Foreign Perspective: Malmö, Sweden
Hej, jag heter Oskar och min familj är från Sverige. Hi, my name is Oskar and I’m a junior at Tam. My family is from Sweden.
When someone asks me the all too frequent question “which place do I like more, Sweden or the US?” I must hesitate and first think to myself “Who is the audience?” If it was a Swedish person posing the question,
I would of course insist that I am an American. Conversely, if I am speaking to anyone else, I will present myself as a Swede.
Now, that’s not a matter of pride, rather a situational tool I enjoyed utilizing. Though I am a dual citizen and have now spent more time in the U.S., I grew up in Sweden. My childhood from the age of five belonged with one culture: that’s what makes character, and builds foundation of a person. So when I moved to the U.S. after seven years in Sweden, I instantly felt the culture shock.
Perhaps the first thing I noticed that was different about America was the heavy dependence on commercialism. I was at first stunned by the fifty foot LED screens informing me how to improve my life with materialistic products. These products grow old, and you start to wish you never saw them. The money-driven culture is apparent to any newcomer, and it’s a paradigm that’s easy to get distracted by. But everyone loves money. Everyone does, right? Well, actually, Sweden is a social democratic country, meaning there is a strong political emphasis on equality, achieved through higher taxes on those with higher income.This ideology has had a huge impact on Sweden’s culture, so bragging about money is highly frowned upon. This is not to say that people don’t like money—they just keep the memo to themselves. (Unless you are from Stockholm, where a high concentration of wealthy people live and don’t mind sharing this with anyone who cares to listen. In Sweden they have been deemed the stekare.)
The rise of the Internet has created a world in which everything is becoming more interconnected, and huge shifts in culture now permit everything to evolve. I have seen throughout my life the merging of multiple cultures as a result of this change. Because of a new, globalized connection, people from around the world are now drawn to America’s dominant culture. It is beautiful and promising, but I hope we do not forget the lessons from cultures that have stood the test of time, such as the effort in Swedish culture to practice humility.
Tack så mycket för er tid!
Thank you for your time!