The immutable coldness of Scandinavians - Thoughts from a rocky Skywiew

5개월 전
I am Latino, hence, this post is biased. Please don't take this personally my northern European reader, because it's not. I laugh out loud, dance weirdly and without shame, usually shout and scream and my energy could be considered as too much sometimes for the European standard, let alone the Scandinavian one.

I had met Scandinavian people before, but never in their own country. I had a thing with a Danish girl in 2012, was pretty good friends with a Norwegian dude in 2015 and spent some weeks with a swedish girl in 2017. The thing is, all of those interactions happened in Mexico, Central America or the United States, and even thought we had extreme cultural differences and overall personalities, we still got along perfectly. I noticed that sometimes they struggled to keep up with the environment or with how other non viking people behaved but at the end of the day, they adapted, mainly because - or so I think - they were in foreign land and you know the drill, when in Rome, do as the Romans.

Also, I met them and interacted with them while they were on vacation, relaxing and trying to enjoy life, not living their normal lives and their daily problems, struggles and immersed in their routine.

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I knew beforehand that coming to Sweden would be a challenge, not just because of the outrageously high prices but also because I heard Swedish - and Scandinavian people in general, with normal exceptions - are not very open to making new acquaintances, friendly to people outside their inner circle and are not very chit-chatty with random people. This is not a good or a bad thing and I´m only describing what I was expecting from Stockholm and its inhabitants, wether it was because of comments I got from friends, my own experience with Scandinavians or maybe following stereotypes.

Now, I wasn´t expecting to arrive in Stockholm and meet the love of my life on the bus stop, or make a BFF (if you are not a posh girl from the 90´s and you don´t know what this means, it stands for Best Friend Forever) while having a beer in a bar.

Of course I knew I couldn´t just start a conversation with a girl walking her dog and end up traveling with her for three weeks like I did in Guatemala; I was sure as hell there was no possible scenario where I would meet a group of dudes on the Street and end up on a private party with the Blue Jays crew in Toronto, Canada; there was no way I could just ask for instructions on how to get to X place and the girl offered to take me and we end up dating like it happened in Moscow.

But hell, I was for sure not expecting that people wouldn´t even look at me on the street or acknowledge my presence - or anybody else´s presence. I´ve been here for a few weeks now and I´m used to it now but damn, it was hard at the beginning. I´ve met Swedish local folk, not many but some, and so far I´ve learned that not even they like how Swedish people behave, but it is what it is. It´s a mix of cultural behaviour, education and values (it´s considered rude to look at people for more than a second or more than one time), personality (stereotypical personality) and in my opinion, lack of Sun and good weather which depresses them to the point of being unfriendly at all times :P

I mean they are not unfriendly, I was joking there but you get my point. If I go to the corner store, most of the times I´ll get a smile from the cashier and maybe even exchange some words, but that´s just because they are on the clock; after that, they don´t really socialize with people outside of their inner circle.

I have tried to socialize or interact with strangers the way I´ve done it in many other countries and tried to make friends this way to no avail. I just can´t go past the initial polite greeting smile I get from them and then the shy smile and perhaps a small laugh but that´s it. I can´t get to the real conversation or the establishing acquaintance status.

I have tried this to no avail with my neighbours, with the bartender of the bar in the corner, with people that frequent the outside gym I go to, with strangers on the street, with people waiting for the bus. For the Europeans reading this, perhaps their first thought is "Well yeah, that´s not the way to meet people!"... but for me, it is, it is one of the most organic and satisfactory ways of meeting strangers.

Of course I can meet people if I get enroled in a Swedish language course, or if I start going to Salsa lessons or join a book club or a sports team. Aha! You thought you could write this to me in the comment section, European friend. "Oh, anomad, you´re doing it wrong, if you want to meet people in Scandinavia you have to do X and Y in Z circumstances.".

But no, that´s not the point. I´m not talking about how easy it is too met Scandinavian people in their preferred scenarios for making friends or have a sense of belonging in a social group.

I´m talking about The immutable coldness of Scandinavians in a day by day routine.

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I once read somewhere that hooking up is surprisingly easy and straight forward in Iceland. (Though I don't know how much it applies to Sweden, and also I can't say for myself as I've never been to Scandinavia.) It said people simply compare their sexual preferences and what they're looking for, without much flirty double-talk around it, and if they find they match up, they simply leave. Sure, this may sound cold and sterile to some, for others it may have the purity, simplicity and plain honesty of fresh snow covering the landscape.

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To be honest I haven't tried the flirting at bars or clubs part because my hands are tied on that matter, but I'm dying to do that because I heard something similar as what you say, at least in clubs where one of the main points is hooking up. Perhaps on another occasion I can try that side of the coin haha.

Been a while man, thanks for dropping by!

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Oh yeah, of course, I forgot to mention that this goes for bars, clubs, and places where hooking up is the main objective. I don't think it would work the same way in a bus-stop or at the grocery store... although, it all depends. If both parties are interested, and happen to match, the location is secondary.

Sounds more like a place for an introvert like me! Would be interesting being an introvert latino there! Maybe I can experience the other side!

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I´ve met Swedish local folk, not many but some, and so far I´ve learned that not even they like how Swedish people behave, but it is what it is.

Haha, we all think were supposed to be turned inward, yet everybody thinks to themselves that it would be nicer if everyone was more open. Yet how is anyone supposed to realize that when nobody is going to talk about it?

We are like a family that goes to a holiday even though nobody wants to, because each thinks the others want to go, lol.

Of course I knew I couldn´t just start a conversation with a girl walking her dog and end up traveling with her for three weeks like I did in Guatemala; I was sure as hell there was no possible scenario where I would meet a group of dudes on the Street and end up on a private party with the Blue Jays crew in Toronto, Canada; there was no way I could just ask for instructions on how to get to X place and the girl offered to take me and we end up dating like it happened in Moscow.

I (would) love this type of random stuff. Just doesn't happen back at home unfortunately :(

I just can´t go past the initial polite greeting smile I get from them and then the shy smile and perhaps a small laugh but that´s it. I can´t get to the real conversation or the establishing acquaintance status.

Trying to find your way into a Nordic person's heart on a first meet – whoever manages to do that should be granted a Nobel price.

Protip: go to the bar and find the drunkest person there. You have a 50/50 chance he's going to become your best friend (at least for the night). The other 50% you're going to get punched in the face. The percentages don't reflect any kind of real statistics nor even anecdotal evidence, so they may vary from the ones stated.

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Ah, the insider view! Ha ha. This is why I love Steem. I can’t help thinking of #steemfest3 and all the great conversations we had with people from all over the world, and how little our cultural differences matter at the end of the day.

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I can’t help thinking of #steemfest3 and all the great conversations we had with people from all over the world, and how little our cultural differences matter at the end of the day.

All the cultural norms are thrown out the window when there's Steem to unite us all :D

Such a fun read. I love any discourse on the human condition and the ways in which people interact based on who they are. Of course we want to avoid stereotypes, but observations on the habits, tendencies and typical demeanor of a culture are something different, I think. And though you added the disclaimer that you are biased, the fact is that it’s impossible to share an opinion that is unbiased.

In some magical alternate universe we can truly celebrate our differences without it becoming an us-vs-them conversation, or one in which the discussion of our cultural norms does not automatically establish hierarchy. No matter who we are, we bring to the table our beliefs and habits based on where we grew up and how we were raised, and we should be able to observe the results contributing to our society’s current cultural tensions.

You did a great job of talking about these things from a personal perspective that gives us a wry look at how different cultures engage in conversation and friendship, without any harsh judgement. It just is what it is. And by golly, you have tried to cross the cultural divide!

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... lack of Sun and good weather which depresses them to the point of being unfriendly at all times :P

Partly this I think, so when in Mexico they are all vitamin D'ed up and loving life.

When are you leaving for the sunshine?

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Partly, not completely, but they have that excuse going for themselves haha. Soon, hopefully. I think Friday, I'll let you know on DM :D

There is no doubt that the sun and the weather plays a role on this. Just come to my home country Brazil and you will notice that easily.

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I think that Swedish people are still under the socialist hand which doesn't give them enough length to express them freely. They live the good life, but they aren't spreading too much and they live a balanced life. The coldness might come from their mindset as a whole with each one doing its own due to the country and itself, but that's about all.

I'm a Romanian and if you traveled in Romania I'm sure you felt the warmth of daco-romans which blood flows through our veins.

Nevertheless, the diversity is good and some of it makes us appreciate some things more than others. Cheers!

ahahahah that's exactly how I felt in Poland! I was like maaannn these people are COLD and they never smile! Even when you make a joke, they look at you like you're trying to do something bad to them, and it's so hard to get them to be friendly. I think I've been living in Latin America for too long. In my country (Luxembourg) people are pretty cold too, but maybe not that cold...you can easily make a joke to a stranger in the street. I've never been to Scandinavia so not sure how it is there. The only scandinavians Iknow, I've met them outside too and they strike me as hardcore party people =)

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