I had a copy of an essay “Sweden: The reluctant country”, and when my Swedish team-mate read the caption, he kind of got upset at the caption. He does not for sure endorse the idea that Sweden is a reluctant country, or that further perpetrated ideas such as its population is cold.
I have already heard many senior Swedes project the notion that Sweden as a country can be held back, that the population is reluctant, or that they don’t take initiatives etc, which totally contradicts my personal experiences here. This is also affirmed by my Swedish friends and acquaintances.
If walking up to a person in a bus, or a tram and engaging them in a conversation defines how approachable a population is, then it ain’t right. You cannot do that even in Bangalore these days which is known to be an amicable city in India. Within groups, teams, parties or workplace the Swedes are outgoing, with unfettered enthusiasm and of course bubbling with great ideas, as always. This is a more elaborate, yet not an exhaustive characterisation of Swedes.
Or, is this tag of inhibition associated with Swedes an obsolete idea, that still is being percolated?
I might not have a certain answer as yet, but I can only notice that maybe the times are changing.
Open mind, Open country
It might be true that Sweden has been more reclusive of a state, historically, but I think the newer generations are beginning to open up and are welcoming a change that they find is necessary. Not only the younger generations, but at policy levels there is a lot of emphasis placed on mingling, collaborating, socialising and simply stated shedding the reluctance that might have existed. Maybe the need felt by the populace to shed the inhibition and the modulation in policies are showing effect.
I am in the process of assimilating Swedishness into me, and it does not seem anything like it has been presented to me. I am not sure if this is a trait in Gothenburg that displaces me from the dogmas presented. I have heard that Stockholm is different and it might fit into the description, but a country capital cannot define the country’s attributes. In that case, it will still be wrong to call Swedes a population that is not outgoing etc.
I have visited few islands that are part of Gothenburg, and the people there are more open and outgoing. In contrast, facing Gothenburg a fishing town in Denmark, Frederikshavn is noticeably more held back.
In conclusion, if you don’t see the coldness of population as a newcomer who has moved away from home, maybe something is not right either in the perception that is presented, or just that my experiences are simply exclusive.
Also, it might be the right time that Swedes take notice of this not-so-cool tag on them, and resent it like they have resented something as obsolete as organised religion.