Swede Dreams - how living abroad can change your world view

in #travel6 years ago (edited)

A Change in Perspective

Living in another country with a different culture to your own changes your perspective of the world and in turn the way you treat other people. Over my travels I have begun to realise that it is this change in perspective that becomes the most important takeaway moving forward. Today I'd like to share with you my thoughts and the differences I have noticed from living in Sweden and the aspects of my life that have been affected by this experience. So bear with me, this is a little different to my usual travel posts and I hope that it gives you a little insight into the culture and to why Sweden is considered one of the leading social nations!

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It wasn't very long that I spent in Sweden, about 6 months in total however I learnt very quickly that spending time in a different culture and living on the other side of the world gives you the ability to see a different take on the social and political dynamics.

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In Sweden I was taught a few important social dynamics one of which involves smiling in the street. In Australia we can walk past any stranger, smile at them, say good morning, hi or g'day mate and be on our way. However in Sweden if a Swede sees you walking down the street with a smile on your face they think:

a. You are drunk
b. You are a Crazy person
c. You are American
d. All of the above

It was only after I noticed a few strange looks in the street that I asked a friend about it and they informed me that I should keep to myself in the streets.

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I love Sweden for its little idiosyncrasies that appear throughout the social and community environment. One of the greatest is found when you are first introduced to a Swede, you always introduce yourself with a handshake, no matter if it is a guy or girl and then once they know you from that first introduction any subsequent meeting is always a hug again no matter if it is a guy or girl. If you are introduced to any Swede once they consider you a friend and a hug buddy for life!

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I very quickly learnt that the best meal in Sweden is Lunch and they make a big deal about it, it is the equivalent to dinner in Australia where you can get a reasonably cheap meal at a restaurant and they have a fresh bread and salad buffet that goes along with it as well as tea coffee and sweets for after! All for the price of a normal meal.

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Social and Political Dynamics

Recently the dynamic of the political side of Sweden has changed a little, the sudden influx of many immigrants from Eastern Europe in 2015 onwards lead to the rising of a party that has a more capitalist approach to the country. However in the past Sweden has been very Socialist with their views. The Swedes pay some of the highest taxes in the world however most of them are happy to because of the dynamic of their government, they believe in their governing bodies and can see the benefit they have on society. There is a general consensus that the government is for the people. As a result everyone benefits from paying taxes. This is reinforced by the strong policies and dynamic companies owned by the municipalities that most residents work for either directly or indirectly.

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Swedens history is scattered with interesting choices that have defined their people, particularly the decision to stay neutral in war and a relatively open door policy when it comes to taking onboard new residents. At one point Sweden implemented a policy to build 1,000,000 new places to live for people in the 60's this was one of the worlds most ambitious building policies at the time; the 'Miljonprogrammet'. The Swedish Social Democratic Party proposed the policy as a solution to the ongoing housing shortage caused by the urbanisation of Sweden after the 2nd World War. Since Sweden was neutral and they had relaxed policies with taking on new residents there was an increase in the population of Sweden over the following few decades.

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It is interesting to see the impact this has had on the Architectural vernacular of the buildings especially in the outskirts of the cities, there is a very distinct style of this era and I was lucky enough to have lived in one of them for a period of time whilst I was there. I stayed in an apartment just to the south of Gothenburg in a place called Vastra Frolunda, I loved it and there was a tram line to the city and shopping centre right by my doorstep.

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I enjoyed being able to walk anywhere I needed to go and to see the changes in seasons so well out of my windows on the 9th floor. The seasons are very different to Australia and the change between the seasons makes the human condition fluctuate, there are a series of highs and lows every year and it allows the body and mind to change and adapt to the environment. I loved that there are different mentalities of the Swedes throughout the year, in the depths of winter everyone lights candles and stays cosy, whereas the depths of summer everyone makes the most of being out and about all the time. Everyone lives by the words lagom - vaguely translated from Swedish as a balance of life and hygge vaguely translated from Danish as cosy.

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Many of the buildings from the program have been reinvigorated and brought up to date, leasing new life to these areas. All in all I think it was a positive policy for Sweden to adopt, they ended up building 1,006,000 new abodes for people to live in for the lowest income demographic group over the period of the policy, you can read more about it in the wikipedia article.

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Swedes always dress immaculately, and if you spend any time around the cities this style of dressing and the fact everyone follows it makes you more inclined to keep up your own appearance. This is for the benefit of the community as a whole and all in all makes you feel better about yourself. It would be very rare to see someone ducking to the shops in their tracksuits!

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The more travel we can achieve in this world the more we are able to understand it, I believe that there is so much positivity in this world and I am very grateful for the friends that I have made on this wonderful experience and I strive for many more adventures in the future.

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Conclusion

I absolutely adore Sweden and it's world view. I think many other countries could take more than just the Scandinavian style from their country and implement some of their policies aswell. We could start by following their lead on gender equality and the governments regaining some of our trust so we all want to pay tax. Thanks for reading everyone - let me know if you have any questions about the experience, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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As always you can add me on Instagram for more of my photography, leave a comment below or just say hi.

Thanks for reading!

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If you'd like to read more about my Swedish adventure have a look at the following posts:

Sled in the right direction - Djurgården Ranch, Sweden - Dog Sledding in Abisko

Water you think about this? - Gothenburg Archipelago - Walking around the islands off the coast of Gothenburg

Icey what you did there - ICE Hotel in Jukkasjärvi - Hotel Made of Ice

Snow laughing matter - Abisko and Lapland - The Northern Lights!

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Heya, just swinging by to let you know you're being featured in the Daily Travel Digest!

The part about smiling on the streets really made me chuckle out loud - too recognizable, haha!

Thanks @steemitworld map! I didn't know what to do haha!

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Thanks, good to know all this about Sweden, would like to go there one day, its the only Nordic country I haven't been yet.

Thanks for reading @livinguktaiwan I highly reccomend visiting, it has such a great sense of place and community

It was great meeting you yesterday :)

Have a safe trip back and catch up soon!

Great meeting with you all too thanks @o07! All the best for 2018 and looking forward to meeting up with you guys again, let me know if you end up in Sydney.

Will do mate!

I visited Stockholm last year and I enjoyed my time there, I will also make a post about it. what a beautiful post, very informative! It seems it was pretty cold
Congratulations @nikonmarshall

Looking forward to hearing all about it @alexandraioana26 I loved the seasons though, so much contrast. Thanks for reading!

Nice post! Looks like Sweden would be a very interesting place to live in. I have got some friends over there as well, may be I should go visit. Were you there for study or work?

Hi @stabilowl, it absolutely was an interesting place to live in - I definitely want to go back, and I highly recommend you visit! I was over there for study, had many courses in economic history and Scandinavian history it was the most influential part of my life so far and has informed many of my travels since, along with bringing back some of the Scandinavian ways into my life at home too. Thanks for reading!

Cool! Must have been fun to study aboard! Keep up the good work!

wow this is beautiful amazing photographs :D

Great photo/blog mate!

Thanks @henrywilson, welcome on board! Good to have you here on steemit!

"It wasn't very long that I spent in Sweden, about 6 months in total "--> 6 months can change your life, though. And I'd be in trouble with the smiling thing... I can't stop smiling!! They'd think I was perma-drunk over there lol.