I have been here in Växjö, Sweden for about 13 days now and I am in love! Växjö is a small town in southern Sweden; it’s a 4 hour train ride from the infamous Stockholm and an hour from the very first Ikea.
I currently live 2 miles off-campus, which resulted in the purchase of my own bike. This bike has helped me move from Point A to Point B with ease, and the views are incredible to say the least. My daily commute consists of: women/men pushing their children around in strollers, senior citizens riding bikes around the lake, and playing with the neighborhood cat named “King of Växjö Lake” (according to the locals).
Riding my bike everyday has shown me not only a key way in how this community functions, but has also shown me how much the people of Växjö appreciate the outdoors. I can never ride my bike without seeing kids and/or adults walking around, riding bikes, or simply just sitting down and enjoying the fresh air. All of these things have made my time here that much more enjoyable.
Living here has not been much of a culture shock, but there are definitely some differences between Swedish culture and American culture. According to a “reliable” source, YouTube, there was a few things to expect from this new culture I was about to jump into. Yes, my reliable source is YouTube.
First off, Swedes are known for being reserved and a bit shy. Needless to say they are extremely outgoing with some drinks in their system. But, do not, and I emphasis this, do not try to talk to them the next day. It takes time to work up to that.
Secondly, in the U.S., I feel that it’s polite to smile or say hello to people who walk passed you, but, if I do that here most people would think:
A) she’s drunk
B) she’s psycho
C) she’s American
D) all of the above
Unfortunately, I can’t contain myself and I’m positive that every person I have passed has thought that I was one or more of these things. I have given the whole “no eye contact” thing a try, but I can only do it for so long.
Watching all of these videos made it sound as if it’s difficult to befriend a Swede and all I can think to myself is…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I can now say that I have a Swedish friend and he has confirmed all of these stereotypes.
Although there may be some cultural differences, this place has been great to me. Whenever I need help with directions or whatever it may be, people are always willing to do their best to help.
Thank you, Växjö you are an incredible host and I can’t wait to see what these next 10 months have in store.
PS. If you want a little glimpse of the Swedish culture, I highly suggest that you check out this hilarious video.