I am a curious person, so when I stumbled on a list of things that american people thinks is true about what life in Sweden is like, I read it.
And no surprises really. Meatballs and Ikea. Abba. Cold. Got it.
And there are a few things that almost always are thought about Sweden. So what is actually true?
It’s so Swedish – or is it?
“All are blonde and has blue eyes”
Nope. We come in all colors, like in most countries. But maybe there are a few more blonds here in the north than in mediterranean countries for example.
“Swedes are cold and unfriendly”
We are vikings. You have to earn our trust. You could be an enemy in disguise. But if you make an effort and get to know us, we can become the best friend you have ever had.
“It is snow all year round”
Sweden may be in the north and it is a long country (the distance from top top bottom is as long as between Berlin to Barcelona or New York to Orlando) but not even here it is snow all the time.
“Polar bears walk on the streets”
It’s Sweden, not the Arctic. The end.
“It is dark all the time”
Yes, don’t visit us in the winter. It can be months without seeing sunshine. In Stockholm we have 6,5 hours of daylight during a winter day, but if you visit us in the summer instead we have 18,5 hours of daylight and it doesn’t even get really dark during the night.
“You must all drive Volvos”
Volvo is a popular car in Sweden, but we don’t all own one. The company are actually selling less cars in Sweden than they used to. Personally, I have a Toyota – more environmentally friendly (hybrid car) and it cost less.
“Do you really eat rotten fish?”
It’s called surströmming (sour herring) and it isn’t rotten, it’s fermented. There is a difference. But as with all things, some love it and some hate it. I have only tasted it once, I prefer pickled herring because it doesn’t come with the same strong smell.
“You all love Abba”
Well… It is the biggest music export Sweden has ever had. And they paved the way for many many Swedish acts like Roxette, The Cardigans, Robyn, The Hives, Mando Diao, Icona Pop and Zara Larsson. All swedes don’t admit to it, but deep down I think we all are proud of Abba.
“Switzerland is so nice”
This is something we often hear when we introduce ourselves as Swedish in countries outside Europe. Sweden and Switzerland are both in Europe, and both are neutral countries. But it is not the same country.