Different people will give you all manner of experiences trying to make new friends in Sweden. Some will tell you the difficulty of breaking sociocultural barriers, embracing diversity and just being open minded.
Honestly, even the most open-minded and easy going person arriving in Sweden for the first time will likely retreat to their personal identity. Over time, however, it becomes easy to understand where to compromise and learn new ways.
As much as I try my best to give important nuggets on how to make new friends in Sweden and keep your social life moving, it will be naïve of anyone to think that all my insights will be perfect in real life. I daresay that making friendships helps to better understand the Swedish culture. However, this also depends on how much time one spends interacting. For example, an international student who has just moved to Sweden without a scholarship will not have enough time to meet up and socialise. Every time away from lecturer halls for them is an opportunity to earn that critical extra coin for upkeep.
Breaking social barriers when in Sweden
What I always tell anyone who cares to know is that making new friends and breaking social barriers as a foreigner in any country is to just allow themselves to be human-go through all phases of aloofness, then a few friends and then boom, you have a great network of friends.
The experience with making new friends in Sweden will highly depend on what you do there. A student and workers experience making friends differently. The level of interpersonal contact with people will make it easy or difficult for someone to become fond of you, share in your perspectives and buy in to your friendship. All in all, making friendship in Sweden is not a one stop thing-it is always work in progress to which you must play a key role.
Making friends with Swedes
A newcomer to Sweden is likely to give in to the temptation of making judgments about making friendship as soon as they arrive. You will commonly hear someone say that Sweden is the worst country to make friends.
While in some instances such sentiments about difficulty of making friends in Sweden may be true, others just make the wrong judgement. The problem may be the person who feels making friends will happen immediately. No, you must give yourself time to understand what makes a Swedish tickle and irresistibly become a friend.
Once a person understands the culture and social norms in Sweden, he or she becomes more away and ready to connect. You will easily find yourself into friendships even before your realise it just because you became more socially aware.
Considerations to make friendships in Sweden
To begin with, it is important to appreciate the fact that Scandinavians are generally not easy-going. You will at first impression dismiss them to be cold and less sociable which is just how they have been cultured. It takes more than just a first interaction to win a Swedish friendship. An average Swedish will have to first trust you before getting to fully consider you as a friend.
How do you know that a Swedish has trusted you?
There is just something interesting with the Swedish, which is almost similar across the entire Europe. When a Swedish has seen a potential friend in you, they will tell you very personal stories.
Swedes will just open up and tell you about their families, love life, likes and dislikes, career, vision for life and many more. When they tell you all this, know that you have just one a new friend into your circle of friends.
Overcoming cultural barriers in Sweden
You will many times get immigrants in Sweden or any other country lamenting about the difficulties in making new friends. While they may be right, only a few will pose to realise how they personally contributed to their situations. In reality, most people take too long to overcome the culture shock and open up to the ways of the host country. Here are some of the ways culture shock makes it difficult to cope abroad.
As they say, the first step in changing situations is to know personal roles in it. Oftentimes, people do not make friends in Sweden easily because they cage themselves and quickly retreat to their cultural ideals.
While everybody likes their culture, making friends means making compromises. You do not have to accept the other person’s culture as superior or try to project yours as being the best. The only thing that you may need to do is accept that there could be similarities and differences in culture then try to live with it.
All that a newcomer needs to do in breaking the cultural barrier and make new friends in Sweden is listen a lot, be themselves and be opened to learn. Self-awareness helps one to decipher the unwritten culture norms and rules in conversations as well as other forms of interactions.
Things to watch out for to make friends in Sweden
You may ask yourself why your neighbour next door or a fellow immigrant in Sweden has so many friends. Could there be something that they are doing differently from you? I suppose those who succeed to make new friends in Sweden upon their arrival and stay do a little extra that makes them irresistible.
Here, we point you towards the many things that you may need to give priority and consider overcoming personal limitations to making friends in Sweden. Having multiple or all of this information whenever interacting out there gives you enough room to make thriving friendships that endure even after you move to a new city or go back to your home country.
1. Awareness of cultural differences
People are largely a construct of their culture which means that at the slightest opportunity, they yield to the temptation to retreat to their ideals. Going back to own cultural norms is involuntary but you can somehow control it if you have adequate information. You should take your time to observe and learn prevailing social codes and norms in Sweden
It is possible that something that Swedes or people who have lived there for a long time consider okay but you think is clumsy or kind of weird. These two contacting perceptions means that one side has to be flexible enough to accept the other.
As someone interested in integration and making friends, you arm yourself with important information that makes you more adaptive without necessarily sacrificing your own identity.
A disclaimer to this is that you need to set a limit to how much of your culture you are willing to give up.
2. Be open minded, reasonable and flexible
Once you enter Sweden, just give u your rigidity and allow yourself to be some kind of blank page on which new things need to be written. Of course you are not completely ignorant about so many things but for the sake of getting to integrate, be ready to adjust some few ideals which you may hold dear.
An immigrant to Sweden should accept to the school of thought that there is not just one right belief or one wrong one-all depends on how you perceive the happenings and make sense of them.
Give yourself time to relate the realities with your value system without being necessarily judgemental. Seeking perfection should not be your portion when you just arrive in Sweden.
For instance, you may try to keep away from some people just because they drink, smoke or wear indecently. Sooner or later, you realize that the mode of dressing and smoking cigarettes define
3. Consciously Identify Swedes who are more open to internationals
As much as Swedes may be perceived as being closed and cold, many of them have interacted with internationals in one way or the other. Therefore, you will easily identify swedes who speak with the global mindset and are generally more informed about the situations around the world.
A Swedish who has a good global outlook is more aware of cultural dynamics, the challenges of foreigners tying to integrate in Sweden and many more. As a result of their great information, this crop of Swedes will be more receptive to immigrants.
Swedes who are open to intentional are highly curios to find out more about one’s culture, background, language, foods and many more. Most of these Swedish who are more opened to internationals have widely travelled and always ready to consolidate their understanding of people, culture and environments. This is a preferred group that you need to look out for.
4. Bonding over a drink in Sweden
There is something interesting about drinking in Sweden, which almost seem to be similar across Europe. The Swedes tend to open up so much when drinking or clubbing. Although friendships made over a drink may not go a long way, it gives one an opportunity to appreciate some of the unique features about the Swedes. With such information, you will be ready to get new friends.
A drunk Swedish becomes talkative and more open. They will tell you anything and everything. There are no personal secrets or stops for a drunk Swedish. A clever way to get the most of a Swede is drink together with them but always be less drunk than them. In this condition, you remain the one in control and pick every detail that may guide you in the process of making new friends.
5. Make your fellow workers more than just colleagues
A foreign worker in Sweden who is interested in making new friends should look at the workmates as the immediate candidates for friendship. Although there is no guarantee that colleagues at work will be friends, you stand a chance of getting one or two who share in your values, ideas and sense of social identity.
Whenever you get a slight opportunity at coffee breaks or meetings, discuss something over and above the specifics of the job that you do. The employers also organize team building and social events that bring together workers from different levels. During such events, do not try to be reserved, allow yourself to be social at least for once. As long as you open up the first time, you will realize this soft side of you that wants to always interact with the workmates beyond the work context alone.
6. Making friends as a student in Sweden
Over and above the rigour of classwork and research, every student need someone to confided in or have some time out on a weekend. Depending on what type of personality you project, likes and dislikes, you will likely find someone with whom you are compatible. Compatibility in this sense would mean that there are so many things that you share in common. That person is highly likely to be a friend.
As a student, it’s important to join and participate in oriental week, join buddy program or check out every opportunity offered by the university to newcomers. You always need to be on high alert for every possible opportunity to interact. You need to be aware that friendships are made out of people with whom you have close interactions in whatever situation.