20 November, 2017

English in Sweden


Don’t speak a single word of Swedish yet? No problem!

Everyone speaks English (but all the signs are in Swedish)

‘Is this a cucumber or a zucchini??’ I wondered, as I tried my best to figure out the Swedish on the label. After standing in front of the produce for an embarrassingly long time, I nervously walked up to a stranger. “Um hi, do you speak English?”, brandishing the vegetable in her face and crossing my fingers. She did in fact speak perfect English.

I was in fact in possession of a cucumber, and I haven’t been nervous about going to the grocery store since then. Or any store really, as I have found that literally everyone speaks English. Despite few signs and labels being in English, it is much less daunting to learn and assimilate to Sweden knowing I can ask almost anyone for help.

Bars and clubs play English music

My first week here, I hesitantly agreed to my first night out on the town. I started putting on the four layers of clothing a Swedish October evening demands, while blaring pump-up music from my laptop. As I got the last swipe of lipstick on, I wondered if I was going to know any songs, or if they would all be in Swedish? Maybe I should have looked up Swedish music before I left? But as I arrived at the club, the familiar sounds of Katy Perry, Rihanna and Despacito welcomed me, and I knew Every. Single. Word. Even restaurants and cafe’s play English music!

The library has books in English

Joining the public library is quick, easy, and free! I walked into the library in Stockholm hoping to spend an afternoon reading a few classics. I walked out of the library with a library card and an armful of contemporary novels in English. It’s also a great cozy spot to curl up with a book to hide out from the cold weather.

Finding jobs for English speakers

Sweden has opportunities for people who only speak English to join the job market and even to volunteer! The government and private websites post openings and available positions with an option to filter for language, which makes it easy to find.

All in all, speaking Swedish in Sweden is obviously useful, but not a must to survive!

Written by Ritika Maltani
Ritika Maltani is a Singaporean citizen. She lived all over the world. She graduated from the University of Miami, and she hopes to pursue a career in teaching or law. She took a gap year to travel and decided to live in Stockholm with her boyfriend for a while. She loves reading, writing, great food and trying new things.

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