Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The biggest differences I've noticed in Sweden: Vol. 4

Sankt Eriksbron, bridge between Kungsholmen and Vasastan  |  The biggest differences I've noticed in Sweden: Vol. 4 on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

To the right, to the right:
The universal rule (maybe not in British countries and former colonies) of staying to the right doesn't seem to apply here. I religiously float to the right when I'm walking up or down staircases and on sidewalks, but for some reason Swedes generally seem to walk wherever they'd like regardless of which direction they're facing and the inevitable chaos they create in public spaces. Maybe it's the equality card coming into play?

Red, yellow, green, yellow, red:
In the U.S. traffic lights change from green to yellow before red so that drivers can begin slowing down. Here, the lights also change to yellow before green. This helps cyclists to reposition themselves on their bikes to push off and alerts drivers of manual cars that have turned off their engine while they wait out the red light to turn them back on. So helpful.

Washing up:
Most Swedes seem to store sponges, brushes and dish soap under the counter, hardly ever on the rim of the sink as we usually do in the U.S. With all the beautifully-designed products and accoutrements here, you'd think that wouldn't be the case, but perhaps it makes sense given the minimalistic mindset.

Kitchen apparatuses:
Another thing that's more "manual" here: can openers, which are basically curved knives that scare me to death and which I still haven't mastered yet. Most cans I open are a jagged mess with their contents spilled all over the counter and me a shaking wreck that requires a few minutes of settling-down-time afterwards when I realized that I've once again managed to not slice my hand open, even though I was sure I would.

Wrapping rhymes:
I remember my first Christmas in Stockholm 7 years ago when we were sitting around the Christmas tree and passing presents to each other and I saw that instead of the standard "For J. From X." written on packages, a full-fledged rhyme was there instead! Swedes have a tradition of writing out proper rhyming verses on EVERY Christmas present! Such a creative and dedicated bunch! I'll have to see what I can manage this year...in Swedish!

As proof of the Swedes' dedication to this lovely tradition, one of the scheduled activities at the Biskops Arnö Christmas Market we visited earlier this month was a rimastuga (rhyming cottage) where students in writing / poetry programs were helping visitors prepare for Christmas by fashioning appropriate poems for their presents!

P.S. Not exactly related, although definitely a Swedish difference!, the New York Times just published their take on the housing situation in Stockholm, which I've mentioned before is quite a problem here.

*A few more Swedish differences:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3 


  1. how interesting..nepal is the same way when it comes to traffic light which confuses the heck out me.

  2. Hiya Dixya! So nice to see you!

    It took me such a long time to get used to the light situation here...and sometimes I still forget and have to snap to when it's "suddenly" green and start pedaling furiously. :)

    Thanks for coming by and leaving a note—hope all is well with you! Xx.

  3. Really interesting! But OMG the can opener sounds terrifying. I'm so clumsy, I'd probably end up missing a few fingers! So glad you're settling so well - it seems like a wonderful place xxx

  4. It is EXTREMELY TERRIFYING! Even more so because I'm tempted to close my eyes each time, making it even more perilous! :)

    I really am settling in well and I do love it here—thanks for checking in, dear! Xx

  5. Hey dear—I've tried to leave comments for you on your blog, but I keep getting told to say something useful (which, ha, I actually found amusing...at least the first two times! :). Any tips for what I have to do to successfully leave a comment for you?

    PS. Here's the message I get:
    "ERROR: Your comment appears to be spam. We don't really appreciate spam here. Please go back and try to say something useful."


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note!