Swedish Girls & American Girls

Note: A couple months ago, a Swedish guy asked me what the difference was between Swedish girls and American girls. I paused... I hadn't really thought much about it before. I thought about the differences between the guys often, and also between the two cultures overall. But perhaps since I'm so close to so many girls from here, the differences are often lost on me. I told him, there is less of a difference between us than there is between the guys. But I think I may just have a hard time assessing it since I'm too inside it! But there are some things to uncover, I've realized...

We stood in a crowd just outside a bar a couple months ago, and I was speaking to two of my Swedish girlfriends in English.

"Are you American?" a voice behind me piped up. Not the first time I've had a conversation interrupted with that question. I turned to see a girl peering at me with vibrant curiosity. Her hair and dress looked like she could be Swedish, but the expression on her face was too animated to make her blend in any further.

"Yes, I am," I said. She told me she was too, asked me where I was from, and I said California. I asked her the same. The blank parts below were full of details I don't remember:

"Oh I'm from ..... and I moved to Stockholm a year and a half ago and was a nanny and the family was .... and then I met my boyfriend... and then I decided to get a different job... and now I live in Lund but it's just temporary because like this city isn't suiting me as well because .... and I think I'll go back to Stockholm when... and my boyfriend... and Sweden is... and this bar is so... I never come here... and can everyone stop pushing???"
She talked for quite awhile, basically. I thought she was quite loud and a bit aggressively opinionated, and wasn't too interested in talking to her further. When the conversation paused, my two friends leaned into me and said quietly with a smirk, "So typical American, right? Really!"
"Come on!" I said. "I mean she's American but not 'typical'... She is louder and more obnoxious than about 97% of people I know from the States."
"Okay but honestly... telling your whole life story in the first two minutes you meet? Isn't that a bit American, American girl especially? It's not Swedish, for sure."

I paused and then laughed out loud. "Yes, fine, you're a bit right about that part," I admitted with a laugh. I've been in Sweden for quite awhile now, but when I interacted with her in that moment I forgot how unusual it is to learn so much about someone so quickly. Especially anything about a significant other... it's usually awhile before you even learn that someone is dating someone here, even if they live together. And then anything about "why"... like why they live in this city, why they have a certain job, etc. Not information you hear in first interactions with a Swedish girl/person, unlike this girl I met.

And I sometimes feel it in myself when I meet new people here in Sweden. Some things I keep quite private, but when people ask me questions (I don't usually start answering unprompted!) I can sense that I am saying more than they would. "Why did you pick Sweden? Do you miss California?" The answers come out, and it's easy for me to get quite personal with people I hardly know (as long as I think I like them). It's hard for me to picture any Swedish girl (or guy, to be honest) I know disclosing as much if the questions were given to her, by people she's not very familiar with. I sometimes have this sense that, in comparison with people around me sometimes in Sweden, I am a bit of an open book, and I didn't often feel that way in the States. My open book thing only goes so far though, as I'll explain in my next post about American and Swedish girls :)

One other amusing thing regarding this girl outside the bar. As we moved closer to getting in, there were some people really crowding around and everyone was getting shoved a little bit (this shoving concept deserves its own post, as it relates to what is my biggest culture shock in Sweden). This girl yelled out, "Someone is up my ass! Please back off! I've already had a Swede up my ass before, I don't need another!"

Yikes. Cool it with the yelling of the dirty comments.

But as I remembered this encounter to write it down, I recalled another one, earlier this summer. I don't know, perhaps this is a cultural difference... I was at a pre party/dinner with a few Swedish guys, one of whom has lived in the States for over 3 years now and was about to marry an American girl. The guys were being guys and some dirty (yet funny and not as raunchy as that girl) jokes and teasing was happening. I had to throw something in, I couldn't just sit there passively. So I did. They laughed. The Swedish guy that lives in the States, looked over at me, and paused, then laughed again like something felt familiar...and then held up his hand for a high five and said exactly what I guessed he was thinking: "American girls!"


  1. Mmm... I have a lot to say on this topic, especially now that I've dated a few Swedes. But I'll refrain from airing the details in this public forum... We'll have to discuss next time we see each other ^^ Hope all is well!!

  2. ok, so swedish girls are shy abroad but direct here in sweden? Is being direct more of a swedish thing than american? I'm interesting in America, have been there twice, and also knew a lot of americans on the internet. I find american girls to take better care of their look than swedish. I'm sure that might not be the case in some rural place with high obesity, but even when you see the visitors to an icehockey game, american women tend to be so polished and beautiful. Well, Latin american spectators at soccer game is that too, but they are darker so they don't look like the white american (when saying american girl in this context I mean white)


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