Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Swedish Girls: Smile and Wave

Another weekend and out to the nightclubs.  Some people here are judicious in never going out to the nightclubs on a friday or saturday, referring to those that do as kiddies.  This is correct to a point as it is the majority of those whom are in school or nine to fivers that go out during this time as well.  Those that go out from Sunday to Thursday are likely to experience less waiting in lineups, less rude guards at the door and generally have a better time having fun out instead of waiting to have fun.  I learned about this first hand a few months ago when i uncharacteristically went out on a thursday.  One of my local hang outs with a friend and when i looked across the bar i saw an amazing female specimen.  

Without really thinking about it i proceeded to just smile and wave, what's the worst that could have happened? Well its been a while since i tried the smile and wave approach as normally the night clubs are packed to the brim by the time you get in and with the music loud enough to shake your brain you cant exactly have a conversation with anyone either.   A bit of confidence and a smile is all one really needs to approach any lady i would guess.  If you are ever here in Sweden, try going out when its not a weekend and try this simple approach, it will more then likely at least get a conversation started....or in my case get you making out with the girl within 10 min of meeting her...

What a refreshing change this was, i proceeded to go over to this girl, whom we shall call Mindy, struck up a conversation while my wing-man was talking with her friend.  What a refreshing change to the typical friday or saturday night routine.

The Swedish word of the day is Veckoslut which means Weekend (but noone uses this word).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Less Sexy side of Sweden - Bigotry and Racism

On living here for many years now, i have 95% of the time been impressed by how accommodating the general swedish population is in making one comfortable.  For example, when first moving here, I didnt know what to expect, would i be understood? Would i be lost or isolated due to my lack of Swedish skills? Not only was this not the case, but in general Swedes in general go out of their way to make foreigners as comfortable as possible.  On arriving here, I noticed that all signage at the airport was at a minimum in English as well as Swedish.  Everyone i spoke with when arriving seemed to speak excellent English, and in short its not been at all difficult initially to get along here as a Canadian in Sweden. 

Just to give a bit of contrast to those whom have never visited the Nordics, when traveling to Norway for example, the atmosphere is quite a contrast to Sweden.  The Norwegian history is full of conquest (that would be the Norwegians being taken over) and their cultural identity developed as a result of such and now when you travel to Norway the economic climate has changed due to the large oil and gas reserves off the Norwegian cost and their proudness as a peoples is also reflected in the population.  During my visits there, i found the Norwegians to be must more distant, hesitant to interact with foreigners and generally less accommodating then the Swedes.  This is also the case with signage and such....for example the fairly international hotel i stayed at had no English in their rooms, elevators, or anywhere in the hotel.  To my relief yes the receptionist did speak English.

 Yes, on first impressions Sweden seems like gumdrops and sugar blossoms and the average English speaker probably would not have any problems here but if you are one to live and work here for any length of time and work to follow the rules such as for taxation, calling about your phone bill, requesting service for your kitchen appliances you will quickly experience another side of Sweden that is far less welcoming.  Of course being here for so long you do pick up the language and for the most part although I am fluent in Swedish, i prefer to speak my mother tongue of English for the simple fact that im just more comfortable doing so.  When calling help lines for local or non-international companies here in Sweden it is rather rare to have the option to request English assistance so I would simply navigate through the Swedish menus until i reached a person.  However, in more instances that I can count now, upon getting to someone who politely says their name and how they can help you in Swedish, as soon as I open my mouth and ask weather I can speak in English, the line mysteriously disconnects. 

There have been cases where the person on the line speaks in Swedish and I reply in english, that is the best of both words as we are both more comfortable speaking our native languages and i have no problem at all with this however hanging up on someone becuase they ask if they can speak english is about the most impolite thing i have ever experienced.  Initially you want to call back, speak to a supervisor and ensure that this never happens again but the other side of me knows that this type of behaviour will never change.  As welcoming as Swedish people are to foreigners, we will always be just that: Foreign, and a contributor to the dilution and depreciation of the Swedish culture and heritage. 

The government here is hell bent on making Sweden multiclutural, however more and more I am noticing that a growing majority of people have had enough.  Perhaps this is why the Swedish Democrats are increasing in the poles every year.

The Swedish Word of the day is: ohövligt which means Rude

A racist is someone who believes in the superiority of one race over another, or who acts differently (usually negatively) towards a person or a group of people because of their race. An example would be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, who espouse the superiority of the white race.

A bigot is a blinkered, narrow-minded person, usually also very intolerant and unable to see anyone else's point of view. People can be bigoted about things that have nothing to do with race, for example, religion or sexual orientation. A prime example would be Archie Bunker from the old television sitcom "All in the Family."

All racists are bigots, but by no means are all bigots racist. That is, a racist is a bigot against a particular race or every race except for his/hers. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to 'Hook Up' With Swedish Girls - Speak English

This one thinks of herself as Nasty according to her tatoo
The title says it all folks! This is one thing that i have learned after several years here in 'The Capital of Scandinavia'.  

But a little background before i make the sweeping statement in the title.

If there is one thing that Swedish people are exposed to more then anything else it's the English language.  You see it everywhere from advertising, to television, to everyday conversation with one another.  I have spoken to many swedes who simply insert English words into their daily conversation as there is no Swedish word that fits as well and no one complains or is even remotely surprised about this.  Try to do the same thing in France, Germany, or Russia and not only will heads turn but people generally will not know what your talking about.  

English is one of the most important subjects that are enforced and reinforced in school for Swedish students.  I have met children that are only 5 or 6 years old who speak English seemingly fluently or at least well enough to understand me and be understood.  

A swede would tell you that as their country is rather small and the language rather unique, English is a necessity to succeed on the global market.  Tell this to the Creator of Ikea: every product in their mega stores is named something in Swedish, and they seem to be doing just fine.  

However conversely, Swedes can also be extra impolite in the English language.

A few days ago i had a rather unpleasant conversation with a co worker who was trying to express to me his thoughts in English on a report that was created out of my department.  As the conversation ceased being productive and bordered on unpleasant i suggested we involve my superior in the conversation to which he agreed.  The shock to me came at that next meeting.  It was held in both Swedish & English as i wanted to be sure there was no miscommunication, however understanding Swedish fluently, i had no problem if they spoke their native language.  So what happened? When the conversation switched to Swedish, the language, and tone was decidedly more respectful and pleasant.  However when the conversation switched back to English it was again bordering on rude.  Did he think that speaking in a foreign language gave him the permission to express himself bluntly, more so then he would have in Swedish ?  

But now back to the reason that many of you are probably here, the 'hooking up' that was mentioned earlier.  It turns out that most Swedish girls find 'the pickup' less committal if you speak in English and after some thought, i tend to agree with this perception.  

To a Swede, the English speaker is one that is here temporarily, because if they were here for a longer period or permanently settled here they would speak Swedish.  With this temporary status that someone has and the truth that intimate relations in Sweden generally mean nothing in terms of a relationship lasting more then a few hours and are more of a way to keep warm during the long winters and high heating costs.  

Several months ago on a trip to Malmö (AKA Sweden's Toilet), i was out at a nightclub after my Irish friend who we will call Patrick had gotten somewhat wasted after too many shots and left for home leaving me on my own.  I went in and it being a very small club found the dance floor and started talking with the first Blonde that looked to be about my height.  Through the music we started striking up a conversation and i fibbed a little bit and said i was just in Sweden for a few days for work training.  To my surprise she then offered to buy me a drink and we continued dancing and talking.  A few drinks later we headed out for an after party which involved more alcohol and a shisha pipe.  Although i understood the conversation i didn't let on and eventually convinced her to follow me back to my friends place (the one who had gone home earlier) for a night cap.  I almost blew my cover at one point as the cab driver had arrived to the street we wanted to get off at and asked in Swedish which number to which i replied in Swedish.  She immediately questioned me about this miraculous knowledge of Swedish i seemed to now have but after indicating that i had learned the numbers from 1 to 10 as well as assuming the question as we were so close i was in the clear.  The story does get a bit more complicated that night as i was unsure of exactly what was going to happen with me and this girl as i was staying on the soffa with my friend using the room and his ginormous bed.  I figured whatever happened would happen and that improvisation was the name of the game.  However it turns out someone in the heavens was looking out for me that night as when i opened the door there was my friend passed out on the soffa with his head cocked to one side in a sitting position.  

Anyhow i digress. 

There have been cases of Swedes that work as bar tenders that look of foreign origin and will only speak English no matter who the clientele are that he is serving.  Swedes tip better (or actually tip at all) to those are not Swedish.  Its a common fact that Swedish people don't tip, but that's not the case when you leave Sweden.  

However it's not all roses and butterflies to the English speaker in Sweden.  There have been several cases where I have been on phone support and request (for expediency's sake) to be served in English when they introduce themselves to me on the other end at which point i hear a click! Some swedes are so abhorrently against speaking English that they will have nothing to do with it.  

The swedish word of the day is: Information (yes its the same in both languages)