I’ve been so busy with work and the podcast that I just realized I haven’t written in a while. Time to remedy that!
The podcast I’m doing about people from other countries that have moved to Sweden (Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow) has been so much fun. Being one of these people from another country, I’ve always found a lot of humor in the mistakes and strange things about trying to fit into another culture and it’s fun to see how people all over feel the same way.
I also enjoy learning about cultural issues that may not have even crossed my mind, like when Hana from Singapore told me that when she moved to Sweden, it was the first time she ever had to buy socks (it was so hot in Singapore that she always wore sandals).
Everyone is full of stories about misunderstanding the language. And almost every person, no matter what country they are from, misses food the most. (That’s right, food and not people – because food can’t email or Skype).
If you like podcasts and enjoy ‘fish out of water’ type stories, check out some of my episodes. Each one is only 20-30 minutes and the main point is to learn something, but keep it funny.
It’s available anywhere you get your podcasts – iTunes, Spotify, Google, etc. Just type in “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow”. I hope you enjoy the stories and people as much as I do!
For the first time ever, I read about an expat to Sweden who thinks Swedes are “too friendly!”
In our local paper’s letter section, a person identifying themselves as having a foreign background states:
Staff at stores, I am not your friend! Quit saying hello to me when I come up to the cash register. I am not obliged to speak to you and I don’t appreciate it. Just scan my groceries and don’t speak to me!
For the record, that’s really all they say to you at the store in Sweden. They aren’t like Americans who try to upsale or feel a need to comment on your purchases. Here in Sweden, they just acknowledge you with a hello and then tell you the total. That’s all.
Generally, all fellow foreigners I talk to complain about how cold and unfriendly Swedes can often seem. So my question is, what country is this person from where they think that a cashier saying “hello” is crossing the friendship line?
….to call this “cake.” This is a Swedish “sandwich cake (smörgåstårta).” Sometimes served at gatherings.
When I first came here, I learned the Swedish word for cake (“tårta”) very quickly, as you do. Thus, when I was offered something that sounded like, “bork bork tårta,” I said, “Yes, please – a big slice!”
To which I was served something with eggs and cocktail shrimp. When you are expecting frosting and sugar, I can tell you this is a huge disappointment.
I suspect they do this on purpose to irritate foreigners. The Swedes know good and well this shouldn’t be called “cake.” Never again will I fall for this ruse!
Now, where’s this ostkaka I keep hearing about? That’s cheesecake, right?
Many of us foreigners who move to Sweden like to tell stories of the horrible mistakes we’ve made in the grocery store. Two of my friends made a cake with yeast because they couldn’t tell the difference between that and baking powder.
Besides making mistakes in good and bad food products, my most memorable mistake was buying what I thought was shampoo. For one month I went around with greasy hair thinking there was something wrong with the water or air around here until I found out that my bottle that said, “balsam” translated to “conditioner.”
So when you see one of us foreigners walking around Sweden with bad hair carrying around food that you would never eat yourself, please remember how it would feel if you couldn’t read anything and hand that person the green striped milk and the decent yogurt (2 of the toughest things to figure out with a lot of trial and error).