By: Silvia L. Prieto
Stockholm has always been my dream city to move to, so when I finished with my Bachelor’s degree, I said “it’s now or never” and… here I am! However, being here now is making me realize how many differences there are between Sweden and Spain! Here are some of them:
1. Fika is a state of mind.
I’m so used to meeting my friends after lessons almost every day in Spain that I didn’t give enough importance to fika at the beginning. BUT, fika is not just having a coffee! It is THE MOMENT everybody is waiting during the day to disconnect from routine, socialize and have a good conversation with friends! So, fika can never be underestimated!
2. You don’t improvise. Not a lot, anyway.
After my first month trying to understand why some of my Swedish friends were never accepting my last-minute plans, I realized here things are just not done that way! If I want to have a dinner with friends I know I can’t send a message at 17 to meet at 19. I should ask one day, check schedules and book a day for that dinner!
3. Socks are very important. Don’t ever forget to wear them.
I know this is common in other countries – but in Spain, NO ONE takes off his shoes at others place. If someone does it, it is seen as taking too much confidence and it is really not polite! I never gave much more thought to which socks I should wear till I arrived to Stockholm and then I realized everyone is going to see me without shoes!
4. The sun is a precious thing.
I don’t know how many times I covered my windows to avoid the sun coming in because it was “disturbing” me. I clearly underestimated the sun my whole life! Now whenever it appears spontaneously for 5 minutes, I run out to catch the light and enjoy it! Even now, I enjoy starting the days earlier because: Who knows when will be the next time you have a sunny day?
5. My budget is the same but my perspective has changed.
There was a time when paying 1,50 EUR for a good coffee and a sweet was normal, buying a soda for 0,80 EUR was reasonable and paying 1,20 EUR was feeling stolen. Then I moved to Stockholm, and I felt that paying for a cappuccino which is 35 SEK instead of 40 SEK is a super good deal! And when I go to Spain, I feel everything is super cheap!
6. You don’t think you’re late but then, you are.
In Sweden, meeting at 20.00 for dinner at someone’s place means meeting at 20.00. However in Spain, this is so different! If someone invites you to come at 20.00, everybody knows that this will mean arriving at least, at 20.30, to not put pressure on the host who is maybe still not ready yet. Of course without knowing this bit of information, everyone felt that I was very rude arriving late all the time! Fortunately, I learnt this the hard way!
Although the two cultures can have such a huge difference, I think knowing them is a great thing, and so funny sometimes! 🙂