A blog from the University of Borås

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cultural corner – Arriving on time

An important part of studying abroad is being able to adapt to your host culture, both inside the classroom and outside the classroom. By this time in your studies you should be beginning to understand some important Swedish values, and maybe even to begin to understand why Swedes have some of the values they do.

One of the first things you may have realised is that Swedes tend to have a very strict relationship with time. In fact, Sweden has one of the most rigid time relationships in the world along with the rest of Nordic and Germanic Europe, North America and Japan.

Students that come from countries with a very relaxed view of time such as the Arab World, Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia can have a hard time adapting to the Swedish view. A common effect of this is that students with a more flexible view toward time may arrive late to class and feel it is not a problem.

However, keep in mind that if you arrive late in Sweden, whether it is to the classroom, a social function, or a business meeting, it is often interpreted as a sign of disrespect even if it was not meant as such. This includes both to your teacher and your fellow classmates.

Remember that when you are abroad you represent not only yourself, but also your country. Adapting to the host culture is a sign of a good cultural representative. And when you respect the host culture you also show that you should be deserve to be treated respectfully. So in the future let us all try to begin adapting to Sweden and their view toward time and arrive to class on before your lecture begins.

Your cultural observations? I am interested to hear your thoughts on how you have been adapting to Swedish culture. Have you begun to learn more about Swedish culture? What things have you struggled with? Maybe you have some funny stories to share? Email me your thoughts and they may be included in next month’s issue: douglas.washburn@hb.se.

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