5 Things NOT To Do In Sweden

After moving to Sweden last summer I've learned a thing or two about what to do and what not to do while in Sweden. With that being said, I've assembled a list of some helpful tips to get you acclimated to Swedish culture.

1. Don't forget to enjoy the weather when it's nice

Sweden is a land of beautiful mild summers and extremely cold and harsh winters. And when I say cold and harsh winters... I mean it! In fact in the very north of Sweden they have days of complete darkness and even the seas start to freeze over.

On the other hand, summer in Sweden is a very special phenomenon consisting of long days with endless sun, swimming, songs, and dances around the midsummer pole. Needless to say, once you've spent enough time in Sweden you start to appreciate and make the most of the good weather when it's around.

2. Don't get weirded out by the Swedish silence

One of the first things I noticed when I came to Sweden was how quiet everything was. Especially considering the fact that my first visit to Sweden came directly after spending a week in some very busy German cities. It's worth noting that Sweden has a land area larger than Germany with about a tenth of the number of people. This was apparent on my first ride from Arlanda airport as I was struck with the amount of vast open spaces all around me.

Because swedes are accustomed to so much space, they're a culture that can seem quite closed off to outsiders. For example, at bus stops people stand meters apart from each other, most people go about their commutes with headphones, and people tend not to 'small talk' or mingle as much as they do in the US. 

An observer of this may assume that swedes are cold or unfriendly, but once you get to know swedes you realize that nothing could be further from the truth! After breaking the ice swedes are extremely helpful, kind, and welcoming people, so don't get weirded out by the initial silence.

3. Don't neglect to learn Swedish

Now this one can be said of any place, but I think it's especially important to bring up with Sweden. Because swedes are so astute at speaking English, many people who come to Sweden skip this step all together. 

But here's the deal:

If you rely on English and don't learn the local language, you'll never become a full fledged member of the society. Of course you can get by, but you'll always be missing something.

In my own case I made learning Swedish a priority because I never wanted to feel like I was missing out on a vital part of Swedish culture, the ability to understand what's going on around me, and the ability to communicate with Swedish people who don't speak English. 

4. Don't wear your outside shoes inside

This one first struck me as kind of odd on a perfectly warm, sunny, summer day when I asked to take a tour of a local gym and I was asked to take my shoes off. It seemed rather strange that I couldn't wear my clean white sneakers into a public gym where hundreds of people work out daily. But the swedes have their rules for a reason and once the winter hit, I fully understood why not wearing outdoor shoes inside is such a large part of Swedish culture. 

Now that I'm accustomed to taking my shoes off inside, I like this part of Swedish culture. It's more hygienic and it goes a long way in keeping things looking clean and fresh.

5. Don't forget to enjoy some fika

Now if you're familiar with fika you know that I definitely saved the best one for last here. On the surface fika is a word that describes the Swedish version of 'tea time' or similar variants in other countries. It is a time to take a break, relax, and enjoy some coffee or a treat (or both).

'Fika är livet' - Fika is life

The thing is, after spending some time in Sweden I realized that fika is deeply ingrained with Swedish culture. In essence, swedes have a good work life balance, they enjoy good coffee, and they know how to relax and enjoy the little things in life. For me fika is a word that sums up all these things which is why we've designed several pieces of apparel with themes of fika in mind. Get your fika squad t-shirt here.