Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Making friends in Sweden aka that magical thing called 'Fika'

One stereotype often repeated when it comes to Swedes is that they are cold and distant people. I have to disagree. Swedes do love their personal space, that much is true. But once you get to know them, they are very warm and welcoming. I have yet to meet the first Swedish person who asked me how I was and did not genuinely want to know.

How do you make friends in a country where everyone loves their personal space? If you came to this blog to finally find out the magical rules of friendship in Sweden, I have to disappoint you. I still have no clue. It's not simple. Any attempt to start a conversation by simply stepping up to someone will result in bewildered looks in your direction and a rapidly growing distance between you and them. 

According to a friend who came here from Peru, Swedes often stay in the same social groups they have been in since childhood. Newcomers will have a hard time wiggling themselves in there. Somehow I did manage to make some friends, though. Perhaps it's a matter of staying calm, not making eye contact and patiently waiting until they approach you.

Or perhaps it has something to do with a magical thing called fika. What is fika? I will now join the large group of people who through time have tried and miserably failed to explain this. Because you can't put fika into words. Just like food is not just food, fika is not just a coffee break. There is coffee, and there is something sweet to eat, but it's not just that. Somehow the combination of coffee and cake constructs a framework for mingling, for getting to know each other, and to discuss issues in a relaxed atmosphere.

Fika is important. Very important. It was one of the first things I was told over and over when I arrived at Bonniers Konsthall: Fika is important. Forget about the spoonful of sugar. Fika is what makes the medicine go down. It's what seals the deal, inspires, launches plans, connects people and gets or keeps them on the same level. And it comes with cake.

Coming to Sweden? Don't skip fika.

Vi ses


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