embrace and accept foreigners. I can understand that being isolated and living for centuries far away with darkness and cold and some fish and potato might lead into serious and disastrous human behavior, But come on it is 2011 and we live in era of technology and communications.

Finally, I don't think the weather is the reason behind why Swedes, Finns and Nordmenn are not open and warm enough. Simply because Canada has almost the same weather and nature but they are totally different. Probably It could be issues related to trusting foreigners.

P.S. I hope no one will waste time and bother to deflect the main discussion and turn it to are the foreigners trustworthy or not.
10:17 August 16, 2011 by Uggla

Hear hear sister! You are brilliant!
10:24 August 16, 2011 by rise
@ Migga

"Perhaps in Newcastle it`s good manners to engage in a conversation with the people sitting next to you in a restaurant. In Sweden that`s bad manners. It would be considerd rude. It would be frowned upon becuase in Sweden you don`t disturb the intimate conversation between close ones at a dinnertable."

Well said and I agree completely!
10:47 August 16, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ _Miriam_ #68 exactly

@ Gamla Hälsingebock You have said it all yourself lilla gubbe

@DinVitsippa - RUN! I felt the same way as you to move to Sweden. Excited, full of high expectations and bright promise. Just wait till you are ostracized, ignored, left out of conversations, been hung up on, had eyes rolled at you and on and on. Sweden is a lonely, lonely place. Try hard not to lose your joy.

@sobhan "Swedes talk less and say more.Obviously nobody likes to talk to unattractive people unless they absolutely have to." Well...that explains why there is hardly no talking by Swedes. Are you for real????

@ darthur954 " At least Swedes are very good looking" Have you not heard the old addage "Swedes are like barn cats, they are really cute when they are little."

@ laurelhurst1 if you are true, thoughtful and kind, the people worth talking to will speak to you and the ones that won't aren't worth talking to anyways!" You are right Laurel and don't ever lose your sunny disposition.

I must say that one bright light on the horizon is that Swedish young people (under 30) for the most part are very outgoing and engaging. Most of them are really interested in other cultures and love to try out their english. I have found them a breath of fresh air in this country and a great hope for the future of Sweden. The dark cloud on the horizon is the growing poularity of the Nazi endoctrination that a lot of young people are beginning to embrace. (What can you expect though really with so many bigoted, closed minded older people...hello Gamla Hälsingebock)

Sweden is such a beautiful country. There are so many positive things about it. It's rich history. A government that, although needs revamping in many areas (as most governments do) appears to be one that is far less corrupt than many and working towards the greater good of it's citizens. It is a country very interested in being a world leader in medicine, technology, education etc. Now it just has to quit believing and hiding behind it's own press and actually do the work improve the educational and institutional systems to make it so in reality.

The hope is in the hands of the youth and that is the light at the end of the tunnel hopefully. The bitter, bigoted, closed minded will not be around forever. The computer age has opened the eyes of our youth in many ways to see that there is a whole big world outside of this tiny little country, that is just waiting to be explored and embraced. Hopefully they will see the bright promise and not the old prejudices, intolerance and nearsightedness of so many of the older generations in (probably most) countries. Sweden is just a bit more obvious by the Swedes blatent dislike for anything or anyone not pure Svesk.
10:52 August 16, 2011 by Migga
@ Learner2011

Yes you are right, no question. The swedes who live in a cold, dark country and only survives on fermented fish and old potatoes are racists who won`t accept foreiners.

Even tho we give 1% of our BNP in aid to other countries, which is the most in the world. We are alos top 5 in reciving immigrants and refugees per capita in Europe. We are also one of the worlds best welfare states which provides free education and healthcare.

I`m not trying to put Sweden on a pedistal because there are flaws in all of this aswell. But that you have the stomach to say that Swedes lack "natural human feelings" makes my own stomach turn.
10:54 August 16, 2011 by Rick Methven
They got good attentive service from the restaurant staff (even McDonalds ) and nothing else was bad just perceived to be bad. Some people who are darker skinned than the locals - my son for instance, often think that people are staring at them when they are not. When living in the UK, My wife and I where the ones stared at when others saw a white couple with an Asian child!!

The author of this story should also consider that those they tried to strike up a conversation with in English either could not speak English or could not understand the Gordie dialect. During 18 years living in the UK, my Swedish wife could never understand what Gordies or Brummies said.
10:56 August 16, 2011 by nyh2o
Thank you for writing and publishing this. as someone who has lived in Stockholm for the past one year, I can attest that this is completely, 100% true. As you can see above, people have 101 excuses for why this is the case -- but that still does not excuse the fact that it is how it is and it is extremely rude. Unless you are a white American or Brit (its odd but I really don't know why Swedes feel that they are inferior to them), you will get this rude treatment where ever you go. You have given your daughter the good advice -- this is not the place to be. It turns you into a much more depressed person than you could be in many more cities. And about racism: I don't think its about the color. Its more about who they perceive to be richer than them -- and they by default think everyone Asian or African looking is somehow less well off and in need of welfare. Thanks again for putting it so well. This needed to be written.
11:15 August 16, 2011 by Liefje
I am totallu white, European woman, lived and worked in a few countries, I disagree with those saying that it is notrmal not to great strangers! In Holland you will always have a chitchat with some old lady waiting for the bus, you will get a small conversation at the counter in the supermarket, at the post office...basically everywhere... Danish peopel woudl always great you too and a t least ask if you enjoying their country, Polish people will try to make a conversation just because you are a foreigner...Swedes would do anything to make you feel most not welcome... sad but true.

It cost nothing to say hi or just to smile back, but it can brighten your day..
11:25 August 16, 2011 by lovebobu
@jacquelinee: U GO GURL!!!! (Note: this is just a simple expression that Swedes would think it's impolite..... )

@ Gamla Hälsingebock: "go back to your country!!!!!!, go back to your country, i have nothing smart to say, so go back to your country if you dont like sweden" is that the best reason from you?

u really said it all Mr. Gamla H. all Swedish people are so proud of you now.
11:34 August 16, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ nyh2o

I am white skinned (blonde hair too) from Canada not the US or Britain, but I still get snubbed just like so many do here in Sweden.

@ lovebobu

heheheheh Remember when you were a little kid having a disagreement with your friends and you made a point they could not argue back with and they said something like...." Well, ..well.....well............Well you stink!"

hehehe Gamla Hälsingebock "Well...well.....well........... well go back to your own country!"
11:36 August 16, 2011 by djmarko
Bit strange that the same swedes who lived abroad are said to be very friendly, outgoing, i have met many swedes in london and they seem really nice, when they are back in sweden, some revert back to the personality expected of them, maybe there is a code of conduct living in sweden, especially stockholm, anything out of the norm is seen to be unswedish, i hear how society is meant to conform, then you go stureplan and see the complete opposite, the nightlife and the showoffs are just in comparison to other major capitals, i like a peaceful life thats how i ended up in stockholm, have made some great friends, fellow expats and swedes alike, to me a friend has nothing to do with skin colour or nationality, to the family from newcastle, what you experienced was how things work over here, people like to be left alone, enjoy one personal space, dont take anything personal, every society has its norms, if we accept people for who they are, we will all be fine!!!!
11:38 August 16, 2011 by Dildo
@ Uncle #91 How did you get friends in Spain, may I ask? Which language did you talk to them? Were they keen on talking english? How about Italians? Were they open minded enough to speak some other language? If so, you were quite lucky…

It is not about the language, body language speaks a lot..! No one wants a Swede to hug and kiss when they step out from flight or car neither swede.

If you take a mobile phone, it's manufactured in China,Japan, Korea, Taiwan and software from Asia. see the world. People are moving across the poles to make and your children life more simple and easier. What I wana point out is, all these countries speak different language but they get tremendous outcome. Is it due to being narrow minded ? If you go to China, India and Africa speak in Swedish at least people smile at you and respect you. Here at Stockholm they stare at me as if I am here to elope with there girl.
11:39 August 16, 2011 by 15U
Agree. it's because of their recent peasant past. It was totally peasant community with rude forms of communications
11:56 August 16, 2011 by aragones
I am Spanish and I love the Swedish way. People are mainly well educated and friendly.If the big complaint of the author is that they "never had a single conversation with a Swede" that is fine. My big complaint about other countries is that I have been atacked or robbed or that authorities were corrupt. There are certain groups that not only invade our countries but also insult us. Spain, the same as Sweden, is suffering a dramatic increase in violence due to criminal inmigrants.
12:03 August 16, 2011 by belgrade123
I work as a head-hunter in Sweden, and I speak to Swedes all day/every day (in English and very bad Swedish). I have never come across this kind of aversion to speaking English. In my opinion, Swedes like to speak English, and they are very good at it.

The problem that these people had is that they were overly familiar with people they did not know, from my experience if you are overly friendly or make lots of jokes and the person doesn't know you, they will not want to speak to you. This is not only true in Sweden but in most countries. I live in London, where if you said hello to a stranger in the street, they would probably punch you!!!

Swedes are especially paranoid/reserved when dealing with strangers, so you need to earn respect and trust and not try to ram your personality and small talk down their throats!!!!!

Sounds to me like these people did not have a great holiday experience in Stockholm and decided to blame it on the colour of their skin. Not on the fact they come across as trying to be everyone's best friend... when I'm on holiday, I always try and avoid people like this!
12:09 August 16, 2011 by Purple_Rache
I'm afraid it had nothing to do with the fact that you guys are Indian, the staring is colour blind, they'll stare at anyone, for what seems to me, an extended amount of time just, as my husband theories' to see if they know you'. I have done pretty much all the things you mentioned in Sweden, opening doors, being polite, giving up my seat, I still do it, but don't expect a thank you. It's a sad state of affairs for Sweden, people will stop visiting, but they'll never notice, and even if they do, they'll justify it with 'but this is Sweden', as if that will explain everything. I know they don't want to lose their heritage in becoming too 'multicultural', but politeness shouldn't be a culture thing, it should just be a human thing.
12:11 August 16, 2011 by mynick
I am a foreign student in Sweden and i have found Swedes really well mannered people though they barely mix up with strangers...
12:18 August 16, 2011 by Smartone
I'm an international student. Standing at a bus stop an old lady approached to me and asked if I can get the local metro paper from the box to her. I replied in Swedish that they are finished. She said okey fine and started a long conversation I was amazed why is she talking so long? I asked her are you Swedish? She said, no I'm French I asked do you like Sweden? She replied I have been living in Sweden for the last 55 years it's a great country but I don't like Swedish people because of your attitude towards strangers even though they speak perfect Swedish!
12:24 August 16, 2011 by Garry Jones
I went to Newcastle for the first time in September 1979. I was 18, The locals greeted us with chants of "you will die, you will die, you will die". The Newcastle police refused to let me go sightseeing or drinking in the city. Later in the afternoon I had petrol bombs thrown at me and my 2000 friends. Bricks were chucked at us and the Newcastle police force battered some of my friends for trying to break free from the police lines surrounding us. We just wanted to meet some locals and have a chat and a pint but we were treated like scum,

I had gone there to see Chelsea play a game of football, as a tourist. I can assure you that your "welcome" in Sweden was far nicer than the one I received on Tyneside.
12:26 August 16, 2011 by listenheregepetto
There is a reason this is the most viewed and commented article on this website today. It strikes a nerve.

Swedes ARE an unfriendly lot, but as a svartskalle, I have found that if I speak with my usual American-ese accent, I get 100% better service. Almost a look of approval from Swedes, who think "Oh well, at least you're a tourist, you'll be leaving here soon."

The problem with Swedes is that they are incapable of differetiating between different types of foreigners. To them, a non-white academic professional is the same in terms of what they can offer culturally and socially as a non-white asylum-seeking refugee.

To the people who say people don't talk to strangers in restaurants - are you kidding me??!! Have you not spent 5 minutes in the US? Or even 5 minutes speaking to an American?

All the Swedes leave Sweden and are suddenly grateful for the black and brown brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world. But here? Yeah, fat chance getting anyone to talk to you.

The author of this article is a tourist, maybe, but he speaks the heart of every single foreigner in this country.
12:36 August 16, 2011 by Migga
The biggest concern tourists, immigrants and refugees have in Sweden is being unable to have a conversation with a Swede or being ignored.

In other countries the biggest concern is that you can be assulted, raped, maimed and murderd because of your skincoulor.

Yet this story gets over a hundred comments. Figure that one out. The hate towards Swedes are strong.
12:53 August 16, 2011 by conboy
Hold on there Migga what people are reacting to is a perception of rudeness and unwillingness to communicate with foreigners based on the experience of a family of tourists to the city. Even for narrow, selfish reasons it might be worthwile for Swedes who wist to attract tourism to the city to at least pay some attention to the perception how ever much you might disagree with it. Hatred? Come on!
12:54 August 16, 2011 by philster61
I am reminded of the old joke about the 8 Scandinavians shipwrecked on a desert island. 2 Finns, 2 Danes, 2 Norwegians and of course 2 Swedes. By the time they are rescued the 2 Danes have built a Co-operative. The 2 Finns have chopped down all the trees. The 2 Norwegians have built a fishing boat, and the 2 Swedes are still waiting for introductions...........
12:56 August 16, 2011 by listenheregepetto
@Uggla and @jacquelinee: I really hear you guys. My very close friend comes from eastern Africa, tried with all her might to get into medical school here through the interview process etc. Failed multiple times, then finally got into med school in Scotland where she graduated with top honors in the whole of BRITAIN in a very competitive specialty.

Honestly - and I am not saying this to rile up anyone here - but I have given my home country of Sweden so many tries. I was born here, speak Swedish fluently without an accent, am a physician and have travelled and grown up all over the world. Still, here, I am just a foreigner. In the US, I am seen as competent before even having to prove it. It is with so much regret that I have to say that I am looking to leave this country. NOT because I don't love it, but because it has to be mutual and that love must be reciprocated.

When people here - the ethnic Swedes - spew more anti-immigrant and racist venom, they need to think twice about what they are saying. When you say immature things like, "If you don't like it, leave!", you only further incite divisions and hatred. We know you don't like us, but we are still trying to make ourselves worthy.

I know Swedes and immigrants don't mix - but when I leave this country as an utvandrare, and no longer pay taxes, don't wonder why your educated immigrant workforce has left. The answer is simple:. you never wanted us to stay in the first place. And I say this with a very heavy heart - I really wanted you to like me.
13:01 August 16, 2011 by Smartone
Go to Norway and Denmark, Swedes will not only interact you but will become friends of you :D They are immigrant there and Norwegians attitude towards them as laborer. There Swedes don't care about skin color or language barrier because they are being treated the other way round too.
13:03 August 16, 2011 by Baned
My Mom and 3 aunts visited from California this summer. Although they were very impressed with the nature, order, and peacefulness of Sweden, they were disappointed by the lack of common courtesy and customer service they experienced in Stockholm. Most experiences were from people either working at a shop or at a restaurant and none were ethnic Swedes! The chill were mostly from non-ethnic Swedes acting very, very Swedish. For instance, at Chopsticks Restaurant on Mäster Samuelsgatan near Sergels torg (the worst restaurant ever, BTW) most the servers were just sitting down and chatting with each other while we waited for 10 mins to be seated. The only server near us just looked over at the other servers and then proceeded to ignore us completely. I triple checked the opening hours just in case and they were open -- although there were only 3 other customers in the whole restaurant. When she finally came to us, she pretty much just dropped the menus and left. When we inquired about dimsum, she looked almost pissed and dropped the paper with a pen - as if we bothered her. Keep in mind, I'm with old ladies one 63 yrs old. Yeh, so not going there again!

Sadly, that wasn't the only bad experience. Literally o one was helpful, no one was friendly. That's what they remember. They had also visited Amsterdam for a few days and thought the people there were just fine. They actually helped tourists and actually talked to them.

It's a DAMN SHAME that people in the service industry in Stockholm is tarnishing tourists views on the country! Smiling and a word or two won't kill you!
13:08 August 16, 2011 by Garry Jones
As a frequent traveller to Sweden in the 80's I found it easy to make friends. I was in my 20's and travelled alone. People made time for me and I struck up many great friendships.

However the author writes about travelling with a family. In my experience families usually stick together on city holidays and meeting others is not high on the agenda. Families tend to make friends with other families at hotels and holiday camps in sunny places.

I do believe that it is still easy for a lone tourist to have interesting conversations with Swedes in Stockholm. As for stunning girls working in shops, I just used to ask them where the best place to party after work was. More often than not they'd agree to meet up for a drink after work and show me Stockholm.

In 1988 I emigrated here from London and it all changed, I went from "tourist" to "immigrant".

Oh to be a tourist again...... :)
13:43 August 16, 2011 by orlandoswede
Very interesting article, partly true, but also in-correct. I was born and educated in Smaland. My dear grandmother Lilly came from Stockholm, and she didn't like most of the people from the Capital. I lived in Sydney for 20 years, and those aussies know how to converse and be polite. You can't beat them at that! Being brought up in a polite society and lived in Australia, I of course expected people here in Florida to be the same. In the 20 years here, whenever I open the door for someone, I can honestly say that 99% of the time, I wont get a thank you. However I usually answer, regardless of a thank you,or not, " you are welcome ".Often once I uttered those words, they realize that they been unpolite, and of course say thank you. All I want to say is, that where ever you live, people will be different, but politeness goes a long way, in the long run.
13:55 August 16, 2011 by Shibumi
@Migga #105

The "Oh yeah? Well worse things happen in other places" argument is lame, irrelevant, and is not a valid reason for not improving the situation here. And your conclusion that the mere fact of discussing this issue at all is indicative that "the hate towards Swedes [is] strong" is a non sequitur.

@listenheregepetto #108

Your situation makes me very sad. I hope you find your place soon.
14:13 August 16, 2011 by Migga
@ Shibumi

I know it is. But if you look at my previous posts you will notice I make other arguments. But noone wanna read those. The only thing that makes an impact on a discussion like this is these lame arguments.

Sure the situation could improve but this isn`t about race or the colour of skin. So why do we get comments about totaly different nightmare stories that is only about how racist Swedes are?

So how do you want things to improve then Shibumi? Every time a Swede sees a foreigner or someone with different skin colour they should go out of their way and be extra nice? Should they be treated differently? Well I don`t. I think this behaviour is common in every big city. And sure the Swedes might be more reserved then others but that`s not a bad thing. The Swedes are just different and have a different culture. Who is this guy from Newcastle to badmouth that and talk about racism? Disgusting.

Everyone should be treated the same and this case has nothing to do about race.
14:17 August 16, 2011 by Uncle

"If you go to China, India and Africa speak in Swedish at least people smile at you and respect you. Here at Stockholm they stare at me as if I am here to elope with there girl. "

Are you kidding me? Seriously? In China people point at you on the streets, if it is not a major city. In Africa (many of countries there) being white is physically dangerous. In India (as in China and Africa), the color of the skin determines your standing in society and the amount of glass ceilings there is incredible.

How can you even compare the monstrous racism of the 3rd world to the "swedes wont look at me in the bus???"

What sort of disrespect do you see here? Do the swedes curse when you pass, as they do in some countries of asia? Do they touch your body on a street as they do in Malaysia?

What if the cellphones are produced there? They are produced often by children and adult slaves. Heroin is produced globally in Afghanistan does it mean that the afghanis are so multicultural and open?

Japanese - a pure fascist society, where every citizen has it's place in the country, where the immigration laws are tough as hell, where only top executives actually bother to study english... They seem to sell quite a lot in the world, eh?

As for me, I often find the swedish girls quite the smilers...
14:20 August 16, 2011 by Kaethar
As a Swede this thread is both hilarious and sad at the same time. Hilarious because of how people view Swedes and sad because people simply don't get it - they don't get that these things are culture clashes and that they're making themselves miserable by viewing themselves as victims.

I myself am a Stockholmer who lived abroad in Australia for 6 years. There's a culture clash if you ever saw one. And what some people don't seem to get is that although some Swedes may appreciate an "open" and talkative society most clearly don't. Just like I didn't appreciate Australian society. I found Australians loud, nosy and disrespectful of privacy. So I moved back to Sweden. So what do you think the moral of this story is? You can all bash Swedes all day everyday - just don't expect us to feel sorry for you since this is a situation you've put yourself in.
14:20 August 16, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ listenheregepetto

This is it, in a nutshell. They did not give your friend a chance to be an asset to this country. Then you hear them whining that they do not have competent health care professionaös during July when the whole country is "Ledig på semestern" (crazy) while they will not let qualified competent and obviously very intelligent, competant people into the system. Well, now Britain has a medical professional of the highest caliber and Sweden seems to be wallowing in ones of lower standards according to various new agencies and articles and uninvestigated malpractice allogations. Sweden and it's bigoted native Swedes loss, ufortunately they have dragged the rest of us who live here along with them.

@ Garry Jones

Sad and true, fellow immigrant.
14:28 August 16, 2011 by jack sprat
After more than half a century of meekly accepting being brainwashed from birth with socialist claptrap, I don't think its any great surprise that the country has turned into a nation of zombies unable to think or act outside the box.

What chance has integration in such a sterile environment ?

My Swedish girlfriend was truly amazed at how everyone was so friendly and happy to converse with her on her first visit to Newcastle.

She still loves telling her friends all about it many years later as though it was some sort of special experience never to be forgotten.
14:41 August 16, 2011 by trevzns
@ Kaethar

Try not to look at it as Swedes bashing. Scandinavians are from the same ethnic culture as Australians, Europeans.

Swedes have an image of being open, liberal and a friendly society.

However, as in most cultures Swedes share the same ingroup behavior, which is an inflated view of their nationality and ethnicity.

@ Mggaa #82

What is good manners?

Answer: Polite behavior.

What is good ethics?

Answer: A set of Principles of right conduct.

Is good manners and ethics the same in every country?

Answer: Obviously not in Sweden.

Is something considerd good manners in the US considerd good manners in Sweden aswell?

Answer: Most Scandinavians and mainland Europeans are different from the US Europeans, but are more of the same.

There are always exceptions, this type of behavior can be found throughout the US and more commonly in the Northern regions, usually in the Asian and European cultures communities.

In the northern regions of Germany I have experienced and observed this type of behavior… good German manners. Scandinavians and all Northern Europeans counties share a common root language, historical and cultural heritage link with Germany.
14:42 August 16, 2011 by glamelixir
How does an article like this get published?

Mediocre, totally insulting to the local culture, with a total lack of purpose, and self centered in an own bubble of demands.

It is so ridiculous that I do not know where to start. Happy that others have taken their time.

What I love about Stockholm is that people mind their own business. I LOVE IT!

And one can certainly not expect to change their cultural features because one is travelling! Say what?

I have been to England twice and I haven't spoken to any brit, same with Thailand, New York, Berlin, and so on...

@thelocal if you have no articles to publish, please let me know. I have a couple of friends involved in cultural activities here that would love to have a little space to spread the word about their music and art.
14:43 August 16, 2011 by noorriejj
I came here two years ago as an exchange student from Holland and have a completely different experience then most of you here describe.

Instead of hanging out with a bunch of exchange students I hung out with Swedish students that I met in class. I might be looking like a typical Swedish girl, but my Mexican, French and Spanish friends did the same with other Swedish students. From my exchange semester, now 5 other students have moved back to Stockholm too, missing the life and the people they had here

In the mean while my boyfriend and I decided to live together. Accepted by his family as if I'm one of their own kids and all his Swedish friends. Every time we meet we're having a blast laughing, talking etc. I'm meeting new people all the time whom are always nice and never frown upon the fact that I haven't had time to really study Swedish yet. (last year of university combined with full-time job meant prioritizing differently) I do understand Swedish but I don't think my Swedish is good enough to talk back yet. However, the Swedes I meet always encourage me to practice talking with them no matter if I make mistakes. I never get locked out of conversations on purpose and if I can't follow anymore I just say something like; Guys help me out what does that word mean. Sometimes it is even nice when you can float off in your own thoughts for a while before returning to the conversation.

I come from Amsterdam and the people there are not always as friendly as described. Of course you will find them like I find them here, it is a matter of your own personality too. When I'm in the subway here and someone stares at me, I stare back. What do I care what that person thinks...? It is not someone that matters too me and on that same note I do the same in Amsterdam, Londen, Paris etc.

I think it is a matter of perception and how much attention a person needs.. I might not fit in everywhere, but do I want to fit in and liked by everyone? No! I like to hang out with people that 'click' with my personality so a person in the subway.. don't care..

AND most important, as long as you don't loose your values what would you care.. Say good morning to the bus driver when you get in, say thank you to someone who holds the door for you and simply don't get bothered when people don't do it to you.. They are of no importance to your life.. don't let them get you winded up about rudeness..
15:02 August 16, 2011 by jamesblish
You're shaped by your environment. If you live in a place that's pitch black and ice cold 5-6 months a year, how the f**k would you feel? It's easy coming from Australia or some place like that, where "winter" is merely a word, and be all "why are people so effing gloomy?" Well, what do you think?
15:16 August 16, 2011 by Anna Marie
I have been visiting Sweden (to see relatives) for 11 years now, and never felt comfortable until I read a book entitled "Modern-Day Vikings...A Practical Guide to Interacting with the Swedes". I am a white Canadian and probably descended from a Nordic race. I just had no idea the culture was so different. I highly recommend this book for anyone planning to spend time in Sweden.
15:16 August 16, 2011 by Dildo
@ Uncle. There is something call brain and knowledge to make any electronic product It wont just drop out from the sky, so people need it. So please do not ratify your rants

What if the cellphones are produced there? They are produced often by children and adult slaves.
15:26 August 16, 2011 by cogito
The majority is correct: Swedes lack manners.

I have lived in 4 different countries. And the Swedes are easily the rudest people I have ever met.

In Edinborough, strangers said good morning to me on the streets.

In Paris, everyone said Bonjour, Merci, and, if they bump into you, Excusez-moi. Swedes shoulder you out of the way with not so much as an excuse me.

In the U.S. people say please, thank you, excuse me and give up their seats to the elderly; drivers stop to wave pedestrians across the street.

You will experience more civility in a back alley in The Bronx, New York, than in Stockholm.

In Greece, Athenians stop on the street to help lost foreigners find their way. The tourist guide book Lonely Planet's Stockholm edition actually warned visitors against asking for directions in Stockholm

I have always lived in larger cities than Stockholm, and I have never experienced such lack of common courtesy.
15:33 August 16, 2011 by orndumma
I have lived in Sweden for the past 7 years and being brown skinned myself, I have never experienced any explicit racist attitude from the Swedes.

Hoewever in this era of globalisation, it would be good for the Swedes to open up a bit. Generally speaking, I do consider Swedes to be a bit reserved. This has something to do with their history and also their lack of interaction outside the European continent.

But the Swedes have their culture and we have ours. Lets not try to impose ours on theirs. Live and let live...!!
15:34 August 16, 2011 by trevzns
@ glamelixir

This type of article is what should happen in an open society. It will be ok when you and other Swedes wake-up tomorrow, you will still be part of the Swedish and Scandinavia majority.

Scandinavians have a heritage of expansionism, occupation and colonization, as do all the other mainland Europeans counties.

There is, the reality of an open Sweden and there is the image of reality of an open, liberal and a friendly society.

12:03 August 16, 2011 by belgrade123 #99

Why assume the father would blame their family negative experience on a bad holiday? This was his second visit to Sweden, something changed?

Despite Sweden's first world classification and well-educated reputation most Scandinavians and mainland's Europeans have an inflated view of their nationality and ethnicity.

Perhaps xenophobe and collective narcissism is an involuntary mechanism inherent in ethnic European heritage?
16:05 August 16, 2011 by Uncle

What are you banging on about? I mentioned japanese - the least international culture in the "western" world that invents all these cellphones that chinese mass produce. Still they can be quite non-multicultural and will not start cracking jokes with you in english on the street.

If the sales are your indication of opennes, what about IKEA? Volvo? Electrolux? Ericsson? What about Sweden being 3rd biggest producer of music in the world, BEFORE many english speaking countries?

My rants? You and a team of moaning immigrants here that refuse to accept swedes with their mentality and culture whereas I am the one ranting? Are you kidding me?
16:30 August 16, 2011 by jacquelinee

Actaully Uncle you too are a moaning immigrant here. If you think you are a pure blooded "Swede" (as it is obvious you probably do) then you are actually arean immigrant of German descent who squatted on unoccupied Sami land long ago.

The only difference is that your immigrant status is older than most of ours. However you ARE an immigrant, just like the rest of us. So, in typical Swedish stye....WHY DON'T YOU GO BACK TO GERMANY IF YOU DON'T LIKE THEY WAY THE REST OF US IMMIGANTS DO THINGS HERE! hahhahaha shoes on the other foot now isn't it "Deutsch Einwanderer"?
16:59 August 16, 2011 by jostein
One part of your experience is explained by swedish culture. We do not intrude on strangers personal space in public places. Like it or dislike it.

The other part is more sinister. Sweden and the swedes have had 1miljon foreigners dumped among them in 20 years. This was done by the politicians in cohorts with the journalists. Noone asked the swedes for permission, everyone knew the swedes didnt really want this, by and large (check out SOM-institute polls for the last 20 years). And the labourmarket didnt really want this either. And it caused huge numbers of problems, crimelevels are skyrocketing, feelings of security and trust are plumeting, it costs an arm and a leg and is ripping our society asunder. It was rammed down our throats just to serve the vanity of fanatics in the journalistic class and the political class. So, swedes by now just vote with their feet.

If you had come during the seventies your experience would have been totally different. Its sad that this is the sweden of today. But i wont apologize for it. It has been caused by people that babble the word "democracy" all day long but never practice it.
17:57 August 16, 2011 by McChatter
I don't know what is more interesting - reading the article or reading all the reactions. It certainly has provoked a lot of reactions.

The postings of Jacquilinee, Listenheregepetto and Gamla Hälsingebock particularly caught my attention. Yes, Swedes feel themselves to be better than people from other countries. True, they do not like speaking English to people who are native-speakers for fear of making mistakes. The only Swede who has insisted in continuing to speak English to me was half-drunk at the time. The others revert to Swedish immediately. True, Swedes do not like their "personal integrity" space violated. A case of "Don't disturb me and I won't disturb you." This makes them appear to be churlish in foreigners' eyes. Some of them are indeed ill-mannered in the view of foreigners but this is brought about by a feeling of insecurity. True, their (average) knowledge of the rest of the world is abominable - just look at the TV news and the newspapers. And then there's that wonderfull phrase "out in Europe".

I am neither attacking nor defending the Swedes, just trying to point out that the cultural differences between Swedes and members of other nations are particularly large. I started coming to Sweden some 20 years ago and live here permanently for 5 years now but have no desire to become a Swedish citizen. Swedish society functions after a strict set of rules - both written and unwritten - which don't allow for many deviations and this makes it particularly difficult for new-comers. The rules are there for people's security, (trygghet) without which the Swede feels him- or herself unstable.

I know that I can never ever aspire to becoming a Swede but I can live with that and hope to live here for a long time to come.
18:16 August 16, 2011 by mieoux
Sweden is extremely racist. I am trying to help my boyfriend a job in the US so we can both go to the US. He's Swedish and doesn't want to move without a job in hand, even though I would be happy to support him while he looks for a job and he has great qualifications. However I can't continue to live in Sweden, it's too racist for me.
18:50 August 16, 2011 by Tim_22
actually i 'ave meet with swede while they are drunk .... they are betta than in that way
18:54 August 16, 2011 by MissK
I've heard similar stories from even a couple white Americans. I think the world getting smaller has made many Swedes put up a bit of a barrier to others. Tell your daughter that there are some great people here, and a great expat community that is supportive, colorful, and educated.
19:05 August 16, 2011 by Greysuede
"We never had a single conversation with a Swede."

I think that Swedes are neither obliged nor entitled to strike up a conversation with whoever in their own country. They are polite and morally disciplined. This makes them look unique in the Globish bazaar.

"We went to Gamla Stan, visited an Italian restaurant and were served by a Turkish guy posing as an Italian." That wasn't Turk as they have no this complex.

@Uggla "It's because 99% of Swedish people are racist just to proud and obsessed with looking perfect to admit it."

Others are more racists than Swedes. Not to be welcomed in one's anticipated way doesn't make a Swede racist.

@McChatter "True, they do not like speaking English to people who are native-speakers for fear of making mistakes."

If even Swedes use good or broken English, both native and non-native English speakers must be grateful for that in any way as English isn't an obligatory or mother tongue of Swedes.
19:09 August 16, 2011 by Dildo
@ Uncle, FYI: VOLVO is not anymore a Swedish it's Chinese company :P.

Dear Uncle, I will come to your perception. I was in Greece lost summer along with my pals; some of my friends were robbed. It means Greece is the place for pilfers and rouges? I want to highlight the mannerism and not being introvert where Swedes lack. It doesn't mean that all people behave rude. It's a human perception always we never accepts mistakes and argues your view is correct.

Stockholm people are stressful, Problem here is Swedish people are frustrated with the too much of bad immigrants, so they don't even bothered to react at all.

BTW am not in a team to always comment something bad, its truth. Truth always bitters "Leap before you leap" Uncle-- Even you aren't swede, so please stop being stereotypical towards people like you. I mean new immigrants :)
19:15 August 16, 2011 by bells on the knight
totally pathetic article:

having traveled and worked across 4 continents I have only been approached voluntarily by street sales men/women.

there is absolutely no difference being "welcome" in sweden as in any other country that i have been to. try china, saudi, kuwait, brazil, thailand, singapore, malaysia, australia, russia, germany, america and the list goes on.
19:17 August 16, 2011 by Dildo
*leap before you look**
19:25 August 16, 2011 by Frobobbles
It's those Donny Osmond haircuts. They are scary
19:55 August 16, 2011 by Tysknaden
It's not the color of skin. I am a migrant from Germany. Swedish people are a little bit reserved and distanced. That's okay. It's Scandinavia, at least - not South America!
20:22 August 16, 2011 by Uncle

AB Volvo is a Swedish company. It sells trucks all over the world. These big things that carry stuff, you know... And it is much larger than Volvo Car Corporation (3,6 times as large to be precise) :P

I did not get the rest. Am I stereotypical towards immigrants? This entire forum is a rant about how swedes are this and how they are that or...? Thanks GOD that there are some sane people here that realize the natural reservation of Swedes.
20:45 August 16, 2011 by Streja
Swedes don't strike up conversatuons with strangers, especially not Stockholmers. Not usually anyway, well unless they are drunk or mentally ill and I adivse you to not talk to them. ;)

I once came across an immigrant to Sweden in the street outside our home. He shouted "hello!!". I was a bit confused since I didn't know him but then he asked for directions so I helped him. I wish I had told him to say "Ursäkta" instead as that is what you say when asking for directions in Sweden.
21:12 August 16, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ streja and others

"Swedes don't strike up conversatuons with strangers"

They certainly have no problem striking up conversations with people on here, and often not in a nice way.
21:38 August 16, 2011 by mr.frog
@ jacquelinee

You said it all. I am a big fun. :)
21:41 August 16, 2011 by planet.sweden
"We were the only non-whites in the National Museum's Atrium restaurant. The Swedish couple at our table made no conversation even though we said 'Good morning'."

Oh pleeeease..! Get over yourselves. Sounds to me like you've made the massive mistake of watching the BBC too much and swallowing it all whole.

If a family of four sits down at a table, most people are going to leave them to their selves, even in Britain. Why wouldn't they? You're a self contained unit. And besides, maybe the people you were sitting down next to also had their own family/relationships to deal with.

Stop being such a self appointed victim. It's nauseating to behold.
21:54 August 16, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ planet.sweden

Your name says it all.......but SURPRISE! There are more people on the planet than just Swedes! I know it comes as a huge shock!

Maybe this nice family were just being courteous when they said "Good morning" to people that probably were staring at them, as anyone with any upbringing or manners should.
22:00 August 16, 2011 by alecLoTh
After 4 years here, I can tell you that this is the norm. If you told other Swedish people that no-one talks to you, they'd be shocked as to why you even want that. But as a person from a small antipodean nation where we call each other 'mate' even before we get first names - this place can become miserable fast.

Sweden is like this.... the OP may feel it more because of colour, I concur, but even white non-Swedes share the rejection in workplaces, parties, official phone calls, switchboards, restaurants - everywhere. The message I take from all this is that Sweden is for Swedes, simple. But having made that statement I know many Swedish born, Swedish speaking non-whites who also do not feel welcome...so all this leaves me sure that even if I learn the language, I'll always be an outsider -which is fine by me, I dont need to lose myself in a nation that dosent accept me.
22:17 August 16, 2011 by Prat
In my opinion the three (pictured) Din kids are a bit old to be happily trooping about behind mum & dad. Perhaps they shared secret sour looks or cynical eye-rolling you didn't witness. Maybe the Swedes you met felt pity for your youngsters, having to spend long holidays shadowing you & the missus.

American kids would have their eyes on their cellphones or gameboy, their ears wired with tunes, with heavy doses of ADHD chill meds. There would be much complaining...
22:31 August 16, 2011 by kshatriya
wow, too many comments to be read.

You were foreign, even if you were westernized (you think so) you were clearly not from sweden and they were curious, maybe they were curious because its a brown family who integrated so well, after all the immigrants dont do it.

relate it to how the goras and especially goris are stared at in India.

"At one point I felt like I should explain that Indian people also appreciate beautiful places and fresh air and green trees and the superb cultural heritage of Sweden."

Well maybe that is why they stared at you because usually Indias dont do so, and you are a something different.

Yes stockholm is cold they walk like zombies the person crossing you and sitting next to you simply dont exist, thank god i dont live there, that is a sad part but if you move to smaller towns ppl are very different. If you seem lost they will help you voluntarily, ppl ask you if you are lost and if you need help.

how long has it been since you have been to Indian cities? its changing rapidly, your nostalgic India doesnt exist anymore,, these days people living in apartments don't even know what their neighbours look like.

Sweden has its own problems just like every other country, at least not every town is patrolled by knife wielding anti everything teens like in the great land flying UNION JACK. I dont know abt new castle but in general i dont think sweden is worse in any aspect for living compared to where you are from. you feel your place is paradise because it is familiar for you.
22:34 August 16, 2011 by gat0
The naive viewpoint of this article together with some extremely ethnocentric responses are mind-blowing. As a Swede, I'm sad to learn that so many people here dislike Swedish culture and I'm also a bit offended.

It is obvious that the fact that Swedish culture may appear similar to many other Western cultures on the surface cause many of these issues - the apparent similarities allows for easier comparison. As we can see, this can be very dangerous. Try instead to regard Swedish culture as unique and compare as little as possible with your own culture. Learn about it and try to understand it. I'm sure many would enjoy their stay in Sweden a lot more if they did.

As for some of the specific examples. Having lived abroad for a long time I understand that not saying "thank you", "good morning" or offering an elderly your seat on the bus may seem strange and rude at a glance (I don't agree however that this is as unusual as some people here seem to think). What you need to understand though is that Swedes don't consider this rude behavior. In fact, it would often be considered the opposite. For example, offering a seat to an elderly has to be done with great caution in my opinion. I wouldn't do it unless I'm very sure this person would have a problem standing.

The meaning of "good morning", "thank you" or similar are often inferred by subtle gestures without the need to actually say it out loud (maybe this is what some of you interpret as "staring"). This is done simply to avoid disturbing others around you.

Striking up a conversation with people enjoying their dinner or doing anything else really would often be considered very rude and intruding. I would certainly feel very uncomfortable. I simply don't feel the need to interact with people I don't know about random unimportant matters. That's what my friends are for.

Just today I had some American exchange students knocking on my door wanting to sell paintings. Even though I was clearly in the middle of something and unwilling to buy their paintings, they proceeded to talk about tons of other matters. This made me feel uneasy but I would never consider these people rude - simply because I know that they are from another culture. I just wish more people would take this approach.
22:37 August 16, 2011 by Lo_
I'm truly sorry that you guys didn't enjoy your trip to Stockholm! A trip to any country is always better when you get to interact with people on the streets and meet people who have good manners.

However, as a native Swede I'm somewhat baffled by the comments following this article. Most of the people here comment on Swedes (as an entire NATION) being rude yet I've never read comments as rude as some here. Of course we all have preconceptions about different countries, that's how we make sense of the world. But to suggest that there is something wrong with ALL Swedes and that ALL Swedes are rude and unwelcoming just because of different norms and codes of conduct is just silly.

It is really sad that some of you have had such terrible experiences in Sweden. Yet, I assure you that there are really nice, friendly and outgoing people here too (Really- I promise). Just because I've met really rude British people (a recent trip to London was a complete nightmare) I don't go around thinking that ALL British people are rude. Sure, some people might be a bit more reserved and take a while to get to know. People might not (not in Stockholm at least) say hello to strangers on the streets or strike up a conversation with someone they don't know on the bus. That's just generally considered good manners in (some parts of) Sweden. Perhaps it's weird or strange to someone who is used to different behaviours (I understand that, I really do), yet it has nothing to do with being rude- in fact it's the opposite!
23:01 August 16, 2011 by Solith
I've lived here for 6 months now and I think that Swedes have a natural reservedness. It's not rude it's just their way of being. I also found that as a "please/thank you/excuse me" touting Brit that I was completely ignorant of the manners expected of me here which are not in the UK.

Once you get past the reservedness the Swedes I have met have been nothing short of cheerful, kind and respectful people. I've also found that since the sun has come out and my face is better known around my work and town that I get a lot more of the UK type manners - please, thank you, etc.

It's a different culture and a different way of life. If you want to enjoy it then stop fighting and start adapting.

Incidentally, living in Manchester and holidaying across Europe I can say that I've never had a conversation with a local unless alcohol was involved - or unless I was in Italy. I'd rather have Swedish reservedness than Italian gall!
23:07 August 16, 2011 by jostein
#129 jacquelinee

You are a fool for trying this argument again after i picked you to pieces last time.

As we established last time, noone knows who was first in sweden. We simply do not know if my ancestors conqured this land from the ice or from the ancestors of the sami. And even so, one thing is certain in this with the timelines that do exist, my ancestors conqured at leat half of sweden from the sea. The sami-timescales you are speaking of, half of the landmass of sweden was still under the sea. And no matter what, archeological evidence does not support your ludicrous version of prehistory.

Even so. Whose peace are you enjoying? Those that came before the swedes some 3700 years ago to cut the swedish history as short as archeology would possibly let us, as speculative and improbable as this figure is? Whose roads are you enjoying? Whose industry? Whose invetions? Whose Houses? Whose political system? Whose railroads? Whose landclearings? Whose fields grow your food? Your ancestors or mine?

And furthermore, if the swedes really did exterminate a people 3700 years ago, who are your words meant to comfort? Me? You think that i will find it comforting that we now have new immigrants in our lands ready to exterminate me and mine? Read bleeding history you ignorant ninny?

Furthermore, on a linguistic note. It is just as likely that the germanic tribes came out of scandinavia as that they were immigrants to these lands.

Next time, build your argument from facts instead of prejudice.
23:22 August 16, 2011 by jacquelinee

You know i really do love you ;-) inspite of the fact we often do differ in opinions.

For example you seem to think you picked me to pieces in the last dispute we had, while I tend to see it the other way around, that it was I whose arguments showed more validity.

You know we will never win in an argument because both of us are just too darn stubborn and not willing to shut up ;-) So lets just agree to disagree on this one. (and I really do love you ;-)
23:29 August 16, 2011 by NickO.
2 Words

Culture Shock

Which is understandable, taking account, as a few people have already mentioned, that Stockholm is on the far side of the spectrum compared to the rest of Sweden. But in general we are a reserved lot; we have our own culture and our own manners. Just as you do.

I'm sorry but we aren't being rude on purpose, just as you weren't when you interrupted another couple eating dinner with your "Good Morning".
23:30 August 16, 2011 by Just_Kidding
I have lived five years in Vancouver, Canada and two years in Sweden I can say that Swedes are not worse/or more racist than Canadians. You can find racists in both places, specially deep down the social barrel :)

Atheist Iranian
23:32 August 16, 2011 by jostein

You contribute nothing in your last post.

Your attitude and your posts are inexcusable and attrocious and unforgivable. Truly. Personally, i cannot even dream of going to another country to live and then make such statements, your arrogance is shocking beyond beliefe. I J u s t c a n t understand how someone can behave like you do? Its beyond beliefe.
00:41 August 17, 2011 by JackEriksson
I must say this the man in the article and many of the non-Swedish comentors come across are very arrogant. I think it's really rude for people to visit a country and expect everyone there to adopt to your preconceived notions on how things should be.

A a Swede, let me give a telling of my feelings during a visit to Morocco. I spent a week there and it was really taxing. The population there was to me really rude and obnoxious. They had no consideration for visitors and their personal space or wishes. From the moment you steeped out from the hotel you were pestered with people trying to get to you and your attention.

They had no manors. For example when me and my sister were walking along a road people would shout questions at us, trying to start conversations. Asking us how old we were, if we were siblings, what country came from etc. Even if we were in the middle in a conversation shopkeepers would shout at us from across the street.

They lacked even the most basic respect - they wouldn't leave you alone even if you told them dismissive comments like "thank you, no I'm not interested, good bye". It was plain harassment. No consideration of other people, people were just always there pushing themselves on to you.

In the end though - and importantly - I understand these are my feelings and I don't judge them for being as they are. I'll just try to be more mentally prepared if I ever go there again.
02:27 August 17, 2011 by kafka
Sweden is nice and peaceful and I like it that way.

If you want and like endless small-talk go to more

Latin countries like Italy, Spain or France.

It always depends on your own style.

I moved from Balcans to Sweden because it was too noisy,

too shallow and even my own family talked way too much for

my ear :)

Sit by the lake and admire the view, words are overrated.


03:06 August 17, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
A couple of hundred posts back, there was a mention of Swedish youth beginning to lean to the far right.

Not going back for who said it!

If I was a young Swede and I read how horrible I was depicted here, my thinking would probably change.

Once I thought welcoming immigrants was the proper democratic, multicultural and humanitarian thing to do.

My idealistic view of the world and my country is about to change, people are here that have no regard for my peoples rights and my countries survival as my homeland and my way of living that was shaped by my forefathers for many hundreds of years.

Why accept peoples who want to change my lifestyle and heritage to suit their own purposes?

Joining a political party that will listen to my concerns and offer a way of change, that I and many others seek is needed to preserve our heritage, that seems right to do now.

The Swede "bashing" posters are fueling this type of thought...Swedish nationalism will become an important political discussion in the near future.

One people! One nation! One...you know what!

Might as well live up to what we are being called!!!!
03:45 August 17, 2011 by update-2011
I have been in Sweden quite a long time and that is how Swedes are,quiet and sometimes stare at you if you are a bit different. I think they like to see different faces than their own that is why they stare. I agree with them when they don't talk to strangers, why should they do it?If you ask any Swede for information, they are the nicest people on this planet to be willing to help people.
07:45 August 17, 2011 by cattie
I have blue eyes and look European. They stare at people. They are seemingly "rude" by many world standards. They are unnervingly silent. It is cultural. There is also the collective denial of the rudeness, repeated in one defensive post after another in this discussion.

Really, they are just one century from a quite culturally isolated rural society. They have not , as a group, developed a pressure to for such devices as public small talk. They "keep to themselves" and "mind their own business"

After many years of teaching English to adult Swedes I hit upon the explanation that made the most sense to me.

In an English-speaking country, "I have good manners and respect you as a person.....therefore I acknowledge your existence by greeting you and perhaps making small talk."

In Sweden, "I have good manners and respect you as a person ... therefore I respect your right to peace and quiet and do not disturb you by talking. I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help."

That being said, I do very much miss the small talk or the arm offered when you stumble in an English-speaking country. Personally, I think there should be some sort of campaign to teach Swedes that staring is rude. They even stare at disabled people and sometimes even POINT.
08:11 August 17, 2011 by occassional
You are spot on mate but you should have known that this little country of cowards (Churchill) is inhabited by self-obsessed, introvert and sun deprived ... well, cowards. Why else would you they be afraid to talk to others?
08:45 August 17, 2011 by glamelixir

This article is mediocre trash! No way you can justify it it you have any little knowledge of communication and media!

Your comment is just a bunch of nonesense anyhow. You are even assuming that I am Swedish! And you talk about openess? I think you are the narrow minded one as I AM AN IMMIGRANT. A respectful one that can understand cultural differences and integrate.

Have you even read the article? It sounds like a 15 year old girl's diary, coming back from high school with a crazy paranoia because the cheerleaders looked at her the day she got brackets....

Jesssss. Common sense people!
10:02 August 17, 2011 by visitorfromnowhere
Ms. Din and her family seem like very happy fun people. The world could certainly use more of them. Unfortunately, I wouldn't want to have to chat with them while eating my dinner. Having to listen to my wife is bad enough!
10:34 August 17, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Gamla Hälsingebock here is part of the post you are referiing to:

"I must say that one bright light on the horizon is that Swedish young people (under 30) for the most part are very outgoing and engaging. Most of them are really interested in other cultures and love to try out their english. I have found them a breath of fresh air in this country and a great hope for the future of Sweden. The dark cloud on the horizon is the growing poularity of the Nazi endoctrination that a lot of young people are beginning to embrace.

It is quite obvious by your previous post and the ones prior to it for that matter, that you are pleased when our youth sway toward the bile spewed forth by a group formed on the priciples of hatred and intollerance. You are not the first and you won't be the last.

I have no problem removing myself from this little pocket of land that you "own". Not at all. Just show me the deed that the good lord gave you when he created the earth, (as long as it is signed by the creator) that says "This plot of land goes exclusively to those people who move from Germany into it and call themselves "Swedes". Not one of my other people are allowed to live on that little plot of land. Only the ones who call themselves "Swedes". Pull out your deed signed by God, (Whos land it actually REALLY is) and I will shut my mouth and move out. Till you can do that, we both are here on consignment.

My sincere hope is that the same hate propaganda that eventually destroyed the German extremists and their country so long ago and that continued to impact that beautiful country and it's wonderful people for a long time, will not gain enough of a foothold to do the same here. But you know the old saying ... "If you can't dazzle them with your brains, befuddle them with your Bull-Sh it" so who really knows.

Hatred never wins. Never. Never has, never will. It comes out of darkness and goes back into darkness and takes those who embrace it with them.
10:43 August 17, 2011 by cmbsweden
It's more of a "Swede vs non Swede" thing than a racist thing........believe me, after 9 years here now, I know.....
10:58 August 17, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ cmbsweden

I have only been here 4 and I know too. All too well.
11:17 August 17, 2011 by Abdul Rehman
Pathetic generalization ...

I think you need a reality check.

Just to think that someone didn't talk to you because of your 'brown' color is plain nonsense. I have met hundreds of Swedish people who're so amazed by/interested in/fascinated by Indian culture and people (among many other very different cultures) ... Just because you happen to come across some people who didn't care to talk there n then doesn't mean Swedish people are cold.

Imagine you in your homeland, just living your normal life ... leave your home for a 'normal_just_another_day_at_work' or a 'grocery_shopping' outing ... You've got loads to do, loads of thoughts in your mind ... Would you have the energy to really 'initiate' a conversation with this stranger from another country? NO I don't think so! As awesome as you might believe it would be to interact with this other culture/nationality/race whatever ... you'd not do it just because there's a lot more going on and to prioritize in your current moment than learning something interesting about other culture ... And this is just one out of millions of those totally acceptable reasons someone in their home country might not 'seem' warm-hearted and welcoming!!
11:53 August 17, 2011 by PonceDeLeon
I always find the subject of "this years potato crop" to be a great "ice breaker" with the locals.
12:50 August 17, 2011 by Snöregn
I am a brown person living in Sweden--an immigrant. In fact, people think I am even Punjabi. I am not.

What is rude to an English speaker, is not necessarily rude for Swedes. This is not a place for chit chat. It's just not in the culture and it doesn't mean it is bad. It has nothing to do with race, skin color, or heritage.

Everything your article mentioned are cultural differences and you and your family experienced it. This is not a culture that suits everyone, but you have to understand why it is the way it is before claiming it to be a certain way.

--Brown Girl Who Loves Sweden.
12:51 August 17, 2011 by Mia P
My mother is Danish and my father is Tunisian. We all love living in Sweden (Malmö) and have done so for 7 years.

If you are active in the community you will make friends easily.
13:53 August 17, 2011 by gh2008
some people here are impolite, rude and lacking manners; yet the funny part is they complain how Swedes lack manners!! first rule ever: a guest should respect the host and accordingly behave. like it or not; a gloomy guest fits not a wedding feast.

why do people think other's culture is sh*t while their sh*t is a culture?

i love Swedes for who they are :)
13:57 August 17, 2011 by Sting
I am an international student from Sultanate of Oman living in Gothenburg for about 11 months now. Oman is an overly tourist-friendly country, and I am have Pakistani so I have understanding of the South Asian culture too.

I honestly do not believe this family is sincere or this article is genuine, perhaps in the mind of the writer only. I can understand if he found Swedes not easy to socialize with, but the examples written are just nonsense and I can mention many opposite examples in similar situations (gave a seat to an elderly, helped a woman with a baby, ..etc).

Swedes are reserved and they mind their own business and they love to talk in English if they can. The only Swedes who fail to talk in English are ironically the immigrants. I live among old and young Swedes and have colleagues at the university, all of them are very friendly.

If the family was from India, I would have understood their surprise as strangers are ready to talk to you in India or even offer help (regardless of the true intentions). But he comes from UK.

I have been to UK many times and I have never comfortable there. You hardly see any natives there and the ones you do and mostly rude (or drunk on weekends :P). And rest of the communities are isolated (South Asians in West London, Africans in South and so on).

Besides, the writer mentions he visited Sweden before, so I ask why did he want to return? Did the Swedes magically change and decided to be rude?

Swedes are wonderful people and I honestly hope they remain open-minded and thinking people as most of them are. I wish their mindset does not change due to political matters.

On a side note, I have noticed many isolated communities in Sweden now, like London. While I feel Swedes don't particularly mind a foreigner among them, as I have been one, but immigrants often tend to isolate and strive with their people. This is a problem when people are not open-minded IMHO. So the government should ensure immigrants are better educated and taught multi-multiculturalism, regardless of where they come from. It might be hard to train an old dog, but at least train the puppies (future Swedes).

I am here for another year and I am sure I will enjoy rest of my stay among the wonderful Swedes in this wonderful country.
14:06 August 17, 2011 by Jimbotiago
I found Swedes to be friendly and helpful and polite. I always apologize for not speaking Swedish, except for "hey" or "tack" - andI get good eye contact. Yes, the Swedes seem reserved, but it means life is peaceful in Stockholm.
14:24 August 17, 2011 by Tysknaden
It's the same in Germany. Some migrants don't fit in, because they don't want to. All they want is a high life standard - and their own subculture. It is them, who refuse communication.

There is nothing wrong with swedish mentality. If you need hug & kram - you have to have a familly, very close friends or a lover. This is good enough!
15:48 August 17, 2011 by Tenori
I'm sorry, but yes - you guys are paranoid. Here are a few insights to the people of Stockholm and swedes in general:

1 - you don't talk to people on public transportation in Stockholm. Don't ask me why but you just don't. That doesn't mean that we hate you or dislike you in any way, it just means we don't talk on public transportation.

2 - we don't make eye contact in the streets. If we do then it's because you're looking at us. This is different from all the rest of Sweden. I had a hard time with it when I moved here because where I come from you make eye contact passing each other on the street. If you do that here then people will think that you want to say/ask something. This also doesn't mean that we hate you. It just means we don't make eye contact in the streets.

3 - English speaking people everywhere seem to be vary threatened by people who speak and understand english but it's not their mother tongue. When we speak in swedish to each other, it's because we're swedish not because we don't want you to understand.

4 - Swedish people don't talk to strangers. We're shy and it makes us feel uncomfortable. Don't ask me why but that's just how it is. If you share a table in a crowdy restaurant or coo with peoples' babies there's nothing wrong if you don't get a response. It doesn't mean we hate you. It just means we're swedish. And if there's anything that swedish people don't respond to is when we perceive someone as pushy and trying to hard.

This said - I'm sorry you had such a lousy time in my home town which I love whole heartidly. But please excuse me when I say that you do seem a bit paranoid and a bit touchy. Not two people are the same and that can be good to know if you ever want to travel anywhere ever again.
17:13 August 17, 2011 by Johno
I read through this for amusement and to see how stereotypes and misunderstandings continue. Swedes are reserved and the norm is not to get involved in others private lives until you know them. So how on earth can you have a casual conversation when all you can say is lovely day and it stops there. You dont then ask a Swede you have just met have you come far today, have you a family/any children unless you have been introduced in circumstances where you know that would be ok. So you dont/cant politely converse with strangers.

A case in point. We go to Sweden regularly. The taxi driver to Heathrow says why are you going to Sweden, have you got family there. The car hire people in Sweden know me well enough to give a very friendly greeting (for Swedes) but have never yet said why do you come, have you family or a cottage here. They never will ask, its not their way.

Stockholm is an extreme. When we used to go to Finland we met what we thought then was extreme rudeness on the ferries. You meet someone at a doorway. You open the door and hesitate and let them through. They sweep past and dont look at you and dont say thank you. But a Swede does not like you doing something for them that they can do themselves, even sometimes opening a door. An obligation on them to do someting for you in return arises. They will actually be annoyed. Get used to it. Your idea of manners are not theirs.

So its misunderstanding. Its a different approach. Out in the country I have opened or held doors for old ladies and had quite effusive thanks. They say hej hej and smile in ALL shops, folks say god morgon or hej hej when you meet out walking, they wave to passers by in cars. But city folks are more reserved.

And the old one, they didnt welcome speaking English to me. Reverse the situation. Try starting a casual conversation in the UK with someone in French or German, and see how far you get.

Last line. Its Sweden, not where you come from. Understand the norms, and you will have a great time. Follow your cultures rules and on your head be it.
17:17 August 17, 2011 by H101
After a year of living in Sweden as a master student in KTH , still I don't have any Swedish friend. Even in our department I am very reluctant to mingle with my teachers. So, you as a tourist shouldn't expect talk to Swedes. I just know that they are very very conceit and really arrogant. I don't feel good to live with them.
18:05 August 17, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ H101

I know a lot will say this is not true, but I know it is. I have felt it too. Not all Swedes are like this, but a great many of them sure are. They deny it, say it is because they are private people who want to keep to themselves and it is the culture and we are overly friendly and we are too agressive and on and on . But on the other hand, if you are not what very many of them classify as "ethnic Swedes" then you are just not "in the club". Privacy has not got a thing to do with it, exclusion has a great deal to do with it. Of course this will be met with the usual rhetorhic about how useless I am and to go back to my own country and how I hate Sweden and that I am just an immigrant and yada yada yada. I actually love Sweden for the most part and have lots of Swedish friends it is biogtry I can't stand (actually in any country) What has to be realised is that there is only one true race,,,, The HUMAN race.
18:43 August 17, 2011 by Dildo
today, I received a call from one lady she was speaking in Swedish I told her that I'm English speaking person rudely she just disconnected the call, without telling the purpose. I don't why the hell they call and do like this..

Is this u swede taught at your schools if some one speaks in English don't respond`?. Very odd.! people seriously need to learn some mannerism.
18:48 August 17, 2011 by famash
By your manner of writing, i have picked up two things..

You should have bothered to read up on their culture etcetera before visiting their country.

What did you expect to achieve by writing such an ariticle? what is the bet that you yourself display rude and arrogant behaviour to strangers you consider below you as is so typical of YOUR CULTURE whether in England or in India! The caste system still lives on.. clean up your act first within your culture!
19:51 August 17, 2011 by BobBob
Right on 'Jacqelinee':

I'm married to a great Swedish lady. We live in England, stay in Sweden often and meet many Swedes. One word: they are in DENIAL - living in their 'secure' 'lagom' bubble.

"... If you don't fit the visible mold you aren't in the club. I have never in my life met a population so pompous, brainwashed, closed, silently racist and, to use a swedish term, upnosed. But they hide behind the press that Sweden is such an open, welcoming, modern country. I will say, Swedes are EXPERT at their own p.r. and painting themselves a very beautiful propaganda portrait of sweden for the rest of the world to swallow.....but once you get in it is a totally different picture."
19:57 August 17, 2011 by Thoddyt
Comment: As a white/euro/blond/fair non-Swede (Cdn.) who speaks reasonable-passing Swedish (good accent 'n' vocab, horrid grammar) and who can therfore "pass" on the surface, I find that I "get" the Swedish views surrounding culture, personal reserve, independence, reticence etc. As such, I would have to say that I come down about 90% on the side of the Swedes, but then in my own defense I am the solitary sort who treasures my privacy and loves being left being alone in peace with my thoughts when entangled in swathes of the broad public. Speech is silver but silence is golden after all.

It always feels like a natural fit for me when I am in Möder Svea, even if my reasons for feeling the "fit" are not necessarily the same as the Swedes'. They are shy. They are cautious. IMHO, they have reason to be. In my own experience, most big cities in the developed world suffer from "broad-shoulder" syndrome, and that therefore any tourist should reasonably expect a kind of busy, self-involved attitude from most of the population. Why ANY tourist would expect much human contact beyond that given by front desk clerks, waitrons etc., is completely beyond me.

Further, smaller urban centres in Sweden - and rural Sweden - are an entirely different experience, simply because the pace of life is slower, there is more of a sense of community and less anonymity etc. You would think closer-to-the-farm would equal closer to barnyard manners, but precisely the opposite has been my experience.

OTOH, while I would absolutely defend the right of Swedes to their own culture of manners (seen by many as a lack thereof), I would have to add that it certainly would not KILL, nor would it unduly inconvenience urban Swedes to up their sophistication game just a tad, and bone up a little more on the basic "Manners 101" niceities of cultural practices relating to the treatment of strangers, as witnessed in the rest of neighbouring western Europe.

It certainly would not kill the Stockholmare in particular to open doors a little more frequently for strangers behind them, to queue up in a more orderly fashion, nor to acknowledge with a mere "tack" when someone does a minor act of kindness for them, nor would it kill them to utter a "förlåt" or an "ursakta" when they brush/push past others ro to say "hej" once in a blue moon to the neighbour/complete stranger of 10 years' standing from the neighbouring apartment.

Naturally of course someone in a postion of authority would actually have to reassure such Swedes, via a massive public information campaign by TV, Internet and mobile phone ads, that merely by saying "thank you" or "'scuse me" here and there, they will not be, horror of unspeakable horrors, drawn into an actual... ugh!... *conversation* with a stranger. (Gasp!) ;-p
23:04 August 17, 2011 by efm
3 issues:

1. Sweden should try their best to treat "tourists" as polite, helpful and friendly as possible based on international norms and not hide behind the veneer of they are just like that' reserve folks. Why then would they like to advertise tourism? As this crap start to show, fewer would like to visit Sweden. Why on earth would I like to visit a place who's people are notorious for being snotty, rude, and lacking basic manners?

2. Sadly, it is pathetic that racism and bigotry from Sweden comes out in a Swedish forum! Would if be better if the immigrants and newcomers are all singing praise of those friendly Swedish folks? and country.

3. The so called Swedish way of doing things is a weak excuse for denial of what's really going on. Come on, as one poster wrote, it will not KILL a Swede to learn to say thank you, excuse me, Hello, etc if only to show that he is part of the assoc. of civilized nations.
23:09 August 17, 2011 by Svensksmith
Everyone stared at me when I was in Sweden, too. Figured out my fly was open.
23:09 August 17, 2011 by Marck
It's amazing that you can go to another country and expect them to behave just like people back in England. Guess what? It's a different country with a different culture and the Swedes deserve the same respect you'd grant anyone else. Why is it only acceptable to slag off white European countries. No one would dare criticize Africans or Japanese for example. When in Rome...
23:27 August 17, 2011 by juvi999
If you complain about Swedish manners, then you have never been in the US. Swedes are nothing compared to Americans. Of course, a complete stranger can start up the most personal conversation with you in the states but most of the times, they will never look at you. They completely look through you as you don't even exist. I found Swedes very nice, polite and warm in most workplaces. That's not expected on the street though. I do not expect strangers to start up a conversation with me on a metro. I would not like that at all. And I am not a Swede.
00:33 August 18, 2011 by Kenny W
@ listenheregepetto

Perfectly said.

What hurts so much about my current trapped and isolated situation is that I made a herculean effort not only to integrate but also to contribute to this society. I was so eager to adopt Sweden. However I feel that the God that rolls the dice that set up the structure around a person's life with friends, employment and family etc took one look at me upon entering Sweden and gave the dice to the Devil. Everybody's experience is different, and I am glad for those people who have found positives in this country but sadly as many people have alluded to in this commentary thread, Sweden just hates certain personalities and foreign cultural traits.

When I was in Sweden as a tourist twenty years ago I told an Irish guy that I was interested in moving here. He told me quite forcefully that I should pack up my bags and never come back to this f-ck-up country. I pitied him as a loser who failed to make an adequate effort. Now I am that guy stuck in this country with a selfish mother of my children with the choice of making the best of it here or moving back to Australia with out my children. The decision to separate made for no more reason than a Swedish woman's right to their own space. Given my experiences in the Swedish work-places and at university this recent event should not have come as a surprise.

I have found Swedish culture to be rude and arrogant. Most of all I can not tolerate their lack of accountability. This inability to own a situation is not merely a cultural trait but it more adequately framed as a mental illness. I've said it most Swedes are intellectually handicapped.
00:43 August 18, 2011 by Tysknaden
Take it or leave it. The migrant or visitor has to adapt. Not the country he entered.
00:51 August 18, 2011 by Alan_uk
There are cultural difference between countries as one would expect but there are also differences within a country. I live in the UK and occasionally visit Sweden as my wife is Swedish. We live in the UK

At work we have a Georgie and a Manchurian in the office. They continually joke and laugh and will strike up a conversation with anyone. The rest of us are southerners and more constrained ;)

I live in a town of 30k people in the south west and it's fairly friendly but many people do keep to themselves. I've lived for many years in a village where you were expected to stop and pass the time of day and everyone seems to know all about you - personally I found that a bit disquieting. When I go to London then every one keeps to themselves. I think this is a coping strategy when people are crushed together. Also everyone is rushing here and there.

In Sweden I find these differences as well. Villages are very slow, relaxed and friendly. In Stockholm people keep to themselves like London. But there are exceptions. We were waiting for a bus to go to see the Vasa ship. An elderly Swede, hearing me speak to my wife in English, struck up a conversation and started telling me about the man who discovered the Vasa as he knew him. We continued the conversation on the bus.

I've lived in Denmark and the Danes are far more relaxed and open compared to the Swedes and just love to show off how "good" their English is, including all the swear words. I hear the Finns are even more reserved than the Swedes. Maybe it is also due to the long winter nights and the small population.

Remember there are only 9m Swedes in a country twice the size of the UK. People have historically been scattered and more insular though today Sweden become very international at least in the business arena. And whilst they may not do much small talk they will freely talk business if they are working for say an international company or doing business internationally.

My perspective.
00:52 August 18, 2011 by Not Dumb
Wait a minute!

I'm WHITE, and while I agree that this fellow had overly optimistic expectations about conversations on the T-Bana, I DO KNOW WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT WITH 'STARES', and 'cold' ones. About ten years ago - yes, that long - I was EXTREMELY TAN one summer, had fished on a lake everyday, and when I visited Östermalm that August, it was 'very special'.

I came in EVERY MONTH in those days, and the way I was treated on that August day was that I too found myself stared at, so much so that I twice used a restroom mirror to see if something was amiss with me. But it wasn't me.

The experience that day had never happened before, and not since, and I've been in Sweden since the late '90s. Please do not try and tell me that skin color doesn't matter...I actually spent a "day as a 'black' man".

Beyond this, whether someone says being Swedish is like a 'club', and I have myself thought of it as a 'tribe', there are definite amounts of discrimination one faces, usually harmless to all but ones feelings, but sometimes not very harmless at all. I believe I have personally seen how 'utlännings' are sometimes simply expected to accept abuses which I doubt any Swede would, as if foreigners are some kind of a lesser species with lesser feelings, needs and essentially humanity.

Having said all this, most of the folks I've met here are as decent as one could meet...but lately, most seem so to only a certain point, at least to me. In recent years I believe that 'certain point' has been constantly shifting among many, becoming more and more a clear border between those that are native-born and everyone else. Of course, maybe that's why Sverigedemokraterna are in the Riksdag now. But what's worse still, is what I see as the growing sense of legitimacy which this 'xenophobia' has, what I see as the increasing willingness of people to accept it and act upon it.

Worst of all, it seems to me that very few of those that exercise such prejudice are even aware they are doing so.

Forget the conversation and manners, but let's remember simple RESPECT and COMMON DECENCY, for ANYONE that's DESERVING of it. Sadly, I fear the measure of those who are 'deserving' is changing too, but thats what a certain disease does, and I personally believe that malady's name is xenophobia.
01:00 August 18, 2011 by Ebetuker
I have been following this thread for a few days now, quite impressed at it's length. Apparently it is a subject on which many people have an opinion. Cultural differences aside, I feel that general warmth, kindness, pleasant interaction, polite conversation....is a NICE THING. Something to feel good about, which it is. Perhaps if that is lacking in Swedish culture, maybe the younger generation should nudge the cultural norm into a warmer, welcoming place..for it's own sake.
01:42 August 18, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
@ jacquelinee

You have not learned anything about Swedish religion and our right to this hallowed ground, this paradise, this bastion of human freedom, this Sweden!.

You see God, indeed is a Norrlander, and our deed to Sweden is our soul and that cannot be taken and changed by people who despise our lifestyle and customs, such as you.

You are now committing another insult to Sweden by openly confessing true and complete love for another poster on this board!

Not once but twice, you told of your love, love without reservation.


The Swede you fooled into loving you all this time has been cuckolded in public without thought, pity nor care for his future.

This is another way you have found to demean and vilify the Swedish people; that poor guy!

May the Trolls, be your only source of pleasure!
02:47 August 18, 2011 by efm
As an American who has travelled extensively, I've been exposed to diff. cultures, customs and locale mores. In my experience, there are certain group of people that are open and hospitable than others. Americans at play are the best. Canadians, British, latin Americans, Italians, Filipinos are all as a general group very friendly. Thais & Indonesian and Chinese are fine.

Swedes and Japanese are alike. They are just not open to talk with others.

It may be a herd mentality, insecurity, arrogance or plain superiority complex.

My ex girl friend is Swedish, and it even took months for her to open up.

When we go back to Sweden, after years in the states, she herself notice how odd her countrymen are! Oh she may have been Americanized already.

She says most are locked into old ways ans will not change unless they experience real hardship.
06:47 August 18, 2011 by BKSmith
As I read all of these comments, I can't help but be perplexed. I am American and have been to Stockholm many times and have NEVER had a bad experience. I've met many Swedes in all sorts of places - restaurants, bars, parks, on the street - and have generally found them to be pleasant and accommodating my inability to speak Swedish. I have been invited to join families at restaurants for dinner and invited into people's homes for meals and parties. Others may have had bad experiences there, but I have made some very good friends in Sweden during my travels there and I try to go back every chance I have.
08:28 August 18, 2011 by frodo84
There might be something to the article and most of the comments. When I was there a couple of years earlier, the biggest conversation I had was with a teenager who asked me for my lighter. And then, a cigarette. I am still not convinced that was a real conversation. Was it?
09:30 August 18, 2011 by jacquelinee
@Kenny W #189 You said it! I am sorry for your situation. My husband is Swedish and was previously married to a swedish woman. He worked from 7am till 9pm at his own business, she was a homemaker. The only thing she ever made for him was coffee in the morning and when he came home, the house was a filthy disgrace. If He said anything she replied "If you don't like it, clean it yourself" ( I guess that is that Swedish womans version of ...if you don't like it here go back to your own country.) He ended up having to hire a maid to clean while she watched TV. Now I am not saying that is the model of Swedish women, because that was one personal situation, but there is that underlying sense of superiority and entitlement.

@ Gamla Hälsingebock #194

What are you trying to sayi??? That just did not make any sense what so ever.

In the first place, Jostein is not particuarily fond of me (about like you feel I guess) He is a stoic Swede also and although we do agree on some issues, we totally disagree on others. I can disagree and have a differing opinion without hating someone..thus the "You know I love you" I have never met him and really thats quite ok with me, but I respect some of his viewpoints. I am quite sure he does not, as we say in the modern world "Feel The Love"

The other idiotic statement that God is a Norrlander, well that one just plain speaks for itself and is so bizarre and ludacris I don't need to say anything at all.

Like I said before.

There is only 1 true race ....The HUMAN Race.
09:31 August 18, 2011 by rufus.t.firefly
A huge number of responses. It must have touched a nerve.

I am an American who has lived here for seven years. My experience confirms, repeatedly, that Swedes will engage me in a friendly way only when they believe there is some monetary or social benefit to be derived. Otherwise, rudeness and ignorant statements re: Americans is the norm.

These behaviors are transparent (a favorite Swedish word), however, and I have learned, whenever a Swede engages me, to state up front that I have no money or important contacts here or in the US, and that I have no interest in any opinion they might have.
09:56 August 18, 2011 by H101
Above all, Swedes are Great people. If we criticize some matters it is just because of becoming Evolution Oriented people and thinking just based on evolution of human and since society of Sweden is close to this evolution , so we discuss about them. If we criticize they shouldn't take it personally and also should be grateful to have some people to talk about their culture and we really are wanting to improve this nice culture. Instead of fighting with our ideas it's better to accept at least some points and add it to fort points of your culture. If I say I don't have any incentive to go to our department in KTH, for your future is better to go and finding out that why a communicative and social person like me has reached to this feeling. Also, case by case is different and I don't judge base on just a person.
11:58 August 18, 2011 by bdrum
Yep, they're weird. Eventally you get used to it.
12:33 August 18, 2011 by krishna444
I don't know the reason why even the staffs of hospital or other public places do not like answer the questions politely, they seems somehow very strictly bound to rules, and they suspect others breaching of rules....
12:52 August 18, 2011 by cogito

Talking about rudeness, I have often wondered why Swedes need to immediately hit foreigners with their (usually unenlightened) opinion on wherever the foreigner is from?

@all who spout the defense: "It's in our culture This is how we do things in Sweden."

Only in Sweden would rudeness be called "culture." Stoning women to death is part of some cultures. Slavery was, and is still, the culture in some places.

Some cultures need to be changed.
13:26 August 18, 2011 by jomamas
@ Gamla Hälsingebock

You have basically a chorus of foreigners, many of whom have lived in Sweden for many years - all basically agreeing that Swedes are cold, borderline rude - certainly from the position of the rest of the world.

Then you come on and tell the whole world that they don't know what they are talking about, or 'will never be Swedish'?

Galma - when he whole world tells you something, and you can't grasp it - it is because you are in denial. Moreover - your responses really only serve to validate the position of these foreigners.

Instead of living in denial perhaps you could recognize the comments as the truth, certainly as an outside perspective there seems to be an obvious pattern - and deal with it as you may.

When you look in the mirror and don't like what you see, don't blame the mirror.
13:32 August 18, 2011 by BadHaircut
It's really creepy how Swedes can't eat with their mouth shut.
14:06 August 18, 2011 by skumdum
To all bitching foreigners in Sweden, I say " Love it or leave it!"
14:07 August 18, 2011 by Swe79
As many probably has already said, this has nothing to do with the color of your skin. You've just experienced swedishness. :) We don't start a conversation with just anyone in a restaurant or wherever. And about the staring: I think you may be more focused on the color of your skin than the swedes were. You may have experienced that they were staring, because you felt no one talked to you perhaps? And then the looks from some people, which may be just because they could hear you talking english, became tough for you to handle? My guess anyway.
14:21 August 18, 2011 by jacquelinee
@krishna444 #202

I thought it was just me! So often when you go up to a receptionist, sales clerk or many who actually work in some form of service industry (hospital, store, dental office, restaurant, skätteverket, bank etc.) who were hired to assist the public and say " Ursäkta mig. Kan du hjälpe mig?" you get a look of total irritation and a very icy response without much concern or friendliness of any kind. I often have to hold my tongue from saying " Well, I am very sorry to have interrupted YOUR day!"

Before I moved to Sweden I was an executive trainer in a well known retail establishment in Canada. Part of my job was training in customer service and believe me 75-85% of the employees I have dealt with in this country, I would have fired on the spot. Impolite, unhelpful and rude. My superior taught me that when you hire staff, to be very aware of the persons personality. As he said "You can train most people to do any job even if they don't have spot on credentials. BUT you can never train someone to have a good personality." Many service människor with names like Svensson need a good old fashioned dose of attitude adjustment and a reminder that it is their, patients, customers and clients who ultimately pay their salaries and they should start treating them with the respect they do their boss...because, ultimately, they ARE their boss when it comes right down to it.
14:27 August 18, 2011 by Don_Right
If you are being stared at in Stockholm it is not an indication that the person staring is curious about your ethnicity. It is a direct overt communication that means roughly:

"Look at yourself, you are being seen!"

It will pretty much never happen randomly but only at times when you should actually look at yourself. It might be something minor such as seating yourself right across from a couple in an otherwise empty tram, standing on the wrong side of an escalator, putting your feet on a seat or blocking an exit. It might also be something extremely rude such as cooing an infant without approaching the parent first. (Note that this is so rude that it can even ostracize you in a community you're already a part of such as a student body or apartment co-op.)

Regardless of the reason you can rest assured that there is one, the staring isn't meant to be covert and it doesn't indicate curiosity, it is a message.
15:36 August 18, 2011 by Rick Methven

Have you ever thought that the reaction you get is because you give out really bad vibes of being superior and very aggressive.

Your manner of posting here indicates a personality that is domineering and very unsympathetic to anybody else. I'm sure your body language comes over straight away and you therefore get the reaction you deserve.
15:42 August 18, 2011 by skumdum
ja, jacklin verkar va en riktig häxa!
16:01 August 18, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Rick Methven I am SOOOOOOOO opposite to what you think, it is almost comícal.

I was born Canadian with French/ Scottish heritage. I grew up in Canada with an unbridled love for Scandinavia (Sweden in particular) from the moment we starting sudying the Vikings in school. They were the first to discover Canada, inspite of the fact they all perished because of a particularily cold and cruel winter.

Canadians have the view that Sweden is full of warm loving people, a country on the cutting edge in technology, medicine, design and industry. A very humanitarian country embracing tourism and immigration. When I met my Swedish husband and the decision was make to move to Sweden, I can not tell you how overjoyed I was. It had been a dream of mine since I was a girl to move to Sweden and even as a very young girl I always felt a secret kinship to the nordic counties because I was so blonde and fair skinned. I always thougt, I probably originally came from there.

I arrived and worked like crazy to educate myself in the Swedish language. I went to school for it and was doing 2 to 3 hours of homework a night.

I WANTED so much to integrate, To be a new Swede...to view myself as a Swede, to fit into what I had been led to believe was one of the most wonderful countries with the warmest people. But many and I dare to say most Swedes did not want me here, were resentful of me, made it VERY evident that they felt far superior to me, that I did not belong and that I never would.

I can pass for a Swede in looks and come from a country that is high on the scale of the modern countries of the world (meaning, not a war ravaged or empoverished one) but I am not accepted because I am noth ethnically Svensk. I can not even begin to understand how horrible it would be to be non caucasian or a refugee fleeing from war, and how snubbed they must feel. My heart breaks to think of it.

Now, I know not all immigrants are perfect (neither are all Swedes) but the majority just want to work, contribute and start a decent life for their families, the same as Ethnic Swedes do.Unfortunately that is just a sad unreality for the most part in our case (immigrants)

I thought Sweden was Paradise, but I found out that in many ways it is basically as closed as North Korea, but with the internet
16:13 August 18, 2011 by Don_Right
"Världen befolkas av mig,

Mig och mig och mig,

Bara mig och min mamma"
16:28 August 18, 2011 by trevzns
@ glamelixir

I'll take your remarks as a compliment.

It seems I have stepped on a few of your opened minded and tolerant nerves you have acquired since your arrival in your new homeland.

As an Immigrant, as you so proclaimed yourself, I understand your affinity and Ethnocentrism for Sweden.

Cultural and personal prejudice maybe blocking your common sense and you have the attitude of an individual narcissist…see collective narcissism for more details.
16:32 August 18, 2011 by Rick Methven

Your statement:

"but I am not accepted because I am noth ethnically Svensk" is an attitude that you have put upon people, that may not be there.

Your paranoia:

"But many and I dare to say most Swedes did not want me here, were resentful of me"

Why are they resentful of you? How do you know they are.

I have never found any Swedes being resentful of me in the past 30 years. as for your

"I can not even begin to understand how horrible it would be to be non caucasian"

My adopted son who is Asian, has made a very good life for himself here, much better than he could of had in the UK where he grew up. He has masses of Swedish friends, a blonde, blue eyed partner and now a lovely Eurasian daughter.

Life and living is what YOU make of it. You blame Sweden for everything, remember it takes two to Tango. If you start taking a more critical look at your own attitude you may be able to find a way to be accepted more. I am sorry that your childhood concept of Sweden has been shattered, but reality is always different to our fantasies. Having travelled to some 160 countries around the world, I have had many illusions dashed. That is all part of life.
16:33 August 18, 2011 by Åskar

Have you ever considered that the reason you haven't integrated in Sweden is that you come across as a rather rude person that puts other people off?
16:34 August 18, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Don_Right Tråkigt för dig.

@ skumdum Witch...not really, but I have been called worse by better ;-)

Jag tror faktiskt många som skriver har samma uppfattning av det svenska samhället. Du kommer aldrig att acceptera oss. När vi ler, när vi är artiga, när vi är vänliga, ni säger att vi är galna. Vi kommer aldrig att tillhöra. Ni vill inte att vi ska tillhöra.

Please excuse my terrible grammar. As you have repeatedly pointed out, I am not Swedish.
16:38 August 18, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
@ jacquelinee

My Dear, you are a sick puppy!

You are so full of yourself and feel so clever and superior to others, that you have not the common sense to realize you've been had!

In your indignation and quickness to "I'll show him" kind of response, you fail to understand what you read.


Did you really think I was serious!

HaHaHa and LOL X10!

Sorry, methinks you are doomed to be a social undesirable every where you go, even here!

Wake up girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
16:50 August 18, 2011 by skumdum
The communist swedish government has a program for those of you who don't feel at home here.

17:01 August 18, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ everyone.

I am not at all " full of yourself and feel so clever and superior to others" and anyone who knows me will agree. However, if that is the way that a great many of the posters here are perceiving me...then obviously there is a problem with the way I am wording things and expressing myself. I stand corrected. The points are very valid and the issues still the same and vitally important, but the trick is to be more "matter of fact" about them I guess. That is hard sometimes and if you have ever had these injustices happen to you personally, you will know. Also, when they happen to so many of us, not just 1 person there must be some validity. The truth still remains the truth though and that needs to be defended by the people in the same position. Many, many posters here have had similar occurances in their lives as well. It is not just 1 individual person and their own reality.
17:29 August 18, 2011 by paaking
Its funny how experiences can differ, I am even thinking of starting a new blog entitled "the good Swede". I live in Blekinge, where the Swedish population is supposed to be cold towards "outsiders" but I have had some really really good experiences with the folks here, its really amazing, I love Swedes. I was once stuck up on a hill in a very cold winter dawn, and old man (Swede) from nowhere came to push me up the hill, it was so surprising my incessant calls to him to quit never yielded results, he continued with his watery nose till I got to the main street. By the way I am "svart" :D God bless Sweden!!
17:34 August 18, 2011 by arbeitsbiene3
@Tysknaden #176, #190

The double standard, Take it or leave it mentally is typical of most Europeans and some ethnic Europeans of Scandinavian heritage.

European heritage over the past 519 years has also included, Expansionism, occupier and slave colonization.

The openness, tolerance and democracy Europeans proclaim and some desire, is not inherent of European culture.
17:34 August 18, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
@ jacquelinee

Just digging your hole deeper!

So now we are petulant and defensive?

You are proving that you are "null" to the max.

Grow up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
17:46 August 18, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Gamla Hälsingebock

Hej Gubbe! Hur mär du idag?

Whether they like me or whether they don't still doesn't make a shred of difference who you really are now does it? You have already esablished yourself.
18:46 August 18, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
Yes Dear! LOLX10

Ta Ta
21:54 August 18, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Gamla Hälsingebock

You see Gamhäl? Don't shoot the messenger. I knew we'd meet in the middle eventually, min sötnos X10 puss på dig.
23:21 August 18, 2011 by srsina
i think it depends on the situation and how you demand. so far i met with Swedish, i found them so cooperative. They are lees talkative by nature but it doesn't mean that they avoid someone.
01:41 August 19, 2011 by MichaelM
I am going to defend the Stockholmers on this issue.

There is a concept in Sweden (Native Swedes, please correct me if I get this wrong) called 'passing through' [Gunnar Ekelöf].

Here it goes. We all agree that people can be bothersome and take energy to deal with. When a stranger tries to engage you on a bus or at a restaurant, they are at least expecting a polite response but

more likely are hoping to get your undivided attention so they can have some type of conversation with you. Who knows where that will end up or what they intend. Perhaps they want to tell you the sad story of their life. Perhaps they want to brag about their children or success. Maybe they want to pick you up. Maybe they want to convert you to their political or religious persuasion...

The point is that you were enjoying your own mind when this person intruded on your attention. Just brush them off. Just 'pass through'.

Now when I think back to my youth in America when I was open to conversations with random people at airports, in buses, at restaurants, I reflect that many of the conversations (but certainly not all) should have been avoided. It was a lot of wasted time and people have a lot of BS they are trying to dump on each other -- especially strangers.

One keeps their balance better if they pick the time, the place and most importantly the partner of their conversations. Yes it's cold. But it's rational.
03:05 August 19, 2011 by ibizanino
multiculturalism is not possible to stop,as a part of globalisation,and multilinguism,

so you better get use to it.

in some years swedes will look like tiger woods, speak english or chinesse and other languages too , but they will be more polite .
11:22 August 19, 2011 by petja18
I was in Stockholm two weeks ago and I got a completely different impression about people. They very kind and helpful, I really had a good time and i met a lot of new friends, expecially girls(with blond hair and blue eyes). I have white skin brown eyes and brown hair and girls really like it, i was little suprised:) Stockholm is definetely my favourite city- I've never seen so many beutiful girls before:))
11:49 August 19, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ the Suhail Din family

Not all people living in Sweden are like the ones you spaek of some of us are very friendly.

An old man once said,"There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and the people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad ones, they matter very little, focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the one's who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living."...
11:52 August 19, 2011 by Karen Bekker
I agree with most comments made.

I am a white South African and have lived in Sweden for almost three years. It was a huge cultural chock, coming from a very friendly country where strangers greet each other and have conversations about anything and everything.

Swedes are generally as cold as the weather in Sweden.
14:29 August 19, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Karen Bekker (shhh the lynch mob are listening, be careful)

Sweden is a very, very friendly place. The Swedish people are always so welcoming, smiling, engaging, accepting of strangers. They want to make people feel at home and go out of their way to make newcomers and tourists feel warmly greeted. There is no ifs, ands or buts. Sweden is definately the most friendly country for sure in the world and most likely in the entire cosmos and if you don't agree,then get out ! Men .... ha det bra idag, Hej då.
15:43 August 19, 2011 by Robert Savosnick
I am a white Swede living South Africa and when I came here many years ago now from Stockholm I found the South Africans cold, disinterested and positively self serving, That was my first impression! based mostly on ignorance and misunderstandings plus the lack of knowledge. it took time to understand the various nuances and idiosynchrasies of the various tribes that make up the Rainbow Nation. Anyone visiting Sweden for the first time is not likely to straight away understand the underlying warmth of it's people, the richness of it's culture and it's fundamental belief system that so often stands up for and protects those who cannot protect themselves. That kind of behaviour does not come from selfish,cold and snobbish peoples it is as silly as saying that all white South Africans are racist.
16:08 August 19, 2011 by ngsikoj

I have been living herewith my family since 1985. Are you describring a Sweden from another planet as I cannot agree with a single statement of yours?
16:26 August 19, 2011 by juvi999
Swedes are cold... until you get to know them. Then they are the warmest people that you have ever met. I love working for a Swedish company. After working here, there is no going back!
16:43 August 19, 2011 by Karen Bekker
@ Jacquelinee

You crack me up !!! ... thank you for putting a smile on my face :-)))
16:59 August 19, 2011 by tadchem
It is a population density thing. The higher the population density, the more confined is one's 'personal space', and the more withdrawn/defensive social interactions with strangers become. In New York simply making eye-contact with a stranger is likely to provoke open hostility, but the American wide-open West it is considered polite and almost expected to greet and chat with complete strangers.
17:28 August 19, 2011 by james_g
@ jacquelinee

You're quite at liberty to SAY "I am not at all 'full of yourself and feel so clever and superior to others'" - but that's sure as hell the way you come across here!

Maybe I'm lucky; I've only lived here a couple of years, and on the west coast rather than the east, but in spite of my linguistic limitations (I try, I try - but it's harder when you're ancient) (I hope TL's censors don't misinterpret that!) I have quite a number of good Swedish friends - male and female, young, middling and old. That's Swedish as in ethnic Swedish, but I also, as it happens, have a number of friends here who are - let me see - ethnic Persian, Iraqi, Kurd, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Ugandan and Finnish, inter alia. I'm a Brit (English/Welsh) and I'm fairly reserved and don't really do small talk. So far, touch wood, I can't think that I've come across any particular rudeness from anyone! Is something wrong...? btw, I'm very proud of my Welsh ancestry (and the English too) but I have an abiding memory of entering Welsh pubs to hear the language of conversation immediately switch from English to Welsh :)
17:40 August 19, 2011 by Rick Methven
I'm also proud of my Welsh heritage. Being a Celt ( I'm Welsh/Scottish/Irish) makes you much more open to other cultures I find.

As they say about the Welsh:

There are 5 million Welshmen, one million in Wales and four million outside sing about it.

As to speaking Welsh in the presence of the English, it is done so that the English can be slagged off to their face without them realising it.
18:29 August 19, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Karen Bekker

;-) We are both very very lucky to be living in such a progressive country, it's true. Happy, Happy ,Happy. Lucky. lucky, lucky.

@ james_g

Now you have gone and done it for sure! You poor fellow. You said something about yourself to explain a statement and even worse, you sounded very intelligent. That is a dangerous combination.. I hope you haven't caught the attention of the pitbulls on patrol. Whew! I think you are still in the clear. You managed to say only wonderful things about Sweden, so you are in the clear. It was a close one though. Be cauious. remember to minimise speaking, except when singing praises of our glorious land.
19:48 August 19, 2011 by sgt_doom
Actually, the writer of this article sounds like a clown and he could just as well have been describing Seattle, Washington, USA.

Point being, I've come across an almost endless number of rude Punjabis in the USA, and very nice people in Sweden, although my preferences are for Oslo, Copenhagan and especially Iceland, although Helsinki is nice, the people are even more remote than in Stockholm, which is similar to any other city with a similar Nordic heritage.

(Seattle is historically a combination of Japanese and Nordic attitudes -- but has changed as locals are now in the minority there.)
20:14 August 19, 2011 by james_g
To change the subject slightly - this 'staring' bit: speaking quite dispassionately (and I really really mean that) as a male of the species, and looking at the piccy at the top, is it not possible that what we have here is a misinterpretation of a person or persons unknown keenly observing a distinctly not unattractive view, indicative of them experiencing a degree of aesthetic pleasure? I mention being of the male gender purely to explain why I personally am considering the three individuals on the left of the photo with reference to this comment. I'm sure the term 'to stare' is often grievously misused in theses days of 'disrespect' etc...
20:16 August 19, 2011 by zoroastrina
Very funny comment: "Jag tror du är vad som kallas en gubbe. Kanske du behöver för att bli modern för att vi är inte i medeltiden idag." I think/believe you are what is called a gadgie/ a geezer (sanakirja.org) Perhaps you need to become modern so as not to live in the Middle Ages today.

'ordbajseri': verbal diarrhoea --- prevalent here.

Closed minded older people...hello Gamla Hälsingebock!

gamla: singular definite form of gammal and the plural form bock goat/he-goat häl= heel, häls being the indefinite genitive singular form inge inspire, infuse, command, present (The People's Dictionary)

(…) "[P]oliteness shouldn't be a cultural thing, it should just be a human thing." "Respect inclusive of politeness" is a valid way of expressing the content of the Kantian categorical imperative.

"(…) What people are reacting to is a perception of rudeness and unwillingness to communicate with foreigners based on the experience of a family of tourists to the city. (…) (*"deutsch (sic) Einwanderer": deutscher Einwanderer.

Jostein rants and raves about "democracy" with thinly veiled fascism. You think that i will find it comforting that we now have new immigrants in our lands ready to exterminate me and mine? Acute paranoia.

The atheist Iranian is great. I'm an atheistic Buddhist and a Trotzkyist, but I have lovely Muslim friends here in Krautland.

Tysknaden: It's the same in Germany. Some migrants don't fit in, because they don't want to. (I avoid making eye contact on the street unless the person is a close acquaintance. I will often say "hallo" to people's freindly dogs because I miss having a dog, but I could not use the university's computing centre if I had a dog again.)

"When in Rome"… Crap!

Tysknaden: Take it or leave it. The migrant or visitor has to adapt. Not the country he entered. (Definite masculine singular form tyske; Singular definite form tysken; the form*Tysknaden does not seem to exist.) This German knows nothing whatever about interethnic relations in Germany as they have been extensively documented by eminent German sociologists.

As for the 'look', i.e. the 'gaze' and the staring, cf. the self-reification and the objectification by the arrogant and alienating other, as well as the possibilities of resistance, involved inthe Sartrian "regard" (l'Être et le néant: : Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique) and in Sartre's Baudelaire, both of which I have read in French.

Someone stigmatizes possibly objective criticism as "individual or collective narcissism" --- how witty!

We are "transgender" deviants in Germany. Wir werden zur deutschen gesellschaft niemals dazugehören! The Germans do not let us integrate, as numerous recent sociological studies have demonstrated . Twice we failed to obtain German citizenship.
20:32 August 19, 2011 by james_g
these, not theses.
21:13 August 19, 2011 by arbeitsbiene3
There are always exceptions, as there are nice, and caring people in all cultures around the world.

To dismiss the father and his family's treatment as a cultural misunderstanding is stretching reality. Suggesting color of skin and appearance may have had nothing to do with their experience is not correct.

Most Europeans and those of European heritage separate themselves by nationality, region of origin and physical appearance.

From my personal experiences and living in the US and Europe, I am not suggesting individuals of European heritage from neighboring Eastern Europe, Russia, the regions of Eurasia, Persia, and those of European heritage from Western Asia and North Africa, do not Experience cultural and heritage prejudice when they arrive in Western Europe or the US.

In the US, as in Europe, Scandinavia and wherever in the world you find Europeans and peoples of European ancestry, you will find xenophobia and cultural prejudice towards peoples of African culture and African ancestry. I am not sure, what the reasons are for the high levels of culture ignorance, disrespect and contempt?

Before moving to Europe to live, I traveled to all but 3 Western European counties, Ireland, Norway and Finland. My experience as a tourist was wonderful and interesting.

It did not matter to me at the time, which country in Western Europe I lived. I was excited and looking forward to learning a new language, finding a job, and moving on with life.

I assumed as a human being, I would be viewed and treated as such. In my delusion and ignorance of reality, I gave very little thought to my nationality or ethnicity.

I have experienced some of the same crap, as I did in the US, but with a European flavor…why did you move to Europe? Do you have a job? Are you here to drain of our wonderful social benefits system?

Its commonly said to and about foreigners, as for your moaning and complaining about the double standard treatment you're experiencing. …. Take it or leave it, you're a foreigner, go back where you come from.

I wonder had the first Europeans to encounter the indigenous peoples around the world, and if the Africans had shared the same contempt and practiced the inhumane tactics Europeans and Arabs developed to enriched themselves and their respective empires, would many Europeans today, be as paranoid and insensitive?

It is unfortunate that so many individuals in our world, regardless of their culture, nationality, wealth, social class and educational achievements, have the same ideal-hungry followers, collective narcissism behaviors.
21:22 August 19, 2011 by Nevermindwho
First of all, I'm sorry your experience of Stockholm was so bad.

Although I can relate to everything you have described and the scenario you described completely imaginable and has happened to me on some level, I have to point out that there is a lot to be learned from everything posted here -- there is a bit of truth to all the seemingly opposing reactions.

If you want confirmation, if you look "Indian," yes, it probably was like you say, something to do with your skin color. Yes, Swedes are closet racists or racists unawares. Yes, it wasn't really all about racism per se, but Swedes are simply cold/rude that way. Yes, you shouldn't come to Sweden to act anything else but Swedish. Yes, you failed to understand the culture. Yes, Swedes aren't always as confident as they seem about speaking English, etc etc. There is a bit of truth to all sides of the equation.

Here is the thing about Swedes and race though:

If an African-American answers that they are from the USA in response to a "where are you from" question, Swedes will keep asking "but where are you really from?" and will not rest until they hear "Africa." However, when a white American answers that they are from the USA, they never get interrogated in the same manner, because Swedes subscribe (albeit unawares) to the idea of Manifest Destiny.

I am a non-Caucasian Brit myself and Swedes have a hard time accepting it when I say I am from England, even though I and even my grandparents are from England. In that respect would venture to say that Swedes aren't used to the idea of English-speaking Indians, and the stereotype of Indians is that they are poor, etc. and not somehow not bona fide tourists. Who knows? I would try not to lose any sleep over that!

There are a lot of errant conscious/unconscious notions in Sweden (just everywhere else) about the inseparability of nationality, ethnicity and culture - in other words, if you look a certain way, then you belong to a certain culture and geographic location. In other words, if you look Indian, you have no business saying you are from England or acting like an "Englishman," never mind that you might be a third-generationer. (Although I must say I noticed a bit of the same thing coming from you, when you used descriptions such as "one Swedish, one mixed blood" and "Turkish guy posing as an Italian." These people you describe may be considered and/or consider themselves Swedes!)

All in all, I think you just experienced some culture shock, nothing more. I was home in England recently, and was surprised at how incredibly polite and chatty everyone was. Sweden, quite simply, is just nothing like that.
21:32 August 19, 2011 by trevzns
@ zoroastrina

Hey…how witty! You read French, read and write English, Swedish and German. Warum brauchen Sie die Deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit? Sie sind längst der älteste Deutsche Staatsbürger in diesem Forum!

Consider this, an objective criticism as well my "individual or collective narcissism" opinion of your views.
21:48 August 19, 2011 by Nevermindwho
Correction to my post above:

"Yes, you shouldn't come to Sweden to act anything else but Swedish. "

should have been:

"Yes, you shouldn't expect Swedes to act anything else but Swedish."
22:03 August 19, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ zoroastrina

(The pitbulls bite if you have an opinion or your own thought processes, just remember...)

Sverige är svin bra och Svensk manniskor are skit bra.Glöm inte det.

For those who are unfamiliar with Swedish, as all good Swedish citizens do, we would not want you to feel left out of any conversation, so we always translate for our non Svensk guests. "Sweden is pig good and Swedish people are sh-it good. Don't forget that."

Oh,by the way, for those who aren't really fluent in Swedish, no, that is not an insult to Swedes or Sweden. It is a very high Swedish compliment.
22:50 August 19, 2011 by arbeitsbiene3
@ jacquelinee

I have question if you can stop wrapping yourself in Swedish Nationalism?

What does an individual narcissists have to offer in a multicultural and open society?
23:54 August 19, 2011 by bira
What's with the implied meaning above that because there are a lot of people of different ethnic backgrounds in Sweden, there was not racism at work here? Swedes are racist, always have been and probably always will be, it's evident in so many postings here, and especially towards individuals from the middle east. I was born and raised in Sweden and is as Swedish as one gets and know it from first hand experience, including from my own father's reaction to my sister's marriage to a fellow of Indian descent. It's sad that a people that think of themselves as so good and well meaning is so blind to their own worst flaw.
02:34 August 20, 2011 by enas_Nikolas
I am also foreigner (Greek). I am here for a month and I don't mind if people around me smile to me, or talk to me. Swedes just live here, and they are not here to smile to the thousands foreigners that visit their nice country.

I would suggest to the guy of the article, instead of checking all day all night if strangers to him are looking at him, talk to him, smile at him, to mind his own life, his friends. What matters is how they treat him, and not foreigners here and there, either they are Swedish, Greeks, Chinese etc

Actually, he discriminates and labels people by nationality/race and probably not them.

If he also visits Greece, people at the road won't smile or talk to him. Not because of his skin color...but because everyone has his/her friends, companies, and don't bother for strangers at the street!
03:43 August 20, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ arbeitsbiene3

I have no idea what you are talking about. There really appears no way to please. MANY peopl who have posted hear if you read back, are simply voicing a heartfelt concern because of situations they have been in, and their individual experiences are met with real negativity to put it mildly. Any viewpoint other than one that is fashionably accepted towards the Swedish culture is called selfish, self serving, narcissistic and worse.

So, as it has been pointed out repeatedly, "When in Rome". You try then to be just like all the other Swedes, who see Sweden as the perfect country that it is, and you are, yet again self serving and narcissistic.There is absolutely, just no way to please. Your wrong if you have an individual view and your wrong if give in and go with the popular view (sorry, I mean the right view). Without a Svensk födelseattest , for a great many of us it will always be just a lost cause.
04:25 August 20, 2011 by HeltNorsk
This article has sure sparked alot of rhetoric! I love Sweden. I personally think it's a terrific Country. While visiting my mom in Sweden, I made the statement that I was not fond of Swedish food, she told me to "suck it up". I have lived in the USA for quite a while and now I am very accustomed to Mexican food. In my defense even though I am completely Norsk, I am not crazy about Norsk Mat. Swedes are very outgowing, you just need to be properly introduced. Try to remember every Country has its own people, and their own way of dong things. If you want what you have at home, stay home. My family and I are planning to visit Sweden again soon. I love that they are quiet and polite.Instead of approaching a different Country with negativity, choose to experience with an open mind. I am just so grateful that Swedes know how to make good strong coffee.
06:36 August 20, 2011 by Rick Methven

Just thinking about all your ranting about Swedes here and how (in your mind) they think Sweden is best.

From your name and French/Scottish/ Canadian background, I would suspect you are Québécois who are in my experience the most anti any other race/culture and the rudest people on the Planet.

Goes a long way to explain things.....
07:18 August 20, 2011 by graceolsson
My dear! Let me tell you one thing: your daughter can live in Sweden, but I´ll advice her in advance: SWEDES are SWEDES and as human being, they are not Saints. Fortunately, at the moment, Sweden is a country which open its doors to immigrants more than you can imagine. More than all European countries together. The country has almost 10 million people and only Iraqis are 100,000. 500,000 Muslims live in Sweden. I just ask to those who are criticing Swedes: DO YOU REALLY KNOW SWEDEN? Are you talking about SWEDEN?I do not believe it!!! There is not a person in all over the Europe who treats people like a Swede. They´re polite, they´re amazing. They know manners, yes! who said to you the opposite? This country is a free country. You can do whatever you want. The Swede know about immigrants, why in the past, the country went through difficult days and many of his/her ancestors immigrated to the United States. .Last but not least, the Swedish ground is my country and this country belongs to my children and grandchildren and for that reason, if I have to pick up a weapon to defend this country, I will. For a while it is not time, yet. But sooner or later, I should do it, because many immigrants come to Sweden and want to destroy the culture, history... Sweden opens its doors, arms, everything and later, the immigrants take the most bad behaviour of ONE PERSON to qualify the country. Stockholm is a big city and as a big city its citizen live HURRYING like those who live in London, Paris, Budapest, etc. I´m married to a Swede. My son-in-law is a Swede. I´ve never seen that kind of behaviour in Sweden.I´ve worked as a destination photographer in Sweden during the last 3 years. I´ve photographed weddings in SWEDEN and what I´ve seen isn´t what I´m reading here. I´ve travelled to North,South, East, West. People are people. Those who live in Haparanda aren´t like those who live in Västerås. Those who live in Stockholm aren´t like those who live in Gotland... If you tell me that you´re studying in Sweden and the Swedes do not pay attention to you, I can accept it. They´re a little bit close in themselves. But it´s their culture and we must accept it. After couple of years living in Sweden, I´m a little Swede. I don´t want to bother those who are close to me and I don´t want to be bothered... Simply so... Now, I´ll tell what happened to me, 3 months ago. I was admitted at Uppsala University in a Master´s degree. UU sent to us the email adress of all students. They come from many countries. I sent them a message in Swedish and English, like that: "You´re welcome to Sweden! Sweden and me wish you a pleasant stay. Feel at home!" Only one answered me. A Swede who lives in London. Ha en bra dag!!!!
09:08 August 20, 2011 by guliver
I have never been to Scandinavia,but the Swedes I met as I was living in Kibutz were very nice people,

How is to live as forgeiner in other country I guess everybody tells his own story
13:25 August 20, 2011 by godnatt
Go to ANY country in the middle of tourist season and most natives aren't going to be clamoring to make conversation with you. Because you annoy them.

And Swedes are a little reserved with strangers.

So what. Get over it.
14:15 August 20, 2011 by BobBob

Thanks for the laughs and insights.

They know you're right (mostly) but are put off by your confident style.

Keep cool and don't rise to the bait!
15:57 August 20, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Rick

Hejsan Svejsan! Läg et?

Nope. Not Québécois. My french, sad to say, is probably even worse than my Swedish. But I really don't want to say anything much about myself at the risk of being(yet again) accused of being narcissistic and self absorbed..

Really cannot understand your critique of my posts, calling them rants. Rant by definition means "To speak or write in an angry or violent manner" I have certainly never spoken in a violent manner or and angry manner actually. I am empassioned for sure. Hypocrisy, inequity intolerance and bigotry upset and sadden me a great deal, as it should anyone actually who is the polar opposite of narcissistic and selfish. Your accusitory tone about me speaking out against Swedish rudeness if fairly hypocrtical seeing as you yourself did the exact same thing towards French Canadians and French people as a race.

If you actually re-read all the posts here, there are many people who have had a positive experiences with Swedes. There are also a great many who have had negative experiences with Swedes. You will find this in any race, culture or country. Not all swedes are of the bigoted,sect driven, or of the exclusionary mindset. I have great Swedish friends and, as I stated before most of the Swedish youth are fantastic. But, until you come in contact face to face with a bigot (like a couple of the posters here so onviously are) You will not "get it". To those posters who had had the same frozen encounters, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about and to the others, I hope you never do.
16:05 August 20, 2011 by skatty
Interesting, I haven't seen so many comments on an article in THELOCAL.

I think, it may also be possible to look at the article from another point of view, like tourism industry. I have tried to Google the world tourism ranking around the world (and in Europe):




My point is that Sweden is not on the top of ten destinations for tourists in Europe. I understand the criticism in article regarded to the behavior of Swedes; and I think that the criticism is correct, according to my long time experience in Sweden.

The fact is that Sweden even as a tourist destination is not on top. As I have mentioned in my previous comment in here, people choose different places to pass their vacations by considering different matters.

Anyway for mentioned family in the article, a trip to Sweden has been an experience, and may be next time they choose somewhere else; a place, which may be more interesting, regarded to human connections and communication.
17:59 August 20, 2011 by Svensksmith
I hate small talk, small minded people and small paychecks. But I do like small threads. Yikes! this was a long one.
18:45 August 20, 2011 by cranky_yankee
Sad but true. Swedes are rude. Somehow though they think it is acceptable to be so since it is part of their heritage. Swedes come to the party this world is getting smaller and smaller, you want to sit at a table by yourself then don't be surprised one day to find you are considered the pampas outcasts.
19:24 August 20, 2011 by calebian22
The one thing I have learned as a service technician working all over the world is this. If the locals don't want to talk to you in English as a visitor, who gives a crap? There are plenty of people who are friendly, or at the very least want to practice their English. Those who don't, don't give them a second thought.

As for Stockholm, if you meet someone there who is friendly, dollars to donuts they didn't grow up in Stockholm. They are from some small village in BFE Sweden. Stockholm natives in my experience are only friendly after the third drink.
19:25 August 20, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ bobbob

Thanks. It is heard trying to reason with a brick wall. I appreciate your speaking up. Often it is only the ones who disagree with something that speak up.
21:03 August 20, 2011 by JaneL
I'm an immigrant. An Anglo-Saxon Australian living in Stockholm. I'm fair-skinned, blonde and have been mistaken for being Swedish before and yet I have never experienced the kind of open behaviour as a resident that you expected as a tourist. In my experience Swedes are very interested in hearing about life in other countries and enjoy speaking English. I respect that I am in their country and try to understand and speak as much Swedish as possible. This mutual respect is important. It's not impressive to use the argument that you came here and spoke English rather than Punjabi since Swedish happens to be the native language. Just because Swedes can speak excellent English doesn't mean that they're comfortable engaging in conversations.

Coming from a place where people are extremely friendly, outgoing and polite to both friends and strangers it was a shock to discover that it was not the same on the street here in Sweden. You can be mistaken for thinking that Swedes are rude and impolite but that would be a serious misjudgement on your part. It is a naive and uninformed person who expects to be treated in a way that is uncommon even in some of the most friendly of countries, let a lone in Sweden--where they are renowned for being reserved. To be overly-friendly in your approach to people you don't know can more often than not be off-putting. I don't believe that people were staring at you because you have darker skin. If Swedes were to stare at everyone who is obviously not Swedish in heritage they would be staring A LOT. Perhaps they are curious hearing you speak English and wondered what you story was--did you consider that maybe they themselves are not Swedish even though they may look it?

I suggest you do a little research before embarking on your next holiday. You have to understand and comply with the customs of the culture you are visiting. It's rude to expect your hosts to adapt to your preconceived ideas of how you're experience should be. Having this expectation is unreasonable and misguided. Just because Sweden is a Western country than is not particularly religious and is seemingly easy to pass in and out of, it should not mean that you make less effort in understanding the culture. That applies everywhere. What a pathetic attempt at generalization. If you dislike living in Sweden or Swedish people, you will find it's just as easy to leave as it was to arrive.
21:29 August 20, 2011 by albert1974
Almost 5 years living and working in Sweden (not being a Swede, but being quite "white" and "bright haired"), and no Swedish friends, no social conversation with any Swede, and so on. However, I enjoy many friends of the international community.

Just to say, this article is telling us the usual story.
01:35 August 21, 2011 by HALE
I think your comment that said "In my hometown Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, we now have some one hundred nationalities living"

says it all. England has been invaded!

A picture of Birmingham on the news this week did not show one "Englishman or womans face in the crowd"

Sweden, should not be invaded, it has it's own culture, language, social ways. Who are you to criticise them?

There is one thing to marry or partner with a Swede and accept their culture and become part of it to invading it.

If the Swede's don't want to interact with you. Maybe it is they are taking note of what has happened to England.

It is easy for a small population who has 1-2 babies per family to sudenly be over run by an invading population that has more than 1-2 children. You do the maths.

I know this is harsh, but I think Swedes should fight to keep their culture from being invaded.

I know you are just tourists at this point, but you wanted your family to start moving here - perhaps you don't like it but perhaps Sweden does not want to turn into Newcastle or Birmingham.
03:12 August 21, 2011 by grantike
here is my view .my sister came here to visit me from London.standing on the queue at a check-out point at one of ica maxi shops.a lady with twins bought a full load of kundvagn .and crying twins,she couldn't even ask anyone for help,cant even take out anything nor stop the kids from crying.i guess you can stand and not try to help because i am from Sweden right ?its ridiculous
09:15 August 21, 2011 by trevzns
@ JaneL

Help me understand what you're saying. You are blonde Anglo-Saxon? Well, your heritage is English, Scottish and German.

You're either European or of European Heritage? How can a Swede or any other European anywhere in our world, consider you a foreigner?

Scandinavians and all Northern European counties share a common historical and cultural heritage with Germany. Swedish language is a North Germanic language as well as English.

Swedes are ethnic Europeans; as well as many Australians are of ethnic European Anglo-Saxon Ancestry. The Indigenous Australians, the Aboriginals, are of African heritage.

I will agree, some research before embarking on holiday is a very good idea. In addition, a good understanding of world history pre-1492... up to 1788 and beyond, is also very important.
10:38 August 21, 2011 by arbeitsbiene3

England has been invaded throughout its history and the invasion that matters most, was made by the Romans. The Romans gave the Great to be, English Empire the alphabet, civilization and law.

A little too late, to be concerned about the invasion of English culture and that of Newcastle or Birmingham. Does the African Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, ring any historical English history bells?
11:13 August 21, 2011 by DaveANyc
@tachem (i think) I agree about the personal space idea, being from NYC I noticed that Stockholm is very much a walkers town so like NYC one is always coming face to face which is rarer in any driving town, which are most cities inthe US.

@dontmatterwho, our deep cultural backgrounds actually matter a lot, even if on the surface we don't associate ourselves with those traits or bits of personality we may have picked up from our grandparents even through our parents or relatives. These broader cultural markers like English or American are ill defined and hazy, which in turn has made those cultures ill defined and hazier and this has led to terrible cultural deeds like war or persecution that culturally should've been abhorrant. So be more proud of your background so that you and I help enrich our broader cultural definition. Imfho
13:03 August 21, 2011 by jen1979
I think a lot of the trouble stems from the fact that Britain, being so desperate to be multicultural actually treats those from ethnic minorities as if they are special and bows down to them. In Sweden, quite rightly; there is an air of equality and so no-one is impressed (or bothered) by someone with a different skin colour or accent. Surely this is true equality unlike the family's home country that puts them on a pedestal.

Swedes should not change they are warm, friendly people, if perhaps a little reserved at first.
13:46 August 21, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ jen1979

"In Sweden, quite rightly; there is an air of equality "

What part of Sweden are you living in? The name of your town must be Fantasistan and you raise unicorns and dance in fairy rings with elves.
16:30 August 21, 2011 by Streja
Jacqueline, I'm more confused about the piedestal comment. What does Jen mean?

I really wonder why they thought they were treated differently because of their skin colour. In the article it clearly states that all the staff they met were very friendly.

Now if they had gone to a small village in Dalsland that would have been a different story, but a restaurant in a museum filled with tourists in the summer? Come on! There is xenophobia and racism in Sweden, in fact MUCH WORSE than not being talked to in a restaurant in a capital that has loads of brown skinned people. Let's talk about that instead. Let's talk about the discimination, often silent, that immigrants are faced with everyday.
17:14 August 21, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Steja

I agree. I have never found anyone in restaurants, stores,mueums etc (in Stockholm) brusque or impolite.Other cities? Well....................... Mind you, for those of us who have ever worked in a store or restaurant, you can certainly understand staff being friendly but not being so "chatty" during rush periods.At those times it is all you can do to keep running and stay on top of things to keep customers happy and ensure they have fast, friendly service.

It seems the Din family were more speaking about the general Swedish population. I really don't think Jen has been in Britain or lived there, but I may be wrong. There is for sure no ethnic pampering for any ethnicity there. It is what it is and you deal with it whatever your lineage was.

There is real overt racism in sweden and it actually goes beyond just race. Those who do not have Svensk blood are VERY, VERY often viewed as just some unfortunate arrival and unwelcome interlopers. I will say, in many instances that " Swedish Aloofness" is merely hiding it. I have no idea where Jen lives but she must have found the only "Camelot" in Sweden.
17:24 August 21, 2011 by Streja
Jacqueline, the racism and discmination manifests itself in areas where most Swedes have no idea that it actually happens as they don't notice it themselves, as they are Swedish and don't look foreign. Only my sisters with dark hair have been exposed to it as have my mum who is South European. I have been subjected to it once really. Most Swedes are not racist but they fail to acknowledge it. I think they don't see how big the problem is.

The recent events in Norway I feel have highlighted the topic again though and we see signs of the general public becoming aware of it more and more.
17:40 August 21, 2011 by jacquelinee
A valid point Streja. But you don't have to have dark hair or dark skin to get discriminated against. I am blonde and know a woman who comes from Africa but is also blonde. We both have Swedish husbands and at nearly 100% of Swedish functions we are left in the corner while the rest of the group (Swedish) ignore us. One good thing I can really say about a Swedish fest is that, after a couple of hours of total boredom in my solitary place, it is the only time I really get the chance to clean my purse out as there is nothing else to do.

After the 1st 10 minutes, there is no attempt made to include the non Swedish guest and we are ignored. Any Swede who says different is in TOTAL denial.
18:35 August 21, 2011 by newcommer
I am a new commer to this country and I had the same experience like Din. But later I realized it is Swedish culture and decided to respect it. However, the few racist in this country are not native swedes but immigrants from arab origin. This is really strange to me and never expect it.
18:41 August 21, 2011 by Streja
Jacqueline, that is rude behaviour on their part, but I don't think it's racism and discrimination as such. Please don't take it the wrong way, but being told to go home, having things thrown at you on your way to school because your hair is dark and you look foreign, being stopped at the airport and told that you are one of those who have married into Swedish society despite your passport saying you were born in Stockholm is much much worse.

Jacqeline, next time you're at the party,talk to the person next to you, say how sad you are that everyone is ignoring you. Don't use harsh words eventhough they might be warranted, because it won't get you anywhere.
18:53 August 21, 2011 by wakak
Let's face it. It is OK to be a racist in this country. It is sad but it is a fact.Let's just read at this blog: when I read some comments on the local.se , supposed to come from 'educated' population, I am scared already.

And furthermore, it is OK to be prejudiced against anybody non Swedish: in other countries, it would be non-white or non-European, or non Christians, but here, not being Swedish is seen as being a major flaw.

Of course, some people are not (eg my neighbours) but I am talking about the general mood of Swedih people.

I have been to many countries, but t is the first time in my life that I have felt people being racist against me.
19:21 August 21, 2011 by Streja
wakak, this is an ex-pat forum, not many Swedes on this site. I know about two people on here who are Swedish who post. The rest are british, Australian, American and Canadian.
20:33 August 21, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ Streja

No. I have not had anything thrown at me yet. Although I think if Gamla Hälsingebock and possibly Jostein would give it their best shot if they ever met me hahaha.

I am so sorry your family had to deal with that. I simply can not wrap my head around it. Predjudice, injustice and racism are a cancer. My experiences of being rudely treated (and I really do not give off an air of superiority; I am friendly and fair to everyone and I guess I am just naieve enough to expect the same in return). I am relatively new to this land. But just because I am, it does not change the fact that if someone bites, I am not going to lower my head and take it just because I am new. I will bite back.

But my little injustices pale by comparison to yours and I am sad because of that.

@ newcommer

I am so tired of it, when some Swedes are rude, cold, exclusionary and downright derrogatory towards people that everyone says "oh, it's ok. You will get use to it. It is just their cuture." NO! It is NOT just their culture. Not buying it! If it was, then their would not be the nice Swedish people. And there are lots of them. I LOVE the majority of Swedish youth under 25. Most of them are just great. They are open in interested and engaging. They don't bury themselves in some antiquated "clan superiority" mentality. And as far as the arabs being racist. I am sure there are some. Just like everywhere else. But I have met some nice people here from Arabia and Iraq and Brazil and Indonesia and all kinds of places. Their are idiot Arabs and their are idiot Americans. There are idiot Canadians and Chinese and idiot Swedes too. Thank goodness that the IDIOTS in all races are still a minority (although not a visible one) Ignorance and fear breed intolerance and bigotry. Bottom line.
21:10 August 21, 2011 by Token-not-found
Not every culture pressures people into being social whores or favors these types of behavior.

The nordic culture is beautiful in this regard, a culture that favors honesty, introversion , individualism, reserve and not the fake cheery happy go lucky stuff that is favored in most other cultures, in this hyper-active and fake global culture.

You being brown has nothing to do with it, maybe you should try to understand and respect this unique and beautiful culture of the Swedes before demanding respect for your socially hyperactive and intrusive ways, things incompatible with this quiet, honest , beautiful culture.

Playing the race card in this case just plain dumb and offensive to common sense.
22:07 August 21, 2011 by summo
wow, what a shocker, you visit a different country, with different language and customs THEN you get treated differently.

If you want the same treatment visit Costa De La Chav, there are plenty charter hols from the Toon.

I grew up in NE England, if anywhere is racist, it's the Northern England. You might get polite chat at in a bar queue, then 2 pints later the same person will throw a bottle down the street at you in Newcastle, very unpredictable. Swedes are the opposite, initially appearing dull, but they are onions, you have to peel away the layers to get inside.

I'm a Brit, but I conform to the country I'm in, not the other way around, seems to have worked fine for me in N America, S America, Africa, Middle East and now Sweden!

If you want a little piece of Britain in Sweden, visit the Embassy.
10:27 August 22, 2011 by anicapil
This is difficult for me to understand that how can an Indian-English family expect something that does not exist in England or India. I am Indian and living in Sweden, i must say if you traveled in big cities in India or in England no body have a time to talk to you but if you need help they try to help you. Same is in Sweden, i do not see any difference. Indian, English, Arab etc. are much more racist than Swedish peoples are. Swedish people are simply highly developed community, to understand us you need to open your all doors and learn to respect others as much as you expect from others. Patience is key to enjoy any conversation with swedish people. Don't be surprised next time because we believes in Live and let Live, so shouuuu!
10:40 August 22, 2011 by Rick Methven

"If you want a little piece of Britain in Sweden, visit the Embassy"

In the mid 70's I spent a lot of time in India when working for a Dutch company. Our completion was a British company. They called me a traitor for working for a Dutch company while being a Brit. We all stayed in the same hotel, and in the evenings when my Dutch colleagues and I went out to an Indian restaurant , The British contingent went to the British Embassy:LOL
12:39 August 22, 2011 by Opinionfool
Typical, an Englishman goes abroad and expects the locals to conform to his ways. To speak his language in his presence because he is more important than the locals. I'm surprised that the complaint didn't go so far as to say he coudn't get fish-and-chips, bangers-and-mash, and bacon-and-eggs in the restaurants. Complaining that a Swedish family didn't talk to them at a random table! Presumptive that the family wanted to talk to strangers in a foreign language. Maybe the youngsters didn't speak English --- then who is excluded.

And yes, I'm an Englishman. Och, ja, javist, jag prater svenska.
13:12 August 22, 2011 by Daniel-Cymru
I too, am a Brit (I'm Welsh) and I spend a lot of time in Sweden. I've been told by numerous Swedish friends that I can pass as a Swede on my looks alone but I'm also lucky enough to be profiecient enough in the Swedish language to understand what people are talking about.

I've never been shut out by Swedes using their own language to communicate with each other. Although, I am guilty of switching to Welsh (a language alien to most Swedes) if I don't want people to understand what I'm saying.

I've had conversations with strangers, started in Swedish and once they realise that I'm an English speaker the language quickly changes. I try to speak as much Swedish as possible, it's is the choice of the Swede whether or not they want to communicate with me in English.

People have even struck up conversations with me after hearing me talk on the phone in English. And, when Swedes are informed that I'm Welsh and not English, their friendliness increases ten-fold - but that's another issue!

Also, I've spent enough time in Sweden and around Swedish people to understand how things are done there, what is acceptable social behaviour and what is not. Something tells me that this family from Newcastle were not aware of how Swedes behave.
14:49 August 22, 2011 by Mr Zero
Check out Reader's Digest magazine survey of level of politeness in 35 major cities....... The result is a bit unexpected for most writers....Stockholm is far better than for example London, Paris or Sydney. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/destinations/england/article676543.ece
18:56 August 22, 2011 by mikewhite
" ... yes, but this is Sweden !"

As has been said to me in the past ...
09:24 August 23, 2011 by edeezine
@Suhail Din

Your daughter can go study in stockholm, she'll love it.

on the other hand, i'll be happy to welcome you in paris next time you plan a trip. tweet me @edeezine

greetings from a swede
11:42 August 23, 2011 by missfriendly
I lived in Stockholm for - wait for it - 6 months, and I never had a conversation with a Swede outside of the service profession. I'm white - and I'm a little shy myself - apart from a homeless guy & a guy who randomly and embarrassingly bumped into me in a restaurant who I'd met a few weeks previously through work in America - I didn't get to talk to anyone.

Was a horrible, depressing and lonely time, yet I'd still go back there in a heartbeat.
13:37 August 23, 2011 by Grokh
this is idiotic not everyone starts talking with strangers out of the blue specially not in sweden where people are very reserved.

yes its hard to "make friends" but the few friends ive made are very good and we talk ALOT.

Im not a swede im brazilian we are known to be social talk through our elbows with everyone, and yet i dont go around talking to people i down know -_-x
19:48 August 23, 2011 by Saytrue
I am also Brazilian and travel to Sweden twice a year in the last 15 years. I never had any problem, on the opposite, Swedes are much more friendly than citizens from many other European countries. They love talking in english to foreigners and never refuse a talking and cheering for a beer in a pub.

This family was just unlucky...
20:03 August 23, 2011 by jostein

"Jostein rants and raves about "democracy" with thinly veiled fascism. You think that i will find it comforting that we now have new immigrants in our lands ready to exterminate me and mine? Acute paranoia."

No, i was answering an argument. If you recall, jacquelinees point was that swedes are not natives in sweden. That we are immigrants too. So, for this point (if it were true which noone knows) to be valueable in soothing my sentiments about immigration, it would be nicer if the people whose lands my ancestors immigrated too were still around? But they are not. So jacquelinees point is disturbing or null and void, take your pick.
23:26 August 23, 2011 by JaneL
@ trevzns

Thank you for the history lesson. I am aware of my ancestry and the heritage of my home-country. Yes, you are right. I do have English, Scottish and German heritage hence my use of the word 'Anglo-Saxon'. But I am born and was brought up in Australia. A foreign country to Sweden. I don't know where you're from but in Australia the society is quite different in comparison to Sweden. This was exactly my point. I'm sorry you missed that. This might clear things up for you...

Definition of foreigner: Oxford Dictionary

A person born in or coming from a country other than one's own.

informal; a person not belonging to a particular place or group; a stranger or outsider.

Despite sharing a common historical and cultural heritage I too have experienced similar behaviour to the family in this article. If it was about race this wouldn't be the case. You're misunderstanding and subsequent argument has no legs.
05:14 August 24, 2011 by Onepack
I think this story goes very well with the other story in this edition on the rising suicide rate in Sweden. A sad/self-centered/bitter base from which to build human relations. Chilling!
06:26 August 24, 2011 by skatty
I don't get why so many comments are about Swedish language (or speaking the language).

1. You don't have to speak a language of a country to travel as a tourist there. In the best case, English may be the most useful language as an international language.

2. Different people with different back grounds and countries are living in Sweden as immigrants, some may get few Swedish friends; the point is that Swedes are not generally open and easy going people (however they are polite). Most of immigrants have a kind of relation, and connection with Swedes in their job and occupation environment, as soon as the job is finished, the connection would be finished as well. I mean outside of the occupation environment (as an adult), seldom immigrant come in touch with Swedes (unless some who have Swedish espouse).

3. Different countries have different attractions for tourism. You travel to Greece for sun and to Switzerland for skiing, and …. , Sweden is good for its nature, and silence, and calm environment. I never heard anybody travel to Greece for skiing, in the same way, it's better not to travel to Sweden if you expect lot of open people to chat and talk with you in the street or restaurants, or public places, because you don't get it in Sweden. But if you are looking to have a silent vacation, then you can get it in Sweden!
14:18 August 24, 2011 by ltch65
As a geordie (ie Newcastle Native), Ive never had any trouble meeting people in Sweden...Newcastle irrespective of some views is a very warm and friendly city (probably the most in the UK), although I am baised...!!

Plus, depsite those that like to crticise the english (even the welsh here) I am a very proud englishman, who unlike a small section our our country is well mannered; behaved and polite (oh and doesn't riot or loot...!)

It is probably that teh family expected too much holidaying in a big city (just like any other large city in Europe).

It seems that some people postiogn on here need to 'get a grip' on reality.
15:10 August 24, 2011 by Henrik Jonsson
What a sad story - as a Swede I feel very sorry for the visiting family. It is my firm belief that the Swedes they encountered did not intend to be rude - they just have a hard time understanding manners. I have started a small blog which compares living in the UK with living in Sweden, and I just published a post about Swedish manners here: http://swedenrevisited.blogspot.com/
15:58 August 24, 2011 by trevzns
@ JaneL August 23, 2011

I live on the same world as you do and I feel there are good and kind people in all cultures.

It is not my intentions to degrade your cultural heritage or minimize the accomplishments and contributions made by Europeans and peoples of European ancestry.

The same attitudes and behaviors exist in other cultures. Color of skin, hair and physical appearance is very important.

Regarding the family physical appearance, your personal experience of prejudice and the geographical location of a country, there exits the behaviors of ingroup and Xenophobia.

The word white is a Germanic word and for many peoples, the color white symbolizes, purity, kindness, comfort, honesty and love. White also has a characteristic, which is not symbolic, a cold quality.

I am often puzzled by the high value placed on separation within the European culture. Europeans and those of European heritage separate themselves by nationality, religions, region of origin and physical appearance.

Many peoples outside the European cultural and heritage group are treated and looked upon with contempt when immigrating to certain countries.

I do not understand the prejudice within the culture regarding origin of nationality; we are all from a common heritage, regardless of our religious beliefs or not.

Why did the Indigenous and Aboriginal peoples of Australia, New Zealand, the Americas and other regions of the world had to conform and forced to accept European heritage and religions?

The US Americans have a concept or policy used during the expansion of North America, that might best describe the attitudes and behaviors, Manifest Destiny.

The double standard immigration and anti-religious policies and negative behaviors around the world, maybe the result of the many tragedies of Colonization and the selfish and inhumane mindset still exists today.
16:18 August 24, 2011 by arbeitsbiene3
@ jacquelinee #212 and #254

I am perplexed about the attitudes and mentality of many who have posted on this forum.

Perhaps there is nothing to understand and the behavior of herd mentality is inherent of the culture and heritage?

I am not over looking or am I discrediting the contributions and accomplishments made by Europeans, my issue is the level of denial, deceit, misinformation and the attitudes of a god complex.

The results and effects of the Golden years of Enlightenment and Discovery the world was not flat, and what happened to the Indigenous peoples Europeans encountered is one of human tragedy. Often with the combined effects of European infectious diseases and the diabolical tactics of denial of human rights, missionaries, acquisitions of lands by any means necessary, which often resulted in isolation and genocide.

Unless there is historical evidence to the contrary, Europeans (Vikings) did not discover North America, the Bahamas (the Caribbean), Mexico, Central or South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
17:48 August 24, 2011 by eton75
After fourteen years I have given up on trying to be friendly to Swedes . I am just counting the days I get back to work in London . The problem is that London is now full of Swedes so there is no winning . They do not like foreigners , unless you are a white American as they just love that old Green Card .

I have worked and lived all over the world but never hated people as much as I hate Swedes . To hell with them !!
18:15 August 24, 2011 by alfitude
Im Arabic but never had much of a problem with Swedes. I speak the language pretty well and I make an effort in speaking it when Im there, and it's generally appreciated.

At the end of the day, you don't go abroad to expect everyone in that country to speak to you whenever you want, and in your language. I get annoyed when people from abroad tag on to me or my friends on a night out in London.

Stockholm's a beautiful place that has so much to explore and experience- I would focus on that instead of blasting the culture.
00:58 August 25, 2011 by JaneL
@ trevzns

What does this have to do with my original post? You still don't understand my point of view. It's fantastic that you think everything is so interconnected but over-analysing in this case I think is a waste of time. To me it's quite simple; it's not a race issue, it's a misunderstanding of Swedish culture.
06:34 August 25, 2011 by Ron Pavellas
1. Check your expectations when you visit another neighborhood or country. Why should you expect anything you are familiar with?

2. People have their own lives to live and are not waiting for you to arrive.

3. I have lived here 9 years (Swedish wife), look sort of southern European (born in USA) and still don't have the language. I have no trouble meeting Swedes--they are very accommodating in communicating in English. I find if I take the initiative in communicating, I get a satisfactory, even sometimes very nice, response--90% of the time.

4. I'm an introvert and appreciate being left alone to read my book on the subway, etc., much of the time. I suspect many Swedes are this way too.

5. Oh yeah, I'm a Swede now too! But if you say hello to me I'll say hello back and maybe ask where you're from.
09:40 August 25, 2011 by trevzns
@ JaneL

I have several questions for you that could help me better understand your point of view.

How is Australia society quite different in comparison to Sweden?

But I am born and was brought up in Australia. A foreign country to Sweden. I don't know where you're from but in Australia the society is quite different in comparison to Sweden

What were the circumstances surrounding the similar behavior you encountered?

Despite sharing a common historical and cultural heritage I too have experienced similar behaviour to the family in this article. If it was about race this wouldn't be the case. You're misunderstanding and subsequent argument has no legs.

Regarding your point of views and the comments made by some native Swedes on this forum, how could a visitor distinguish the cultural misunderstandings in Swedish culture from ordinary prejudice and racism?

To me it's quite simple; it's not a race issue, it's a misunderstanding of Swedish culture.
18:52 August 25, 2011 by Culturalmarxism
Why should I speak to a stranger? Because it's polite? Being polite, like most everything is relative, perhaps I thought the stranger rude to talk to me.

But it differs, I would tell the time to a stranger or give directions, anything more than that is stretching it and the same goes regardless of your skin colour and nationality.

There's a saying, When in Rome.
14:50 August 26, 2011 by dizzy09
312 comments (including mine) and counting this article must have touch a lot of nerves.
19:02 August 26, 2011 by faizans80
whatever, the left most is the cutest of all siblings !!!
19:03 August 26, 2011 by svenscum
Rick Methven Welsh explains a great deal I come from Cornwall and all your fellow Celts hate the Welsh
20:56 August 26, 2011 by JAMessersmith
I'm American and traveled to Sweden when I was about 16 years old. My heritage is mostly German (with a little bit of English) and (disclaimer) I have bright blond hair and green eyes.

When I was in Sweden, the locals were VERY friendly and would often try to speak to me in Swedish. Of course, I'd just give them a blank stare and say "I Speak English". Most would then attempt to converse with me in broken English (some actually spoke English pretty well). But from my experiences, the Swedish were very nice to me, especially the ladies. Whether that has something to do with my hair color, as has been suggested in these comments, I don't know. But I am definitely not Swedish, and have no ties to the region whatsoever (unless, perhaps you go back far enough to trace the Germanic tribes migrations out of southern Sweden).

I've traveled all over the world, and still to this day, Stockholm is probably the nicest city I've ever visited. So take it for what it's worth. I'd much rather go to Stockholm than London, that's for sure.
23:42 August 26, 2011 by wxman
Don't take it personally. Swedes are naturally cold and indifferent people, and can pick out a foreigner a mile away. They're more than a little zenophobic, but it has nothing to do with your appearance, color or culture. It's yus da vey de are!
10:59 August 27, 2011 by marie-line
I am french ,I live here since 6 years, still have to stay for 2 extra years, this country is the only one where I have been victim of xenopobia a couple of time, even if I have been in usa,south africa,etc, never find so much unwelcoming anywhere else.This happen to most of my friends who are not swedes. nothing else to say that it is really sad .
15:53 August 27, 2011 by Dave N
Nobody in England talks to strangers in city restaurants, on public transport or in pubs either. London is now largely a foreign city to the English and there are large areas which are off-limits to them. Newcastle has not so many colonists so they don't have the same problems. It was not affected by the recent riots, for instance, because it does not have a large black population.

At least the native Swedes didn't mug you. Try being a white English family in parts of London and then complain about Stockholm.

By the way - keep an eye on the annual crime-fest known as the Notting Hill Carnival tomorrow and Monday. Should be very interesting.
02:09 August 28, 2011 by PonceDeLeon
Consider yourselves lucky, you did not miss a thing. I am surprised you were able to make eye contact with any of the locals. Stockholm may be the capital of Scandinavia, but does that really have any meening? Obviously not much at all. You can travel all over this World and find engaging people, just don't expect Swedes to be anything but Swedish..
09:50 August 28, 2011 by skatty
@Dave N

London (city with Urban) has a population equal with the whole Sweden as a country! Stockholm can be considered a village compare with London!

It's a matter of probability in the large mega-cities to find somebody to chat with a tourist, and usually the probability is very high, because of the very high differences and mixes in the mega-cities (include crime and many other negative or positive effects as well).

However, the unwillingness of Swedes to chat in public places with tourists (strangers) is a kind of cultural matter (even though xenophobia and racism can be included in the cultural facts as well). So in Stockholm, the probability for a tourist to find somebody to chat in public places is very low; but still, it's not absolutely impossible. For example, the chance for a European tourist with a white skin and European look can be higher than a Middle Eastern or African tourist in the Stockholm streets (by considering the different percents of immigrant population in London and Stockholm).
11:37 August 28, 2011 by Just_Kidding
Did he tried to chat with people with darker skin in Stockholm? What was the result?
17:46 August 28, 2011 by Investor612
There's more than a grain of truth in this article from what I've experienced on my trips to Sweden. I do think the writers are a bit off base regarding their "brown" skin being a reason. My wife is Asian and as "brown" as they are and while she was stared/glared at, on a couple occasions, that was the exception not the norm. The standoffishness is a difference that takes getting used to, something I've heard Australians as well as Americans who have visited remark about.

But the aloof/introverted behavior of Swedes is striking. Were it not for the fact we have family members in Sweden who introduced us to native born Swedes, we wouldn't have had many, if any at all, conversations with Swedish people either. Once introduced to Swedes by our family the Swedes we met were congenial and very nice people, but there is a barrier that needs to be overcome to get that point
07:33 August 29, 2011 by dsftm
Look where they are from. Newcastle for heavens sake.

People in the UK cross the street when they see residents of that particular hell hole.

I'll bet they were wearing minging black and white strip footy strips and banging on about the toon army.

Mackem in Östermalm. FTM
11:33 August 29, 2011 by blik
Reading the dribble of this article and all it has produced, has brought me to two conclusions.

One: The availability of cheap air travel is not a good thing for anybody.

Two: The oil age has allowed too many twats, far too much free time for unproductive self obsessive navel gazing.
20:04 August 30, 2011 by Rachel Helling
I have been living in Sweden for over 27 years...... in my experience, Swedes are quite "reserved" compared to a lot of countries.... reason? i don´t know...... just know for a fact that as a foreigner, YOU have to take the first step......... if you do manage that, then the colour of your skin doesn´t really matter..... you´d be amazed by their friendliness, they could even be the very best, reliable friends you could have..... (I am speaking based on my experience)

I am NOT reading the article coz of the reason that every persons experience is individual...... how the Swedes interact ALSO depends on how YOU are as a person. We SHOULDN`T judge people based on one´s experience.... as we expect the Swedes or any other european countries to do the same.

During those years that i have lived in Sweden...... I must say that I have only had 2 negative experiences (that I can remember) with the Swedes.............. for these reasons, I MIGHT be your worse enemy when it comes to defending the Swedes..... coz I do trust them more than i trust my own countrymen!!!!!

btw.... it amazes me for the fact that this family s experience in Stockholm (not in the whole of Sweden) could even be related to rasism....... most of the Swedes and other European people are being treated waaaay better when they are in o...ther countries (especially Asian countries) than how these countries would treat their own people just because from that certain country think "white people have more money" (again speaking from own experience)..... what do they base that experience on???? surely not racism........ there are more important things to worry about in the world than these kind of non sense, geez!!!!!
18:49 September 1, 2011 by Rachel Helling
eton75 says "I have worked and lived all over the world but never hated people as much as I hate Swedes . To hell with them !! "

No one force you to stay in this country..... if Sweden doesn´t suit your taste then leave.... the airports are open 24 hours a day and there are thousands of airlines to chose from, just make your pick ;-)

P.S. before u even say it, I am NOT a Swede..... I am a foreigner who has been living in Sweden for over 27 years whose friends (real friends) are Swedes.
00:43 September 2, 2011 by Monitor Lizard
Wah! Wah! Wah!

Somebody please call the waaaahhhhhhm-bulance lol!

I think the author of this article is making a mountain out of a molehill.

If he is so dissatisfied with his experience in Sweden, he is more than welcome to never come back again.

03:16 September 7, 2011 by Looii
Visit Sweden and get ignored!
14:21 September 12, 2011 by securityguy
I've never experienced this. I live in Sweden and speak absolutely no Swedish but have no trouble meeting people and have found them to be quite friendly and always wiling to speak English.....of course, I am in Gothenburg...
17:39 September 12, 2011 by Icarusty
Welcome to the REAL Sweden. Where white Swedes moan about how non-whites don't integrate, when they are not letting them integrate. When non-whites say hello, do all the courtesy stuff, and are met with hostility. Then when the non-whites get angry over ostracism, discrimination and isolation, the white Swedes wonder how on earth it got this way in our lovely, beautiful, white Sweden.
22:11 September 17, 2011 by ThereseG
Here's my reaction as a Swede to this article. In Swedish only, unfortunately, but please feel free to ask any Swedish person to assist you in the translation:

16:52 September 18, 2011 by El Puerco
I could write here in Swedish, my guess is that most of the morons expressing their opinions here would understand it, but not enough apparently. Learn to read and write the language properly, and we might listen to you.

Anyway, being in Canada for the moment and for the first time, but have spent a lot of time in the US, I'll give you some of my opinions about some of the weird behaviors here, which are the same as in the US.

Can't stand the service in the restaurants, waitresses won't leave you alone and they bring my main course before I have finished my starter. So I mostly eat fast food, so I can eat alone and without being disturbed by idiots,which includes both waiters and other guests.

In the mornings, people are lining up for the drive thru counter for a ten minute wait, while the restaurant is empty!!??

People excuse themselves when coming within 2 meters of someone else. Why?

I think it's OK to say good morning and hi when you meet someone in a hotel corridor, but why make conversations to strangers during breakfast?

Flip flops, comments not necesary.....
03:02 September 25, 2011 by korvmedbröd
I've only been in Denmark, Bulgaria, Egypt and Turkey (4 times) so I haven't seen the whole world. But from my impression speaking with random people doesn't seem to be normal anywhere. It happened one time to me in Turkey. Me and my friend was eating lunch at the hotel and a guy (think he was French) randomly sat down besides us and said "Hi boys, enjoy your meal" in a very girly way. We barely answered, mainly because we was really surprised thought he was gay and didn't know how to tell him that we was not interested without being rude. Maybe he just wanted to talk, I don't know. Anyway he ate up his food extremely fast and leaved.

This will maybe sound weird or rude to some people but I don't see any reason in randomly talking with a person I'll never see again. And I'm not shy or anything, I helped people and people helped in the hotels gym 2 hours later (and I didn't notice anyone talking with someone they had just met, everyone spoke their own language and helped people who needed help without standing unnecessary questions).

I completely disagree about the lack of good mornings, thanks and sorrys in Sweden. I almost think it can be ridiculous sometimes because people here say it 24/7 (at least in Swedish), it's almost getting annoying because people say it all the time whatever happens and whoever fault it was; I know they didn't do that and that on purpose, they don't to tell it, it only makes them look afraid or uncertain of themselves "sorry, it's my fault, sorry my lord".

My impression of all the countries I've visited (except Denmark) are that they are extremely, extremely (you can't describe it with words) bad at handling and solving conflicts. Calling their conflict solving a huge joke would be an understatement. Grown up people can be screaming at each other without listening to 1 word the other person say each like 3 years old without the problem ever getting fixed. If two cars crash into each other in countries around the Mediterranean sea the drivers will go out and beat each other to death, if the crash didn't kill one of them. Instead of looking on insurances, saying that they're sorry to each other and inspecting the injuries on the vehicles they first try kill each other (this seem to happen in America quite often as well, with baseball rackets as a help) and then demolish both the cars in rage. This I a generalization and I exaggerate a lot so you get the point, this kind of "conflict solving" is so completely non understandable for a Scandinavian that I can't describe it, (maybe some people feel the same about us not speaking to strangers). And it's just not during car crashes, it's everywhere. It's maybe not the same in all countries outside Scandinavia, but some kind of this mentality seem to be in most countries. The lack of that mentality is probably the biggest reason why we haven't been at war for 197 years.
00:22 December 28, 2011 by alf2
Sorry it wasn't the Coca-Cola advert you were expecting, but the reality is in Europe as far as diversity is concerned, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
03:42 December 28, 2011 by Rob99
Firstly, Swedish are racially superior. They are special. So much so that any person belonging to a different race other than Caucasian, cannot donate blood in Sweden. (Since 80s they had been constantly changing the "requirements" to become a donor without sounding racist while this "requirement" is nothing but racist.) Secondly, If you want to visit a new place AND like to interact with people (smile, chat or at least a friendly nod), go places like Australia, India, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America. Finally, you should do some research before you visit any place. Scandinavians are quite & reserved. They have an aura. They like their space around them. You should have known that. "We smiled and cooed at babies in their prams" A very annoying (generally from Western Point of view) habit from Indian Subcontinent. Thus if your daughter wants to live in Copenhagen, may I offer few tips: She must be snobby. She must stop being nice and polite (like smiling and greeting strangers, offering seats to elders etc) She must learn to respect the "space" Swedes need. For example if she is walking on the street someone Swedish looking takes a fit or drops dead, she must still keep respecting their "culture' and walk around them. But just imagine what type of person she would be at the end of her stint in Sweden? Changed from a charming girl with a constant smile to snobby girl with a long face. Not worth.
21:24 January 8, 2012 by janeway
333 comments on this single issue! Is that a record for The Local?

Well, I'll add my 2 cents.

Next time you wat to visit Sweden, go somewhere else but Stockholm. There's a whole country out there, where people are way more friendlier than in the capital of Sweden.

I've lived here for ten years and I still no more people in the US than I do here, and way more people in other cities than in Stockholm.

And as for rudeness of speaking ones native tongue...I've notice that foreign-born inhabitants do that quite often even though they are in the company of Swedish speaking people, so it's not just a Swedish/Stockholmian trait.

People in Stockholm are also known for their running frenzy. They run to the bus and subway train, although there's one to catch every two minutes or so. Only tourists and people living in the suburbs actually thanks you for stopping to let them cross the street.

But, as I said, go to other parts of the country and you will find it's really quite different. The country is large and have lots to see and experience. May I suggest Småland next time you visit? Friendly, open-minded and lots to see!
21:43 August 13, 2012 by alecLoTh
Here is an old story of a man walking a very long road from one village to another. At the outskirts of the new village he encountered a farmer laboring in his field, cutting hay.

He said to the farmer, "I have walked a great distance to come to this village of yours. I have left my village looking for a new home, perhaps I will find it here. Tell me, how are the people in this village? What kind of people are they?" The man in the field thought a moment, then asked, "What were the people like in the village you came from?" The traveler replied, "They were uncaring, self-absorbed, cynical, and unfriendly. That's why I left." The farmer paused before replying and then said, "I think that's how you'll find the people here, too." The traveler replied, "In that case, I'll just move on and look somewhere else."

A couple of days later, the farmer was again out in his field when another man approached him and said, "My village was destroyed and the people scattered. I am looking to find myself a new home, perhaps in this village. Can you tell me, how are the people in this village? What kind of people are they?" The farmer asked, "What were the people like in your village?" The traveler replied, "They were wonderful people. Loving, close, helpful, and I will miss them terribly." The farmer said, "I think that's how you'll find the people here, too."
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