Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Impressions

I thought it might be fun to write about a few of my first impressions of Stockholm and Sweden and then see if any of those change after living here.

Smiling - No one smiles here and summer is supposed to be when people in Stockholm are the happiest.  I should clarify that when I say no one smiles, I mean in passing they don't smile.  When you are out to dinner or with friends then people will smile but if you pass someone on the street and make eye contact smiling doesn't follow.  This seems strange to me.  Maybe it is a Midwest thing but where I come from, people smile or at least nod their head to acknowledge your presence.  That doesn't happen here.  When we were here in June I was going up an escalator and I was smiling.  The guy in front of me said, "Wow, you are very smiley.  Are you happy?"  I wasn't expecting that question, most people would just smile back.  I wouldn't consider myself an overly smiley person (This is true for me especially at school. I've been told I come across very serious, some might even say it takes a while/a year to get to know and love the real me :) . . . you know who you are.) but when you are around people who never smile I guess I'm considered a smiley person, wouldn't have ever classified myself as that.

Flip Flops - I can count on one hand the number of people I've seen wearing flip flops.  I'm guessing with all the walking they have figured out flip flops aren't the best for your feet.  Before living here I would walk around in flip flops all day and my feet would be fine.  Well, walking around in flip flops in Olathe and walking around in Stockholm are two totally different things.  If we had a car I could see how flip flops would still work just fine but since we use public transportation and walk a lot my feet get really tired.  One of my first Swedish purchases was new shoes.

Shoes - I am not a shoe girl.  I don't tend to get excited about shoes and if they aren't comfortable I'm not buying them.  It does seem like here they care about comfortable shoes since they walk so much.  However, I'm not sure I love the style of comfortable shoes they have.  Lots of people wear Converse lace up shoes which is fine.  But they wear them with everything, regular jeans, skinny jeans, skirts, dresses, capris, etc.  A lot of people have white ones that are really dirty from being walked in so much.  I think people also wear tennis shoes on their commute to work and then change into "cute" shoes once they get to work.  I have a feeling I might be doing that.  I had a hard time finding shoes that I thought would be comfortable to walk in plus something I would wear again in the states.  I also wanted a pair I could wear with skinny jeans.
I finally settled on these.  So far I like them.  Pretty wild huh?

Healthy people - There are very few overweight people here.  I'm guessing it is a combination of all the walking they do but also the food both cost and selection.  Food is expensive.  Meat is especially expensive.  I bought ground beef for tacos and it was $7.45 for one pound.  They also don't have a lot of junk food at grocery stores.  Plus you have to carry everything home which makes you really think hard before putting it into your basket.  They are very into cheese, bread and coffee.  Everyday they take a fika break.  A fika (fee-ka) break is a coffee/tea break in the afternoon usually around 3:00 and they usually eat something sweet at that time as well.  Today I went to a faculty meeting at a school right at 3:00 which was their fika time.  They had coffee, tea, bread, cheese, tomatoes, cookies and chocolate.
This is my idea of a fika break.  I don't like coffee but I sure do love chocolate!
This picture is from June.  I decided I might have to try some coffee (or a Mocha Latte) if I was going to enjoy fika like the locals.

Public Transportation - We will not have a car this year instead we will be using public transportation. I actually really like it.  It is fun getting on the metro and riding it around.  I don't like using Google maps sometimes though because it will say it takes 7 minutes by car but 20 minutes by public transportation.  I do think I'll miss driving.  I love to drive, especially to clear my head.  Although I'm not sure I would want to drive here.  At least not until I take some Swedish lessons.  The public transportation is easy to use. I've noticed everyone is on their phone on the metro.  About 60% of them also have headphones in listening to music or talking to someone through their headset.  No one makes small talk here.  This might go back to the Midwest smiling thing but I think if there were metros in Olathe people would make small talk. Here they don't.  For now that is fine since I can't speak Swedish.  Sometimes it feels really strange/lonely being on the metro with everyone looking at their phones, not talking to anyone and not smiling at anyone even when you are surrounded by people.
This was my view out the metro one day.  

Job - Originally we planned on moving here at the beginning of August so I could have time to find a job before the school year started over here.  That didn't happen.  I did have one potential opportunity with a school in Bromma.  I met/interviewed with the assistant Principal there my second week here.  The interview went well however they don't have any positions.  I offered to volunteer until I could possibly sub and then I could get to know the students and the staff.  They seemed confused by this.  Apparently people don't volunteer here.  I was put on their sub list and I decided to continue to look for other schools.  I really wanted to find a place that could be my school home for the next year.  I wanted to be able to work with kids and meet some people.  I found another school and contacted the principal.  We met at the beginning of this week and then again today.  They don't have any positions available now but they are excited that I want to volunteer.  They are working on a schedule and I will hopefully start this Friday or next Monday.  I went to a faculty meeting today to meet the staff.  I'm excited about this new adventure!
This is my new school.

I'm interested to see how these first impressions change over the course of the year.  So far I have had very positive first impressions.  I feel safe in the city and I look forward to making this place feel more like home.  I'm sure over the next few weeks and months I will run across some first impressions that aren't so great.  But I have been known to say that I am thankful that first impressions aren't always the last impression.


  1. Just don't get too comfortable...I want you to come back =)

  2. Congrats on the "job"!

    When people come to visit you - you all need to hop on the public transportation and talk to people. Bring a bit of the midwest to Sweden!

  3. I know a lady from Sweden who, along with her husband, has a coffee-and-sweets break every afternoon. Now I understand - it was a fika break!


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