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)
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.
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.
-- 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
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)
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)
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)
Really interesting. America must freak them out with all the friendliness here.
We had some friends that were danish in grad school and they were lovely and maybe a little too trusting for Illinois ;)
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
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! :)
after the US and the UK ... oops
lol I wonder what it is that's created the different personalities of each country. How did America become such a friendly place? :-)
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!
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. :)
Post a Comment