The Land of Awkwardness
The first thing you hear as a Swedish inhabitant meeting someone visiting is usually something about how polite people are but silent. This often leads to the question ‘How do you actually get to know new people here?’.
Well that is a tough question. The place is not on the bus for sure. Neither at the supermarket nor living next to someone for ten years. Being relatives is definitely not a guarantee that you will ever speak to each other. Don’t even talk about the elevator, whatever you do never initiate a conversation in the elevator it will just…end badly.
Some might argue its a product of the lack of inhabitants compared to the amount of land. The only one we can blame this behavior for is the person who first came to these cold winters and decided that this was a pretty neat place.
But this subject can also be a key to understand the social standards of Sweden today. The thing we fear most is being awkward and creating a conflict (as is also easy to recollect in history). Sadly in our struggle to stay away from any uncomfortable situation we end up being the ones creating it.
Have faith fellow Swedish visitor all hope is not lost. After all this country has propagated and in that package comes some sort of socialization. Like a mushroom picker would say ‘you only have to know the right places’. With that dear reader I will leave you with this survivor’s guide how to get acquaintances when staying in Sweden.
Swedes usually meet through a common friend. Make sure to always tag along to a party at someone’s home or any other situation where you are likely being introduced to more people.
Going out to dance is maybe a place to get social contact for the evening but if you are looking for something lasting find a place where you can naturally interact. Like a course in cooking food or learning a language.
Work or School
Most common for people is to meet in school or at work. Be sure to find the people who you get along with best in your everyday life and maybe they will be the ones introducing you to your future best friend.
What is a better way to get to know someone than sharing something you both have passion for? Express what you interests are, hang out on internet forums that share it or look up in your local area where people get together and socialize around it.
Or just defy the system. Try and get friends while going by train, saying ‘Hi’ in public or knocking on their door. 80 % will probably be creeped out but the rest 20 % may not. Try not to get beat down by any embarrassing moment you might bump into but use it as a funny story when you are making new friends.