Expat limbo in Stockholm.
Many of us decided, by several and different reasons, to move to Stockholm. A new city, new people, new job/studies, new colleagues, and, for those single, new chances to fall in love or at least get laid.
After spending 6 months in Stockholm and making new friends, learning swedish, and understanding the swedish social dynamics; I realised many expats don’t really hang out with swedish people at all and they end up dating/banging each other for the same reasons. Is it a language barrier? Everybody in Sweden speaks well the english language. Cultural differences? Well, you aren’t just changing to a new neighbourhood, you did it to a new fucking country; you were expecting them. Then, why is so difficult for expats to connect to the swedes? I’ll try to explain based on my own experience
1. There is simply too many internationals and internationals activities. You are new in town, you don’t have a lot of friends, and you see an event on facebook about “welcome to Stockholm-whatever-party”. Of course you will take your ass there right? But swedes don’t go to those kind of events, so you met new expats, and start hanging out with them. One moment and realize that you don’t really have close swedish friends, I heard that story too many times now. Expats communities are big and it is very comfortable to speak english/your own language.
2. It requires effort to get into a swedish social circle. I don’t think its easy in any country to enter a social circle of people whom have known each other for a while and specially if you don’t speak the native tongue. Don’t get me wrong, swedish people are friendly, nevertheless to actually start hanging out with them you need to push a little at the beginning; specially in Stockholm. Many expats don’t really do that. As an international student in my class I see it all the time. The swedes do something during the lunch and the internationals other thing, but it isn’t really hard just to ask them to have lunch together right? It doesn’t happen, don’t ask me why.
You will never actually understand swedish society and you will never will be able to improve your swedish speaking skills. If you are a student your networking in Sweden will probably been non-existing or very limited for building a career in Sweden. Worst of all you will probably get to date a sweden, yeah for some people is that critical haha.
What can you do about it?
Try to get closer to the swedish people in your work/classes. They will probably will not start, but they will most likely respond.
Learn swedish. Make a little effort, it will change everything for the better.
Avoid expats/erasmus whatever parties. There are a lot of better things to do and a lot of parties you can actually attend, just make your research. I am not saying stay away from them totally, but be aware that there are many other things to do.