Learning Swedish might be usefull for establishing a social life in Sweden. It is the official language, spoken by the vast majority of the population. It is similar to both Danish and Norwegian.
There are five minority languages, including Finnish and Sami, which is spoken in the far North. English is widely spoken, followed by German and French. In fact, Sweden has been ranked “best in the World” at speaking English at least two years running, but they will appreciate your efforts at speaking their language. The great thing is that if you have children they do seem able to absorb languages easily, and unless your Swedish is very good, they will soon be translating for you.
Social Life in Sweden
Making new friends can be challenging, and the Swedes have a reputation that they can be hard to get to know, yet they are probably the world’s best non-native speakers of English. However, if you can learn at least some Swedish it will be a lot easier to engage in conversations and discuss topical events. Take a course or find a language partner who wants to learn English, and you have a new friend as well as some Swedish. Join one of the sporting groups. The Swedes have a healthy respect for the coffee break and cake. Ice hockey is very popular, and team sports make friends.
The best way to experience a new culture must be dating, and equal opportunity here is in evidence. A woman can easily ask a man out. There are plenty of websites, some in English, but do take sensible precautions when meeting a new friend. You can also find activities for singles, with parties and cultural events.
Swedes played a pioneering role in the early days of cinema. There were directors like Ingmar Bergman and actresses such as Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman and Anita Ekberg. And then there was the pop group ABBA.
Further education is a great way to meet people, and “folkuniversitet” has nearly 6 000 course of offer. (Stand- up comedy might be a good choice for making friends?) Couch surfing is another way to explore Sweden and meeting new people. And then there is www.Meetup.com designed for local groups for you to join. You may want to join an expat group for a feeling of more familiarity to boost your confidence and they can great sources of information.
Expats in Sweden
Some people think it’s best to avoid mixing with other expats and concentrate on meeting Swedes. But Claudia de Leeuw, president of Global Expat Partners and founder of the Global Expat Centre says: “Feeling at home in Stockholm requires connection to a new group of (international) friends. This process needs to start instantly upon arrival to the host country. The safe environment of friends and family that expats leave behind … needs to be replaced by a new group of like-minded people.”
There is so much to do and so much help available for expats who want to establish a social life in Sweden. You should definitely be able to make friends with a little effort on your part. Tourist information centres have a generous amount of information on the sites to visit, and the local library will have details of the culture — theatre, music, art and exhibitions for you to enjoy.
There are several sites where you can get information about expat clubs, news and communities. These four sites will give you a taste of what is available.
- Jan 1 New Year’s Day
- Jan 6 Epiphany
- April Good Friday/Easter Day
- Easter Monday
- May 1 May Day
- May 29 Ascension Day
- Whit Sunday
- June 6 Sweden National Day
- June 20 Midsummer
- Dec 24/25/26 Christmas