There are a lot of places in the world, although I know are real, they remain so under the radar that they are almost mythical. Alaska, Madagascar, Belarus for example. Sweden used to be one of them. So seeing as I’ve moved to Sweden for the second time now, I can confirm that it is a real place, but still maintains an air of mystery and mystical elements. Drawing from that point, I am going to lay down some things if you ever plan to move to Sweden, visit, or just for some of you, clarify that Sweden is different from Switzerland (a lot of people tend to mix them up.)
If You Like Blondes, Sweden Is Your Nirvana
I’m only going to use my own personal observation and some light Internet sources, but roughly 80% of Scandinavia is fair-haired. You have your bleach blondes, your honey blondes, your dusty blondes, your dirty blondes, and everything else in between. This goes for guys and girls, although I am assuming not every blonde girl (and a few boys) is natural and has to pay respect to salons and box dying, but the stereotype holds true for the most part.
While it is one nice big colour wheel of different shades of yellow, of course with immigration the population is having a shift in appearance, and being Canadian I embrace a bit of diversity. (Of course I’m the least diverse person, having both Celtic parents and being white as dough, but I can still appreciate it.)
Here you can see the most typical Swedish man, (this is an advertisement for 7/11). He follows me everywhere I go because 7/11s are on every corner, equivalent of how many Tim Horton’s there are in Toronto.
If You Have Unbridled Self-Esteem Issues, Don’t Come to Sweden
Seriously, don’t. It will only wear you down as you see beautiful face after beautiful face. Part of Swedish history is that they were Vikings, and as they pillaged the lands and small villages, they would loot and bring back villagers as slaves, incidentally they most likely only brought back the pretty women. Or the pretty men, whatever floated their boat. Either way it lead to one of the best gene pools around. You think after a few centuries it would be a bit diluted, but it is still kicking strong.
The men and women are long limbed, blue eyed, fair-haired and unfairly well proportioned. Basically Hitler’s Aryan dream world had already existed long before he conjured it up. I am lucky that min sambo (hej hej Andreas!) is understanding and doesn’t mind when I sometimes gaze upon the pretty Swedish ladies and gents, sometimes a little too long. It’s a problem I know, I’m working on it.
If You Like Drinking 7 Cups of Coffee Without Judgment, Come on Down
Most are not acquainted with the word Fika, it basically means grabbing a coffee and a treat with a friend. Fika happens a lot, at any time, morning or night. Swedish people have a high affinity for coffee, while I usually cut it to maximum 3 cups a day during stressful times; they are going the whole 9 yards. Common treats are kanelbulle, godis, cocoball, and dammsugare (translates to vacuum cleaner.) I have sampled them all and they are all worth trying, no matter where you are.
If You Can’t Speak Swedish, Don’t Book A Ticket
Just kidding, Swedes will speak better English than you and I. Approximately 86% of the population, although mind you, younger generations will take up majority, can hold a steady conversation in English. Also it is not uncommon for them to know a third language as well. Why? Basically because f*ck you. And here I am sitting like an English muffin with my rudimentary French. Also to put salt in the wound, I have shamed my country for the fact that a non- native speaker has corrected my English more than once. Consider yourself warned.
You could live here all your life and never pick up a lick of Swedish (Svenska) and you’ll be mostly sufficient in your life. Finding a job may be a bit more difficult. Or other awkward moments, such as talking to other fellow foreigners who are not english speakers, so you have to fumble for understanding with body language and smiles. Best way to counter your speech handicap is to just find a Swedish man or lady to be your lover/translator, they’re easy to find. I found mine on a doorstep.