Photo: Vlad Teodor/Shutterstock

11 Fears Only Us Swedes Can Understand

Sweden Student Work
by Madelaine Triebe Mar 23, 2016

1. Dålig stämning.

Notoriously conflict shy, we’ll do anything to avoid dålig Stämning. We will politely tell you your new haircut doesn’t look that bad, that your bad temper is nothing to worry about or we will look out the window and comment on the weather if you ask us about our issue with Stefan at work. When Özz Nujen makes a whole stand-up show on this we laugh recognizably and awkwardly. Lite kaffe på det?

2. The dark chocolate in Aladdinasken.

Nothing hits a Swede as hard as finding only the dark Aladdin pralines. When at Christmas the sweet tooth kicks in and we can’t wait to get our hands on gräddnougaten, just to open the box to find körsbärslikören, the devastation is complete.

3. Araben, muslimen or anyone with thick black hair and/or a beard.

It could be the dark-haired man taking our order at the Falafel shop, the Iranian family with a närbutik in Häljarp, the young woman with a veil at the office or even 11-year old Mohammed from Afghanistan who came to Sweden without his family. Maybe it’s the 18-year old Syrian who fled when he was 16 to Libya and then got on a boat to Italy that broke, but miraculously survived and now is in Malmö and wants to play badminton. We are so petrified of the dark stranger that Migrationsverket need to force our kommuner to accept ensmamkommande flyktingbarn and Sverigedemokraterna is our third largest political party.

4. The person with shoes on in the house.

Parkettgolvet in oak will be scratched, dirt will get into the house and there will be an awkward silence as we are silently debating in our head whether to tell you off or keep quiet (to try to avoid dålig stämning). If you don’t take your shoes off we’re certain you are either American or an alien and we can’t understand why you so maliciously would put us in such an uncomfortable position by clomping into our home with your boots on.

5. Small talk amongst friends.

Any time a Swede gets stopped in conversation another Swede silently walks past the two people and sighs with relief thanking god it wasn’t them. We do anything to avoid pointless chit-chatting. Why are you asking me about the weather? Why are we talking about irrelevant things? If we hear our neighbor walk out the door just when we are about go out, we’ll wait until he leaves. If we see that girl we only met once at a party coming toward us on the other side of the street, we’ll quickly turn left.

6. The chatty stranger.

Some say that strangers who are chatty are just being social. Us Swedes say that chatty stranger is a nut case. God forbid if someone we don’t know starts talking to us on the bus or in the middle of the street (unless asking for directions; that is the only human interaction between strangers that’s acceptable).

7. Public display of anger.

Our faces grow pale, we awkwardly twist and turn on the bus, warily look at the people around us, and quickly look out of the window pretending we’re watching something interesting when we hear any screaming on the street, on the train, on the bus or in a shop. Any form of anger is best kept suppressed to be aired behind someone’s back rather than displayed in public.

8. The immediately affectionate person.

Thanks to globalization we are slowly accepting hugs as a way of greeting (only if we have known you for at least a year). But any cheek-to-cheek kissing has to be replaced with a handshake or a nod until we feel comfortable enough to invite you into our house. That could take a while.

9. A summer without sun.

This fear completely dominates the mind of the Swede from New Year’s and onwards and Expressen and Aftonbladet starts speculating the weather of this year’s summer already after Easter. The traditional Svensson starts looking at charter trips to Alanya in Turkey or Split in Croatia to make sure he or she will have a tan by the end of the year. Will my summer be spent on the beach with a Magnum mandel in my hand or will I have to use regnkappan I packed down in my leather weekend bag for my three weeks på landet, but that I was hoping I would never have to wear? We are so busy worrying that by the end of February we have booked a one-week holiday with Apollo or Fritidsresor.

10. The missing alcohol.

Nothing is as devastating to a Swede as looking around the table at a party and to only find empty bottles. Midsummer without Skåne Aquavit, Christmas without beer, a party without Kopparbergs Cider, without Explorer and Absolut Vodka and Jägermeister? We stand in line at Systembolaget thinking of whether to grab that extra bottle of wine or put a couple of extra cans of cider in the basket, just to make absolutely sure the disappointment of having to end festen because of the lack of alcohol will never occur.

11. Outspoken political incorrectness.

We will never say that we don’t like immigrants (så får man inte saga). Someone could get the wrong idea and think we are racists. Which we absolutely are not, we just don’t like immigrants and we only vote for racist political parties like many other European countries.

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