Reader needs advice on Sweden: weather, anti-Americanism, food and nightlife

One of us needs some advice on Sweden. We do have one Sweden vacation plan, but if anyone can share some more information on Sweden that would be great. I’ve collected some answers already:

Question: I may have the opportunity to go to Sweden for a month this summer to learn the language and history/ culture. I am a teacher and my school has a non-profit foundation that would foot the bill for my trip. I would be going to a school about 40 minutes north of Stockholm. My questions are:

1. What is Sweden like in the summer (mid-July to mid-August)?

2. What are the people like? I’ve heard they can be a little tough to get to know. Is there any anti-Americanism?

3. Recommendations on food/ drink there?

Answer #1: Stockholm is beautiful but expensive. It has bodies of water and Islands as part of the city and you would think you are in the middle of nowhere. It’s only dark for a couple of hours that time of year. You can golf to 11:30 at night. Head north for midnight golf:) Pleasantly cool in the summer – 70ish.

Answer #2: Great weather, people speak English, get used to eating fish. Sweden has an interesting history and culture and Stockholm is very pleasant town. The stereotype of a blond blue eyed Nordic is found imho more in northern Norway or Denmark and parts of Germany and Iceland and the Baltic States like Estonia and Latvia so you’ll meet lots of brunettes.

Answer #3: Den Gildene Freden is a restaurant in Gamla Stan, which is the old part of the city. I’m not positive I spelled the restaurant right, but it translates to “The Golden Peace”. It has the best Swedish meatballs you will ever eat.

Answer #4: The booze tax takes the fun out of it. Sweden is a funny place; everyone is very serious. The people are stunning. “Even the ugly ones” as one of my more outgoing colleagues said. The length of day thing swings both ways. You also get 19hrs of night during the winter so be warned. The real positive about having the opportunity to be anywhere in Europe is the ability to travel to the rest of Europe. Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo are all under 2 hr flights. Copenhagen is definitely worth the trip but there is plenty to see both in the Scandinavian countries & the rest of Europe that make it well worth your while if you have the freedom to experience it. However, I’m serious about the booze tax, its prohibitive. All the Swedes go to Copenhagen for fun so make sure you get going there. Try the reindeer.

Answer #5: I didn’t experience anti-Americanism in Sweden when I was there and Copenhagen was pro-American if anything. A majority of the people speak English in Denmark (90%) & Sweden (80%+) & your going to learn the language anyway.

Generally speaking, regarding anti-Americanism, if you are a gracious guest, Europe is a gracious host. I’m a conservative & an outspoken one at that but I behaved as I would if I were a guest in someone’s house & rarely had issues. I would suggest not engaging in any political discussions if it sets you off. You’ll want to go to Copenhagen for the nightlife.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Tim says:

    Stockholm is wonderful during the summer. I was there last August and it was in the mid to upper 70s and light until 11 at night. As far as things to do, definitely check out the Vasa museum and Gamla Stan “Old Town”. Fantastic restaurant in Gamla Stan called Fem Sma Hus. Excellent food in a medieval vaulted cellar. Although touristy, I also enjoyed the Absolute Ice Bar in the Nordic Sea hotel. The whole bar, chairs, glasses, everything is made of ice. Not too pricey either, but make reservations in advance. Also check out the Karl Millis Garden museum on the outskirts of town. Very picturesque. The Swedes are very pleasant and most speak english with an American accent, so it is very easy to get around. A beautiful place, if you have the opportunity to go, jump on it!

  2. The teacher says:

    Thanks for the tips Tim. You’ve got me convinced – I’m going!

  3. tompan says:

    Sweden’s weather can be very tricky–in Stockholm fall weather (rain and cool) can begin by the middle of August. During mid-July to mid-August you should probably luck out with a few nice days (or even many if it is dry). You should be aware, however, that nice weather uppehallsvader as it is called in Swedish literally means “the pause or the stopping weather.” Why such a strange locution? Because the normal is, of course, rain rain and more rain! Most Swedes as noted speak English fairly well (thanks to all the fans of Lost and the jillions of other American trash TV shows). Alcohol is expensive and sold only in special “boutiques” but once you get Swedes drinking a bit they will lighten up. The current tone is not anti-American and the majority of Swedes are far too enlightened to be biased against entire nations, there is, however, a decidedly horrified/astonished tone regarding current American adventuring in Iraq, American refusal to follow numerous international treaties (nuclear non-prolif., payment to United Nations, World Court) and the pointing of the American finger toward China when the issue of global warming and resultant damage arises (despite the fact that we all know where the bulk of carbon emissions come from). Another interesting point, Swedes love to discuss these issues and will allow you the chance to express yourself–just be careful about interrupting and cutting off other people when you are there–only buffoons act that way in polite Swedish company. Trevlig resa!

  4. Kalyani Damodaran says:

    I visited Stockholm in December 2002; spent only two days , because my main journey was to Helsinki. I must tell you I am a naturalized American of Indian origin. I found the Swedish people to be very civilized, pleasant, cordial, etc. Nobody bothers you even though they know you are a tourist, and ready to help if you asked. And it is so safe walking late in the evening, riding the trains, dining in a restaurant, etc. They are as friendly as Americans, only better! Ditto in Helsinki!

  5. Laurie says:

    All I can say about sweden is, don’t miss out on their random hot dogs, mashed potatoes, mustard, and ketchup (as well as other sides) all wrapped in a tortilla. It’s soooo good and my favorite memory of Sweden.

  6. Celina says:

    I am an American that has lived in Norway for about 7 years now. That you say “I’ve heard they can be touch to get to know” tells me you’ll do fine. It’s true, Scandinavians often have trouble welcoming strangers into their homes in the way Americans find so natural. And in a work environment, your coworkers will probably assume that your boss is responsible for making sure you don’t spend every night alone. If, however, you DO find yourself eating meal after meal alone, just be direct and ask someone if they’ll go out with you after work. In all likelyhood, if there are any other foreigners at the school, those are the people who will be most willing to go out of their way to show you around and keep you company. Scandinavians are often reserved and formal with strangers, though always friendly and polite (if that makes any sense). Don’t fight it, if you end up spending the whole month socializing only with the Polish janitor, so what? The experience will be no less authentic for it! Bring photos from home, of your school (of schoolbusses!), of everyday things in your hometown to show around – it’s a great conversation starter. Some little trinkets like kitchen magnets from your home state might be nice to bring along to give away. And a local specialty (like apple butter or beef jerkey or cheese wiz) can be a nice touch as a hostess-gift if you are invited to dinner at someones house.

    p.s. when drunk, the entire Scandinavian personality takes a back flip – open, loud, obnoxious, halarious – it’s like another world. Binge drinking is common, also in adults, and it, too, should be embraced for the authenticity of long light enibriated summer nights…

    p.p.s. regarding alcohol and politeness, it is in very poor taste to arrive as a guest at someones home for dinner without a bottle of wine, even if they have insisted you bring nothing. When at a bar, buying rounds is not very common, and be shocked and very flattered if anyone buys you a drink.

  7. K.M. BURCHARD says:

    I just returned from Stockholm after a 12 day visit and I must say, Stockholm/the Swedes are probably the most American-like people in Europe.

    They know, there is only a small amount of people spread out over a large country by size and most of them live in the Metropolitan Stockholm.

    So with little of their own TV productions many films, lots of TV is in the original language with Swedish subtitles.

    Of course, it caught me with a surprise: I suggested to my brother-in-law Bengt to see the great film “Letters from Iwo Jima”. My sister decided to join us for the guy-movie. As we drove into the city for the movie house, I told Bengt, I think the movie will be spoken in Japanese, the sub-titles in Swedish. Bengt has become a little bit hard of hearing or he concentrated on the traffic, nevertheless, he did not hear me. For sure, that how the movie was shown but I still got it.

    Yes, I had a great time and decent weather for February. Yes, and eat the fish because the Swedes also know how to cook it right.

    As a Catholic I was looking for a church on Ash-Wednesday and for the Sundays. Again I found the Church in the center of the city. With the attendance you could see also how many different nationalities have made Stockholm their home.

    The Swedish language is not easy to learn but I am trying as I intended to return to Sweden in the summer time and even take advantage of the great European Car deliveries/purchases by Volvo and Saab.

  8. The teacher says:

    Thanks for all the comments guys – I truly appreciate it. The language may be hard to learn, but I’m sure I’ll pick up some of it. You’ve all got me really looking forward to my trip!

  9. name says:

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  10. […] spent 6 months in Stockholm as an exchange student. My first trip outside of Sweden was to […]

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