The Swedish word of the day is “Sverige”. It literally means “Sweden” and thereby initiates today`s post about the biggest of the Scandinavian countries. Since 2009 “svenska”, translated to “Swedish”, is the official national language here in Sweden.
Sweden is the heart of the Nordic countries and has quite a lot to offer. Here it is pretty common to live in a city or at least close by, so the population density around places like Stockholm, Malmö or Goteborg are way higher than in other parts of the country. Because of that and the super low population density in general this European country is full of beautiful and often untouched nature. Not only does Sweden have a really long coast with wonderful skerries but it also got more than 96.000 lakes, many rivers and a unique mountain landscape.
Besides that Sweden is also known for its friendly inhabitants and especially Stockholm as the capital and center demonstrates the harmony between modern multicultural values and centuries-old history and traditions.
Speaking about history: Around the year 300 the tribe of the “Svear” lived in the region where today we have Uppsala. Some tombs that can still be seen today bear witness to their existence. Together with the other volunteers we visited this place last weekend and it was breathtaking to experience such old history! By then, the regions still were independent but the Svearn obtained more and more power. Within the 13th century Sweden already was a large empire under the direction of a king. Until the 17th century it gained more and more influence and then became the most powerful kingdom of the north with force around the whole Baltic sea.
After Sweden was conquered in the 19th century the country started to act more passive and rather stayed out of conflicts. With this attitude they were spared from destruction during all the wars. Today, Sweden is a parliamentary democracy as well as a hereditary monarchy, even though the royalty doesn`t have any political power anymore. The royal family only represents the country – and the people love them!
The idea of solving conflicts in peaceful ways and acting more passive strengthened over the last decades and is something most people share until today. But despite the neutral way of taking part in world politics Sweden has a close connection towards other European countries and for example is deeply engaged in the refugees crisis. That also represents some values of the Swedish people: Equality and cordiality is something that is super important for a lot of citizens.
Writing about values and traditions, just like its unique nature Sweden got a pretty peerless culture as well. I have been to Sweden twice before I started my ESC, so I already experienced some of the differences to other countries. More than in other parts of the world Swedish people love to be with their family and friends, for example for their famous “fika”(a Swedish comfy coffee break, sometimes also with sweet pastries, where people relax and talk). They are often rather spend this quality time with their closest social environment and are not that outgoing in public.
This fellowship is the most significant part of their life, even though working hand in hand together with others is really important for them as well. A small power distance between employees or the publicity principle are only some examples for equality amount everyone. Having this satisfaction and comfort in life makes the Scandinavian people the happiest people of the world, so the “World Happiness Report 2017“.
That is something that I already realized during my first vacation in northern country. But besides that, Sweden is actually not that different from other Northern European countries like Germany, Denmark or Norway. As I already mentioned, Sweden is a role model for modern values, digitalization and globalization, maybe even more than Germany. But still, most people find a good balance between all that while also staying connected to nature, traditions and more than that to their own origin, no matter if it`s Swedish or another nationality.
I already noticed this cultural awareness in most of the children. For example, at work at the Rapatac Center I met so many kids whose Swedish and English is on a really high level, although some of them grew up with even another mother tongue. From an early age they got to learn the importance of tradition just as much as values like globalization, cooperation and cultural exchange.
For me, I`m still working on my “Svenska”. I started with online courses as well as I try to understand as much as possible every time someone speaks Swedish. So, hopefully I can learn almost as quickly as the Rapatac-Kids.
But for now, I think this was quite a bit of information. I hope you all got to learn something from today`s post and maybe also got a little inspired by this wonderful country!
There will be an update about my work soon!
Have a great week y`all!