Charbel Tawk talks about the importance of being patient when it comes to finding friends in Sweden.
The social life in Lebanon is so rich that sometimes you have to schedule a day in the week to do nothing, to meet no one and be with yourself. And I even gave this a name - Le moi jour (My day).
To move from a country like that to a place like Sweden which is infamous for being a closed society cannot be an easy transition. And it wasn’t for me either. The struggle isn’t just a social life but it is to form even basic friendships, and the first year or two can be the most difficult.
The problem here isn’t that Swedes do not want to be friends with you (which is the general misconception). On the contrary, once you break the first few barriers, you will find that they do in fact want to hang out with you and be friends with you. But what are these barriers and how does one break them?
One thing that I have learnt here is that time is of the essence not just at the workplace but through all aspects of life. So when it comes to meeting people socially, you have to schedule in advance and give people enough notice. Similarly, you will observe the invitations you receive are sometimes for events scheduled months later. Another thing to note is that invitations you will receive initially are almost always for a titled kväll - Födelsedag (Birthdays), Inflyttningsfest (Housewarming), Eurovision kväll, Cheese and wine etc.
In this initial stage of forming friendships, don’t expect to be called at random but keep up with these titled invitations. If you keep showing up for some time, soon enough you will receive a message or a phone call asking you - What are you doing tonight? Up for a walk? Why don’t you pass by for a drink? This is when you know that not only have you made a friend in Sweden, but you’ve also probably made a friend for life.