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Have you ever been to Sweden? Posted by on Mar 23, 2011 in Culture, Swedish Language

If you have been to Sweden, what were your first impressions? From the first moment you stepped on the airplane, were there Swedish flight attendants? Did they speak Swedish to you?

If you only went for a holiday then when was the first time you tried speaking Swedish? Was it a “Tack”, or a “Hej”? If you moved to Sweden could you share any first impressions of Sweden that stick out clearly in your mind?  It would be interesting to hear what impressed you most and what stuck out as different or strange.

Were you happy when somebody spoke Swedish to you for the first time, or was it scary?
Did you experience Swedes as helpful and supportive when you tried to speak Swedish?

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Comments:

  1. Joel:

    The first time I visited Sweden was 25 years ago. I arrived as part of a Bus tour on a ferry from Helsinki Finland. I loved the trip into the archipelago then into Stockholm. It was so pretty! I loved it! I actually met up with a former exchange student when I was there in a Stockholm hotel and spoke some Swedish with her. It wasn’t too scary since I had actually studied Swedish in college 🙂 I loved visiting the Gamla Stan and also loved the bus trip south to Denmark. The forests and the lakes and the sun…. awesome! I just hope that I get back there soon.

  2. Brian Stenberg:

    I felt like I had returned home after being away a very long time. Almost everybody I hung out with spoke English fluently so for laughs with them I read aloud the Swedish subtitles from an American movie on TV. Swedish sounded very natural to me. I am planning my return so I can practice more.

  3. Lubo:

    Actually, I came to Sweden with my family January 6, I remember well (holiday), everywhere snow, cold and dark. This was most frustrating for us, this darkness. First words – certainly HEJ, and then TACK (funny is that we could not get used to them for a while, both are used but having a different meaning in our Slovak native language – Hej means Yes (nodding) and Tack can also mean Yes (nodding). But now, after leaving Sweden, when my kids are almost fluent in Swedish (unfortunately not me), I still use sometimes Hej and Tack, I just starting to enjoy them, their informal way being used but with deep meaning. So we miss Sweden, and we try to keep Swedish through chats with friends, books, movies, internet etc. And my last comment – the funniest thing for my kids always was when someone read them bedtime stories from Swedish book not speaking Swedish.. they laughed at pronunciation loudly 🙂 And now came to my mind one word I could not get for long its meaning – this Swedish shortened by “inhaling” spoken Ja (YES). Used very frequently (also some sort of nodding), I was amazed why they make such funny sound… And then I got it…

  4. Kenia:

    Coming from a latin country the darkness was my biggest shock, it felt like i was landing in “the end of the world” =). I kind of was prepared for the cold temperatures but not a dark sky at 4 o’clock!
    The language has been the second biggest impression, living in a place where you don’t understand a word of what people say around you, that’s hard to get used to. But now, after some months, it has got better, and as funny as it may sound, it’s like suddently everybody has started speaking “more clearly” =)

  5. Erin:

    Our first 24 hours in Sweden….

    1. We first noted the beautiful decor of the Stockholm airport- clean, shiny wooden floors, modern furniture… much nicer than airports in Ohio!
    2. The customs agents took a brief glance at our passports and waved us through with a smile- no interrogation or sternness common to US customs.
    3. EVERYONE spoke English. Except one worker at a grocery store.
    4. “Hej Hej! was really fun to say but I never was brave enough to say anything else.
    5. We couldn’t figure out where to buy laxatives- they were not available at the grocery store as they are in the US 🙂
    6. Vegetarian food was common.
    7. People were walking their dogs in downtown Stockholm and not picking up their poop on the sidewalk!
    8. All furniture seemed classy and modern.
    9. Everyone seemed to have a tan- either they go to tanning beds or they use bronzer makeup, but I was always a bit puzzled by this.
    10. You have to buy the little plastic bags at the grocer- they aren’t free.
    11. People seemed to just go to the big IKEA for fun, not to shop or plan their houses. It seemed like a big social place.
    12. The dairy products! Oh my goodness there were so many milks, cheeses, and yogurts available at the grocery stores! And pourable yogurt? I’ve never seen that anywhere else.

    We’ve been back 3 times since. LOVE it!

  6. Nikki:

    I flew from London to Stockholm in December, and the first time someone spoke Swedish to me was a customs officer, so obviously I was terrified! She was about the same age as me (23) but was really menacing so she put me in a very bad mood lol. Thankfully my mom stepped in and once she realised I was with my mom she let me go, but not before grilling me about why I was there and where I was staying. And I thought landing in Heathrow was a stressful experience lol.

    After that, I didn’t try to speak Swedish because it was just so much easier to tell people I was English; I’m very lazy like that haha!

    Unlike the previous poster, the weather in Sweden was very similar to England, just it got dark about an hour earlier. What struck me as a huge difference between the two countries was how much safer I felt on the underground than I do in London, and how much quieter it was!

  7. Jack:

    My first trip to Sweden was in 2001. All four grandparents had emigrated from different parts of Sweden, and my language skills were not the best. I had no problem communicating in English, but when I tried Svenska I was a bit tongue-tied and nervous. In ’04 I was there again, this time to a family reunion in the Götene/Timmersdala area of Västergötland. Staying with relatives, who spoke fluent English but were willing to put up with my Swedish gave me much more confidence. My skills now are considerably improved from 2001!!

  8. J. Eric:

    Been there twice. In 1973 and 1974. Visited my cousin who owned the property my Great Grandfather was born on in 1850. The house he was born in was still there. It has since been moved to a nearby historical village. The deed to the land goes back to 1542. My cousin’s nephew now owns the same property and we are planning on visiting again this year. The natural beauty of Sweden is really hard to describe. And Swedes have very good memories. :O)

  9. Emily:

    I first went to Sweden last year, in January to start my semester in Stockholm as an exchange student. It was COLD and everything was covered in snow. It wasn’t necessarily scary being surrounded by another language — or having someone speaking Swedish to me — but rather something new to adjust to. Despite the winter and not understanding any signage, I had good first impressions of Sweden that increased exponentially with the warmer weather 🙂

  10. Jerry Nelson:

    My first visit was in 1975, for a year of school at the University of Uppsala; have been back several times since then I arrived in late summer, very late at at night or early in the morning, and remember wandering around a nearly deserted Stockholm, marveling at how clean everything looked!

  11. Jess:

    I went for the first time in 2010 late in the summer.

    Where do I start?
    -I expected to stick out like a sore thumb (I am a fat, short, brown, brunette), but I was very surprised at the diversity in Stockholm and Gothenburg and definitely shocked people approached me speaking in Swedish as if I was from there.
    -Dads and strollers. They were everywhere. I saw men changing diapers in parks…even if the mom was around!
    -Godis. I am convinced Swedes have an obsession with candy.
    -Condiments in tubes?
    -Really liked how each metro station in Stockholm was an art installation of sorts. Very big and very clean. Coming from NYC, that was a treat.
    -I’ll stop after this one: fresh air all around. I miss that 🙂

  12. Elle:

    My first trip was in 2005 when I was 16. My relatives are from Sweden so I have been around a lot of the language and traditions all my life. We went to my cousins house in Uppsala and the kids taught my younger brother how to call someone an old tick “Du är gammal fästing” or old cheese “gammal ost”. They kept insulting each other all the time. I enjoyed the road signs saying “slut” or a variation of “fart”. And the forests, so many forests. I hate cities, but I love Stockholm. When I went back to America I was seriously depressed for weeks, and I am not one to be depressed.

    The good news is, I will be going back in 2 months to stay awhile!

  13. Maria:

    Well, everyone knows that Americans are more prudish than Europeans… but the first time I brought my husband to Sweden it really hit home. The art installation in Arlanda was 2 meter tall white balloons, hanging from the ceiling, on which obviously naked people had first rolled in paint, then left “imprints” all over the balloons. Hmm.

  14. Karen:

    My first time was 1981, when I was 28. I’ve been back eleven more times and one of my life goals is to live in Sweden for 13 months–June 1 – June 30. That way I can be there for two midsummers! I had written to a distant cousin since I was 12. We discovered we had several misconceptions about each other. He thought Americans ate big breakfasts and drank a lot of beer. We thought we’d have to eat “raw fish.”

    I fell in love with Sweden and the people on that first trip and i haven’t changed my mind one bit!