4 Discoveries I made in Sweden!
Gothenburg. Dark, cold windy and wet.
My suitcase for one week was heavy, but hey it was November and we are going to Sweden – you better be prepared.
We met our driver outside the airport and jumped into the bus which was freezing cold – never the less we headed direction hotel.
While driving it became very obvious, this country is huge. No other cars, no houses, no streetlights.
Forest, deers ( ehm yep in the middle of the road, while driving 80km/h ) and darkness.
Sometimes there was a tiny bit of light, somewhere in a lost and hidden place.
I asked the driver how people can be happy here if there is no one around nearby. I mean literally there were houses and for the next 30min. no other house, no lights, nothing.
Scandinavian life is famous for its sense of well-being, the driver replied.
And he was right; the UN’s World Happiness Report, in fact, now ranks Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden at the top of their happiness list. The No. 1 thing Scandinavians cite as the source of their happiness is their ferocious dedication to actually enjoying their lives! Sweden ( and also the rest of Scandinavia ) is absolutely jam-packed with natural beauty: the Fjords , the Lapland of Sweden, the Northern Lights. Frigidly cold weather is scarcely a deterrent for getting out into nature. With God’s best work just a short drive away, being in the great outdoors is no less than a national pastime in Scandinavia.
The Hotelroom felt like a showroom at IKEA – I looked out of my window and saw a family watching TV while I unpacked my stuff. No curtains, nothing, in the early morning we were suppose to drive another 30min. to the headquearter of the company.
I could then see how the environment looked and that IKEA is R E A L. I mean everthing looked like in the catalogue.
I discovered a whole new world;
Everyone was super, super super nice, friendly and happy and there it was this spirit which I fell in love with….
Hej, hej – everyone welcomes you like that – and then this happend; F I K A
Swedes famously have “fika,” which translates to “coffee,” but also means a culturally mandatory social hour, like water-cooler talk that everyone takes around the same time.
Coffee breaks are pretty much mandated, I mean literally everything drops. Not to be on the phone, but to converse with each other. That’s what they do – You don’t mess with that fika time.
At many working places, fika is part of the regular daily schedule. In the morning a fika at 10:00 and in the afternoon at 15:00 is not uncommon – as a sweet little new-Swede, those two 10 – 30 minutes-extra breaks, called fikarast or fikapaus were pretty fascinating!
Someone told me, “everyone gathers in the meeting room” so you better stop working and join the group. You won’t get any extra points from your boss when you pretend you have no time for a break, because your work is just too important.
There I met her, the cinnamon bun (kanelbulle)!! Fragrant and sweet, it’s satisfyingly filling due to its soft, bready nature. I didn’t had to look hard for it – I simply followed that heavenly smell, a tell-tale sign that a fresh tray of cinnamon rolls is about to be ready – time for fika. Ps. “she” even has her own day to celebrate ( Kanelbullens dag) Cinnamon Bun Day on 4 October!
Sure, Swedes celebrate Christmas, Easter, Midsummer and Walpurgis Eve. But almost as important are the days celebrating foods: Shrove Tuesday (Fettisdagen), which in Sweden calls for a semla; Waffle Day (Våffeldagen) on 25 March;
Discoverey Nr. 2
“hard work” is not what they do, as a Swiss Citizen I was used to do work a lot, hard and close to perfect – but in Sweden there is a expression called – lagom – which means ‘just the right amount’, and it’s often used in the context of productivity and business culture. Swedish workers are encouraged to focus on exactly what is needed and doing it well, rather than taking on extra unnecessary work. Work hard, but try to stressa inte för mycket, don’t stress too much!
I quickly noticed that shoes are taken off when entering private residences in Sweden. Some explain it with the simple fact that Swedes spend a lot of time outdoors during winter and are prone to dragging in dirt. Others say it’s a sign of respect for the home. Either way, you might want to think twice before wearing full lace-up boots when visiting folks.
THE SWEDISH SUMMER HOUSE – A LOVE AFFAIR and why they all ( or most of them have a summer house ) Reason Nr. 1 (even before C-19)
Because they spend such a long time here, ( 3-5 weeks in summer ) they feel like they live here. What I heard Sweds telling me; if you travel abroad for two weeks, there are so many things to experience and do; it’s not necessarily that relaxing.
So here is the reason and you must know, most people have some sort of relationship to their summer house environment, through grandparents or through their childhood, so they can completely relax there. For many it’s too much to go from daily life to zero in the time it takes to fly to Greece…a summerhouse helps you to escape the daily obligations you have back home and this is easily done in a summer house.
There a more discoveries and stories to come!
Follow me on my blog / social media and how I manifest my Swedish House!