Friday, April 24, 2009
Making Friends in Sweden
So you have moved to Sweden or thinking about moving here.
The most common reasons one moves to this country are either due to a relationship or studies. In gereral i have found that it is quite rare for people to move here to work as the taxes are high compared to other countries and wages are gernally lower then what one could make for instance from where i hail Canada. However once you get here, whether or not you have a partner to 'show you the ropes' how do you start to make friends and meet people?
Swedes are gernerally quite a reserved people and on top of that, most foreigners coming here will not be speaking to the Swedes in their native language. Although Swedes are quite good at speaking english in my experience, some are not confident in their speaking abilities (when more often then not they are excellent anyways!). For both of these reasons and maybe more, it might be hard to get to know
Out and About
Speaking to someone on the street is something that I personally have never tried and from my experience its not really done unless copious amounts of alcohol have been consumed beforehand. Although generally speaking this is the case, its certainly not the rule. I was quite surprised the other day while at the gym an older Swede first said something to me in Swedish and then after the typical questions I always receive proceeded to continue talking to me. I was aghast to say the least, in my 20 months here, this has never happened. I think part of my problem is that I am somewhat disapponted in my own abilities to speak Swedish after being here for a while and i feel somewhat like a broken record (LP) when speaking in english and repeating what I have repeated my story like so many times before.
Well of all the places to meet people, this has been the one where i have to say my social circle has expanded the most. People are in a good mood -hey its the weekend- and Swedes have a work hard play hard mentality about work life. Alochol is flowing, the music is playing and the former contributes not only to my Swedish getting better but also to Swedes english-language confidence improving. If you manage to get some contact details gererally you have someone that you will be able to call up again and get to know better.
Generally a great way to get to know a group better and a more intimate setting where you can actually here whats being said by everyone. the problem here is that you have to know someone to get invited to one of these in the first place.
If you come here as an Exchange or Masters Student there is the possiblity to meet Swedes in your class however, generally there are very few Swedes that take the classes your taking and they also generally stick together as a group making it hard to get to know them. From my experience, your generally hanging out with your fellow foreign students and most of these events you rarely see any Swedes participating.
This all depends on the industry your in, if your in a professional industry my experience has been that a lot of your co workers will be older, married, have kids, and their own lives outside the office. A recent 'After Work' event at my place was planned 2 months in advance, VERY spontanious.
The silver lining here is that once you do make some friends here, generally they will be fast and true. You can count on them and bond with them. But until then, Sweden can be a very lonely place.