My arrival in Sweden`s capital obliges me to write about the what Stockholm is like compared to the rest of the country. During previous interviews, people have been repeating that Stockholmers are considered a different kind of Swedes: more progressive and more open, but also arrogant and hasty.
Dennis (26, photo) is one of the born and bred Stockholmers. I talk to him when he is having lunch in one of Stockholm`s numerous combined lunchrooms/coffeeshops. He tells me that autumn is not the best season to visit Stockholm. The days are slowly getting shorter and people are beginning to stay at home. They may still go out in weekends, but their mind is set on waiting for the next summer to come.
`People from outside Stockholm may think of Stockholmers as noisy and arrogant`
I ask Dennis what people from the rest of Sweden think about Stockholm. He replies that they have a little complex about Stockholmers coming to their region and behaving like they are something, meaning important, or at least better than the local population. Their reputation is by no means a reason for the inhabitants of Stockholm to remain stuck in their own city. Many families have stuga, small summer houses scattered around the country. Those are often the stereotypical red wooden houses with a little Swedish flag out when people are in. They are really summer houses, because the main season for travelling abroad is winter. Many Swedes spend all other seasons waiting for a hot summer, so they will stay around in their own country when the sun is finally out.
When we talk about other places in Sweden Dennis likes, he comes up with ?rebro. It`s one of the many student cities in Sweden, located about 200 kilometres west of Stockholm. The capital city does not serve as a particular magnet to students. Beside ?rebro and Uppsala (centre), Malm? and Lund (south), every significant city has its own university. In most of those places, housing is a lot less expensive than in Stockholm, which makes people move away from Stockholm rather then pulling them in. Other reasons for people to leave Stockholm: enjoy nature by skiing, fishing, hunting or other outdoor activities. Army service is also a reason to move out temporarily. However, army service is not compulsory in Sweden. The only thing that remains is a medical test at the age of 18, probably followed by a request to return home because the defence budget does not allow for any new recruits.
Out in the regions
Above examples illustrate how Sweden is not organised in the same central way as for example France or Estonia, where everybody needs to go to the capital city every now and then: for business, administrative matters or otherwise. Many cities out in the country have their own airports, with direct international links to places all over Europe. When talking sports, the nation`s best teams in ice-hockey and football are not even from Stockholm, The capital may have more teams, but it`s more often the Gothenburg teams who pull the longer straw.
The above arguments did not stop Kristin (24), ?sa (27) and Emelie (23) to travel to Stockholm. They are here for a short study trip. They came from the city of J?nk?ping, 300 kilometres southwest of Stockholm, where they are studying to become teachers in elementary school. They call the average Stockholmers `stuck-up` and tend to refer to them as `nol otta` (zero eight), which is the telephone code to dial into the capital. They are enthusiastic about the beautiful buildings in Stockholm but a little less so about the hectic city life. They prefer the way of life in Gothenburg: a little more quiet but there is still lots to see and do. Also people in the north enjoy their approval.
But the north-south story is a different subject: in Norrland, it is generally all southerners that are seen as arrogant, no matter if they come from Stockholm, from smaller cities, or even from the countryside. Many people in the north blame the south for having taken control over the natural resources in the north, while at the same time complaining that the north requires too much financial aid. The profits generated by companies in the north are said to be counted as `southern income`, because the company making the profit is from the south. Some voices claim that the North and South of Sweden should be split up, so that the South regains control over its possessions.
And so it seems like everybody in Sweden has to blame some other region in Sweden of arrogance. Another detour that ends with the conclusion that everything in Sweden is organised around the theory that everybody should consider themselves equal to everybody else. Whoever doesn`t gets the most malicious title of the country. A-R-R-O-G-A-N-T. And you don`t want to earn that title; it`s the point where all goodwill ends.
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