As is my wont on any first time in a country, I love to jot down the first impressions that hit me… if only to confirm some generalizations and, probably, regurgitate very obvious observations.
- First surprise, the “noise free” Stockholm (Arlanda) airport, whereby no general announcements are made and people are very respectful of each person’s [aural] space. In the streets, it is considered gauche to laugh out loud (shows signs of being drunken/disorderly). Even kids seemed to be quieter.
- Going to get a taxi outside at the airport, we found five taxi drivers with their hand up, standing beside their taxi, not uttering a word. You are invited to chose the driver you want (very egalitarian in a certain sense…) as they each represent different companies.
- In a showing of equality, passengers will frequently sit in the front seat alongside the taxi driver.
- At the offices, there is generally a basket of fruit to encourage healthy eating.
- Women. Aside from the 48% of women in the Swedish parliament, and the fact that men take responsibility for half of the household and child-caring chores (you are just as likely to find a man pushing a pram as a woman), women give systematically very firm handshakes (a true pleasure). Naturally, I avow that the Swedish women were attractive.
- It is most usual for boys to go out for dinner as a group of boys and girls with girls.
- There is no [commonly used] word for “please” in Swedish.
- The Swedes like to be punctual (very appreciated as far as I was concerned).
- A mile in Sweden is 10 kilometers! Had no idea there was another measurement for a mile (in addition to the nautical mile).
At last, aside from learning a few key words and phrases, I was able to talk about what the word “morsan” means…which is how I have affectionately called my mother since my teen years. Morsan is slang Swedish for “mother.”