Uncoding Swedish culture

Swedish culture, understanding, culture differences

Where to find new friends and how to make new friends in Sweden?

December 17th, 2010 by evansluong

Where to find new friends and how to make new friends in Sweden?  I have discussed these two questions with my Swedish friends and the frequent answer is I should be able to make new Swedish friends through  some Swedish friends that I have already had. Ok, what would happen if I don’t have a Swedish friend that can introduce me to his/her friends?  Same thing happens with chicken-egg problem. Even if I have Swedish friends who can introduce me to their friends but does it mean that I can’t find any friends on my own. “Is that so difficult to act on my own? “ I questioned myself. I was not satisfied with that answer so I have tried out my own ways:

At college:

Lunch time or  breaks between classes were those occasions that I found it perfect to find new friends. I thought it would work well but it turned out the other way around. I found out that I could not randomly asked Swedish classmates (whom I never talked to) if  I could share the lunch table with them. They were so polite to let me join them but they were more interested to talk to their friends than getting to know me as their new potential friend. The situation became more awkward if I just randomly landed on some lunch table with Swedish school mates taking different classes or programs. They would ignore me after 5 minutes. Throughout the years of my college in Sweden, I managed to make 5 Swedish classmate friends and 4 Swedish school mate friends whom I still get in touch. Till now, I keep wondering, what went wrong?


At the gym, it was not much better  than at school. Swedes feel weird if I just come up and say hi and ask them how they are. Is it because they don’t know me? Will the situation be better if a friend of them know me and introduce who I am?


Church is much better than college and gym. I’m surprised by their initiatives to make friends over there. The church, as a social place works out well for me.

Public Library:

Public Library offers different social clubs. It was better than college but not as good as church. People tend to stick to their established social groups rather than trying to get to know new people.

What about inviting Swedish friends and their friends to my place?

Yes, it was a brilliant idea. I don’t remember how many times I have employed the trick. Sometimes, it was a success, and of course, naturally some were failures. One thing I could not explain why there were some friends of my Swedish friends, being invited to have dinner at my place for couple of times, never recalled who I was and what my name was when I bumped into them somewhere in Jonkoping few weeks later. Some of them, as I suspected, even try to ignore or, at least, turned the other way when seeing me somewhere in town.  Any explanation? Once, I even witnessed how my Swedish friend ignored his friend when seeing her on the street. Is that because he was shy?

When having a few Swedish friends, I really appreciate their friendships since they are very caring and loyal once I get to know them. However, I keep asking myself,  are some Swedes reluctant to get to know strangers because strangers should gain their trust first? If it’s the answer, then how strangers can gain their trust if some them (Swedes) don’t give strangers a chance to know them (strangers)?

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Why uncoding?

December 17th, 2010 by evansluong

Uncoding Swedish culture

This blog aims to get help from the audience in order to understand Swedish culture which I’ve experienced for the last 6 years.

Before explaining why I name my blog as “uncoding Swedish culture”, I would spend some time introducing myself and why I’m here in Sweden.

I’m from Hanoi, Vietnam, 26 years of age. I’ve been to Sweden for the last 6 years on and off. I came here as a undergrad student then I had a job offer before I finished my master program so I decided to stay and work in Sweden. Currently, I also enroll in a PhD program at Jonkoping International Business School.

You might wonder why I name my blog as “uncoding Swedish culture”. For me, Swedish culture is all coded. I can’t recall how many times I feel like a fool not understanding why Swedes act in certain ways. Every culture has its own norms and standards, as an outsider experiencing the front side the picture of Swedish culture, I’m curious to understand the back side of that picture.

What pulled the trigger?

Here’s a short story.The other day I was having a Christmas dinner with my boss and his workmates. During the discussion of university education, I told them that it was quite hard for me to grade 300 exam papers in 4 days because sometimes I did not get student’s answers in the exam papers. My boss started laughing and saying that I should uncode all the papers. Right, it’s the word, that specific word “uncode” pulled the trigger. Later on that night, I kept wondering why I did not understand so much about this culture. Maybe it’s time to pose different questions….

It’s understanding, not criticizing

I should make it clear that I don’t mean to criticize any aspects of Swedish culture since every culture has its own norms and standards. Therefore, questions posed in different posts are meant for the purpose of understanding. I would appreciate my audience to stay neutral and focus on the point of understanding but not criticizing. I all so hope that my Swedish friends and Swedes reading my blog help me gain more knowledge of Swedish culture by helping me uncode Swedish culture norms.

My first discussion is “being accepted in Swedish friend network- where, how to become friends to the Swedes”. Stay tunned for tonight!

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