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Life as a student at Stockholm Business School

Unspoken Swedish Rules: Part 1

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Hej allihopa!

How fun would it be if I started a series of posts focusing on the ‘unspoken rules and customs of Sweden?’ I think it could prove to be fun, interesting, and hopefully useful to those of you new or unaccustomed to Swedes or life in Sweden, as I myself was not that long ago.

Part 1: No line-cutting in the land of Swedes. 

There’s something Swedes have grown so accustomed to that they wouldn’t even bat a lash at, but for those of us coming from countries where life doesn’t consist of lines and queues at every place you go, you will bound to bat more than just last so to speak.

Here in Sweden, Stockholm included, lines will be a big part of your life. They are everywhere- literally! Think banks, the return counter at IKEA (although this one we do have in the States as well), your local tax office (Skatteverket), the list goes on and on. So, what’s with Swedes and their love for queuing? Well, it may be that Swedes are an orderly and structured bunch of folks, rational too if I might add.

Seeing as lining up and queuing will become a central part of your new life as a Swedish expat, here are two points that you might like to consider as well as refrain from doing:

  • When in doubt: Get in the store, locate the ticket machine and get yourself a numbered queue slip, and get yourself in line.
  • I highly recommend you refrain from cutting in line in any form or fashion. Not only is this totally not socially acceptable, but it will drive your fellow Swedes nuts, literally. (No, I have not done so myself, but I have seen some do so).

As odd as this love of waiting and lining up may seem to you, wherever you are from, you best get used to it quick. Practicing your patience might be a good way to prepare for life in Sweden too, as Swedes are not an impulsive, rushy bunch as we New Yorkers typically are. Goodness knows I’ve had my patience tested on more than one occasion during my transition here.

Enjoy what I like to call ‘the art of standing’ and lastly, happy standing everyone!

Until next time,

Olivia

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Author: oliviavonsydow

New York City - Sweden

2 thoughts on “Unspoken Swedish Rules: Part 1

  1. I’ve heard about that, and I think it’s a great thing they got going there. Here in South Africa, you stand in queues for everything too, but there’s no tickets, so people have a tendency to cut in all the time. What’s worse is that the people working in the specific place you’re lining up for, or to see, are too lazy to work, and take their sweet time. At some places you have to be there super early in the morning, and you might be lucky if you get to go home later that afternoon. Sometimes you have to go back a few days in a row (happened to me when I had to go get my driver’s license). So a ticket system is bliss, lol.

    • Your system sounds a whole lot like the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) back in the United States. So one thing’s for sure, the Swedes are an efficient bunch!