Oskar and I posing

How to annoy my typical Swedish partner – those dating a Swede can relate, right?

I’ve been with Oskar for about 4 years now and I can’t tell you how much I love him. In those 4 years though, I’ve learnt so much about Swedish people and their fixed habits. Don’t get me wrong, Oskar isn’t your ‘typical’ Swede and I’m not sure it’s fair to generalise Swedish people. But I can give you an insight into how I’ve managed to tick off my extremely calm, patient partner.

The cheesy ski slope

For Asians, rice is life, I can confirm. For Swedes, cheese is life. I never grew up eating cheese. So of course, I never owned a cheese slicer nor did I know you could possibly slice cheese incorrectly. But alas, you can. Apparently, when you apply too much pressure you end up slicing too much on one side and it ends up looking like a ski slope. And there, ladies and gentlemen (apparently) you’ve ruined the cheese. My advice, don’t ruin the cheese.

The cheesy ski slope
See that bit on the right? It’s probably going to fall off lol

Suggesting we meet new people without pre-drinks or familiar context

Being Australian and a newcomer to Sweden, naturally I’m going to want to meet anyone and everyone! I love a random chat! And a drink in hand just makes the whole situation a whole lot funnier. But it’s a little bit harder getting Swedish people to step into a crowd and say, “hey”. Albeit, it’s not easy for everyone but it’s particularly energy-consuming, draining and just plain uncomfortable for Swedes. Interestingly though, after a few beers and a can in each hand, Oskar does a 180 switch and owns the floor. Well, WE own the dancefloor, but the beers really fuel him. It’s so strange. I can’t emphasise how strange it is. My point is, consider having a beer on hand!

Turning on all the lights instead of just the ‘mysigt’ ones

I’m that sort of person who likes to see where I’m going when I walk around the house. Is that so weird? So, when I walk into a room, I’m going to turn on all the lights. Usually because, when I walk into the room, I’m probably going to work/ read in the room or I’m looking for something. And for me, that requires light. But for Oskar, it’s not cozy. So, he proceeds to turn off the lights and instead, turns on all the lamps while making many various comments about how I just don’t understand the concept of cozy.

Practicing the Skåne accent. Or should I say, butchering Skånska

Oskar’s from Malmö, and he’s proud of it! I’m proud of it too! I want to embody Malmö. I just want to fit in. And to identify as someone from 040, I’ll have to speak like ‘em. Unfortunately, every time I try to drag and roll the words around in my mouth, I am shut down – “just stop”. Skånska is not easy but I’ll keep trying!

Forgetting the ‘pizza salad’ with his pizza

Let me just make this clear. When you order a pizzasallad, it is not some fancy fig, rocket, goat cheese salad tossed with the finest balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It’s just pickled cabbage packed in a fist-sized plastic container. So YES, I’m going to forget the pizza salad because NO, you’re not meant to be eating cabbage with your pizza! Period.

When I suggest buying the second best thing that costs a LOT cheaper, but Oskar just wants to buy the best

It’s hard for me to part with my money. I haven’t been able to save a lot having lived and moved around and not having the opportunity to develop a typical, clear career pathway. Also, I’m not used to owning fancy things and I’m not good with aesthetics. I’m quite happy with simple, functional things. Oskar, on the other hand, likes to buy timeless Scandinavian design. And, I agree, it’s so beautiful owning it but as you also might know, it’s so much more expensive. So, when we’re building a wardrobe in the bedroom, you can imagine my IKEA suggestion is just not going to cut it.

My partner has his ways and I find Swedish people, like all cultures, have their own ways of thinking. If Oskar could write an article in response to this, I’m sure it’ll be longer than your thesis. I would know, he tells me all the time that my habits are strange. To this I will conclude, that I don’t really have any relationship tips except, have fun with it and, choose your battles. For me, I still turn on all the lights, destroy his cheese and forget his pizza salad. As for the furniture, let’s be honest, he does have better taste than me, but I will not stop searching for cheaper, almost-as-good alternatives!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at helen.nguyen@stud.ki.se or https://www.linkedin.com/in/helen-nguyen-539782aa/

Helen Nguyen - Health Informatics

Helen Nguyen - Health Informatics

Hi! I'm Helen from Australia here, currently living and loving life in Stockholm. I'm studying a Master's in Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet. I love walking in nature, dancing and cycling around town. I love a good chat and enjoy a good hearty laugh. We can talk about nothing and discuss absolutely everything. I enjoy cooking food, falling asleep to movies and going for long walks in the forest.




Helen, It is always a pleasure to listen to and read your reflections on life. I have to agree with you on the salad. Married to an Italian / Maltese, the cabbage does not cut it but oh how we love our cheese! One day when you journey south, it would be good to share a Melbourne coffee at the University. As always, you embrace life and bring great joy to all those that you meet. Enjoy your journey in Sweden with Oskar.

Helen Nguyen - Health Informatics

Helen Nguyen - Health Informatics

Thank you, Greg! Such kind words. I would love to catch up over some Melbourne coffee at the University one day. It's sure to come soon, I hope! Looking forward to seeing you again in Melbourne (or Europe if you happen to be in the neighbourhood)!

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