Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Silent Nordic Type

Apparently, the further North in Sweden one goes, the quieter the inhabitants become. Urban legend holds that residents of Norrland can have an entire conversation consisting only of nodding and making a kind of sucking noise that sounds like a cross between a hiccup and a cat regurgitating a hairball. Sort of like the sound that Lady and the Tramp made when they were slurping up that single, long strand of spagetti.

My first year here, I became very good friends with a girl we'll call Pia. Pia looks about as Scandinavian as they come, with fine white blond hair and bright blue eyes, but much to the dismay of my male friends from North America, no artic fox fur bikini. Among my group of friends, who were for the most part international students on the Erasmus or other exchange programs, contact with a real Swede was some sort of a rarity. As Erasmus circles can be somewhat insular, "Swede spotting" became a kind of sport at at international parties (which occurred every Wednesday at Allhuset at the University and nearly every weekend at Lappis, the student residences nearest the university).

"You saw one? Where?"

"Damn, you just missed it!"

What a shock! To actually meet a Swede in Sweden? Never.

But Pia isn't actually Swedish. She's Finnish. And at least as far as cultural stereotypes go, it seems that compared to the Finns, residents of Norrland are actually quite gregarious.

But Pia is far from the epitome of the stony, silent Finn. Put nicely, she is quite bubbly. Put not so nicely, she never shuts up.

We were sitting in the computer lab at Stockholm University and Pia was chatting on and on about some such thing, and another American friend, Kevin, was sitting behind us. Suddenly, my phone beeped, and Kevin had sent me an sms that read "My god! What a talkative Swede! Where did you find her?"

I sent the simple reply, "Actually, in Finland."

"You're kidding, right? Even more surprising." came his answer.

So much for cultural stereotypes. For every rule, it seems there is an exception.


Blogger k said...

Hahaha. Äntligen. Det här är fantastiskt.

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snubblade in på din blogg! Du skriver så bra! :) Bokmärke sparat!


10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Move from S-holm and find a nice University maybe in the north or south... Umeå or Växjö... There you find the Swedish people...

11:38 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

stockholm är u inte riktiga svenskar heller....flytta söderut så träffar du dom ;)

12:32 PM  
Blogger Manne said...

Fact is, that some of the nicest, funniest and most talkative Swedes (albeit a bit scary, they do have a sort of blunt approach with something seemingly dangerous lurking beneath the surface, check out the movie Jägarna to see what I mean...) I know are from the very North of Sweden: Malmberget.

Was very surprised when I went up there to visit and had the whole northerner silent and sucking noise making stereotype completely shattered.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Kapten Napalm said...

Finnar är tysta. Hon är inte finne. :D

4:19 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

so i surmise that the real swedes can be found in the towns between stockholm and gothenburg and down there in skåne? ;) please, tell me where to start looking.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Niclas Bengtsson said...

Måste vara någon som syftar på mig här. Normalt bor jag i Linköping som ligger mellan Stockholm o Göteborg. Men nu är jag i södraste skåne för att äta upp mig ;)

Känner mig väldigt utpekad.

11:08 AM  

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