During my first weeks in Lund, every time I met new people, they always asked me same question: “What do you think about Sweden?”
It sounds like a simple question, but honestly, it is hard for me to answer. Not because I don’t like Sweden, but because I never really ask myself about that. I mean that’s question just never crossed my mind before. Of course I like Sweden. Especially Lund. Yes, the winter can be so long and freezing, but the rest is good. And I’m not that cynical person who tends to complain or criticize everything. I’m more that silver-lining person who chooses to enjoy every moment while it last. So my typical answer is: “Well, I think I like it. I mean I don’t have any concern so far. And yes it’s bit quiet compare to Indonesia and Australia but I like having new experiences.”
Then, after knowing that I’ve been lived in Australia, they started to ask for more comparison between Sweden and Australia. This is even harder to do. I don’t like playing favorite. Australia for me is like grandma’s house where I spent most of my childhood and I’d love to visit three or four times in a year. While Sweden is where I live now, it’s my current home, why wouldn’t I love it?
But if you really want to know the differences between Australia and Sweden, based on my personal perspective, here is what I think:
Australia and Sweden are indeed different. No doubt about that. Australia is in the down under and Sweden is in the up north. Everybody knows that. This difference on location leads to differences in culture and habits. Aussie people are more “warm” in a sense of they are more open and friendly. It’s common for Australian to get off from the bus and said cheerfully: “Thank you, driver!” or for them to greet you, asking: “how are you” or other chitchats even if you haven’t meet them before. While in Sweden, it will be very uncommon to do that so people think that Swedes are “cold.”
But, I think, this is just because Swedes are less expressive than Australian. They aren’t like Australian who love to greet and smile but they actually share similar kindness. Both Australian and Swedes are helpful. And once you start a conversation, even just asking for their permission to get off first from the bus, you’ll realize that Swedes are actually quite warm.
This difference is caused by the weather I assume. Research shows that our mood and emotions are also influenced by the weather (read here). Australia has more sun exposure, the winter is not very cold, unless you go to Snowy Mountain or to Tasmania, so people love to gather outside, partying, talking, laughing, and so on. While here in Sweden, especially on winter, people choose to spend time outside as least as possible . They also don’t chitchat a lot because they value privacy. So I think it’s just a matter of culture and habit.
However, I must say that Swedes are less judgmental than Australian. When I was in Australia, I experienced inappropriate behavior quite often. There were times when I walked in the street and people (mostly drunk) yelled at me, called me “dog face”, “Asian” or “terrorist”. I was sad at first. Definitely. But after few weeks, I just got used to it. Besides, I got a favorite quote from my bestie, Marieke, who said that morons are everywhere, so I decided not to let them bother me. They don’t deserve it anyway. And they’re just one in a million. Not the dominant one.
While here in Sweden, I never have such experience so far. People treat me with respect. They do not mind sitting besides me in public transport. Not because there are no more seat left but because they are not afraid of me. They don’t see me like I’m an alien coming from Mars. That makes me feel welcome.
Well, no country is perfect. Every country has its strengths and flaws, even my beloved Indonesia. So if you still wondering which one I’ll choose between Australia and Sweden, I think it’s a tie. Or just like those viral every-second-counts videos, let me put it this way:
You should totally understand that it will be Indonesia first (home). But Australia and Sweden will always be my second (homes). Yes. I’m not lying. It’s true!
🙂 🙂 🙂