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Stockholm Sucks

A beautiful city, just be sure to avoid the Swedes


The Icy Swedes

Detachment from the affairs of other people is common in Sweden, and is rightly spoofed in Morgan Pålsson’s Swedish sketch comedy show HippHipp. During one scene, we learn the Swedes use their apartment door peepholes to scan a building’s hallways to make sure the coast is clear for them to safely exit their flats without enduring the discomfort of encountering neighbors.

Swedish Ice

Swedish Ice

Reluctance to greet acquaintances is something I experience often here at the Stockholm School of Economics. Swedish students I consider myself friendly with – that I may have engaged in a conversation with over dinner, or chatted with after class – look down at the floor or look the other way when we pass each other in the hallways. I have grown tired of this and have finally started greeting people with a warm and sincere American style, “Hello Gustav!” Or “Hej Anna! It’s nice to see you again!” in the hallways. This almost always startles them, but is something I think they appreciate after overcoming their initial unease.

Along with enduring rude and detached Swedes, getting bumped into has been a persistent theme of my stay in Stockholm. I’ve taken more stiff shoulders in the last three months, than I did during four years of high school football. Hurried Swedes barrel their way through idle bystanders with complete abandon. And the women are just as guilty of this as the men. Visitors should be particularly aware of stiff shoulders at bars and clubs when drunken Swedes become particularly aggressive, clumsy, and unaware. Drunken Swedes have a habit of literally pushing people out of the way when they are walking through a bar. Big or small, girl or guy.  Does’t matter. I’m baffled more fights don’t break out. This happens so often that I’ve become used to it – I guess its part of the culture here.

Read on to learn why even Sir Richard Branson Agrees that Swedes are Cold


38 Responses to “The Icy Swedes”

  1. August 13th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Bjorn says:

    swedes are all drunks. they can barely make it through the month waiting there paychecks to they can drink expensive vodka at the clubs. then they bump in to you because they get so drunks

  2. March 19th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Jon says:

    Hi! I’ve just read your blog and being a swede and stockholmer I must admit that you’re very right in your remarks! It really saddens me to admit it, but you’re really true.. we swedes are rude, cold and just sad creatures… since this topic interests me, I would very much like to discuss this matters further with you, including my theories of why the Swedes behave the way they do (I have quite knowledge about swedish history, traditions and culture)

  3. April 11th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    RLA says:

    How sad. They sound like a bunch of disgruntled depressives. Very sad considering they tend to be such an attractive people.

  4. April 16th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Gunsan says:

    Well what can I say. I lived in LA, New York, Berlin, London, Sydney and I lived in Stockholm and I am Swedish. Americans are shallow and rude. Ofcourse they say excuse me and HI HOW ARE YOU all the time but what is that really! Ordbajs! Empty words that they dont mean anyway. This is our culture. This is our traditions and if you dont like it then go home! It takes more than 3 month to get to know a country. I suggest that you stop complaning (as most americans do) and try to assimilate a bit better. Btw, I am proud to be Swedish!
    Have a nice daaaaaay!!!!!

  5. April 20th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Goog says:

    i think you provided a good and very informative piece of writing. i don’t agree with everything you said, but i think overall you were balanced and pointed. you were perhaps a little too harsh on the swedes and are making a big set of generalizations, but you are entitled to your opinions and to share your opinions as you see fit. as i said, i think you were a little too harsh on the swedes and i don’t think its fair that you generalize all of sweden from living in the snobbiest corner of stockholm. perhaps you can make another visit to stockholm in the summer or visit göteborg and then update your blog to see if the rest of sweden has changed your mind.

  6. May 24th, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Angie says:

    To Gunsan,
    I understand why you feel defensive and it’s great that you’re proud of your country. There are a lot of beautiful things about Sweden, but I honestly don’t believe that many Stockholmers represent your country well.
    I did get to know your country, culture and language well. I am married to a Swede (not a Stockholmer!) and my 2 children are born in Stockholm. I lived in Stockhlom for 8 years and I’m sorry to say it was for the most part a soul destroying experience. I won’t repeat all the negative adjectives regarding Stockholmers which have been flung about, but I do agree with them ALL.
    The world is a global village my friend. More and more visitors will be landing on your previously isolated shores. You guys need to loosen up, and seriously brush up on your social skills. By the way, I’m not an American, I’m an Aussie.

  7. June 4th, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Dawn says:


    I know this is an old post, but I wanted to respond. I am an American married to a Swede – but he is from Gothenburg (as he proudly says) and not Stockholm. I moved to Gothenburg from North Carolina and lived with him there for about three years. I have to say, some of the loneliest years of my life. I found it very sad how even if you said ‘hej’ or smile at anyone, if they made contact even, they would just stare back at you with glazed over eyes. Like a dead fish. I’m from the south in the states, and southerners are so friendly and welcoming.

    We are back in the states (just not the state I want to be in) but we’ve been married now for over five years. It is like I’m married but completely alone. He gets irritated if I even want to talk at all. Some days go by and we don’t even speak. He never says ‘excuse me’, he just jumps in front of me or shoves his way through. He acted like he had manners when he lived with me in the south. Those days are looooong gone. He has reverted :'(

  8. June 27th, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Avocet says:

    I am another American woman married to a Swede. Never knew how wonderful American men were until I married a Swede. So lonely. He is indirectly killing me off. I suffer in silence. He never says he loves me or expresses any love. No chivalry and he lacks communication skills. Feel a shell of the kind of happy, bubbly person I once was. Want out but cannot because of financial restraints.

  9. July 13th, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Mike says:

    A lot of this is just utter nonsense. Your experience in another country is largely a matter of perspective — if you try to impose your own culture and values on a foreign countries’ people, you will surely come away discouraged and frusturated. The beauty in travelling and being fortunate enough to live in another country is the fact that you get to experience all of the differences and nuanes that make that culture different from your own. This is a good thing! So what if they don’t hold the door, don’t jump to provide assistance to someone ostensibly in need, etc, etc, etc. Doesn’t the fact that everyone acts the same way clue you in that this is part of their culture and is an acceptable way of acting in their country (if even what was written is true)? How disappointing would it be if every foreign country you visited, they all had the same food as in America, looked the same as Americans, acted like Americans, etc. (Obviously, I’m American.) That would completely ruin the experience of visiting a foreign country. But, if that is what one is hoping for, they should never leave their home country in the first place.

  10. September 13th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    kvinna says:

    I too am an American woman married to a Swede but, my experience has been vastly different. I think dating or being marrried to a anyone is partly the luck of the draw. You can find an compatible/incompatible person anywhere. When my husband and I were first married things were very difficult due to our cultural differences and getting used to our personal differences (just like any newlyweds). My husband was all about togetherness and I was more about needing space and being more independent. So we took the time and sat down together and hashed out the ground rules (no holds barred) for how we wanted our relationship to work on an everyday basis- what would make us BOTH happy. Things were like night and day after that. I think all relationships whether romantic, platonic, cross cultural, work-related are only successful when all of the parties involved are actively participating, work at it and want it to be successful.

  11. September 26th, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Engelska Kvinna says:


    I am English. I have lived in Göteborg for 4 yrs now. I have dated several Swedish men. Most of my friends are immigrants from many different countries. I find it difficult to make friends with Swedes. I have definately stuggled at times with the lack of manners that Swedish people have. I have become kind of used to being banged into, without a glance. I am used to being told to WAIT, without please and thank you’s. I feel that the men I have dated have been much colder and more distant than the English men that I have dated. The thing that makes me really angry is the lack of customer service in shops and public buildings, such as hospitals. I just can not get used to repeatedly being ignored at reception desks whilst the staff talk to other staff members, or look at a computer. No eye contact. No, “hello, I will be with you in a moment”. Today, I again tried to talk to my current boyfriend about how much this upsets me. I asked him to help me to understand the culture, so that I could feel more comfortable with it. He obviously did not want to talk about it. Eventually, I persuaded him, but he has no answers. Neither of us understand why this happens. It is not good business sense and does not help the society in any way. Can any body explain this to us please?

  12. October 30th, 2009 at 6:45 am

    EP says:

    Interesting article. I have lived in Sweden on and off for 9 years and much of what is written is true. Instead of adding to it, I would like to know … is it different between the Swedes when you’re actually Swedish? Perhaps it’s because we’re foreigners? What are, apart from defending Sweden, the Swedes opinions on their attitudes (and please don’t say that Swedes are shy, that’s a tired and old argument which I don’t believe holds much water).

  13. December 14th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Anonymous says:

    If you don’t like it go home!! Ha ha that’s what the vikings in Denmark also say. Perhaps if they just took one minute to think that there might be something to their rudeness they might change. But that’s not going to happen. Swedes do suck, at least in Denmark they have an open air hash market!

  14. April 2nd, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    mkcy says:

    Hmmmm . . . Im a bit worried now. I’d just landed a job in Goteborg. Anyone has good advice / tips in dealing with swedes?

  15. May 12th, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Laura says:

    Hi everyone, im a latina dating a swede guy and let me tell you he is the sweetest guy i have ever known, i also know all his friends and they are very friendly people. I really think its like everything and everywhere, there are roud and nice ppl evrywhere!!!

  16. July 30th, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Anonymous says:

    Maybe nobody speaks to you because you’re a dick ;)

  17. July 30th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Swedenson says:

    That’s a good guess, but, actually, and I assure you, I’m definitely not a dick.

    I made a lot of really good friends with the other exchange students and got to be really good friends even with some of the Swedish students who introduced me to their families and who I traveled with and that I am still friends with and in touch with today.

    Plenty of people spoke with me especially since I got involved with some of the school athletics while I was there which is always an easy way to become friendly with people.

    I know it would seem that someone who writes a scathing account of the unfriendliness of the Swedes was likely a socially awkward outcast that people just don’t want to be around, but I assure you that is not me. I am actually very social, and friendly, and outgoing and generally well liked.

  18. August 4th, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Johan says:

    I am ashamed to say this is generally true, especially for stockholm. Lack of culture is not a culture.
    Most swedes have so high opinion of themselves that they dont need to care about others.

  19. September 11th, 2010 at 1:24 am

    elin says:

    hi old post I know but just thought I might add a comment. Swedish myself currently living in Norway after several years on the continent plus university back home in Sweden. Whenever I go home go visit I am struck by the same impressions mentioned in the original post and it often annoys me for the first few days, then I just seem to adjust. And I know lots of lovely Swedes! But it IS a cultural thing, mostly I think down to modesty or the phenomenon Jantelagen; Do Not Ever Believe You Are Special. Swedes in general hate to stick outlet and get attention so as we know greeting someone in a very unswedish (albeit polite) way is a way to get noticed. So we don’t do it although I think most Swedes would like to be more spontaneous and less oriented towards whats culturally accepted. But yes, we despise anything shallow. To many Swedes it’ s just a bit weird to act as if you’ re best friends with someone you’ ve just met. And I don’t think it’ s a Stockholm thing, the same goes for my part of the country which is the rural south. You need time in Sweden, I think.

  20. September 11th, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Swedenson says:

    Elin – thank you very much for your very insightful post. I don’t normally respond to posts directly, but I must say that yours was the most constructive I’ve seen in a while.

    Part of the reason for me putting up this blog was to express my frustration with the cultural alienation I experienced in Stockholm, and the other reason was to foster dialog to get a better understanding of what it was that I mis-interpreted while I was in Stockholm that made my experience so wretched. I must say that your post really helps me clear up some of the cultural mis-communications that we Americans and Swedes have had between us.


  21. October 13th, 2010 at 4:08 am

    rumenska kvinna says:

    My boyfriend is a swede. And yes, we did had our cultural differences, but we solved them step by step.Women here commented about the coldness of thier swedish husbands or in general men.Well, first of all, swedes dont think like south europeans or americans, they dont feel obligated to tell u every second they love you or to say romantic things to you. Also, they hate talking just for the sake of talking. If you want them talk active, then u must have good talking subjects, interesting, to make them feel the need to debate that with you. A random, shallow, just to talk, subject its boring for them and useless. Secondlly, swedish girls are far more independent then other european girls. Based on my conclusions, romantic words are seen as a way of “manipulation” and makes u feel u belong to smtg or someone, and swedish women do wanna keep control and stay independent. Femmenism here is very strong. Because they hate shallowness , when they said once they love you , then they really meant it. And they really do. But they wont tell u every moment just cos u wnat to hear it. They will tell you just when they stopped loving you. Be sure u will be announced about it. It’s a hard work having a relation with a person with a mentality very different than yours; but not impossible. To my swede, from the start i told him i m eastern and therefore i want him to make me feel protected and loved, no matter what. I simply told him i want things (such as flowers, candies, small gifts from tiem to time) and words that warm my soul, so every day he says the wonder words ” jag alskar dig”. Somehow i made him understand my needs and my mentality as an estern. I had to tell him how i was rised , and how we here see men-women relashinships, so he can understadn me better.

  22. October 23rd, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Elis says:

    It is not only Stockholm. I have lived in Sweden for twenty years and am married to a Swede. There are people who we know and visit, but no real friends who…Are there when you need them and true real friends. Not even my husbands family. It is not to get used to or to compare Sweden with —say the rest of the world. They are just this way. A social defect or whatever, it is not even to put them down, but if you want loving, loyal long meaningful, warm caring relationships with open, honest and genuine people go to Latin America, Italy or anywhere else because here in Sweden you won’t find it!

  23. February 16th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Anna says:

    I think you are judging the Swedes way too quickly. Whenever one lives in a foreign country one needs to try to understand the culture instead of judging other people too hastily. If you really get to know a Swede you will notice that most Swedes are nice. The problem that you mentioned is not because Swedes would be cold or arrogant, it’s because Swedes are SHY! I know this can be hard to understand to an American but it’s just the culture. They are just too shy to say hello, even if they would like to. I think that the difference here, between Americans and Swedes, is that Americans are very social and it’s easy to talk to strangers but it is really hard to get real friends. Swedes again are shy and it’s not easy trying to talk to strangers but when you finally succeed in talking to a stranger (without them running away;D) it is easier (than in USA) to establish a true frienship with this person:)

  24. March 28th, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Vlad Nedomansky says:

    I have never before in my life read so much loads of crap as here. You should all be sewed for Discrimination and spreading Racism. A year a go a Gypsy boy stole my car and I wrote about in on the net but I was charged for writing racist comments you folks have written more manure about Swedes than I ever did and you get a way with it. Im Slovakian and I have pryor to Sweden lived in Germany, Poland, Belgium, The Netherlands and now since five years Sweden. I can tell you Sweden is the best. Some her claim its difficult to get Swedish friends. Well, my brother has for 11 years now lived an dworked in UK. He has no English friends . a Scottish guy is the closest he can get. His friends are all Slovakinas, Polish, Germans and beleive it or not Swedes. I think it is difficult to get friends among the natives wherever you go. With an exception US.. But Americans are all immigrants arent they? Swedes may not be the most warmheatred but you wont suffer the risk of getting stabbed, violented, having your car destroyed. your daughters wont get raped. The biggest risk I see is that Swedes are to afraid of moslim immigrants and I think those Arabs and wherever they come from will take over Sweden. Swedes are too naive, Too shy, to afraid of conflicts. Swedes as I see it cant hurt a fly. Thats more the problem.
    Many of you haters out here are Americans and perhaps you are used to natives you face lick your asses, You have also seen too many Swedish Erotica movies, Swedes dont lick the asses of tourists.
    I will finally tell you instead of searching for bad stuff see the great things there are in Sweden instead.

  25. October 10th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Swedish ex-pat says:

    Wow, I’m amazed to find how some of you have nailed how many Swedes act. However, I think we need to keep things to what they do or did, not what they are.

    I myself am Swedish, born and raised there in Gothenburg but left when I was 19,almost 20 years ago. My entire family still lives there and I have attempted moving back several times in the last in the two decades. So why haven’t you? you might wonder? Well, it has a lot to do with the following…If you can imagine a picture frame. You should make sure that you, the way you look, say, do and the person you show outwards, match that of everyone around you, and fits inside that frame. If you however is independent, opinionated,outgoing, adventurous,open-minded, have a different style, don’t really care about what other people think about what you do, say or how you look, or what you like, have done or are doing,where you been or where you are going, are proud of it and to top it all- is completely happy…Well, then you might find it a bit hard to find likeminded people in Sweden. And it doesn’t really matter where in Sweden you live. Though it is even harder to find likeminded in smaller towns, at least from my own experience.
    I have to say though- I have two of my best friends in Sweden- til this day. One I have known since we were 8 yrs old and the other since I left Sweden (We met 1 week after I left Sweden, in the US) and have been close friends ever since.
    I find Swedes very unflexible and set in their ways. I guess this along exactly with not being different, even in their ways in their own little very over planned lives. If you want to meet up for coffee, you better put it on the calendar at least 2 weeks ahead, and you plan this by sending an SMS, and not by talking on the phone. Being on time is very important, but do not show up early either. And if you all and suddenly have unexpted company in town, don’t even think about bringing them along because the Swede will most likely be offended that you didn’t respect the private time you had planned together. This carries on to if you are invited to a party. Since your out-of-town friend would be new to the group, it would make them all uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter that your friend would be totally fine with not knowing anybody and looking forward to getting to know some new friends :)
    So lets talk about space, out an about in society. There is a funny thing about this…yes, they will elbow their way through any place, stand so close they are sniffing down your neck in line at the post-office, where you are now taking care of your banking needs and don’t want to share your private info. However, if you were to walk up and ask somebody who is sitting alone if you can share the 4 person table with them, they would get very uneasy. Now you are invating their space. Oh and do not try to start having a conversation with them. They will think that you are either 1.completely crazy and a nutcase or 2. trying to hit on them. And especially so if you speak fluent Swedish, without an accent. Because that is NOT how “normal” Swede’s behave and they would know better.
    The rule of following rules and norms goes through and through in every part of life too. If you for example go to the pharmacy, there is usually one employee out on the floor helping people answering questions. Then there is a cashier. If there are several people in line, waiting to talk to the person aswering questions and nobody is in line, don’t even think you can ask the cashier a for her/his opinion on something. You will most likely have yet another person telling you that that is not the cashiers job, she only takes payment. And never mind that the cashier was out on the floor yesterday answering questions!
    Rules are rules and ment to be followed!

    The social pressure is so big that most people are not strong enough to be different. This is often why they do what they do! Again, their acts cold and not very nice, to the outsider. But this stretches further than that. Even as a family member who moved away many years ago, I receive this treatment. Because it doen’t matter that it is is my brothers or sisters that are having the party, because their friends don’t know me, since I’m only there to visit on a rare occasion. It is starting to change a bit though. Some Swede’s have decided to try to change it. I met some of those people last time I was home, earlier this year. But even then, I had some “help” through one of my best friends, since she had the party at her house and made it clear to those invited who was going to be there, as they arrived :)But the thing is that she is much like me and is surrounding herself with likeminded.
    Now let’s talk about racism- due both to race and religion, and gay-fobia because all are huge in Sweden. Much bigger than people think. Yet something else I can’t accept, especially since I have friends from all over the world, from all walks of life, sexuality, and every religion.
    Remember- do not be different or stick out!
    So I’m still not moving home. Yes I still call it home. However when ever I leave Sweden to go back to where I live- I go home too :) Where I can go out to a dance venue (may it be Salsa, Batchata, Lindy hop, or Blues) and run into friends who are happy you came. Or call my friends up and ask if they want to do dinner, for a walk or meet up for coffee, with little to no notice that same day.
    Let’s keep in mind though – these are NOT Swedes. Because even most Swedes who have left Sweden to go live else where, will carry on their Swedish ways abroad too.
    So yes, I know how most of you feel. You can’t chang the Swedes though. You will die trying. So either embrace the things and reasons you live there-, try to find those rare Swedes who are different, or leave.
    And one more thing- you can never go “home” and think you will find it the way it was when you you left if you been gone for more than a few years, because things have changed, even in Sweden. But as a Swede, now you are in even more trouble, because you won’t have the peer group anymore that can show you the way(s).
    Good luck and good hunting!
    Cheers to all of you!

  26. January 18th, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Lydia Eriksson says:

    I think that you are to “sträng”! We Swedes aren’t that cold, we are just like you american. You have to admit that americans can be a bit rude sometimes, just like us! Yeah maybe you americans are saying “Hi, how are you?” But what does it meen? Nothing, empty words. So think before you say anything! Im proud over Sweden! c:

  27. February 12th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Maria says:

    I had to write here even if this post is old. I am totally fascinated by Swedish culture, in a good way, and it’s disappointing to know they are ”rude” as described here. I’m sure they aren’t ALL rude!! I had a swedish pen pal once (I’m from Ireland) and she was really nice, seemed really polite. She was from..Malmo if I remember clearly. I love Swedish music too my favourites are the likes of ABBA and Bodies Without Organs. I’m sure you’re generalising, but I’d hate to visit Sweden if people are rude to me. I’m shy, by nature,and don’t respond well to nastiness. I think if I did visit it’d be better to avoid Stockholm!!

  28. February 14th, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Dawn says:

    I am a born and raised New Yorker with Puerto Rican (Spanish Caribbean) roots who happens to be married with a born and raised Swede(Gothenburg). We go to Sweden every year to see the in-laws and to rest so it might be different since I don’t live there but I haven’t found the Swedish to be rude maybe somewhat reserved but not rude. My husband and I over the years have had our battles of what we consider an appropriate amount affection . I come from a place where kisses,cuddles and hugs with loved ones are common occurrence and he doesn’t. We are still continuing on a middle ground on this one but he is the most faithful understanding man I have ever met(That is why I married him ).
    My observation is that (at least from the people I have met) that Swedes don’t give their selves to just anyone till they know that person well and when they do you have a friend for life.
    As for my culture we are very open in letting people in but it may not be a lasting relationship.
    As for the rudeness… My husband after reading this told me that it really is a Shyness and a fear not to overstep or assume the other person wants to talked with. So it is best to be on ones way and not bother.

  29. February 18th, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Karl says:

    A friendly advice to foreigners/Tourists, Dont take up to much space,Dont be an attention whore, Dont expect us Swedes to crawl for you. If you head out to the pub, Dont behave like us Swedes would be whores you could invite to bed easily, This is our land and you need to respect our culture.

    Swedes are often very suspicious towards foreigners, But once we get to know one it is all fine. The most rude tourists out there in most Swedish peoples eyes is without a doubt Americans, The most friendly ones is Asians.

  30. March 10th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    mike says:

    I’m an Australian who travelled Northern Europe back in 2007. I travelled through 8 countries that year and had the bad luck to visit Stockholm. I should preface this comment by saying that I’m an average bloke and with no previous axe to grind with Swedes. What I found there totally coloured my outlook on Swedish people, which is perhaps unfair, given that Stockholm was my only stop-over.I walked into a city that was peopled with the rudest, dumbest,most pretentious wankers on the face of the planet.Stockholm, and all who reside there should be carpet-bombed…..

  31. March 21st, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    AdriaI says:

    You know what? I think I would do very well in Stockholm. Then again, I have avoidant personality disorder…

  32. April 5th, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Trotter says:

    I’ve read this post before. It’s when I realise that people keep on reading and posting comments that is like to share by thoughts. With a background being raised in a smaller town and living many years in Stockholm, living abroad and with many foreign friends, I both laughed agreeingly and found your post provocative and unfair. I understand it in its context but with the comments it’s a nasty prejudicement. One should try to aim to understand each other instead of reducing people according to ones narrow experiences.

    To call Swedish people rude and unmannered is unjust. In many ways the equality has made many less polished and more direct but I’ve grown up and know mainly people that are very well mannered. All Swedish I know are very respectful, more than most of the nationalities I know. Most are quick to help if you ask but will not approach you. Getting close is another thing because your not expected to be a burden and that goes both ways. Forming a relationship takes along time and will be a series of gestures establishing trust (like many other countries where it’s been hard to survive). I and many have the same experience when moving around that it’s difficult to connect and it helps to meet people with similar interests some how. Just talking a few times does not mean you know each other.

    And for Stockholm being a “small” big city it’s in many ways an example for all the bad sides of this. The culture of not intruding becomes to ignore instead. I found it awful at first to get back here after living abroad. It’s different. Still you see what you look for and curse ignorance fewer times than I see people behaving well if I look. And if our approach someone they will be shy and perhaps embarrassed about their English so be understanding.

  33. May 6th, 2012 at 4:57 am

    M. de Gosson says:


    I agree with everything you say about Swedes. I am much older than you are, and I spent 15 years of my valuable as a professor in a swedish University. Swedish students are (most of them) rude and ignorant (where are my american students, which are always polite and eager to laern? (I am not american though)). Swedes 8especially the gals) are often “beautiful”, but empty, without any charm.
    Your picture of the “socializing” swedes is also quite right.
    I am happy to be back in Europe now.

  34. July 16th, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Ann says:

    As a New Yorker, born and bred, I’d probably get along in Sweden, but for the rude bumping into people. I tend to stay to myself and don’t like to stand out. I’m shy and I find it hard to deal with people. I want to know real friends for life, not phoney friends. There is a large northern European influx where I live in New York. For all the talk that New Yorkers are rude, we do abide by some rules. I am so shocked that many Swedes bring their rudeness here and one noticeable one is bashing into people in elevators. They don’t wait for people to leave an elevator. They bash their way in and you have to fight to get out. It’s hard to believe that shy people would be rude. I find it obnoxious. I find other Americans obnoxious, but at least they aren’t knocking me down in an elevator most of the time. Shy and rude don’t go together. I want to visit Sweden and my German husband says… NO WAY! He hates it there. He is a chivalrous man. Very much so. I can’t imagine living with a man who was not. I think feminism has ruined Sweden and the men are rather feminine looking also, as well as acting feminine. I can only judge this by the Swedish people who are moving into New York where I live. I had a Swedish girlfriend and she was too odd for me. Too remote, too removed and too into her own head… to the point of not seeming to care about anything but her life. Her husband is the same and rather cold towards her. She doesn’t seem to mine this. I still want to visit Sweden one day and hope I find it different than the Swedish people that I have met in the US. I realize my experience is from watching immigrants. I hope to see for myself. I don’t care if they don’t talk to me, but I do care if I want to buy something in a store and get totally ignored. That is happening in the US also. Many Americans are obnoxious, but we have an awful lot of chivalrous men. I like it. So in a way, I understand… but not being shy to the point of physical rudeness. That seems rather selfish. Do they knock over little old people? I’ve called them out on it and you get a few rather cold words, no apology and a cold stare. It all creeps me out. Still, I’d like to see the Scandinavian countries. My husband likes Norway most of all. We’ll see about Sweden, but this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this.

  35. July 17th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Miranda says:

    Jesus Christ, my dear.

    Ok, Swedes do need some polishing, but I’m sorry, I’m Swedish and would obviously help anyone in need on a subway or bus (such as in the case of the tomato incident you mentioned in an earlier blog post). Or say ‘I’m sorry’ if I bump into people unintentionally. You can not judge a whole country based on a couple of bad experiences you’ve had. From my understanding you were here for three months during the three most terrible months of the Swedish year. Dec-March. It might sound simple, but I also saw somebody else suggest it – come back in the summer. Sweden is a completely different country then. I would say all Swedes are depressed during winter, because of all the darkness (including myself). I definitely believe this will affect people’s mood and probably even culture in the long run.

    I think it’s a bit sad that you have started a blog called ‘Stockholm sucks’. I mean come on – I’m sure you must have had some nice experiences during your time here. How can you choose to focus only on the negative? Yes, Swedes are different from Americans. Yes, Swedes will take longer to get to know, but once you’ve gotten to know them, they’ll be your friends for life. Maybe they won’t start talking to strangers in the street, but this does not mean they’re hostile. I’ve seen so many examples of the tomato incident that you described in an earlier blog post that have worked the complete opposite way around. There are few countries in the world where I’ve spoken to so many tourists saying that Swedes are friendly, because they’ve all had experiences e.g. of Swedes coming up to them when standing with a map in the street to ask if they needed help finding the way. (I always do myself.)

    And the blog post comment above about that Swede’s lack service? Jesus, christ! Have you been to a hospital, bar or any sort of institution in Southern Europe? They don’t know how to even spell service (lived in Spain for a year, and keep visiting often due to my Spanish boyfriend, and have travelled all across Southern (as well as the rest of) Europe at various road trips and interrails throughout the years)). (But then you’ll instead have more time to talk with your friends before the food comes, there are pros and cons with everything.) Or in the States too for that matter. (From my experience e.g. healthcare service in Sweden works 10 times better than at any hospital or care center I visited during my time living in NYC (which were quite a few, since I had neck and back trouble at the time), but then again I only lived in NYC for three months, so who am I to judge. ;))

    I think one factor that might have contributed to the fact that your overall view of ‘Sweden’ is so negative is that you seem to have mainly hung out in the upper class posh social sphere of Stockholm. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they do tend to, to a larger extent than in other social groups, be ignoring, both when you run into them in the street or at a party. But I don’t like to make that sort of generalizations, because of course there are tons of exceptions to that rule as well, I myself have grown up in privileged areas of Stockholm and am one, and know of many others that are always warm and welcoming.

    The club scene of Stureplan (where the posh hang out) I generally try to avoid, but whenever I need to go there I try to plan my night well so I won’t get annoyed by overpriced entry fees or bar prices, bouncers that believe that they are the kings of the world and other sort of stupidity. There’s a much larger party scene in Stockholm than that, so I hope you got to discover this as well.

    I will give you that (something you commented on in an earlier post), Swedes can get quite stupid when they get drunk, but that would happen in many other countries as well (UK, Ireland, other Nordic countries to name a few), and as I said earlier – all countries come with pros and cons, you’ll only have to find ways to work around those that annoy you and try to focus on the positive bits.

    I really hope someone took you ice skating on a beautiful lake or skiing in the woods or in any of the nearby mountains, so you also got to see why Swedes love their nature so much and other positive sides of the Swedes.

    And next time, before you name a whole blog that ‘this and that sucks’ and focuses all your writing on your negative views on, and experiences of, this topic – try to find out why instead (instead of going ahead and making generalizations about everyone). And if you really can’t at least blend some of your posts with what’s positive as well. No country in the world is all negative – and if you really don’t believe me – please get in contact with me next time you’re back, and I’ll show you why Sweden doesn’t need to be all about that negativity that you seem to believe.

    And by the way, seriously – Swedes spitting more than Chinese (that another blog post was about)? Are you kidding me? I’ve seen like three Swedes spit in my life, way fewer than I’ve seen during my 2+2+1 weeks travel in China over the years. And then I’ve lived here for almost 30 years. Yes, there are some girls that also chew snuff, but I would say they’re a disappearing few and nothing like the common law in the street. That blog post almost made me laugh, I mean, come one, relax with the generalizations for a moment. Please.

    And by the way (nr 2), if Swedes will come through to you as rude in any English conversation it might also be because their level of English isn’t good enough. Swedes like to take pride in how good they are at speaking English, but when it comes to speaking in a way that fully captures the cultural nuances that a native English speaker masters I would say there are few Swedes that speak that good English. And the Swedish language as such is more direct (withouth being considered rude when speaking in Swedish), so when Swedes try to direct translate this, they might come across as rude.

    Thank you and have a good day!

  36. March 31st, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Robert says:

    I find Swedish people more or les like anybody else, although I have to admit that they do have a tendency to be distant and aloof. I have been to Sweden, and have met friendly Swedes, cold, distant Swedes, and very average type Swedes.
    Sadly, one Swedish characteristic common in the population is a type of conceit and arrogance. The good-looking ones in particular tend to be very pleased with themselves, and this snobby narcicissism shows.
    On the other hand, the Swedes can be very civic-minded and polite. Genetically, they seem introverted and shy, but often, if you are lucky enough to get past that, you will find an extremely nice, sensitive person.
    Actress Inger Stevens was considered such. She was aloof on the outside, but was known to all her friends as a caring and warm individual.
    As to why so many Swedes are so good-looking, it’s genetic. Why? I don’t know, but why are so many Scots and Irish people homely? It’s the luck of the draw, and remains a biological mystery.

  37. September 3rd, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Marie says:

    I’m an American married to a Swede, living in New York and planning a move to Stockholm. I figure that saying excuse me likely seems unecessary since its obvious in a physical way that he needs to get by. They’re very logical and don’t like needless vocal interactions. It’s nothing personal. He’s loyal, respectful and the nicest guy I know. I learned to speak Swedish and have a great time when we visit. If you want to have a good time in a country, learn the language and customs & don’t be surprised if you feel like an outsider. You are!

  38. January 17th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Karina says:

    Don’t Swedes realize that “cold and aloof” doesn’t work very well for building or sustaining a relationship, much less a marriage? To have a relationship or marriage that will stay strong through the bad times as well as the good, you need to develop a strong bond, and this is done by building emotional intimacy over time, and sustaining it. Relationships take work, they don’t maintain themselves on their own. Sharing one’s personal history with each other, displaying affection and telling each other you care, being supportive through someone’s personal struggles, sharing inner thoughts and feelings, all these things and more are the foundation and framework for a strong partnership that will withstand the challenges of stressful times and all manner of difficulties. “Cold and distant” in a marriage or partnership is the path to divorce court or abandonment.

    I know a few Swedish men who were abandoned by their girlfriends whom they cared for quite a bit, because the women didn’t know how deeply the men cared. The women waited for the “cold and aloof” stage to pass, and the warm, sweet phase to begin, but it never did, so they thought the guys didn’t like them “in that way”, and left eventually.

    Is it just me, or does this seem a bit dysfunctional? Does it really work for the Swedes? Is this partly due to the residual effect of a somewhat Victorian history? (Someone posted elsewhere here that the church used to have a very strong influence, resulting in family relationships, even between parents/grandparents and children, that were fairly stoic, and not emotionally demonstrative.)

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