How to fit in as an expat in Sweden

How to fit in as an expat in Sweden

August 2, 2020 Off By Ludvig Hoel

When people move to Sweden, they often worry about not fitting in with the locals. I agree, this can be tricky at times. The people who live here are different from most other people in a lot of different ways. At the same time, we have many similarities. Today, we are going to teach you exactly how to fit in when you move to Sweden as an expat

Do not talk to strangers

If you come from a country like the USA, it might be temping to strike up a conversation with someone to make a new friend. This is the last thing you want to do. In Sweden, we do not talk to strangers. Only if we really need help will we even consider asking a stranger on the street. Older people are often more open for a conversation, but young people will look at you like you are from mars.

So how are you supposed to make new friends? There are actually a few places were conversations between strangers is acceptable. A good example of this is in a bar. Find another person who seems lonely. Chances are he or she is there because they also want someone to speak with. That or they are just waiting for their friends. Other places where you might be able to make friends is at your job, at your university if your studying or if you join a sports club or any other activity. 

Complain about the weather

If there is something, we swedes enjoy, it is complaining about the weather. The weather is never perfect, it is always to warm or to cold. Otherwise it might be to windy or not windy enough. The takeaway: you can never say that the weather is perfect. Also, when you hear us complain about the weather, do not take us to seriously. We enjoy complaining, it is part of our culture. 

Learn Swedish

In Sweden it is extremely easy to get around using English since almost everyone is pretty much fluent. However, this is no excuse not to learn to language. Even knowing a few words could help you connect with locals. Another benefit is meeting new people when you go to school to learn. It really is a win-win situation where you have nothing to lose. 

Take your shoes of

If you get invited to the home of a local, you do not walk in with your shoes on. Doing this is extremely rude and you will offend your host. In Sweden, we take of our shoes right after entering through the door. There are some exceptions to this rule, like when you are in a hurry, but generally you never walk in with your shoes on. If you ever want to be invited again, make sure you follow this rule. 

Respect the queues

It does not matter where you are or what you are doing. If there is a queue, you respect it. Always. Sometimes when you want to buy something you might not see the que at first. Just know that if there is a lot of people hanging around, they might very well be in the queue. Here in Sweden we know who is before us and who is after us. Skipping the queue is one of the worst things you can do if you want to fit in as an expat. Whatever you do, make sure you never skip a line. Ever. 

Hopefully, these tips will help you fit in when you move to Sweden as an expat. We swedes might seem cold at first but give us a chance. We are quite friendly when you get to know us.