Fitting in in the land of conformity.
If you do some basic research on Sweden you will see that it is a conformist-based society. Articles cite that most people like to dress similarly, look the same physically (pale-skinned, blonde, blue-eyed, and tall), and avoid standing out (Jantelagen, or Jante’s Law). The articles also cite that Swedes are quite reserved and it is difficult to infiltrate long-established friend groups here. Since moving here in October, I’ve found some of this to be spot on and some exaggeration. But there are some tips that I’ve read about or been told on how to better integrate into Swedish culture.
Here are the tips I’ve been given on how to fit in in the land of conformity:
- Learn the Language – Before arriving in Sweden, I began teaching myself some Swedish using Duolingo. This is so helpful in word recognition and spelling, but misses the mark on conversation. Once a new resident receives his or her residence card and ID number, register to take Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) classes. The SFI classes not only get you learning the language in a classroom setting, but also connect you with a small network of other expats! The wait time for my SFI start dates is currently four months!
- Join Clubs – Clubs are a big thing in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. There are associations for everything – from bowling to books, and religious, gender-centered, and sporty groups. One way to join is through your city. You can also opt for something more casual like Meetup. So far, I’ve joined a calisthenics club per my January Wellness Month resolution. It has been really fun and I’ve met some wonderful new friends!
- Get Orientated – In Malmö, the city offers new residents a Social Orientation. It is a 40-hour class taking place over five days. It is a place to ask questions and learn all about the healthcare system, taxes, geography, education, Swedish history, and careers. And, again, a place to meet some others in the same boat. I found this really helpful when first getting settled here.
This list definitely isn’t the end-all be-all for integration but it is a start in the right direction.
Have any other tips? Leave them below for me please!
How would you integrate into a new country? Let us know below.