Top 10 anecdotes about Sweden, something to add to your culture before you head off to this magnificent country for a work placement abroad! The Scandinavian country of Sweden is renowned the world over for the happiness of its people and its healthy relationship with the environment. But more than just an example to follow, Sweden has many anecdotes to share with you: here’s a look at the top 10 anecdotes about Sweden!

Food in tubes

In Sweden, food in tubes, also known as “tube food” or “tubmat”, is a rather unique culinary curiosity. This concept of food in tube form was developed in the country in the 1950s and was mainly intended for the elderly, the sick or people who had difficulty eating in the traditional way.

Tube food is packaged in flexible aluminium or plastic tubes, similar to those used for cosmetic products. It comes in the form of pastes, purées or soups. Some of the common dishes in tubes include flavours such as herring, salmon, meatballs, fish soups and traditional Swedish dishes such as “Janssons frestelse” (a potato dish with anchovies and onions). And in Sweden, as in Finland – but that’s another top! – tube food is very popular and there are shelves full of hundreds of varieties!

Coffee in Sweden

Coffee occupies an important place in Swedish culture, and the relationship between Swedes and this beverage is deeply rooted in their daily way of life. Here are a few key elements that reflect the Swedish relationship with coffee:

  1. “Fika”: The concept of “fika” is at the heart of Swedish coffee culture. Fika’ is a Swedish social tradition that involves taking a coffee break with colleagues, friends or family. It’s much more than just a coffee break, it’s a time to relax and get together over a cup of coffee and some pastries, often ‘kanelbullar’ (cinnamon buns) or cakes.
  2. Regular consumption: Swedes are among the world’s biggest coffee drinkers in terms of per capita consumption. They generally enjoy several cups of coffee throughout the day, whether at work, at home or in cafés.
  3. Quality coffee: Swedes are very attentive to the quality of their coffee. They often prefer speciality coffees, made with freshly ground beans, and can be demanding when it comes to taste and aroma.
  4. Sharing moments: Coffee is an opportunity for sharing and discussion in Sweden. The “fika” is often an opportunity to discuss a variety of subjects, relax and forge social links.
  5. Accessibility: Coffee is widely available in Sweden, in cafés, restaurants, kiosks and offices. Swedes appreciate the ease of access to coffee for their breaks and relaxation.
  6. Coffee break at work: ‘fika’ is so much a part of Swedish culture that it is often taken very seriously, even at work. Coffee breaks are an integral part of the working day and are considered essential to fostering a friendly and productive working environment.

Swedes’ relationship with coffee reflects their relaxed, social approach to life, with the emphasis on moments of sharing and conviviality. The ‘fika’ is a tradition rooted in the Swedish social fabric, where coffee plays a central role in creating links and strengthening relationships between individuals.

Sport in Sweden

Sweden and sport, they’re cooking up a storm! Since 2006, Sweden has won 588 Olympic medals, including both summer and winter games, and is ranked 7th! For a country with a small population, that’s an absolute record!

Recycling champions

The Swedes are often regarded as champions of recycling because of their commitment and rigorous approach to waste management. Several factors contribute to this reputation:

  1. Policies and infrastructure: Sweden has strict environmental policies and effective infrastructure in place to encourage recycling. Citizens have easy access to selective sorting stations and collection points for different types of recyclable materials.
  2. Waste tax: Sweden has introduced a high tax on waste to discourage the landfilling of non-recyclable waste. This tax encourages companies and individuals to favour recycling over waste disposal.
  3. Energy recycling: Sweden has developed advanced energy recycling facilities, where non-recyclable waste is used as an energy source to produce heat and electricity. This approach reduces dependence on fossil fuels.
  4. Awareness-raising and education: Swedes are made aware of the importance of recycling and preserving the environment from an early age. Schools and the media play an essential role in educating people about environmental issues.
  5. Culture of sustainability: Swedish culture places particular importance on sustainability and environmental responsibility. Citizens are encouraged to adopt a lifestyle that respects the environment, including recycling.

As a result of these efforts and commitment, Sweden has been able to achieve high recycling rates and significantly reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. The Swedes’ comprehensive approach to recycling has helped to make Sweden a model for responsible waste management and environmental protection.

It’s all clean in the houses

You have to take off your shoes and leave them in the hall. And always! I try to do this at home too, but it’s not always easy :). This way you avoid getting the flat dirty and having to vacuum every 2 minutes and ending up deaf.

Student tradition

The Swedish tradition of students shouting out of their windows at 10pm is known as “Fönsterbanksskriket” or “Window Scream”. This tradition is particularly common in student residences in Sweden, and is often seen as a way for students to relax, release stress and let off steam.

The exact origin of this tradition is still debated, but it is said to date back to the 1950s. Some suggest that it may be linked to an old superstition according to which evil spirits and bad energy were supposed to come out of the house at 10pm, and the shouts of the students would be a way of chasing them away.

Whatever the case, this tradition has become a fun and social practice in student residences. Students often gather at their windows at precisely 10pm and shout together, creating a joyful and liberating atmosphere. It’s a way for students to bond and support each other, especially during stressful periods of study and exams.

This tradition is considered a Swedish cultural curiosity and an original way of managing stress and fostering a spirit of camaraderie among students living in residence. It’s a fun and unique experience for those lucky enough to live in a student residence in Sweden! ?

The relationship with alcohol

Don’t drink alcohol during the week! Saturday is the day to get your blood alcohol level up. If you’re French and you ask your Swedish flatmate out for a drink on a Thursday afternoon at 4pm, he might not quite understand. Or he’ll kindly tell you that it’s not Saturday. Unthinkable for us!

An original world record

The Swedes have achieved an impressive feat by creating the world’s largest representation of the solar system! This unique representation stretches an incredible 1,500 km across the entire country, giving an astronomical scale to this achievement.

At the heart of this monumental work, the sun is highlighted by the world’s largest spherical building, located in Stockholm. This incredible building is a true architectural feat, strikingly representing our nourishing star.

Walking through Sweden, visitors can follow this fascinating representation of the solar system, discovering the planets scattered across the landscape. Each stage of this representation offers a unique perspective on the immensity of space and our place in the universe.

This achievement is a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the Swedes, who have transformed a daring idea into an immersive astronomical experience on a national scale. The representation of the solar system in Sweden is not only a technical feat, but also a tribute to the beauty and grandeur of the universe that surrounds us. It’s an invitation to contemplate and marvel at the immensity of space and the stars.

Cars in the trees

In the village of Harads, in Sweden, there is an unusual hotel called “Treehotel”. As its name suggests, this hotel offers unique guest rooms perched in the trees. Each room is designed by a different architect and offers a unique accommodation experience. Some of the most famous rooms include a flying saucer, a giant bird’s nest, a mirror cube and even a room in the shape of a rally car, suspended in the trees several metres above the ground! It’s a unique experience for visitors looking for an unusual night out in the Swedish countryside.

The Feast of the Catherinettes in Sweden

In Sweden, there’s a fun tradition called ‘Kulstötning’, which literally translates as ‘snowball throwing’. This tradition is celebrated when a person turns 25 and is still single. Friends and family organise a festive event where the single person has to throw snowballs into a bathtub filled with icy water. For every snowball successfully thrown into the bath, the single person receives gifts or pledges. It’s a fun way to mark this milestone in life and celebrate the birthday while gently teasing the single person!

And there you have it! If you’ve got any other cool anecdotes to tell, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section. And if you’d like to do an internship in Sweden, just contact us HERE!

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.