Thursday, 10 January 2013

Question 1a: What would you miss about England/Sweden if you lived abroad?

Most English and Swedish people naturally mentioned family and friends, but apart from people and pets this is what they came up with:

What people living in England would miss about England

The English humour, the British character, the banter, having a laugh, taking the piss, talking bollocks

Cups of tea, proper tea, tea and biscuits

Pints, real ale, the pub culture

Baked potato, Marmite

Some beautiful places, the nature, the landscapes, the greenness of English countryside, the four distinct seasons

The cultural diversity

Great things happening in summer, festivals, camps and events

Going to London to see shows and art exhibitions, free galleries and museums

English bookshops, Waterstones, Newspapers, the Guardian, Music, club nights

Supermarkets, Sainsbury's

The familiarity, knowing the ropes, associations, the history of growing up here

The convenience and ease of public transport, free health care

What people living in Sweden would miss about Sweden

Understanding the system, going to the bank and understand how it works, not having to compromise and getting used to the ways of another culture, knowing how to handle situations without having to think

How society is structured, that everybody has an okay standard of living, pretty well organised, not so much corruption, the security, the safety net, the stability, the reliability

Feminism, questions about gender identity, freedom, freedom of speech

Some comforts, the Swedish standard, that things are fresh and clean, our washing powder

Nature, the lakes, swimming outside, the freedom to roam, the forest, space

Snow in winter, the seasons, the Swedish summers

The Swedish traditions, Lucia, Christmas, crayfish-parties, midsummer

Salty liquorice, mayonaise, pizza salad, pizza, kebab, Christmas smörgåsbord, meatballs, Marabou chocolate, bread, crisp bread

The coffee

Hearing your own language, different dialects, to be able to read really fast

Friskis & Svettis (an amateur gym)

Similarities and differences: Humour and Pizza

Both people in England and Sweden would miss the nature and the landscape they are used to which wasn’t very surprising, but it seemed more important to Swedish people probably because there’s more forest in Sweden.

What surprised me most was that a majority of Swedish people are very attached to security and are obsessed about knowing how the system works, only one person living in England mentioned “knowing the ropes” and feeling familiar with how society is structured. Perhaps English people feel more alienated from the so-called system and don’t value it as highly as Swedish people do. And I must admit that I really missed the Swedish standard with warm houses when I lived in England

About half of the English people I stayed with would miss the pubs, not a single Swedish person mentioned anything about drinking culture. And not a single Swedish person mentioned anything about a sense of humour. I don’t want to conclude that there is no drinking culture and no such thing as humour in Sweden, but the English are definitely better at pubs and cracking jokes.

Quite a few English people would miss “proper tea”, no one in Sweden  would miss tea, but one person would miss coffee. On the other hand Swedish people seem more keen on their food, and even though pizza isn’t originally a Swedish dish that’s what most people would miss.

People in Sweden wouldn’t miss any cultural things like museums and art galleries, but on the other hand they would miss traditions that are typically Swedish, like Lucia.

I found it very funny that one English person would miss Sainsbury's, but the other week I found myself missing Tescos’, not the supermarket itself, but just certain products and knowing where things are on the shelves. That good old familiarity …

What I personally miss most about England is the English language and the politeness, and when I’m away from Sweden I miss the Swedish language and above all the nature.

This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing fifteen people in England and fifteen people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What would you NOT miss about England/Sweden if you lived abroad?


  1. Barnaby Marriott10 January 2013 at 17:12

    I love this article! It's really interesting to see the different answers from both countries. Brilliant!

  2. When I first moved to the UK, I missed P3 and Kopparberg. Internet radio and the recent explosion in Swedish cider here has cured that. Now I only miss O'Boy and pärlsocker!
    If I was to move back to Sweden (which I really don't want to do) I would miss the greater social diversity and more relaxed social attitudes here, and the ability to be spontaneous and not base your life on security. I have started to find the Swedish focus on comfort and standard elitist and part of a superiority complex that often disgusts me.

    Very interesting investigation Louise! xx