Welcome to Sweden – the cold northern country

New in Sweden? Remember: do not stand to close to a swede waiting for the bus at the bus stop. Foto: Pixabay
Everyone can feel a bit lost in a new city. Whether or not you move within your own country or if you move abroad, being an international student, you will notice a lot of interesting things about your new country. One thing is certain – you will not be disappointed. But there are some things you might want to know about Sweden and Swedish people before it’s too late...

What comes to mind when you think of Sweden? Zlatan, ABBA, meatballs, Vikings, Ikea, ice hockey, blue eyes and, maybe, smörgåsbord? We are pretty sure about this because we have heard those things many, many times before.

What come to mind when you think about Swedish people? Boring, quiet, shy, nice, reserved? This is a bit more complicated. On a sunny day the swedes are among the most delightful people on the earth. Kissing in public, drinking wine in the park, loudly laughing on the streets and so on. But if you meet a pre-coffee swede on a rainy Monday morning, you probably won’t even get a ”Hello”.

There is a lot of things about Sweden and the swedes that can be a bit tricky for you as an international student. Swedish norms and social rules can be very confusing, and, to be honest, sometimes even childish and quite weird.

But there are some of these norms you might want to learn. Karlstads studenttidning is here to give you a hand. We have compiled lists of the most important things you need to know, a Do-list and a Do not-list. It’s up to you, weather or not you want to adapt to these things, it is important to always be yourself. But maybe it would be nice to have some back-uphelp if you find yourself in an awkward situation in your new country and if you don’t know what to do.


  • Learn to love our Swedish taco. And yes, our taco is the real taco. We eat it almost every Friday and we will never get tired of it
  • Always bring an umbrella. Even if there is not a cloud in the sky. You can thank us later for this one
  • Talk about ABBA, Zlatan and meatballs. It’s not a cliché, we still love it and we are still very proud of those things. Remember Dancing Queen?
  • Always go for a hug. We hate the awkward moment when we do not know what to do – so please, be brave and make the first move
  • If a swede is wearing sunglasses and pretending not to see you, just go with the flow
  • Always say yes to fika! This is our way of hanging out. And yes, you can fika anytime!
  • Complement our very good English. Even if it’s not good at all


  • Don’t ever say that the Swedish taco is not a real taco. YES, WE KNOW it’s not how the Mexicans are eating it, but obviously we have figured out the best and most delicious way of making it
  • Do not expect much of a swede before morning coffee. Maybe just a quiet ”Hello”, but no small talk. Definitely no small talk
  • Never trust the weather
  • Do not speak ill about Ikea.
  • Do not pet a dog in a leach without asking the owner. Dog owners a weirdly overprotecting with their dogs
  • Do not think it is weird that we always go loco on parties and in the clubs. We are very funny after some drinks, that’s just the way it is
  • Don’t tell us not to complain about unnecessarily things. We love to complain about unnecessarily things
  • Do not stand to close to us at the bus stop

Some tips for you who has not been in Karlstad before!

Cafés: (where you can find the best Fika, coffee and buns)

  • Artisan Bread
  • Swenströmskas
  • Sandy’s
  • Espresso house
  • Rosteriet (in Löfbergs skyscraper)

Restaurants: (not always pleasant for your wallet)

  • Barón
  • Pinchos
  • Ll`amice
  • Happy Kitchen
  • Street friends

Parks and nice places to hang out on a sunny day:

  • Sandgrundsudden
  • Gubbholmen
  • Wennerbergsparken
  • Bryggudden
  • Mariebergsskogen

This is a news article. Read more about the journalistic work in Karlstads studenttidning here.