This guest blog was written by Maria Koutsoupaki, a Greek graduate of English linguistics and literature who is currently teaching English in Sweden and learning the language!
5 times I fell into the cultural gap...
...How to Thrive in a Swedish Job.
… And by thrive, I don’t mean during actual work. I am mainly referring to all these little things that complete your work life. These little cultural particularities you discover when working abroad make all the difference!
Here are five tips for those who hope to find a job in Sweden.
No 1. Formality:
That moment when you address your manager using plural of politeness or…Sir! Just forget it! They most probably think you sound too posh or formal! No matter what your position is, your superiors will address you as equal and that’s what they also expect from you. Use their first name from the very first moment, even in your job application. But remember to maintain a balance between friendliness and formality: the curtain that might have been separating you from your boss in your country is here drawn, but make sure not to cross that invisible line remaining on the floor!
No 2. Socializing:
A quite natural result of the first observation is that you should grasp every opportunity to socialize with your colleagues and superiors. Not that this is uncommon in other countries, but Sweden offers many interesting opportunities. For example, coffee breaks or the so-called fika. You might want to work your eight hours and go home. “Besides”, you think, “I already had my lunch break”. However, fika is a daily habit that no one should avoid and it is a rite of passage for you who want to immerse into the Swedish culture and lifestyle. Last but not least, it is one more chance for you to socialize! Everyone will be at the company’s cafeteria during that time, I assure you! Besides, the Swedes always “spice up” their coffee breaks with sweets! Isn’t that reason enough?
No 3. Arrival time:
After a week of trying to imitate your Swedish colleagues and be at the office at 7 am, you just feel it can’t go on! You need to sleep an hour more, otherwise you won’t be efficient at work. Well, do so! As long as you work the predetermined amount of hours and produce the expected results, no one will ever care about the time you are at the office. Make sure, of course, not to oversleep and miss some meeting and always be there when you know you have something important to do that needs to be done as early as possible.
No 4: Listening to music:
Oh, I always do that nowadays and it just feels sooo good! I work much more efficiently, stay happy and focused and I simply block away any other noise or sound! And the best part? It’s allowed! As a matter of fact, you might notice that most of your colleagues are doing the same thing! So, if you enjoy music and can still work with music on, just go for it. Important notice: Don’t forget your headphones
No 5: Lunch time:
That one hour between 12 and 13 is just sacred in Sweden. The offices empty, the restaurants buzz with sounds, even classes at the University officially finish at 12 and restart after 13. And of course, people are queuing up to buy lunch. So take your time and eat your lunch with some good company. You’ll realize you refill your energy reservoir and –during the summer months- you get the chance to gather some sunlight! But if you still decide to stay on your desk and work… well… don’t expect many people to be there. And don’t try to call or visit anyone around that time….yeah yeah, you get the point by now…they are having a lunch break!
If you would you like to experience life in a work-place abroad first hand, take at look at the opportunities in Sweden (or anywhere else in Europe!) through Europe Language Jobs here! : http://www.europelanguagejobs.com/jobs/countries/Sweden
Have you ever fallen into a cultural gap abroad? Let us know! We love to hear from members of our expat and polyglot community like Maria
Aug 16, 2016 by Carlos
As a Turkish, I had similar things but mine was much positive indeed when I was in Germany. In Turkey, except some classical tradition I can say that we have many different cultures even they differ from region to region. After all, whole country is mostly effected by western countries but what was positive for me when I got to Germany is to find in a regular culture habits. I think I like to be regular mostly :) and did not find the way difficult and the orientation time was very short for me.
posted 1 year ago by Tamer
Nice article and a good tip about Swedish working culture.
posted 2 years ago by Eduardo
That's a dream job. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were applied elsewhere in Europe?
posted 2 years ago by Ana Maria
No. 4 always doesn't go well in Germany.
posted 2 years ago by Nishanth Nagaraja
Well I am Swedish. Good summary !
posted 2 years ago by Mats Wilhelm
I am Looking for change
posted 2 years ago by Nikhilesh
Loved this! Great advice xx
posted 2 years ago by Tess
Thanks for this very valuable hints and experiences.
posted 2 years ago by Tümerkan
posted 2 years ago by Harold
Cultural gaps are a reality even with Polish roots I realized fast when I left Canada for Poland that I was not as Polish as I thought and that I had to learn how to adapt to my new environment.
posted 2 years ago by David