"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Nordic People

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth -- I heard about this book while reading the comments of one of Bridget's blog posts, and decided it might be worth checking out.  Thankfully my library had it, and I finally remembered to look for it. It was good!  Well, I tend to enjoy learning about other countries and cultures, and this was one region I'd not read too much about.  Sure, I see these Nordic countries often mentioned in the news.  The Danes are so happy and people leave their babies outside in their buggies while the parents eat inside!  And no one steals them!   The Norwegians are so rich!  The Swedes so welcoming of immigrants!  Bridget has piqued my interest in Finland since her family moved there a few months ago.  Iceland, well, they just have ice there, right?  I swear I woke up Andrew when we went over Iceland one year because I was able to see it down below from our plane. Is that possible or did I dream that?  I was so excited. He was so...not excited that I woke him from a nap.  Planes are tough for us to sleep on!

I learned so many neat tidbits from this book.   Like the Danes are super-trusting and trustworthy. If you try leaving wallets behind for an experiment on how many of the wallets will be returned intact, you will be run down by Danes AS YOU "DROP" THEM so the experiment is tough to do.  Also, lawyers aren't needed as much due to this trustworthiness.  Agree on something and shake on it.

I was surprised to learn that Danes have high cancer rates and poor health (pg. 34).  I think they smoke and drink a lot.

According to this author:

90% of Danes have approximately the same standard of living (pg. 30)

pig farming and pork butchering is big there (pg. 26)

Danes are sociable and outgoing; and they love community choirs and joining clubs (pg. 38)

They have a really high tax rate, but get a lot of "free" stuff from it.  Also, more than half of Danes have public jobs or are on the dole (pg. 57, 60)

They love their flag and will hoist that thing even to celebrate birthdays.  (pg. 96)

A few bits about Icelanders. More of them believe in elves than believe in God. (pg. 136)

I guess I didn't note much about them. Sorry, Icelanders.

Norway -- lovely scenery, rich because of oil; somewhat lazier, but with plenty of public money due to oil, even the outer places of the country have good infrastructure and are inhabited (not everyone lives in the major cities)

Swedes peel bananas in Norway because some jobs are too lowly for people rich with oil wealth (pg. 183)

Finland -- they like sitting naked in the sauna in silence - DO NOT TALK TO THEM THERE!
low verbosity; they like being alone (pg. 220+)

alcohol makes Finns aggressive (pg. 239)

Swedish people were told to describe their compatriots.  "The top adjectives they chose, in descending order of relevance, were: envious, stiff, industrious, nature-loving, quiet, honest, dishonest, and xenophobic.   The bottom three (out of thirty) characteristics, i.e., those least exhibited by the Swedes were: masculine, sexy, and artistic."  (pg. 285)

Something mentioned about many of the countries, if not all....a lot of the people just don't like talking to strangers.  The author tried engaging them in conversation and in some countries it was just horrible to the natives.  The author mentioned Nordic people not having to talk to fellow countrymen because they were so much alike, they already knew what the other was thinking!  He termed it a "high-context society."   Weird and a bit boring if you ask me.    (pg. 286)

He mentioned Swedish rudeness - barging on trains (I must admit that this surprised me!), their totalitarianism, individualism, modernism (no church for us, thanks...too traditional), feminism (don't you dare open a door for a lady, you freak!), independence (from family, not the state)  (pgs. 327-335)


Niki said...

Really interesting. America must freak them out with all the friendliness here.

Crys said...

We had some friends that were danish in grad school and they were lovely and maybe a little too trusting for Illinois ;)

Susanne said...

Niki, I forgot to post something I shared on Facebook a few weeks ago. Not sure if you remember it.

If Finnish people see someone smiling at them, they think that person is either
1. drunk
2. insane
3. American :)

Also, I forgot to post that after the US and the US, the Swedes export more pop music. The author said many of the Pink, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry songs were written by Swedes.

Crys, oh, that's funny. Did they leave their child outside while they ate inside? :) I only know one Danish person, and I only know her through blogs. But I do recall times she's traveled alone here to meet people she met online. I did that when we went to Syria, but I took Andrew with me! :)

Susanne said...

after the US and the UK ... oops

Niki said...

lol I wonder what it is that's created the different personalities of each country. How did America become such a friendly place? :-)

Unknown said...

I want to visit all these countries. And live in Norway. Not sure why that one specifically, I just always think it looks like a nice place to live when I see it in pics or video. I may have romanticized it a bit. :D But I think any of them would be a good fit for me, and I love that no one would expect me to talk much or think I'm in a bad mood because I'm not smiling at them.

Also, I think 90% of what I know about Scandinavia comes from a webcomic called Scandinavia and the World. Not a very traditional source, but she really is very informative!

Susanne said...

Niki, I'd love to know stuff like that. I find it so interesting!

Stephanie, I'd love to read your blog if you lived there, and to hear your thoughts on how you fit in. :)