International Students Confessions on Swedes Behavior and Interest

Months passed, and seasons changed. Coming from different countries in the south, east, and west of Sweden, the international students at Uppsala University have to adjust to a new lifestyle, The Swedish Lifestyle. Without any signs, we have become more Swedish than before (the symptoms may vary from each individual). Yes, we eat köttbullar with lingonberry jam now. Suddenly, we are in love with caviar in a tube. Doing fika three times a day has become a habit, or more like a fun cult. We have joined the sun worshippers, embracing the sun when it shines no matter how cold the weather actually is. Even so, there are still one or two things that make us want to say,

We get you, Ross (source: giphy)

I had a discussion with my fellow international students, and we managed to come up with a quite-short-but-long list on the things that Swedes do which we have a hard time understand. It was not hard to build on that list, honestly. Shall we start from something personal that disturb me in my sleep?

Salty licorice candy

Black silly little things

Where do I start? Ammonium chloride (see featured image above the title) as of the ingredients? It does not have the sweet or fun taste like what candy supposed to have? Since I would not be able to give a fair judgment on this candy, I asked Amanda, who is a fan of licorice candy (and a Swede), to describe the taste and explain why she likes it. I was not surprised when she had a hard time to find the right words. She finally took out a jar of licorice candy and grabbed one (I did too, for the sake of research and my opinion did not change). Eventually, she picked a word to described the candy: tingling.
It left me speechless that I laughed but hey, freedom of speech. She likes it. I do not like it. For me, the salty licorice candy tastes like salty, sweet, not too sweet, sharp, velvety, weird, beyond this world.

Banana curry pizza

It’s real, a quick search on the internet takes you on a different world

Over here, we were divided into two. One loves this type of pizza, while another still thinks ‘but-why’. Either you love it or hate it. I am intrigued to try it, though, it will be an interesting taste, I imagine. In the end, it is still a pizza, how bad can it be?

Julmust or Påskmust

Marina showed us the Swedish celebration of Easter, notice a drink with the yellow label? That is Påskmust. Does the name ring a bell to you? See what Francesco wrote about a typical Christmas drink. It is the same thing with a different name!

We don’t understand either (source: giphy)

Sausage-shaped-packaging for Food

Spaghetti with meat sauce (source:

From what I understand, a packaging is supposed to protect the food and/or accommodate the user. The type of packaging above (that looks like a sausage) is very common in Sweden, and the products inside are mostly liquid based. Jam, rice pudding, even ready-to-eat spaghetti. It is still a mystery on how to open this packaging without having an anxiety nor a mess. Seriously, why?

Melodifestivalen (and Eurovision)

Winner of Melodifestivalen 2017, Robin Bengtssons (source:

Quoted from, “Melodifestivalen an annual music competition organized by Swedish public broadcasters Sveriges Television and Sveriges Radio”. The winner of this competition will represent Sweden on a bigger stage (and craze), Eurovision Song Contest. For us, it is just another talent show but for the people here, it seems like they put their heart onto it so much, although some deny on that. It is better to keep up with this competition so that we can integrate better into the daily conversation.

Talking on the phone with ‘invisible’ earphone

“Are you talking to…oh, you’re on the phone” (source: giphy)

Based on the observation done on the streets, many of Swedes love to put headphone/earphone/anything to cover their ear. It seems that they are giving hint about their personal bubble in public space – either they are listening to music or talking on the phone. Basically, it is fine for us but it bothers us if those earphone is not visible. Imagine walking on the street and you hear someone next to you talking so you turn your head to him/her about to engage in a conversation but then you realized that they are on the phone. Come on, that is not fun!

Who knows that we will do or like all those things-which-Swedes-do-that-makes-us-cringe in the next few months? Although I am pretty sure that I will not like salty licorice candy anywhere in the future. You are welcome to share your own experience and thought regarding this on the comment below!

Sania avatar


  • Eva • 5 May 2017 at 11.30 am Reply

    Haha, I love love love salty licorice! Actually, I’m pretty glad that they sell them in my home country too 🙂

    I think for the pizza you forgot the kebab pizza with fries on it which is even weirder if you ask me. …but I want to try it anyways 😀

    The part about the packaging is soooo true. Everytime I see it, I wonder how to open it (and for jam how to store it when open)!? If you find out, please let me know 😀

    For the Melodifestivalen I have to agree with Marcus. I’ve been this weird international student asking swedes about it, but none of them watched it. 😀

    But the last point ist 1000% true! It’s so weird! However, I tried it once and it is quite convenient… just for the sake of adjustment of course!

    Greetings from southern Sweden

    • Sania
      Sania • 20 May 2017 at 9.47 pm Reply

      Hej Eva from the southern Sweden!
      They sell salty licorice in your home country, but why? :p
      AH, that confusing kebab pizza, how can it not be on the list! Thank goodness you mention it here!
      I would assume that the manufacturer’s assumption is that the customer has their own glass jar to store the opened jam from that weird sausage-like-packaging. This mystery might be a good master thesis, perhaps?
      It’s so weird because most of my friends here watch Melodifestivalen (thus Eurovision), maybe we can’t generalized Swedes after all 😀

  • Helena S • 30 Apr 2017 at 3.46 pm Reply

    Why does ammonium chloride sound bad? It’s just another more technical name for Salmiak 😛

    Reminds me of:

    • Sania
      Sania • 4 May 2017 at 4.00 pm Reply

      It sounds so scientifical! The page you mention above explained why this phenomenon happened haha. When I named it ammonium chloride, it catches the attention 😉

  • Marcus • 30 Apr 2017 at 3.40 pm Reply

    I get the feeling that exchange students are more obsessed with the Eurovision song contest than your average Swede is though. I haven’t watched the program in years and I have no idea about what any of the songs sound like since I don’t really listen to radio. And whenever I’ve talked about the contest it’s been when when exchange students in my class have brought it up, typically with the question “Why are Swedes so into Eurovision?”. Which is a hard thing to answer since I don’t actually know anyone that is ^^

    • Sania
      Sania • 4 May 2017 at 4.01 pm Reply

      Talking about stereotypes haha!

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