Swedes are known to be quiet and cold, and actually most Swedes would agree on this stereotypical description of themselves. However, I always claim that in most other countries you will also see people sitting quiet on the bus, not talking to each other, minding their own business – I have seen it in Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, France… The people who talk on public transport usually talk to other people that they know…
However, I have also noticed that since I have become an expat, I seem to talk more to people in shops when I am in Sweden! During the 3.5 hours I spent in Lund today I:
- spoke to the nurse registering me when donating blood, she thought that she remembered me – I guess because I live abroad and I am blessed with the most popular blood – O negative 😉 ! I told her that yes, we had met before. We had a nice little chat and I felt that I did two good deeds today; first donating blood and secondly donating the “proceeds” to the Children’s cancer fund (you can choose between getting a t-shirt, a gift voucher for 50 SEK (~5 EUR) or donate the same amount to the cancer fund).
- had a very chatty shop assistant in Gleerups/Akademibokhandeln (book shop) who commented on all my purchases – she told me which of the cds she also had, and that the film Vi hade i alla fall tur med vädret (Swedish classic comedy from 1980) was very funny and she hadn’t seen it until a few months ago when it was shown on tv.
- discussed with the shop assistant in H&M if I should buy one pair of mittens for 39,50 SEK or two pairs for the same price… I bought the two pairs [it is very cold in Sweden now and I seem to have sent all my warm clothes to Puerto Rico, don’t ask me why!].
- talked to the guy in Pressbyrån (newsagent) who seemed to be watching tv while working until I realised that he was watching the CCTV screen for shoplifters – he said that they have enormous problems with shoplifting.
So, I wouldn’t say that Swedes are that cold and quiet, but maybe a little shy so you just need to give them a little push and they will probably happily chat away!