Sunday, 17 February 2013

Question 4b: What do Swedish People think about England?

Photo: Adriana Pusha

Poor housing, bad food, but the humour is good and you are well looked after …

Thirteen of the fifteen people I stayed  with in Sweden had been to England at least once. But the question is whether a weekend in London gives a true picture of England or just contributes to preserve stereotypes? Although five of my study subjects had lived in England for longer periods.

"They’re polite and say " love "and stuff like that to strangers. They drink a lot of tea. They eat bad food. Disastrous school dinners and not so good schools either. "

"I have met many English people who have lived cool lives and had cool thoughts. But I have a bit of a problem with Englishness, there’s too much talk. Everything is "lovely" and "darling" and "nice to meet you." You’re always well looked after, but I have not met anyone, have never had a true meeting. "

"It's a cool language, I like English ladies, they call you " love "and" darling ", you feel looked after in some way."

"Bad food, anyway. They drink tea a lot. I don’t know much about the culture, it’s similar to Sweden.”


"There’s nothing weird about saying hello to people in the street. They’re very nice and polite, you get a cup of tea, you’re always invited. Very homelike. "

"There’s not much of a food culture. But there’s history, many events, festivals and things like that. I also think they’re very nice. Some people just start chatting to you, like the lady on the bus. "

"Not good food in general, but super good breakfasts in particular. Full English breakfast is a treat, that you can have breakfast in the middle of the day is a special thing. "

"Not very high standard, cold flats."

"All the houses are cold. But I like the houses and the villages, the old stone houses. "

"The fucking fitted carpets, the draught, the mould, the damp and on top of that the unreasonable rents, damn it!”

"Usually they’re quite nice but sound pretty posh because they speak English. I’m more used to American English, Americans are more relaxed. Great beer, ginger-haired people, rowdy football fans."

"It feels more open. People talk to you just like that, it doesn't happen very often in Sweden. For example I have done coach surfing there and it’s so natural. Here, people find it a bit weird."

"They're very polite, respectful. They’re respectful towards each other, but don’t have respect for authorities. "

"I like British humour, Monty Python."

"Fish 'n' chips. The Royal Family. Humour, comedy, they have the best TV series. "

"They’re not that complicated. They are light-hearted, have a certain kind of humour.”

"The rain. I have watched the Time Team, a series of archaeologists in Britain. It always rain, they’re always soaked. "

"The class system, social division. People voted for Margaret Thatcher. And they voted a second time! A lot of neo-liberal crap. Poor housing. But a lot of culture, music and stuff. "

"A colonial empire. The standard of living and the living conditions are poor. Low wages, crappy jobs. There’s no paternity leave. They still have gender-segregated schools, which is so incredibly conservative and affects people a lot. Their view of women.”

"I'm not particularly drug liberal. The country is a bit passive and it doesn't feel like an exaggeration to link it to the drugs."

"I keep returning to England to get cultural kicks. I watched the Olympic opening ceremony and realised how much I love English culture, it’s the country that has influenced me the most culturally. I almost forget about it because there’s so much that is destructive and sad."

"Brighton is the most vital, vibrating, inspiring city I've ever visited."

"Very old houses. Architecture. A lot of countryside, pub culture, and a lot of football. Rain."

"People are more extreme and stick out more than in Sweden. They say what they mean, but I don’t not know if that’s true. "

"I think a lot about London, it's like other European cities: shopping and musicals, but that’s such a small part of England. There are many people who have been to Stockholm and think that’s Sweden. London is not the whole of England. "

"More familiarity, I picture a pub in front of me, the whole family goes to the pub. A football mad country. The Queen, conservative and royalist. "

"More crowded, more packed, more density in cities."

"Very conservative, but I don’t know if it’s like that, I don’t have in-depth knowledge. I was in London many years ago. It was stern and strict. At Harrods we were not allowed to stand still, a little stiffer than Sweden."

"Divided, more conservative, hierarchies. More rebellious, artistic."

"Spontaneous, simple, easy to understand. Easy to find your way, easy to go on the tube, easy to live there."

This study is by no means scientific, the answers to this particular question are based on interviews with fifteen people in Sweden, aged 22-52. Next question: Where have you travelled?


  1. Very polite and easy going. Best people in the world to get blind drunk with :)

  2. Very polite and easy going. Best people to get blind drunk with in Greece,Spain, ya name it

  3. Haha, glad your'e enjoying your Swedes!

  4. Love Sweden and Swedish culture. I am autistic and find the language easy to learn and understand. You use so few words and say what mean, it’s a much less expressive language and that’s a good thing for me.

  5. Love Sweden, very easy to feel at home, the culture is almost identical to English. I don’t know where you people go to eat when you come to England but the food is absolutely as good as anywhere in Scandinavia. I love the language. I am autistic so I really appreciate how few words you use and the totally to the point way that you use them, very easy to understand. It’s not a very expressive language, very functional, and that’s a very good thing

  6. Hi Carl, good to hear and interesting point about the language :) But I sometimes miss the English language when I write in Swedish ...