Rude Swedes are not an oxymoron

Yes it seems strange to call Swedes rude but it is true when certain conditions are met.

Condition one: In a bar. People will push throw the crowds without ever uttering the words förlåt (sorry). Even if you are lucky to find a place with a table to put your drink down, you can bet some girl or guy will push from behind to overtake your spot. I had the experience of having a jackass spill wine (thankfully white) on my Burberry coat while at the bar. I poked him in the side, since he stood at a whooping 190cm, and told him I wanted napkins because he spilled wine on me. He was annoyed and irritated and in a condescending manner, apologized.

Condition two: On the street. Cars will just stop for you, few inches shy of stripping your soul out. People will walk straight into you or push you to the side; no apologies needed.

Condition three: In a restaurant. Tipping? Does not exist; or in rare instances, there is tipping. With that in mind, don’t expect much in the way of service. I have not experienced bad service (maybe because I am foreign) but stellar service definitely is lacking.

Condition four: Alcohol. Need I say more?

Condition five: On the train. You will get smashed; just hope the people nearby are wearing decent deodorant. You do not need to talk to the people around you, ever. Until the train comes to a crashing halt, your train compartment neighbors are invisible.

56 thoughts on “Rude Swedes are not an oxymoron”

  1. Damn those cyclists for sure

    @ gustav- Point noted. What do you think of the Stockholmers then?

  2. “Rude Swedes are not an oxymoron”

    Correction: “Rude Stockholmers are not an oxymoron”

  3. That they are rude. At least the experiences I have of them. I honestly think they give Swedes a bad rep. Most foreigners who travel to Sweden go to Stockholm and then they will only meet the people there. I think “Kalmariter” (people from kalmar) are much more nice.

  4. LOL…we could call the Stockholmers wanna be New Yorkers then.

    And I forgot to add to the list: doors slamming in your face. People don’t hold doors so please careful of all your extremities when crossing a door. You could lose a hand, nose or foot.

  5. I’ve lived in Sweden for many years now (originally from the US) and I can say with some authority that the people here are among the rudest most self-centered people on the planet. And it’s not just folks from Stockholm. The entire culture is dominated by an utter contempt for their fellows.

    Swedes push pregnant women and young children aside to get a seat on buses and trains. They cut in line incessantly. When confronted with their rude behavior you’ll either get complete denial or a childish tantrum. When driving they tailgate folks in fron of them and slow down on single lane roads when folks are behind them. They’ll steal parking places when someone is clearly waiting for it.

    I chalk it up to the level of unhappiness and powerlessness that folks here live in. The average Swede lives a gray, drone-like little life without the ability to change or move up socially or economically. If I had been condemned to such an existence I’d probably be surly and rude as well.

    Fortunately for Swedes alcohol assuages the colornessness and powerlessness of their lives and is used copiously. When drunk they do become much friendlier and a bit more polite.

  6. James: i agree, swedes have bad manners. but to make the analyse the swedes are egoistic because they can’t social-climb seems like a condradiction to me. Just the fact that income differences are lower in sweden then in USA and that there is a welfare program is of course well connected to the reason why social-climbing is harder. People have to share. I don’t think this is egoism. But maybe that’s just me, I guess you are one the happy neo-liberals.

  7. I lived in Stockholm for 8 years. I am married to a Swedish man *from Skane.* I learnt to speak the language fluently, I was married in Stockholm, my 2 children were born at SOS. I am an Aussie, pretty friendly, pretty outgoing and I tried really hard to enjoy my life there. I agree with everything you ve written about Stockholmers *though I do think they are friendlier in other parts of the country*
    They are rude, arrogant, cold and unfeeling. If it doesn t affect them they don t care about their neighbour.
    I couldn t count the number of times pregnant, I dragged my toddler laden pram up and down bus steps and no one in a bus load of people would offer to help. I can count the times though I was offered a seat on the undergound during my 2 pregnancies
    1 time only, and that person was obviously a migrant!.
    We\ve all been back in Oz 4 years now, my husband is an Australian citizen, and every day I kiss the ground and thank God I m back in a city where even strangers pass greetings and acknowledge another humans existence and worth.
    One would think people would be a little happier living in such a breathtakingly beautiful city as Stockholm, love the city can t stand the Stockholmers!

  8. The reason for Swedish rudeness and ‘unfeelingness’ is mainly fear. Everbody in this world would be conerned to some extent how they are being perceived by others. But the Swedes’ lifestyles are defined by that fear. The opposite sexes don’t even look into each others eyes and casual flirting doesn’t even exist here because they ‘fear’ that they might be considered desperate. There are huge problems with social recognition here. Nobody is good to anybody and therefore everybody has developed a deep-rooted hatred for others and thus have become disgustingly ego-centric. These people are strange kind of humans. There are differences among cultures around the world but the Swedes are fundamentally different as humans from the rest of the world. They are the personification of fear!

  9. I moved to Sweden from the US 15 years ago. i’ve never lived in a country with such unhappy people that they actually take delight in watching their fellows suffer. And it’s not just Stockholm. It is all Swedes. All of them suffer under a weight of sheer frustration and powerlessness that they have developed a self loathing of their culture and their fellows. For an American this is inconceivable. I could never have conceived that a country could or would want to function like this.

    Folks may have their issues with the USA (I have a few of my own) but at least we are nice to our fellows and proud of our country, whatever its failings might be. Swedes dislike each other to the point of disdain and contempt. It is a bit shocking to those of us from countries where politeness and respect are part of our daily lives.

    It used to really bother me. Nowadays I just pity the Swedes.

  10. Hey… Kinda behind the pack, but wanted to thank you all for your words. I’ve lived in Sweden just under a year and will not be staying much longer. Moved here for work, wouldn’t stay for love or money. I have never met such a rude, spiteful, arrogant person as the average Swede I’ve met since being here. I cannot even fathom that they hate their own culture, as all I get are comments about how fantastic Sweden is– and constant put downs of my own country. They seem hung up on their inane ridiculous Swedish ways. Anyways, thanks for venting so I don’t feel so alone, and thanks for letting me vent. I will throw myself on the dirty airport floor and kiss it when I return home. I’ve never been so miserable and felt so disgusted by a culture in my life– and I’m no stranger to travel or being an expat.

  11. All this about Swedes, but what about Norwegians? They have been so nice to me yet I hear similar things about them.

  12. Crap. I just found this blog and post while researching my upcoming trip to Sweden and specifically, Stockholm. I am surprised to learn this about Swedish people because my relatives from Sweden are very nice. Are they only nice when they move to the US??? I’ve always wanted to go to Sweden and now I finally have my chance in two weeks. Maybe i’ll just go to Amsterdam instead.

    What are good reasons to visit (and spend a lot of money in…) Stockholm?

  13. Interesting to see how much one’s perspective is determined by culture. I am Eastern European but I spent 3 years in the US, and moved here almost directly after that, so I agree that if US is used as a benchmark, “street” politeness is at a very low level here. I do not think they look so bad compared to other Europeans, e.g. the French. And they are polite in a deeper sense: my Swedish colleagues are rather considerate of others’ opinions and do not impose their personalities and intellects on you which I find very appealing.

    On holding doors: when I went back home after the US, I did hold doors for people walking behind me and got very scared looks from guys: what does this strange girl want from me?:)

  14. I’m swedish and while I admit that I am biased, I have to say that a lot of what is said here is very offensive to me. I get that many of you are venting but to imply that all swedes hold each other in “utter contempt” or “have a deep-rooted hatred for others” is not just untrue but also very insulting. With that said, I fully agree that we are pretty standoffish towards strangers in Sweden and that swedish service is often bad. But a lot of what you think is rudeness is simply cultural differences. The difference between America and Sweden can be particularly jarring, for both parties! For instance, what americans may see as being sociable/polite can in fact be perceived as intrusive and presumptuous by swedes. Mainly, Sweden’s etiquette rules are simply different. There are things we do that you think is rude, just as there are things you do that we think is rude. The largest problem foreigners face is the rather forbidding attitude swedes can have towards strangers.

    One of the prerequisites for understanding this is to be aware of the fact that we have a long cultural history of self-reliance. We even have an old saying “Ensam är stark” which basically means “Strong alone” and comes from the time when we were poor and there just wasn’t enough of anything to go around and we lived so far from one another that no help could be expected. In those days, only the strong, self-reliant survived. A lot of that lives on in our culture today, which is why it can be viewed as rude and presumptuous in Sweden to help someone without asking if they need help first. The deeper meaning is that just assuming someone needs help can be seen as casting aspersions on that persons ability to do right for himself and the society. I’m not claiming this is the right way, on the contrary! “Ensam är stark” is an outdated saying that has no function in today’s society. Luckily, Sweden *is* opening up, slowly but surely.

    One last point – we are not all miserable! Mostly, we’re just more honest about how we feel. To offer a contrasting point of view, a lot of swedes perceive many americans to be extremely superficial (portraying a “fake” happiness”), simply because of differing social and cultural idiosyncrasies. Those are americans that you might consider sociable and welcoming people. To back up some of my statements, when comparing the general happiness of the world’s peoples, Sweden ranks rather highly. Usually in the top ten. Often above America, FYI.

  15. I was born and raised in Sweden and I can’t identify with any of this. I don’t hate everybody around me and I don’t dislike people “to the point of disdain and contempt”. In fact, I was raised to hold the door for the person behind me; to give up my seat to pregnant women, children and the elderly; to say “thank you” to the cook after a dinner; and to show respect to people regardless of political, sexual or cultural beliefs. I try to live by that, and I know that many around me were raised in the same way. I’m not saying that I don’t see rude people in Sweden but it’s pretty rare and is frowned upon. I’m sure that people in other countries share the same values too.

    So I’m kind of wondering where all you guys get this from. Am I missing something? I moved to Stockholm from a small town in south Sweden a couple of years ago and was surprised by the friendly atmosphere that I had heard did not exist. Am I the only one who feel this?

  16. @publicoxoo Thanks for the link. Great article! I especially think the bits about “Live and let live” was spot on. That’s really a vital key to understanding swedes. Like they say in the article:

    “It took three months for anyone at work to invite her out socially and no one offered any help. “If I’d asked, three dozen would have jumped at the chance,” she says. “They didn’t want to presume I couldn’t manage myself. That would be insulting.””

    This is quite true and crucial to understand when you come to Sweden. Swedes are often eager and generous when it comes to helping other people, but we often won’t do it unasked. And that’s *not* a sign of rudeness in Sweden. On the contrary, to let someone be is a sign of respect while offering opinions and advice unasked could be seen as rude or overly familiar.

    So don’t be afraid of asking for help and advice. It could be that the swede really wants to help out but feels that he doesn’t want to impose. Could be he’d actually be grateful for an opportunity to help out or voice his opinion.

    As an opposite example of this, I can tell you that if I’m browsing in a store abroad I can get incredibly annoyed if someone comes up and starts asking questions about what I need and what I’m looking for. I consider anything after “Let me know if you need some help.” to be somewhat intrusive and irritating. That may just be me, but it may also be a good example of what we’re discussing.

    It’s also interesting how we view silence. Swedes are pretty comfortable in silence. Instead we often feel uncomfortable when forced to make small talk. Often when we’re quiet it’s because we simply don’t have anything worthwhile to add at the moment. Or it could be that we’re content that particular moment and just want to enjoy it. We don’t really understand why every moment with another person has to be filled with idle conversation. Which explains why we can get mildly frustrated and nervous when it’s obvious that the other person feels obliged to chit-chat even though he/she has nothing to say.

    PS. I need to get those books they talk about in the article. Always interesting to get some perspective on your own culture.

  17. You should really visit Skåne. I’m living down south, but often travel to Stockholm in both business and pleasure.
    It’s like travelling to a town with a complete different mindset.
    Stockholm is a “cold” city IMHO.

  18. at first the sielence of train and not talking and … were realy frustrating ,and actually i wondered how these people meet and get marry !, now though the over adaptable person i am, i ‘m so used to it that even when i see someone speaks English i couldn’t find the gutt to talk to them, or maybe i just don’t feel like talking which is sad, really really sad.

  19. Just wanted to say that Pontus Olins comments about the subject were spot on – I’ll save them for the time when/if I have to rebuke another slander of Swedes. :)

  20. Hej,

    I am English. I have lived in Göteborg for 4 yrs now. I have dated several Swedish men. Most of my friends are immigrants from many different countries. I find it difficult to make friends with Swedes. I have definately stuggled at times with the lack of manners that Swedish people have. I have become kind of used to being banged into, without a glance. I am used to being told to WAIT, without please and thank you’s. I feel that the men I have dated have been much colder and more distant than the English men that I have dated. The thing that makes me really angry is the lack of customer service in shops and public buildings, such as hospitals. I just can not get used to repeatedly being ignored at reception desks whilst the staff talk to other staff members, or look at a computer. No eye contact. No, “hello, I will be with you in a moment”. Today, I again tried to talk to my current boyfriend about how much this upsets me. I asked him to help me to understand the culture, so that I could feel more comfortable with it. He obviously did not want to talk about it. Eventually, I persuaded him, but he has no answers. Neither of us understand why this happens. It is not good business sense and does not help the society in any way. Can any body explain this to us please?

  21. Well you’re a person that has lived in Sweden for 4years and still you can’t even speak the f’ing language “engelska kvinna” what in God’s name is that =S?

    We learn your language without even visiting your countries, we study your history and cultures. But still you have the nerves to whine like spoiled children once you come here.
    You aren’t prepared to learn the language or adapt to Sweden’s culture and society. It’s a joke.

    If you’re prepared to learn a new language and adapt to a COMPLETELY different culture. You might find happiness here. If you aren’t able to do that, just farking leave. No one wants you here. Go back to your country and stay there.

  22. Rudeness is very relative. What might be called “rude” in the US might be called “normal” in Sweden, or even “good manners”, and vice versa. Cultures are very different, which I guess you, being an Indian American, know, even better than me. That’s why it puzzles me to see you write this post in such a condescending manner.

    Sweden has a very different culture than the US. To simplify, Sweden is introvert and the US is extrovert, Sweden is more modern and the US is more traditional, Sweden is more liberal and the US is more conservative, Sweden is more rational and the US is more hmm… how to put this delicately..? Wait, I got it! Religious.

    OK, so let’s focus on the first one. Introvert vs. extrovert. How does this translate to reality and everyday life? Well, firstly, Swedes are more reserved and shy and as a result, harder to get to know. Which, by some, (mostly people from more extrovert cultures who have little to no understanding of any other cultures) is referred to as “coldness”. Secondly, Swedes don’t find it as necessary to utter those little words of politeness as the Americans do. This might come off as rudeness. However, it is not rude according to Swedish standards. To Swedish standards, falsely smiling, or asking “How do you do?” without expecting a response, in the name of politeness, is not considered polite but insincere. And thirdly, Swedes value sincerity more in their communication styles, than Americans do.

    However, I do agree that Swedes in bars and night clubs can be very rude, even by Swedish standards.

    But the lack of tipping has nothing to do with rudeness. Tipping is just not a part of our culture. Waiters/Waitresses are not as dependent on tips as they are in the US, because here they get better paid. And sometimes tips are included in the price.

    And contrary to your findings, I find that people in cars are a lot more polite and tend to stop a lot more in Sweden than in other countries I have visited. In Ireland, for example, I was so close to being run over but I wasn’t thanks to my super natural reflexes. True story! Well, almost… Maybe it’s the fact that you live in Stockholm whereas I live in a small town.

  23. Anonymous Guy – I agree with you on all your observations (liberal vs Religious, etc).

    But, rudeness to me has less to do with being introverted, cold, whatever and more to do with human decency.

    Honestly, is it really acceptable to not hold the door for a person right behind you?
    And for cars to not yield in the pedestrian sidewalk? (Stockholm drivers are definitely the shiittest, other cities seem to be nicer)
    And it’s okay for your waitress to forget your order for 30min and then act you didn’t pay when you inquire about the food?

    That’s rudeness.

    Americans are crazy in their own way, hands down. At least most people have some form of human decency and there’s recourse if you have problems at a restaurant or store.

    I was once screamed at by a waiter TGIFridays Kungsträgården because my group paid with credit cards. His boss, the restaurant super, agreed with him and told us we had no right to complain. Really, what the crapass kind of service is that?

    That’s the crap that pisses me off about Sweden. It’s not about people being introverted, “cold,” whatever. Isn’t socialism about caring for society? That seems to be left by the wayside.

  24. Well Swede’s are definitely more introverted, than Americans, that is not really a problem for me. They are definitely more liberal in a Marxist since than Americans. Also not a problem for me as long as it does not influence the Conservatism of Americans as a whole.

    Rational ???
    Sorry that one does not add up. One them would be arresting men for Paying for sex but not arresting the prostitute. Ridiculous Gender laws created by radical feminist.

    Modern ???
    Also does not add up!
    The US landed on the moon, invented the Internet, and fostered most of the modern technology in the modern world.

    So how does that make Swede’s Modern???

    But above Niklas, does have a point.
    If you go to Sweden then you are obliged to abide by their rules while in their country. That includes Rudeness and all. Because it is after Their country and you are the guest in their house.

  25. Hi to all!
    As a girl from Venezuela who recently met a Swede in my home country I must say I don’t agree entirely with the negative comments about Swedes. I’ve only met two Swedes in my life, both men.

    The first one was just touring and we volunteered to show him the surroundings. He never offered any help when it was kind of obvious that we needed it and I had always thought that he was rude until I read the comments on here, like the ones of PONTUS OLIN.

    The second Swede I’ve met is a little more different. He opens the doors for the girls and tries to adapt to the culture down here, and he is doing an awesome job. He has moved to Caracas. Whenever I see something different in him I always try to keep in mind that he is from another culture and vice-versa, and I think it has worked…things have been going great for the past 6 months!
    One thing that used to upset me was the fact of never saying hello when running into messenger, it was ALWAYS me the one saying hello and sometimes he wouldn’t even say hello back to me. I felt really bad because my other friends always answer, but he seemed to be bothered. And also after having some small talk in messenger he would just leave without saying good-bye. But then in other occasions he would chat with me for a very long time, that was confusing to me.
    However, I never considered the idea of him being rude, but different. He has had many cultural shocks as well and I really appreciate him more for trying to adapt to the latin culture. Now I know more about his background thanks to the comments on here!

    P.S. Any advice regarding what to do and what not to do when I find him on messenger, and also about text messaging would be HIGHLY APPRECIATED! (sorry for my ok English)

  26. And American, google for “Swedish Inventions” you might be surprised, we invented the zipper omg O.o, not to mention the medical research, concidering how many that lives in sweden i think there is enough inventions /head, and as an advice for you, try to be a bit humble don’t measure your own balls with what other americans has done

  27. “If you’re prepared to learn a new language and adapt to a COMPLETELY different culture. You might find happiness here. If you aren’t able to do that, just fucking leave. No one wants you here. Go back to your country and stay there.”

    — Niklas

    I think the above is a very Swedish comment. It typifies the kind of behavior that is ‘normal’ in Sweden and proves the point regarding rudeness better than anything a non-Swede might say or write.

    And to Niklas’ point. I did. I moved back to a culture where kindness is the norm.

    Och jag kan ditt språk och din kultur säkert lika bra som dig själv :-)

    (And I understand your language and culture surely as well as you do :-) )

  28. Adriana, talk to your Swedish friend like you would to any friend but keep it “not too intrusive” By that I mean, if you sense your friend is uncomfortable with you constantly saying “hi, bye, etc,” cut that down a little bit. Find a way that makes both you and him feel more comfortable chatting.

  29. @CitizenLen No, that’s not a typical swedish comment. That’s a typical ignorant-stupidass comment.

    Those exist in all countries, US included. In Sweden they’re also known as “sverigedemokrater”. ;-)

  30. @Mattias – I believe quite a few “sverigedemokrater” made such “f off” comments. Pretty mean to insult the author like that. At least my feelings were not hurt, entirely.

  31. OMG! now I’m scared. My boyfriend has asked me to move to Sweden with him and I was reluctant because of the cold but now I’m petrified to move there.
    I am a bubbly, excited person who likes to connect and I feel like I will get eaten up alive in Sweden.

    My boyfriend and i met in Italy where we lived together for a year and a half and although he was distant in the beginning I got him to warm up. I fear if he moves back to Sweden he will slip into his Swedish way and that is the end of us :-(

    Whatever happened to human contact and affection? What is the point of being so darn conscious of oneself? being nice to eachother when it doesn’t hurt is such an easy way to spread the joy and a feeling of wellbeing, why not just do it? How would it hurt to just hold a door open for some one or help a pregnant lady carry some stuff? It’s not insincere it’s just decent, ain’y nothing fake about that.

  32. I have lived in countries all over the world (including Sweden and the U.S.) and in my opinion generalizing about all individuals without truly trying to understand the mechanism behind a behavior is as rude as anything else described in here. The few Swedes posting here seem quite tolerant of others and they try to; in a civilized manner (with the exception of Niklas); explain certain cultural difference without bad mouthing entire cultures.

    It seems to be that some of you bring up certain events involving Swedes and then make the assumption that every Swede is the same. If that technique works let me then tell you another story:

    I recently came back from the U.S. My cousin died at age 42 and I helped clean out his house in Florida. When towing his car we had to block the entrance to the gated community for 4-5 minutes and an American woman living in the community could not get to her home until we were done. The fact that she had to wait a few minutes was totally unacceptable to her and I do not need to go into detail about what came out of her mouth. The fact that we all worked as hard as we could – under very sad circumstances meant nothing to her. Is that an example of the human decency the Swedes lack but other cultures have?

    I can provide you with more stories like this, even about rude waiters or people slamming a door in my face – but does it mean that I feel that every American is rude? Of course not! The generalization in this forum is just sad and it says more about the intolerance of the person writing than the culture being addressed.

    It is just clear to me that many people here never tried to fully understand Swedes. If you are not interested in them, why should they be interested in you?

    You will find good and bad things, nice and rude individuals in any country. And specifically when it comes to Sweden that supposedly “have a deep-rooted hatred for others” – I guess that is why their taxes are so high, and “solidarity” is an important key word to win elections.

  33. Hmmm. Well this half-Swedish guy I know promised to contact me regularly then left me hanging for a week which was long enough thank you (after having waited weeks previously before asking him if he was ever going to bother replying to me). I was told I was impatient. I said no I but I am restless due to having been off work ill for ages. His response? Not what I expected! I expected a get well soon at least. Instead he removed me from his contact list and ignored the message I sent asking for an explanation. He lives here… UK culture… not Swedish! I also made that point to him. Recently he has been friendly again. At a distance. I still care for him but if you treat a woman that way she won’t hang around for long! At least this English one won’t! ;-)

  34. I am sorry to hear about his behavior Emilie. Although to me it does not sound typically Swedish. It sounds more to be related to the type of person he is and that I am sure you can find in any culture.

    I currently live in Sweden and I have written some of my American friends during the last month and some of them just completely ignore me and do not reply back as soon as I start asking questions that will take any kind of effort to reply to, some of them are very good at replying. I know it is not exactly the same thing but there are people everywhere that will not be bothered in certain circumstances.

    Although I am not fond of generalizations and do admit there are cultural differences. The relationship between Swedish men and women might certainly differ in some cases from other cultures. The fact that both genders have had to work while in other cultures the woman might have an option to be a “housewife” probably have something to do with it. Sweden also have pushed the “jämnställdhet” issue for quite some time where men and women are supposed to stand on an equal footing when it comes to pretty much everything. I think some men in Sweden do not know what to make of it and have a hard time adjusting.

  35. What are you people talking about? I am ukrainian, live in Sweden for 4 years now, first 2 in Göteborg, now in Linköping. People here DO hold doors, don’t push you on the streets or in transport, everyone is smiling, always say Hej and Hejdå. Rude drivers and cyclists? well, they just make each other mad, because far not all drivers here are good drivers, and some cyclists just behave stupid when they cross the street. Maybe folks in stockholm are not so nice, but u can’t judge the whole sweden and all swedes by stockholm.

  36. I’m sad to say this, but it’s true: Svenskar (oavsett stad/ort/län, ålder, klass etc.) är ohyffsade, oartiga, kyliga, arroganta och fulla av självförakt (no need to translate it to English).

  37. I’ll translate the Swedish above for English speakers:

    “Swedes (regardless of city/place/county, age, social class etc.) are brusque, rude, cold, arrogant and full of self-loathing.”

  38. @citizenLen – thanks for the translation I think maybe Henrik has a few issues with Swedes and with English translation!!

  39. hehe haven’t read the rest of your blog but I’m just assuming that you are in Stockholm?
    I can’t say I experience that anywhere ells then when I’m visiting our beloved capital city :P

  40. I’m a Swede living in China.
    I have a lot (almost only) friends/aquintances from America/England/Australia/Canada/etc.

    They say EXACTLY the same things about Chinese people.

    Why do you think that is?

  41. I’m a Swede living in NYC since six years. Everyone of these complaints are ones you see and hear New Yorkers b*tch about on a daily basis. Pregnant women are standing on subways, people are slamming doors, service people ignore you and talk to their friends. The rest of the country will say it’s New Yorkers, but personally I’ve been to Virginia and Florida a few of times and had plenty of depressing and scary service experiences. It’s just people being people…

    I do love how American general culture makes it easier to interact with people you don’t know very well. And I believe that there’s a sort of social insecurity in Sweden that goes deeper than in most countries.
    It certainly doesn’t make most Swedes miserable or self loathing or contemptious of other humans – it just makes them socially insecure, and it’s annoying and contagious. But that’s all.

    One thing I have mixed feelings about is the gender equality issue. I definitely feel my rights are much better protected in Sweden. I would much, much rather raise a child in Sweden than here, for instance.
    On the other hand there’s much less chivalry, which would be just fine if there was true equality, but can be problematic when men still wield much more power.
    I will admit that I grit my teeth whenever Americans and other people from more macho cultures go off on Swedish men for being rude and selfish. There is definitely something to be said for learning some self-reliance regardless of your gender!

    In the end, any culture only goes so deep. I’ve also noticed how people who move to a new culture – any new culture – go through these periods of infatuation and backlash, and despising and idealizing the culture of their homeland. This has much more to do with selective awareness and memory and attitude than reality.

  42. Regarding tipping. I’ve lived in Sweden all my life, and I actually see tipping to be almost a rude thing to do. I reason like the Japanese that it’s charity, and by tipping you imply that the receiver needs the money, which becomes an insult. (The salary is relatively higher for a person employed at a restaurant in Sweden contra the US)

    Now obviously I’m not as extreme as the Japanese, if I received tip, I wouldn’t complain. But I won’t do it myself.

  43. I was shoved in the street in Stockholm by randoms constantly barging past, my fashion sense laughed at by a 5 foot swedish freak wearing skinny ball-hugging jeans and a red cow boy hat (WTF did she come as?). The tourist information staff had none, not even a map, it was a nightmare. Even my 5 star hotel had mediocre service and they ‘didn’t know’ where the breakfast restaurant in the hotel was. The food was crap, coffee was D grade, and service so surly it made us laugh.We went to a bunch of beautiful places but couldn’t wait to get out The rest of Sweden was great though and people were normal. Not sure whats up with stockholmers but they have serious inferiority issues.

  44. It’s rude to judge a culture according the expectations of your own culture.

    As others have mentioned, tipping is not part of the culture, people don’t even think about tips, possibly because the waiters don’t have as bad salary, for example, and they are treated like anybody else.

    Small talk is not part of the culture, that’s just how it is. Exceptions exists, always, but in general.

    Racism is very low, there’s just slight reservedness toward exotic foreigners, but not much more than towards locals. North Europe in general, very polite and take others in consideration, to my experience. It’s just that the initial impression may seem cold and distant, and can be understood wrong, among locals too. We are straightforward and say things of value, rather than endlessly blabber. You can endlessly blabber though, I think most wouldn’t mind that at all, but you can reach the point when people wish you would shut your mouth already.

    I live in Finland, but it’s similar here.

    DON’T go to Stockholm or Helsinki, if you can choose. I really dislike going to Helsinki and I’ve been there quite a lot. Capitals give bad impressions of the countries as whole. Besides you want in the beautiful nature, rather than the concrete jungle.

  45. I’m not going to insult anyone bc that is just silly.

    I have always been interested in going to Sweden and of course I picked Stockholm as my point destination. I’m an American from New York so big city attitudes don’t surprise me.
    Are we complaining about stockholmers or the swedish? Like I said I’ve never been so I really dont know how terrible the swedes are or aren’t, however I do believe you’ll find a certain level of rudness in any big city. I have been shoved and pushed and ignored (regarding customer service) and cursed at and even had a cup of coffee thrown at me here at home, but this doesn’t mean all new yorkers or Americans are crazy rude people. I know some of us are overly demanding when it comes to being social. I have been accused of being rude and offstandish just bc I’m quiet! Stupid really…

    Some of you make it sound like Sweden is a nation of pretentiousness.
    But I can’t beleive this is true
    I’ll just have to find out for myself.

    Regardless, I’m lookinng forward to Sweden : )

  46. Hi.

    I’m a Swede and I’m not that sociable. Great opening, eh? :D

    But on the other hand I do always, as many Swedes, try to think about my behaviour and always say “Hi” and “goodbye and good luck” when meeting someone. It doesn’t matter if they’re a foreigner or not, that’s just good manners that most of us share here.
    Although I do agree on that we’re a bit hard to befriend and that some of our social habits are… awkward.

    The fact that we don’t always say “hi” to our friends or walks up and greets them, having a time of small talks and whatnots, is because we don’t, in general, feel it to be necessary to always acknowledge our friendship. If we really are friends then words shouldn’t matter only actions and if we are ready to give support. And of course share time with each others, having fun and such; not to mention the possibility to learn or give something without ever feeling a obligation to ALWAYS give something back right away.

    As with my friends: we do pay each others food bills every now and then. We do buy books and openly claim that this book is for all to use, with no strings attached except that one should take good care of the book being used. We openly states, when someone is open about being low on cash, that one or the group is willing to pay, without being forced to do so. It’s just common sense that we should support each others, to an extent of course and with some responsibility attached.

    In Stockholm, when doing my hard labour, peoples sometimes runs up to the door I’m currently trying to get through with a bed on my back and holds it open, giving me advices how to best get the bed through without pushing it on me. Some peoples even start to haul some of the goods away, without me asking for it, with the question of “where are you going with this”? I almost always turns their offer of actually carrying the goods themselves down because of, reasons like, the clothes they’re wearing or if they do seem to have a very costumer-oriented job where they meet their costumers in person. Being smelly isn’t favourable in such a job.

    Of course there’s a lot of snotty office workers, almost always office workers for some reason, who feels the need to shove right by and almost get me tripping with 100 kilos on my back – no “I’m sorry” there for sure. It’s the same people who openly shows a attitude of “I’m obviously a better, more capable, human then you because of your job” but often don’t know that many peoples like me might be quite educated; I do educated myself when I got some spare time. As a example on self-education: I’m currently learning Japanese on my own and it’s just great.

    These office people, let us call them that for the ease of it, also tend to believe we’re some kind of personal servant for them to use as they wish. I could go on on a rant here so I’ll stop and continue with explaining little about us Swedes.

    Sweden is a very homogeneous nation, we’re practically the same in behaviours, beliefs and values etc. but there’s a great, great, great different when it comes to our political views. This nation is practically divided between the reds, socialists, and the blues, conservatives, and this polarizes the nation somewhat dearly. Due to this little fact in some areas, mostly urban areas like Stockholm, you will mostly find ONE set of opinions and never anything else. This creates social inbreeding, if you understand what I’m saying, that will spawn some nasty behaviours. Like if you’re in Östermalm, north-eastern to eastern stockholm, you, as a low-class worker, will be quite frowned upon and hear some nasty insinuations about ones intellect and capabilities. Some have even insinuated faults involving my sanity because of the stress I, and collogues, display in such an abundance.

    These peoples will ONLY care for you if you show some higher-class potentials or if you earn huge sums money. They are also concerned with how you look and behave; they’re very superficial and playing smart or educated will earn you big scores. This is also a way to get laid with some richmans daughter: play really smart and do use complicated words and she will pull you into her bedroom. Actually, often if you get her drunk first, it’s easier, you’ll be invited too to play doctor. This goes so great with the fact that I’m not so sociable because they think it’s cute and well fitting a young man.

    Continuing….ehum… well these socially inbreed peoples do tend to crowd in certain areas in Stockholm, like Stureplan, and immediately conjure a socially awkward environment because of their arrogance, stupidity, rudeness, selfishness, undeserved sense of accomplishment etc. etc. THESE are the kind of peoples that have completely taken over an increasingly larger piece of Stockholm since we where stupid enough to elect the conservatives, who promptly sold us out to big corps. With that election we, the Swedish people, heralded in a new area of accepting money as being considered as a norm to be held as amongst the dearest goals in life. It was like peoples suddenly turned coat from red to blue for no apparent reason except sending a signal to the socialist democrats that if they don’t behave we will kick them out.

    But still it was a mistake I believe since we, the people, felt cornered by a sense of insecurity, schools and retirement homes where sold just as big parts of our healthcare where, which have turned some of our behaviourism somewhat sour, naturally. Many of us feels isolated, incorrectly I must add, by this apparent threat to our type of state. We don’t wish to become a total capitalist state without a secure and well founded welfare system. Sadly this shows in up at work and everyday life which you, the tourists, might get a spoonful of.

    And for that I’m apologising for that behaviour but I still can’t understand where all the hate comes from that some of you so feverishly propagate about us Swedes being, basically, scums.

  47. Actually many swedes consider Americans rude, but generally understand that it’s because of cultural differences and not intentional. As considering people rude would be considered rude in itself. ;)

    There’s also a difference between cities in Sweden. Gothenburg for instance is much more “käck” then northern Sweden. I do agree with condition one, but that’s because when being drunk you lower your social inhibitions, but don’t necessarily develop any new good manners. People doesn’t exactly cut in line when sober.

  48. Hi there, I’m a suede and I’d just like to clear up a few things concerning the service you get in sweden and the way you are greated.

    It is not, a matter of rudeness, it’s culture and it’s I think sometimes preferable to, let’s say the american way.
    When you walk into a store in sweden you are not greated and imidiatly asked if you want help. Instead of following you around intrusively pushing their products upon you, they respect you enough to leave you alone until you decide that you want their help, and asks for it.
    The same goes for meeting new people or greating old friends. Swedes always want to make sure they don’t bother you, before aproaching you.
    It’s an unspoaken kind of eyecontact language. At first you look briefly at the other person and then they have the chance to make eye contact. If, they do, they’re not too busy to talk and you will both stop and warmly great eachother. But if they instead look down and continue to walk past you, they have somewhere to be and doesn’t have the time to stay and chat. And you let them pass you by.

    Now, I understand why this is confusing to a foreigner, and it may seem cold if you don’t know the unspoken language ;) But we suedes are actually not that bad :) Except in crowded bar areas and night-clubs, where people can be damn jerks…

  49. “LOL…we could call the Stockholmers wanna be New Yorkers then.”

    Sapphire – In New York people know how to walk, even though it’s way more crowded than in little Stockholm. But in Sweden, people walk like erratic rats…. They’re all over the place running in zig zag, bumping into you without apologizing. Swedes have no sense about the space around them. They seem to think that they own all the space around them, and have no consideration for others in this regard. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Swedish people stand in the entrance somewhere, blocking the way for others, totally oblivious that there might even be people behind them who want to enter. That happened to me today again at the supermarket when this woman was standing right in the middle of the entrance gate searching her purse while some 4-5 people had to wait behind her. When one says “excuse me” in situations like this, one often gets an awkward reaction back, where the person seems offended – as if he/she thinks it’s entirely his/her right to block the way for others!

  50. My grievances about many Swedes are as follows:

    – They have a very twisted self-image about themselves. For instance they really believe they’re very good looking, when in fact the vast majority of them are really not at all good looking to put it mildly. They also seem to think they’re stylish and fashionable, when in fact they’re absolutely nothing of the sort. They dress very sloppy and the word “elegant” doesn’t even seem to exist in their vocabulary.

    – I find a lot of Swedes to be rather slow on the mental plane. Their “logic” is very awkward. Even government officials can say the weirdest things that don’t make any sense.

    – If you like to be stared at, then Sweden is the place for you! People will stare at you from 50 yards away. They like to stare at people even for the most insignificant reasons.

    – I have never so far encountered a more tragic sense of humor anywhere in the world. A Swedish joke is not only extremely lame, but most of them are even incomprehensible to most other people. There’s just nothing funny about them. A lot of their TV commercials are also totally incomprehensible and totally weird!

    – Swedes never apologize for anything. They can run you over with their car without apologizing. An apologizing Swede is so rare, that I truly get shocked when I come across one now and then. They’ve probably just never been taught this most basic of good manners.

    – A lot of Swedes come across as very selfish and egoistic people, who think they can do anything, but object if other people do those same things.

    – Swedes are cowardly and try to avoid conflicts, unless they know that you’re weak, then they may try to step all over you. They’re masters of backstabbing. They also love talking shit about people behind their backs.

  51. Oh I forgot a few other ones: I have never come across more jealous people than in Sweden. The Swedes themselves have name for it – they call it “The royal Swedish Jealousy” (“kungliga svenska avundsjukan”)
    And how does this jealousy manifest itself? Well in many different ways, but most commonly in that people here seldom like to encourage and flatter other people. For instance if you’re talented, instead of flattering and encouraging you, many Swedes will try to put you down, ridicule and mock you instead. And they usually do so with a touch of humor, so as to make it seem as if they’re joking.

    – A lot of Swedes have also a habit of boasting a lot, and talking about themselves, while not being the least interested in what the other person has to say. So you’ll often find yourself having to listen to endless, totally boring stories about all their trips to Spain, Thailand and Turkey. Whenever you start saying something, they’ll interrupt you by trying to outmatch whatever it was you started to talk about. They expect other people to listen to their uninteresting and painfully boring rantings, but don’t care the least to listen to other people.

    Of course far from all Swedes are this way. There are a VAST number of very nice people in Sweden, and they’re all foreigners… Lol… just kidding! Seriously though, there are so many very nice and decent people in Sweden, who are not at all rude, jealous, arrogant and so forth, but unfortunately there are also a very large number of the “bad ones”, just like in any country – you have the good and the bad.

  52. “It is not, a matter of rudeness, it’s culture and it’s I think sometimes preferable to, let’s say the american way.
    When you walk into a store in sweden you are not greated and imidiatly asked if you want help. Instead of following you around intrusively pushing their products upon you, they respect you enough to leave you alone until you decide that you want their help, and asks for it.”

    I agree with Frida. I can’t stand the pushy sales people in the U.S. I prefer the way it is here in this regard. I also agree with Frida about people misbehaving in bars and night clubs here. Why is this though? I try to avoid going out on weekend nights, because everywhere you go people are so aggressive, obnoxious, drunk, and you find people screaming like animals everywhere and engage in fights. I don’t understand how people can go out here without feeling extremely uneasy.

  53. Am Swedish, and I have to say I seriously dislike Sweden and our rudeness even disturbs me as a born Swede. Saying one should accept rudeness because “it’s part of the culture” is just retarded. Not saying thank you, bumping into people to get onto the train, not holding up doors, not giving others a seat, and so on – if that’s part of the culture, then the culture has serious issues. I think Swedish people have no manners, are extremely egocentrical and think of themselves as the best and most equal and modern people in the world when we’re definitely not. Every day I think about how I can move away from here.

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