a {text-decoration: none; } En la punta de la lengua: 10 interesting facts about Swedish culture

28 jul 2015

10 interesting facts about Swedish culture

So about a month ago I had the great experience of spending a week in Sweden with a beloved Swedish friend of mine who I met back in 2011 while we both were studying in Cholula, Mexico (I know, globalization can be startling sometimes). We had way too many great adventures together during the year she spent in Aztec territories, and ultimately it was time to say goodbye but not without promising first that one day I’d go visit her far up north, and so I did.
During my short stay in this astonishing Scandinavian country, I can proudly say that I truly got to savor Sweden’s essence all-out, and here’s a brief compilation of the most remarkable particularities that will remain with me for years to come. 

·      Swenglish
Swedish is a small and beautiful language with around 10 million speakers all over the world. Despite the fact that I loved the way it sounds (something similar to Stitch from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch) I certainly couldn’t understand anything they said beside random words that were similar, well… identical to English.
However, it was very interesting to notice that unlike other European countries where English is not an official language (looking at you Germany), Swedes are not conceited on switching from Swedish to a very neutral, fluent and natural sounding English that can be easily taken for native. Most of the Swedes I met would say that besides the syntactical, phonological and lexical similarities between both languages; American and British movies and T.V. shows are normally not dubbed but only subtitled, which exposes them to a rich input from an early age.

·      Society
I don’t want to make it sound like I idealize Sweden’s social system, because I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect society, although that doesn’t mean that the American continent couldn’t learn a thing or two from Scandinavia. I mean just basic stuff such as decent public services, working less but wiser, free healthcare and education, etc. If were going to pay taxes anyway let’s at least use them for more important stuff than war and enriching the rich. By the way, this country hasn’t been in war for over two centuries now.

·      Fika
Coffee (said backwards) is kind of an important ritual in Sweden. Bonding time is taken seriously (as it should be everywhere…but whatever) and what a better excuse to have meaningful conversations with family and friends, than sharing a cup of coffee after work.

·      Take them off!
I guess this is common in other European countries too, but I have to confess that I had a difficult time remembering to take off my shoes whenever I went inside people’s apartments. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known the person for a short while or if your shoes are super clean, you ought to take them off whenever your go inside a house.

·      Midsommar, AKA: I’m gonna eat and drink like it’s going out of fashion.
 My friend and I rode a train from Malmö to a small town in southeast Sweden called Småland, where her friends were already waiting for us at the station to take us to a dreamy country cottage lost in the Swedish woods.
For what I understood, the whole point of Midsommar is to celebrate summer solstice and other Christian commemorations, but honestly it was more about wearing flower crowns, dancing a song about a little frog around a flower-ornamented maypole, eating exquisite Swedish dishes, drinking, playing board games, drinking, eating, playing hide and seek (while drunk), dancing, drinking, bonding, drinking, singing and passing out… it was awesome!

·      Weather you like it or not
Although it will never get as hot as the 40 degrees (100 F) I’m used to here in the desert, I have to admit that it was kind of awesome to wear sweaters and raincoats in June for a change. Also, something that really blew my mind was the fact that sun sets at around 23:00 (Southern Sweden) and it comes out at around 04:00! Although, I don’t know how suicidal would I get in winter, when is all the other way around.

·      Snus and booze
We all know smoking is bad for our health, (says the guy smoking a cigarette while writing this) but in Sweden it also seems to be overrated. The sociable acceptable thing to do is to buy yourself a pack of Snus (moist powder tobacco product) and stick it under your upper lip until there’s no more nicotine to keep you going.
Also, alcohol is not something you can easily get down at the Seven Eleven; beside bars, there are just a couple designated establishments to purchase alcohol and they will card you even if you’re evidently over 18.  

·      C’mon baby light my fire
Everything in Sweden is about creating a cozy ambiance where everyone feels at ease; therefore, candles are not only used for birthdays, Christmas or when electricity goes off. Everyday is a good day to light up some candles, regardless of how casual a gathering may be.

·      Cheeseburger in paradise
At least for me, food is definitely the most important thing when talking about foreign cultures, and when talking about Swedish food probably the first thing that comes in mind is raw salmon, but hey! It really really rocks!
I probably didn’t get to try out all what Swedish gastronomy has to offer, but I’d recommend:
All sill (pickled herring) flavors, lingonberry jam, Swedish pancakes, pea soup, knäckebröd (crisp bread), snaps (just be careful, you don’t want to end passed out on a sofa with people dancing around you like I did), cinnamon rolls, and my personal favorite: Risifrutti (something like arroz con leche with fruit and ready to eat) I still don’t know how I managed to live so long without it.

·      Looking good
Perhaps I’m a banal superficial prick (just like most people) but I’m also aware of it, and therefore I must say that Swedes (or at least most of them) are somewhere between gorgeous and can I please have your autograph? OK, I may be exaggerating, but good looks and an apparently an unconscious sense for fashion is something that doesn’t go unnoticed while walking down the street. So now you know, if you’re into pale, blond and tall Vikings, Sweden is definitely the place to go. Besides, they must be a little bored of each other genetics and wouldn’t mind spicing some salsa into their lives.

1 comentario :

  1. Nice review! Though, it feels weird to reply to it in english since we know each other in español lol... anyway I really want to have fika (or sweet Polish vodka :D) sometime sooner than later with you amigo!

    Pd: no sabía que te llamas Alberto... wtf.