Get used to Swedish way of life

There are several things regarding daily life taken for granted by Swedes but maybe not by non-Swedish people.

(The Wenner-Gren Center, a residential hall for foreign researchers, provides five social etiquettes in Sweden. See page 4 of this document.)

1. Booking in advance the shared laundry room

See this post.

2. Shop opening hours

Many retail shops are open only until 4 pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday. Therefore, you need to wake up rather early on Saturday and expect shops to be quite busy. On weekdays, many shops are closed by 6 pm. It's quite inconvenient if you are workaholic.

3. The ubiquitous queuing system

In many stores in Stockholm, you are expected to take a piece of paper with a number from the machine installed in the shop if you want to be served by a shop assistant. When the electric signboard shows the number in your paper, you are entitled to be served.

4. An entrance fee for public toilets

Public toilets at department stores, shopping malls, railway stations, squares, etc. cannot be used unless you pay 5 krona. (The one in T-Central station now charges 10 krona.) This does not mean that public toilets are perfectly well-maintained.

5. No tissue boxes on sale

In Sweden, tissues are on sale in pocket-sized packs only. Very few shop sell a box of tissues. (One exception is Hemköp City Stockholm.)

6. Few bottles of still mineral water on sale

As tap water in Sweden tastes excellent, it's a bit difficult to find a bottle of still water at shops. I haven't seen Volvic in Stockholm, for example. If you think you find one, it's likely to be sparkling water. Make sure that the label says, “utan kolsyra” (meaning without gas).

7. A supermarket plastic bag for 2 krona.

So forget your old habit of using supermarket plastic bags as bin liners. Buy a nice permanent shopping bag and carry it with you everyday, if you are rather cost-conscious.

8. Recycling cans and plastic bottles

When you buy a can or a plastic bottle of drink, you implicitly pay a couple of extra krona as a deposit. You can claim back the deposit by visiting a supermarket store equipped with recycling machines. Put used cans and plastic bottles into the machine, press the button, and obtain a receipt. Then bring the receipt to a till.

9. People disappear from mid-June to mid-August, especially in entire July.

Many Swedes leave Stockholm to stay at their summer house somewhere else from mid-June to mid-August. As a result, public transportation services become less frequent even during the morning and evening rush hours. Quite a few shops and restaurants close down for the whole July. Most of the remaining shops close earlier than usual. You may also want to spend the whole July somewhere else outside Stockholm (especially if you are a student or researcher at Stockholm University, where most lunch places are closed, the library opens from noon to 2 pm on weekdays only, and very few people dare to come to the campus).

10. You are not allowed to drink outside the bar after 11 pm.

During the winter, this doesn't matter. But in summer, if you go to a bar and drinking outside, you will be forced to move inside the bar after 11 pm. This is because the Swedish regulation against alcoholics stipulates that bars cannot serve alcohol after 11 pm to those outside. It seems, though, there will be some deregulation on the way (see The Local's article dated 10 May, 2010).

No comments: