People, who have been growing up (were being socialized) in an other country and travel to Sweden for the first time, will in the first instance come across a lot of surprising things, which may by first sight appear a little curious. Therefore the title of this page. In case you are interested in this, I have collected some of these "curiosities" in the following. In this I exclusively relate to my own experiences and to the things and incidents, that surprised me most during my first visits in Sweden.
Alcohol - Elk - Flag - Fruits & vegetables - Consumption - Media - Space - Shoes - Plates - Tourism
The buying of alcoholic drinks is limited strictly in Sweden. Beer is being classified according to it's alcoholic content, in the course of which the classes I (1,8 %) and II (2,8 %) are being called "Lättöl" (light beer) and can be bought freely in the supermarkets.
All drinks with a content of more than 3,5 % alcohol (for instance the "Starköl" of class III with it's about 5 %) have to be bought in so-called "Systembolagets" and are being highly taxed. Here alcohol gets distributed only to people, who's papers show an age of 20 upwards. On the contrary to other shops, the Systembolagets are being opened only from Mondays to Fridays, which means not at the weekend. Therefore it is recommanded to prepare for the weekend... *blink*
The import restrictions of alcohol to Sweden have been loosened within the scope of the European Union, but at the moment the following regulation gets applied: 20 litres wine (till now five), 24 litres beer (till now 15) and one litre high-proof spirits (till now also one litre).
What is a "must" for ordinary tourists on their hunt for gifts, is incredible for most of the Swedes: The great craze for elks. Whereas in Germany for example on the traffic signs a deer is shown, in Sweden this is just an elk - completely normal for the inhabitants. But for many tourists the attraction pure and simple and a reason, to secretly tamper with the borders of roads in order to steal those things and later take them back home as a gift. A nuisance!
Quite often curious and astonished locals ask me, "what for Heaven's sake we all want with the elks." However, as good businesspeople they have in the meantime adjusted completely to this opening in the gift-shops of the big cities. Here you can find everything, the tourist's heart longs for: masses of elk dolls, elk ashtrays, elk t-shirts, elk signs.
HINT: If you want to show everybody by first sight, that you are a tourist, then simply wear an elk t-shirt... :-)
A phenomenon of the very special manner can be watched at every street-corner in Sweden: Swedish flaggs into which direction you ever look. It appears as if every Swede would have her/his own countryflagg in the garden. These flaggs mostly look like it is shown on the photo on the left. But even at the entrances of houses or balconies it can be found.
Whereas in Germany (with it's very own frightening history and therefore not accidentally from my point of vies; comments to that subject are very welcome) such a behaviour quickly gets a proto-fascist character, is totally normal for Swedes. Here people are "proud of their country", and they show it openly.
Fruits & vegetables:
Who wants to buy fruits and vegetables in Sweden, has to look around a little. On the first hand fresh food is very expensive here, and then it often looks like things, which keep lying up to the last moment at other places. Maybe it's because of the long transportation ways. But nevertheless it is a pity.
Like in other countries too, also in Sweden more and more shopping centres are being built. While going shopping it is possible to go to the supermarket, develope photos, buy clothes and the latest computer magazine or visit the hair cutter, and all this at the same time. And in case, you get hungry, the next quick-restaurant is not far away. These shopping centres are mostly being opened daily until 9 p.m. and at the weekend until 6 p.m.
In the supermarkets then you can find walls of sweet stuff and lemonades of every taste, you have never heared from before. My personal favourite: "Grapefruit-Strawberry" lemonade. *shiver*
Open-minded and flexible is the way, Sweden presents itself according to it's media. Although here a virtue has been made of necessity (the "market" is simply too small), from my point of view many other countries could learn from this. In tv (as well as in cinema) for example everything (except children's movies) are being shown unsynchonized in the original language (with swedish subtitles). Who wonders, that scandinavian people speak a much better english than for instance Germans (myself included, but I work on it, great promise)?
In Sweden they build extensively. Because of this few amount of inhabitants there is room enough... Both pictures here were taken in the centre of a village with about 10.000 inhabitants. Tilled areas alternate with idyllical landscapes, and this in the middle of the village! Except in the big cities hardly any blocks of tenements can be found here. People are living in and with nature. It simply gets integrated.
In swedish houses you usually take off your shoes. Who wants to carry the dust from the streets into the own four walls? So, in case you have an invitation from swedish people, it is polite to follow this rule.
One more "Curiosity" I don't want to hide from the world: These are the seasons-plates (take notice of the chronological order!) above the bed of my sunshine. Aren't they lovely???
But because he is my sunshine, I am willing to shut my eyes to it generously... *giggle*
In a very uncomplicated manner "the" Swedes deal with cultural or touristical attractions. Cultural monuments for instance are being surrounded by sheep (look "Ekornavallen", photo on the right), or you have to try to get along cow-pats in order to get to a shipsetting (Arnundstorp, on the left). The positive thing is, that they don't try hard to make profits from these touristical attractions. Perhaps a little money-box, placed secretly somewhere near by, begs for being filled up, but without any pressure. Everyone can decide for her-/himself, if anything at all or how much she/he is able to give.
©Angelika Friedrich, Jan. 2000