Top ten expat complaints to their Swedish partners

From ketchup to driving skills, when The Local once asked what expats complain about most to their Swedish partners, the responses were mixed.

Top ten expat complaints to their Swedish partners
Why do you love your tech gadgets more than me? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

1. Ketchup on… well, everything!

Swedes have an obsession with ketchup. They dollop it all over their pasta, their lasagne, their mashed potatoes – you name it. And it's not just a little splodge either, this is a true dousing. Strange, right? I mean, Swedes wouldn't put jam on their meatballs, would they? Oh that's right, they do.

Ketchup line up. Photo: Don Ryan/TT

2. Texting while driving down Vasagatan? No problem.

It's nothing strange to see a Swede talking, or even texting on their phone, while driving. And do you know why? Because for years it was pretty much perfectly legal, although this is beginning to change

Just watch out for red lights! Photo: LM Otero/TT

3. Passive aggressive notes

Swedes tend to avoid conflict, but only of the verbal kind. If you've left a little bit of lint in the laundry room's dryer, or if you've left a mug in the office sink, then you'd better be prepared to face a passive aggressive note the next day. In the picture below a Swede is complaining in very colourful language about garbage disposal etiquette.

'Keep your sh*t in your own apartment!' Photo: Petter Palander/Flickr

4. Too much coffee and no decaf!

The biggest problem is the lack of decaf, some Twitter users suggested when we once asked what rubbed people the wrong way about their Swedish partners the most. In a country where coffee is (probably) consumed more than water, you're in the minority if you prefer yours without caffeine. And if you don't like coffee, then you'd better rectify that immediately. It's easier than saying “No thank you, I don’t drink coffee” and then explaining yourself 14 times a day.

Mmmm… fika time… Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

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5. Tradition over spontaneity, no exceptions!

“You'll be here next Christmas, too, right?” your Swedish mother-in-law will ask as the last present is unwrapped on Christmas Eve (yes, presents are unwrapped on the 24th). Tradition triumphs and spontaneity is dead, that's the fact in Sweden. Expect raised eyebrows if you don't commit early to birthday celebrations, Easter, crayfish parties, and of course, Christmas. You will be there, and you will enjoy it. And we dare you to try to plan a weekend away with friends instead!

A silly Christmas Chihuahua. This is not a Swedish tradition, we just liked the picture. Photo: Mary Altaffer/TT

6. Laundry comes first…

Swedes will sometimes use their laundry time as an excuse. “I'd love to come out with you tonight, but I have a laundry time reserved – I really can't miss it.” In Stockholm, at least, most people live in apartment blocks with a communal laundry in the cellar. Reserving a good laundry time (like a Sunday morning or Tuesday after work) can be treated as the holy grail of weekly achievements.

No time like laundry time! Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

7. ‘Did you really pass your driving test?’

Nescience of road rules is one of the complaints we heard the most. More specifically, people we asked were peeved at the lack of indication when turning corners or using roundabouts. Others moaned that Swedes don't know how manage traffic flows on motorways. One even said Swedes drive just like a Volvo, which, upon checking the online urban dictionary, apparently means the driver is, in short, conservative and ‘boring’. 

No Volvos in this picture! Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

8. “Let me drink!”

A complaint we heard a few times was that Swedes often turn a disapproving eye when it comes to having a casual drink on a school night. “You're having a glass of wine? On a Tuesday?!” This could have something to do with the fact that alcohol is hard to come by in Sweden, as it is only sold in the monopoly chain Systembolaget at certain times of the day, and drinking is an exclusive weekend activity.

How is he holding that wine glass? Photo: Gorm Kallestad/TT

9. Too much snus

A quick explanation of snus in case you're unaware: snus is a moist snuff packet (imagine a tobacco teabag the size of a piece of chewing gum) that you wedge between your lip and teeth. Well, maybe you don't, but the Swedes do. A lot. If you think a snus packet sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen one dangling from a Swede's upper lip mid-conversation, or perhaps you've seen a used one in the gutter or in the toilet, spat out and forgotten.

The snus-ing shadow… Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

10. “I can't find a Swede to date… and then complain about…”

Yes, complaints about Swedes aren't just for those dating them, but for those still looking. And meeting new people might be hard, especially if you refuse to use popular dating apps such as Tinder. Then you just have to rely on a classic ‘Hollywood-romance’ meeting, which isn't necessarily easy in a country not exactly known for its open and sociable citizens. Good luck!

READ ALSO: How to never be single again in Sweden

Romance in the moonlight. Photo: Charlie Riedel/TT

This article was first published in 2013 in our old gallery format and was revamped in 2017.

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28 brilliant and bizarre world records held by Sweden and the Swedes

From statistics about coffee and twins to plainly unbelievable skills in frog-jumping and match-throwing, this country and its citizens got a lot of interesting things to offer. Here are 28 of the most interesting world records held by Sweden and the Swedes.

28 brilliant and bizarre world records held by Sweden and the Swedes
Sweden, home to the world's largest furniture company and the world's largest vegan cake. Photo: Simon Paulin/

Buildings and constructions

1. World's largest scale model of the Solar System

This model started in 1989 with the construction of the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm (which, as a matter of fact, is also the largest hemispherical building in the world). Swedish academics Nils Brenning and Gösta Gahman were fascinated by the building and got an idea: If the 110 metre wide Globe was seen as a scaled-down representation of the sun, how far away would the other planets lie and what size would each one be? This idea was the starting point of a yearlong project. Today, the scale model stretches over a distance of 950 kilometres across Sweden.

The Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, which represents the sun. Photo: Ola Ericson/

2. Largest ice village

In December 2002, there was a conference of roughly 700 employees of Tetra Pak International in the Icehotel Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden. To accommodate these numbers of people, a village of 140 huts was constructed, solely of ice. And thus, a world record was made. The huts each measured 4.3 metres in diameter and 2.1 metres in height, and 50 square metres of snow was used for each hut.

A builing of the ice hotel Jukkasjärvi. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

3. World's tallest candle

The record for the tallest candle ever made was set in 1897, so it's one of the oldest records on this list. For the 1897 Stockholm Exhibition, the Liljeholmen candle manufacturing company created a candle that measured 24.38 metres (if you count the brick base, the overall height was actually 38.7 metres) with a diameter of 2.59 metres. 


4. World's fastest marathon dressed as a zombie

There is a world record for almost everything. Charlotte Österman competed at the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 22nd, 2018, dressed as a zombie. She finished in 3 hours, 39 minutes and 25 seconds.

5. World's fastest speed on towed inline skates

Did you ever hold on to a car while wearing inline skates to be faster? Tobias Gustafsson took this to a new level in 2001, and held on tight. Being towed, he reached a maximum speed of 262.7 km/h.

6. World's furthest match throw

On January 1st, 2001, Michael Ottosson threw a match (measuring 4.7 cm and weighing 4.8 grams) a distance of 18.75 metres. Because why wouldn't you?

7. World's longest frog jump

This is not a record of a frog that jumps pretty far. A frog jump is an exercise that involves mimicking the movements of a frog. There's a world record for that as well: Noa Möller jumped a distance of 1.21 metres at Palatset in Stockholm on November 19th, 2001.

8. World's most stairs climbed on a unicycle in 30 seconds

Some people travel for the sake of travelling, others to have a good location for their world record: Swede Peter Rosendahl set a world record in climbing the stairs at the Millennium Monument in Beijing, China on November 1st, 2007. In 30 seconds, he managed to climb 56 stairs.

Swedish people

9. World's largest coffee consumption per capita

It's not a secret that Swedish people love their coffee. They actually love it so much that Sweden was one year the world's leader in coffee drinking: In 1999, an average of 6.3 kg coffee per person was consumed.

Swedish people just lover their coffee. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

10. World's loudest snoring

Kåre Walkert set this record on May 24th, 1993, at the Örebro Regional Hospital, where the recorded peak level was 93dBA. That is approximately as loud as standing next to a tablesaw. Walkert suffers from the breathing disorder apnea, which causes the loud sleeping sounds.

11. World's longest grape blowing duration

You read correctly – there's a world record on this. Marianne Gille went to the set of Guinness Rekord TV in Stockholm on November 29th, 2001. There she managed to keep a grape suspended in the air for 4.81 seconds – above her mouth. She managed that by continuously blowing air up, keeping the grape on the stream.

12. World's largest twin registry

Sweden wins this round of bureaucracy: The country has got the highest number of twins in its registry: 194,000 twins in total. That doesn't mean that Sweden has got the highest actual number though: Australia has more twins, but fewer are registered.

Just two of the many twins that are registered in Sweden. Bjoern Larsson/TT

13. World's longest time living under an assumed identity: Anton Ekström

Anton Ekström was a newspaper editor who suffered a breakdown following the death of his wife and bankruptcy in 1914. He then travelled to a desolate outback of Sweden and started working as an agricultural labourer under the name Magnusson. 41 years later, in 1955, he was exposed by a clergyman and reunited with his bewildered children. Up until that point, people thought he has committed suicide. However, no one has ever managed to live that long without being discovered.

14. World's most business cards exchanged in three minutes

A conference of 250-300 businessmen and women at the Nordic Choice Hotel Stockholm, once attempted a world record. In three minutes they all had to walk around, introduce themselves and share information about their work with a handshake to another person and exchange a business card for a real meeting after the conference. This sounds ambitious. But they were very into networking: they exchanged 3,436 business cards in total, making the attempt successful.

15. World's most Abba songs played and  recognized in one minute

Because this list wouldn't be Swedish without Abba, here's a record about them: On January 15th, 2016, Robert Wells (Sweden) and Ken Bruce (UK) got together on BBC2's Friday Night is Music Night at the Mermaid Theatre in London to celebrate 60 years of Guinness World Records. They decided to set a new one: In one minute they played and recognized 13 Abba songs. This is also a fun game to play at family reunions.

How many Abba songs can you recognise in one minute? Photo: Tsugufumi Matsumoto/AP Photo

16. World's largest collection of paper dolls

Malin Fritzell, who lives in Torekov in the south-west of Sweden, holds this record. She has collected paper dolls since the 1960s. As for March 2006, she called 4,270 paper dolls her own.

Food and drink

17. World's most varieties of whisky commercially available

Hotel Skansen in Färjestaden broke the previous record just this year, as The Local reported. Hotel director Fredrik Norén started his collection in 2000 and travelled the world to find as many different kinds of whisky as possible. As of 2018, the hotel bar has got 1,179 different whiskies in its possession. And the best thing: All of those whiskies are available to be tried out at the bar.

18. World's most Brussels sprouts eaten in one minute

Now that is an interesting record: On November 28th, 2008, Swede Linus Urbanec from Rottne ate 31 Brussels sprouts in one minute. The rules were simple: He got a cocktail stick and was allowed to pick just one sprout at a time up, chewing it and swallowing it before taking the next one. Now, who dares to break this record?

You either love them or you despise them: Brussels sprouts. Photo: Leif R Jansson/SCANPIX/TT

19. World's largest vegan cake

How far would you go to raise awareness for veganism and animal rights? YouTuber Therese Lindgren probably asked herself the same question – and came up with a plan: To bake the largest vegan cake in the world. The YouTube star teamed up with some friends and made this 462.4 kilo work of bakery art. It included 44.5 kilo sugar, 62.3 kilo semolina, 3.56 kilo flour, 89 kilo soy yoghurt, 26.7 kilo whipped soy cream and 35.6 kilo strawberries and was large enough to provide roughly 2,000 people with a slice.

YouTuber Therese Lindgren (3rd from the right) with her team and the cake. Photo: Jonas Axelsson/Guinness World Records

20. World's largest champagne-tasting event

On October 28th, 2017, 768 participants got together to attend the largest champagne tasting event ever. It was arranged by Vinguiden Nordic AB, Sweden's biggest wine retailer and consisted of a champagne masterclass at the Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre. During the event led by wine expert Johan Franco Cereceda, the participants tasted five different sorts of high-class champagne: Louis Massing Brut, Charles Orban Brut Banc des Blancs, Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve, Alice Bardot Brut Rosé and Collet Brut Millesime.

21. World's longest liquorice rope

An interesting candy record was set by Scandinavian candy maker Lars Pålsson. In 2012, he manufactured the world longest liquorice rope. It measured 519.3 metres, and therefore more than doubled the old record of 244 metres. And someone must have failed to contain themselves, as 30 centimetres of the rope is missing now. 

Looks like a cable, but it's edible: The longest liquorice rope. Photo: Johan Nilsson/SCANPIX/TT


22. World's most subscribers on YouTube: PewDiePie

The all-time most subscribes YouTube channel is PewDiePie, aka the channel of Felix Kjellberg. As of April 24th, 2018, his channel counted over 62,295,689 subscribers. Kjellberg's channel is known for his gaming reviews with over-the-top commentaries about the games he plays. His channel is also the most viewed gaming channel on YouTube.

Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie has got the most subscribed Youtube channel. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

23. World's fastest completion of several video games

This is a collection of some gaming records, made by Swedes. The Swedish gaming industry is pretty big and internationally popular – and the Swedes make good gamers. Here are some records in the fast completion of video games:

Fastest completion of Shovel Knight: By player Smaugy on Janurary 14th, 2018: The player completed the game in 42 minutes and 28 seconds.

Fastest completion of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: On December 12th, 2016, player EnNopp112 completed the game in 1 hour, 24 minutes and 43 seconds.

Fastest completion of Shadow Warrior: Player elmle completed the game on April 8th, 2016 in 1 hour, 13 minutes and 53 seconds.

24. World's first music streaming service with 100 million users

This is another company this list wouldn't be complete without: Spotify. The music streaming service was established in 2006 and reached 100 million users on June 20th, 2016. As of today, Spotify has 180 million users, of which 83 million are paying for premium service.

As of today, Spotify has 180 million users. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

25. World's longest movie trailer

What the perfect length for a movie should be is debatable. Some say 90 minutes is the absolute maximum, some are not satisfied until a movie hits the three-hour-mark. But this movie will put all of these discussions to shame: The Swedish filmmaker Anders Weberg plans on releasing his 720-hour (that's 30 days) film Ambiancé in 2020. For promotion purposes, he published a trailer in July 2014 – which lasts 72 minutes. A seven-hour-20 minute trailer followed in 2016. And this year, a 72-hour-long trailer might follow. Weberg describes his project as an “abstract, nonlinear narrative summary of the artist's time spent with the moving image”. He has produced over 500 films in 20 years and plans on making Ambiancé his last one. (You can follow the project here)


26. World's largest apparel brand

This record is based on market research, but worth mentioning nevertheless: The Swedish fashion chain H&M is the largest apparel brand of the world. In 2016, it had estimated sales of $18,757,863,800! Now that's something to tell your friends the next time you go shopping together.

One of Stockholm's big H&M warehouses. Photo: FotografernaHolmberg/TT

27. World's largest furniture company

This list wouldn't feel like a Swedish world record list if Ikea wasn't mentioned at least once. As one might expect, the company, established in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, is the largest furniture company of the world. And it makes big numbers: From September 2016 to August 2017, Ikea had sales of 38.3 billion euros. There were also 403 stores in 49 markets all over the world, a general range of 10,960 products, 194,000 co-workers and 936 million visits from customers.

Popular all around the world, not just with families: IKEA. Photo: Simon Paulin/

28. World's most popular bookcase

Ikea wouldn't be Ikea without the world-famous Billy bookcase. It was designed by Gilles Lundgren on the back of a napkin and has been in the Ikea catalogue since 1980. As of 2009, 41 million Billy bookcases have been sold, enough to surround the equator two and a half times.


Guinness World Records doesn't have an entry for this, but this is probably one of the most Swedish records ever: In August 2018, a bakery on Sweden's High Coast set a record for the world's biggest 'surströmmingsklämma', a flatbread, topped with the infamous Swedish fermented herring, potatoes and butter. The bakery rolled out a ball of rye dough to 60 metres, which covered 26 square metres. The sandwich was then filled with 25 kilo of the smelly herring, 100 kilo potatoes and 8 kilo butter.

60 metres of flatbread and smelly delicacies. Photo: Mjälloms Tunnbröd/TT