Cultural Learnings Of… Life In Sweden

So its now something like week 6 here in Sweden and its a rainy sunday morning so time to fill you in on whats been happening here. The more observant amongst you may have noticed I havnt blogged much of late, coming back to my idea that if you dont have anything interesting to blog well then… you shouldnt be blogging. Its not its bad, just that Iam now some sort of regular respectable, functioning member of society with a proper fulltime job, leaving me with precious little opportunity to get up to some craziness.

I was delighted this week to be teaching again for the first time in 6 months, I had a captive audience of 15 who HAD to sit and listen to me for 4 days straight. I think computer programming is, at the best of times, fairly freaking boring to listen to in class so I try and spice it all up a bit and as a result my students now know all about eurotrip, the volvo and what it takes to get from estonia to latvia to stockholm when you are a poor confused boy away from home. Somewhere in the middle of me telling stories all day long my students claimed they learnt something about programming but I doubt it, they were just being polite.

So speaking of polite, Ive been trying to come to grips with socially blending into Swedish society because here, there are some guides you need to follow, or atleast everyone was telling me. So heres one cultural learning… Swedes dont like to be cut off mid sentence, thats considered rude to not let someone finish their thought. Oh crap, it seems like I must have insulted my class all week long. You all know me, Ive got a lot to say and only a small amount of time to say it, so If I have worked out the meaning of your sentence ive already moved onto the next thought… and the next thought… so youd better try and keep up. I tried, I really did to listen to everything they had to say but still I found myself doing it automatically, Id jump into the middle of their thought.

The next cultural learning is Swedes open mindedness. If you look throughout the ages and right up to the present day, Swedes are very open people, tolerant of others and have always done really nice things like allow lots of immigrants in to their country, a bunch of nice guys. This means my new friend from Iraq who sells me a hot dog each afternoon always has a story to tell me, or walking out of Tele2 the other afternoon I came across a bunch of guys playing cricket in the car park to which I spoke up

"CRICKET! Alright, So where are you guys from"
"We are from India"
"India, Awesome! Im an aussie, lets play world series cricket!"

and I had an awesome time having a bat and a bowl with these dudes. So the point of this was I love Swedens immigration policy, mixing is great and adds to both a culture and an economy.

HOWEVER… this tolerance means you have to keep it all politically correct, everyone is welcome here, we dont want to make a big fuss or annoy anyone… so swedes tend to stay away from the cultural sterotypes and dont really joke about such things…

and what is Louis Zezerans number one topic to make jokes about? Oh yes, you, drunken dancing Boris and the polish guy who just stole your wallet all know the answer, its cultural stereotypes! So not completely realising this, I start my training course with jokes and references to about 3 different cultures to which someone just remarked later "oh my, you are brave"…so yes at first the swedes didnt quite know what to make of me but then they warmed to me, and who wouldnt and everything was just fine.

And thats a great point, for all these cultural learnings Im learning about and then realising ive broken each of them so far, Swedes are very tolerant and realise im just an over excited aussie guy and I really dont mean they any offense, Im just here to make everyone laugh and spread a bit of aussie energy about the place.

Next weekend is midsummer which is the biggest holiday all year for scandos, the longest day of the year. Its quite strange and wonderful to experience the white nights up here, the sun does set but its always quite light outside and even at middnight theres a bright blue patch at the horizon. Come 2am the sun is right back up and and your off and ready to go. I was going to wonder around taking lots of photos for you today but its rainy, so next time. Im off to estonia for midsummer on the weekend and then in July I have 3 weeks off also. Not sure what to do, there will be atleast 2 weeks in estonia for sure but else? Dont know.. Im north, im close to all kinds of interesting places. Ive always wanted to see Kiev or Kalliningrad.. you know Kalliningrad? its that small Russian bit which is not part of the rest of Russia, on the Baltic sea between Poland and Lith… but for now a few camera photos of Swedish life.

A cloudy afternoon looking from the window of my training room in Stockholm central

Ive taken to snapping randoms when im out on my bike. Not content to wait for the snow again, this old mate has land skiis. It looks awesome, I want a pair!

Finally, one to warm my heart, in a scene which wouldnt be out of place in Romania, this Volvo has been in a fairly intense rear ender and had its front punched in…. BUT NO PROBLEMS, Just DRAW ON the number plate and it keeps on going. Hello Sweden!

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By Louis Zezeran

Louis Zezeran is an Australian Stand Up comedian and comedy promoter based in Tallinn, Estonia. He was the co-founder of Comedy Estonia, Comedy Finland and Comedy Latvia. Louis writes, does gigs and performs at private events through the Baltics and Finland

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