Scandinavia is generally known for it’s happy people and healthy lifestyle, but there are some things that I, as an expat living in Scandinavia, find completely weird – in a fun way.
I will never forget 9 years ago when my cousin and I first arrived in Scandinavia. We first settled in Sweden and then later I moved to Denmark. From day one, it was a shock. The lifestyle in Scandinavia, was so completely different compared to other countries I’ve lived in. These days, I got used to it and most things seem natural to me, but there are still some things I find funny and interesting and maybe you will too:
Alcohol in Sweden – Sweden was the first country I lived in when I arrived in Scandinavia and I’ll always remember staying in the queue at SystemBolaget on Friday afternoon to buy alcohol. And no, that is not a trendy bar, but instead the store where you can buy alcohol, not just a store but the ONLY stores in Sweden where you can buy alcohol. And no, I am not an alcoholic but I do enjoy my little glass of wine here and there. Compare that to other countries, even Denmark right next door, where you can buy alcohol at every supermarket, gas station or small corner shop, Sweden has no such thing. In supermarkets, you can get low alcohol beer, but if you want anything stronger, your only chance is SystemBolaget.
Blood donors – Since I’ve started sharing facts about Sweden, I thought I would share another one that I found on factrepublic.com, Blood donors are sent a text message every time their blood is used to save a life. Sweet, right?
Biking in Denmark – As you probably know from my previous posts about living in Scandinavia, HERE, danish people bike on a daily basis. Not just as a hobby but it’s their mainly public transportation but exactly how much do you think they bike a day? Reports say that the Danes bike around 1.270.000 km a day – that is 30 times around the globe. That is quite impressive to me!
Coffee and candles – coffee and candles are the definition of hygge in Scandinavia but did you knew that in Norway the average amount of coffee a person consumes in a year is 9,9kg, followed by Iceland with 9kg and Denmark 8,7kg. When I moved here I would hear about people having around 7 or 9 cups of coffee a day, while I could barely have one in the morning. But these days, I go to a maximum of 3 cups a day, if I am very busy and tired.
The same goes for candles, according to Prof. Lars Gunnarsen, “Danes burn more candles than anywhere else in the world, and we have a shorter life expectancy compared to other European countries”. In my opinion, candles are the main factor of hygge which danes are so well known for. I also think that another reason for that is the weather, the fact is that in most places it gets dark very fast, we even have days in the summer where we had the lights on all day. After September it’s is hygge time, when everyone sits inside, away from the wind and the cold weather and light their candles. It’s a nice and cosy feeling and I personally can’t imagine not having candles on almost every weekend.
Showering naked – To my surprise, the first time I went to a swimming pool in here, I did not expect to see everyone showering naked together, at all. In fact, in every public shower you are going to whether it’s to go to a sauna, after the gym or a public swimming pool, you are expected to shower naked with no stalls. These days, I don’t find it so strange anymore, I got used to it and do it myself but at first I was a bit surprised with how free Scandinavians are with their body, in a good way, don’t get me wrong, and how they don’t see this as something shameful at all.
The Danish language – I’ve learned swedish in my first year living there and didn’t find it so hard but the danish language is a completely different thing. It’s not just very hard to learn, pronounce or understand the dialects but it also has some very funny words which translate happen to mean something completely different in english. “Slut” (also swedish) means stop! ‘’fart’’ means speed, which results in displays on elevators telling you “I fart”, meaning that they are moving. Danish language also has a lot of weird expressions which translated in English can be quite fun, for example, if a Dane has had too many drinks they won’t say they are under the table but instead they’ll be “in the fence” (i hegnet). You can read more funny danish expressions HERE.
If you’re not married when you reach your 30s.. – in Denmark they like to put up their danish flag at any occasion. If someone has a birthday, you’ll see the flag in the window and in the entrance to their building to show that there is a birthday. But that’s not all, if you are a woman over 30 and not married, you will be called peppermaid (pebermo) if you are man over 30 a pepperman (pebersvend). And if you have “nice” friends, you might receive a giant pepper mills made out of decorated oil drums in front of your building, I found an example of it, HERE. This tradition is most common in smaller cities but it happens in big cities as well.
Enjoying these fun facts? Are any of these in your country as well? Which ones did you find the funniest or more different?