For a person with a non-Scandinavian background, with no knowledge of the Swedish language, coming to Sweden and settling down could be a bit difficult. Especially if you are coming here for work or moving with your family.
This becomes a much more overwhelming experience if you are arriving in Sweden during the winter months when there is almost no sunlight and the days are long and dark. The boredom can quickly grab one’s thoughts. Additionaly, it’s not that easy to get along with Swedish society as Swedes are well known for their reserve nature.
Someone has said that Sweden as a country has a mindset of a big village rather than a country. The American-Swedish sitcom television series ‘Welcome To Sweden’ by comedian Greg Poehler highlights some of these challenges and experiences in a funny way.
Hey, but don’t be worried! There’s an antidote to this problem and this is what I call …
‘Socializing’ in Sweden
Sweden is a beautiful country with wonderful and breathtaking landscapes, beaches, the largest forest area in terms of land, and rich cultural heritage. People in Sweden warmly welcome everyone coming to their country, regardless of their cultural and religious backgrounds and believe in a strong society where everyone can contribute towards the welfare and upliftment of their country.
It is because of this mindset that there are many social and vocational training programs ran by the local Swedish authorities in each municipality where they encourage cultural diversity and act as platforms for binding immigrants to Swedish culture and society.
This way Sweden offers ample of opportunities for outsiders to socialize and grab a good taste of Swedish culture.
Now, one common question that may come to anyone’s mind while reading this blog would be…
‘Ok! Where to start?’
Though the answer may seem chaotic it is simple!
First thing when arriving in Sweden is to get registered with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) and get your social security number, also known as the personnummer. This makes sure that you have access to all the social benefits that the government has to offer to immigrants.
The second important thing is to register for Swedish language courses run by local municipalities in collaboration with various schools and universities under the program called ‘SFI’, ‘Swedish For Immigrants’. This marks your first step towards knowing Swedish society and culture.
Now with these two steps done, you can join any of the below programs for social connection.
Volunteering for social causes
Every municipality organizes social service activities where you can join as a volunteer and can get a chance to interact and understand more about Swedish society and their way of life. For more details, you can reach out to your municipality’s website.
It’s a place where you can learn and understand more about Swedish culture and history as Kulturhuset along with being a museum also hosts many initiatives ranging from cultural events, storytelling for children, concerts, literary discussions, films and debates. You will find this in almost every big municipality in Sweden.
It’s a meeting place for new parents with small children where parents and children get to socialize with each other. These centres also provide counselling and fellowship around child health care. You will find several Familjecentralen within your city, dedicated to the area within the city.
Fika is a Swedish word for a coffee break and stands for Coffee and Cake! It’s a well-known Swedish tradition to socialize around coffee breaks. Fika comes along with some traditional Swedish sweets such as Kladdkaka, Kannelbullar, Semla.
Fika is more than just a mere coffee break, it’s a social phenomenon and a reason to step away from your busy life for some quality time spent with your friends, family or colleagues. Fika can be done at any time during the day.
It’s a social event organized to make Swedish language learning a bit more fun! You will find many Språkcafe’s organized within your city at different days of the week where you can join for a cup of coffee and cake and give yourself an opportunity to practice your Swedish language skills in a more lively way than in a usual classroom. Since everyone interacts in Swedish, basic Swedish language skills is a must.
If you would like to know more about any of the mentioned programs please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, you can watch my youtube channel Swedeshi, where you can find some interesting facts about Sweden.