This will be a running list of things I find odd, or a bit different about every day stuff. It’s not necessarily new stuff as I may be familiar with it from TV, movies, et al, but perhaps living with it every day now makes it seem odd. And maybe they’re not odd to you, but this is my list. Feel free to suggest additions if you have experiences. I may even find that over time they are not so odd, but perhaps it’s something I just haven’t figured out yet. In which case, I will update the list as I learn new details.

  • Bed sheets: They don’t use fitted bottom sheets here. Although I saw one used in a sitcom the other day for comedic effect, they don’t seem to be available in real life. Actually, I haven’t found any sort of bottom sheet yet. I bought some new sheet sets the other day but a “set” here consists of 1 small pillow case and 1 duvet case/cover.
  • Beds: Are basically one size, or two, depending on how you look at it. They start with a single/twin and put two together to make a double-sized bed. I haven’t seen queen or king, but that makes buying the aforementioned linens much easier because there’s only 2 sizes from which to choose. It’s hard to go wrong. Also, they don’t use separate box springs, they are built into the bottom of the mattress. And they all have the same built-in cutouts to add legs. Maybe this is an IKEA creation, but from my limited experience, it seems to be pretty universal. UPDATE 2012/04/20: OK, saw an advert for beds and they had 4 sizes listed. But I’m cynical and still want to see them in person.
  • Shoes Off: Some people do this in the States too, but I think it’s either regional (you live in Wisconsin), or cultural (non-US natives bring the practice with them). The moment you walk in the door, you take your shoes off. It took me a short while to figure out it’s because of the weather and not wanting to track dirt, ice, snow, etc. into the house and not some cultural or religious ritual. Hence, my comment that folks in the colder climes of the USA might also commonly do this.
  • Drying Rooms: Clothes dryers are limited. In lieu of dryers, they have drying rooms where you hang your clothes to be dried by forced hot air.
  • Eggs: Eggs are packaged 10 or 15 to a carton. Sometimes you can find 6, but no dozen (12) like in America. Also, large or XL is SERIOUSLY large, you can use 1/2 the usual amount.
  • Parking: You pay for car parking, even at your own apartment. This is not very cost-effective so you’d then want to rent a garage instead. However, covered bicycle parking is free and in my particular building, they have bicycle “garages” (an indoor, ground-level room) for each building. What’s cool though, when parking in-town, they have digital boards that display the number of available spots before you get there, so you can select an alternate lot, if need be.
  • Would you like a bag with that?: When shopping, you pay for the bags. Most retail stores seem to allow one small free bag with purchase but additional, or larger bags cost around 1kr each. An excellent way to encourage reuse & recycling.
  • The Switch Up: Light switches are UP when the lights are off and down when the lights are on. Give yourself a minute; you’ll realize this is backwards.
  • Week 18, when is that?: Swedes, and perhaps others in Europe, count calendar time in terms of weeks. This is mostly used when discussing a future event, or providing an ongoing schedule. An event doesn’t just happen on a certain date, it takes place in a week number such as 18 (or 10, 17, 32, etc). Even my mobile phone calendar shows the calendar by week. I don’t know if the natives or long-term residents inherently know when a week occurs but I certainly have to consult the calendar and count.
  • Push Me/Pull You: Just because a door handle is on your side, doesn’t mean you pull to open. Stores, businesses, etc. seem to have handles on both sides of their doors.
  • Can You Help Me? Yes, but not so fast. Take a number. Banks, government offices (no surprise there) and many retail stores (especially electronics it seems) use a ticketing system. At first I found it frustrating, but now, I think it’s great to not have to stand and wait in line at the bank. Instead, you sit comfortably and wait for your number to be called. Something Americans are only used to at the DMV and similar offices. And in retail stores, you don’t have to fight for attention, so it’s a good odd.
  1. Zeta says:

    Woohoo, one faux pas that being from Wisconsin prevented me from committing!


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