First I would like to share this video filmed by Alex Berger, whose work and blog VirtualWayfarer can be found here, he is also on Vimeo. He’s got some pretty cool vidoes, and I would encourage you to check out his stuff. : )
When people think of Scandinavia they often envision a very cold and distant land, perhaps largely thanks to us who live here. For those used to different social climates, Scandinavians tend to come off as appearing very rude. Most of us aren’t out to annoy or purposefully antagonise visitors, Scandinavians are just adapted to negative politeness. Although not making eye contact or talking with strangers, especially on public transport, may seem strange to many it is considered the polite thing to do here. If you leave people alone they will extend the same courtesy to you (This drastically changes once alcohol is involved, but that is another blog post altogether).
Most of us Scandinavians have an intimate relationship with mother nature, we’re relatively keen on thinking green. The countries in Scandinavia (and the Nordic region too) are actually rather small countries comparatively. Sweden boasts only a population of around 9.5 million, Norway a pop. at around 5.1 million, Denmark 5.6 million, and Iceland only 300 thousand. 20 million people spread across three countries (excluding Iceland’s 300k) – if we compare that to cities like London and New York, both of which having a populous at around 8 million each that should give you some indication.
We’re not that used to crowded environments, which is probably why our culture has taken a form where what foreigners consider polite conduct hasn’t been necessary due to very spacious living conditions. I’d like to think that we’re a meditative bunch, us Scandinavians – I know that many of us are not, but we live in a place that nurtures introspection rather than extroversion. People tend to think of us as a single people where everyone is more or less the same, and perhaps with good reason. But It is important to realise that each country in the Nordic region has its own people with its own personality and quirks – just look at how often we’ve been at each others throats over the course of our common history. We’re a lot like siblings, quarrelling brothers or sisters arguing over who’s the eldest and should therefore get the biggest piece of cake.
When we’re met and interacted with on our own terms you’ll find the majority of us friendly and outgoing (in the privacy of our circle of friends at least), and anything but prude when it comes to sharing details about our lives – be it about sex, work, or where the good fishing spots are. We are big fans of peace and quiet, unless its Friday. On Fridays we’re a different people altogether.
If you want to get an idea of just how much of Scandinavia is left to its own try this on for size. In the example of Sweden alone there is for ever single Swede three football fields’ (or soccer for you Americans) worth of forest.