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.
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.