Top Tips to Prepare for Your Move to Sweden
Sweden is much more than beautiful blondes, ABBA, fermented fish and skiing. The Scandinavian country has a rich and aged culture that has evolved into one of the world’s most socially advanced and eco-conscious societies. Leading by example, Sweden attracts businesses and investors from all over the world especially in the technology, communication, and green sectors. If your business is branching into Sweden and you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time in the country, there are some good things to know in order to assimilate yourself into the culture properly.
Yes, they speak English…
But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t behoove you to take the time to learn Swedish. Yes, Sweden is considered one of the top three countries in the world to speak English as a second language, but one of the reasons they pick up English so easily is because the two languages share the same Germanic roots, making it easier to learn.
If they can do it, so can you. Learning your host country’s language is good form—both socially and professionally. While Swedes will be happy to speak their native tongue with you, it’s very likely they will default to English making it hard to learn by immersion. For this reason, it’s smart to take a Swedish course either before you leave or in an immigrant class when you arrive. It will really help you blend in. Speaking of…
Lagom doesn’t have an exact English translation, but basically Swedes use it to describe their attitudes towards moderation and blending in during social situations.
Manners matter in Sweden so being on your best behavior is a must while you’re getting settled. Like the Japanese, Swedes take their shoes off entering their own or another person’s home. Punctuality is very important in Swedish society whether it be for a coffee date or a business meeting. Do your best to show up on time or you might find yourself left out.
Recycle everything and don’t forget the sustainable bags—Sweden was one of the first countries to start charging for plastic and paper bags at the grocery store. Business wise, business casual is acceptable for most days. It is normal to see an office full of jeans on average workdays.
You’re going to break a sweat
Even the long, dark winters don’t stop Swedes from being outdoorsy and active. Whether in the city or country, people in Sweden are constantly working up a sweat getting from point A to point B.
Bikes are the most common form of personal transportation; investing in one when you arrive will give you personal autonomy while also helping you assimilate culturally.
Furthermore, Swedes are huge on outdoors and physical activities as personal recreation. The beautiful summers are perfect for camping and hiking. Swedes don’t let the long, dark winters keep them from getting their exercise; cross-country skiing replaces hiking when the snow falls. All this physical activity means a healthier and less obese population, despite the national sweet tooth.
Sweden is a pretty relaxed country in terms of immigration, but a highly bureaucratic government (they even control the liquor stores!) means that if you want something done, you better do it early. The good news is how simple it is to apply. Go to the Swedish Embassy webpage and follow the instructions. If you’re moving for work, you may be entitled to legal help when it comes to applying, but for many that would be unnecessary. Once applied, be prepared for it not to come for several months before you hear back.
And of course remember to pack plenty of socks and vitamin D supplements and begin practicing your pronunciation. If you have a background in another northern European language and want to see how much of that previous studying has prepared you for learning Swedish, check out our Swedish language level test to evaluate the amount of skill you have.
If you or your company are interested in Swedish courses in preparation for a business endeavor, contact Language Trainers—they specialize in one-on-one or small group courses preparing people for international business.