So finally after a long wait I finally landed in Stockholm with my wife on 12th of september 2019. The first impression of Stockholm that I got from the Taxi drive to apartment was that how much Stockholm resembled Islamabad. Although it’s not totally like Islamabad but the journey till home sure made me feel like it. The greenery, the clean roads, the beautiful and clear sky everything reminded me of Islamabad. But one thing that was different from Islamabad was the temprature in september. Its never that cold back home in September. I knew before coming that its going to be cold in stockholm, but I had no idea it was going to be this cold. When I later talked to Swedish colleagues in my office about it, even they were a little shocked about the early arrival of winters as well. So be prepared for the cold if you are coming anywhere between september to may. Because it stays pretty cold here almost all the time except 3 months.
The Taxis are really costly in Stockholm. Good for me that the trip from airport to my apartment was covered by my company. Otherwise it would have been a hefty 600 SEK in 43 kms travel. Back in home I could travel in Uber every day. But here I cant even imagine a single trip on uber unless there is an absolute emergency.And not only taxis, you will find each and everything to be pretty expensive here.
That brings me to the public transport which is surely one of the finest thing about this beautiful city. You have to buy a transport card reffered to as SL card to be able to use the public transport. The SL card will enable you to take busses, trains, and even some ferries that will take you to every inch of Stockholm. The quality and punctuality of the public transport is really admirable here. Bus stations and subways have electronic boards which will tell you the wait time in your transport. You can almost always peek the bus on the far end of the road whenever the board shows 1 minute remaining. Most people use public transport for virtually all the purposes. The busses and trains are perfectly clean. They have priority seats available for older, pregnant or people with disabilities. Also space where you can sit with your shopping bags or with your baby in stroller.
Swedes also love to ride their bicycles. You will see a lot of people bicycling to and from their offices in suits and all sort of dresses. Even the CEO of my company and the senior partner, who by the way both happen to be wonderful ladies, bike their ways to work and home. When the swedes are not bicyling you will see them on the electrical scooties which you can find anywhere on the street. Their are apps for unlocking the scooties and paying by minutes of use.
People take their diet and their health seriously. On the first lunch I had with the team, I was the only one that ordered a coke, everybody ordered plain water with food. Also I have noticed that people love coffee, but they dont add any sugar into the coffee. Also you will hardly find any obese person on the streets. I think its the combination of diet consciousness, appeal for exercise and also because of the fact that use of public transport demands a lot of walking.
You will find women equally participating in every field of the society in Stockholm. In fact with my limited exposure I am inclined to believe that the women are even more participating in the society than men. The CEO and senior partner of my company, the CEO of the relocation company that helped me with moving , the consultant of that reloaction company that helped me with the apartment, the apartment owner, all are women. Also if you will read the stats on gender equality, you will find sweden to be on top of the list.
Before coming to Sweden I had read that the Swedes are quite reserved and its difficult to talk to them. But the experience that I have had uptill now does not approve of this stereotype. I met a swedish guy on plane and he was so friendly that we kept talking till we fell asleep. Then the first day I was using the public transport to go to my office, I asked a swedish guy for help, and he was so kind that he helped me virtually all the way to my office. Also everybody is quite friendly in the office. People do tend to work quitely with focus when they are on their seats. But they love to have a good conversation over the lunch or coffee. Also there is a beautiful walking track by the lake a few steps away from our apartment. We often go there and everybody that comes here is in good mood and love to greet with a smile when you pass by. I think that is quite friendly.
Stockholm is an exquisite place to be whether you like to be close to nature or you want to be in loads and loads of people. You can get a taste of both flavors in Stockholm. You will find a lot of greenery and wonderful lakes here, where you can swim or do boating or just jog around the lake. And you will aslo find a lot of shopping areas and resturants crowded with people. The streets are really clean and the buildings have a beautiful aesthetic feel to them. You can only feel it when you experience it on your own. And the exquisite nature is not only limited to the landscape and buildings, you can witness that in the people as well. People are tall and good looking and they dress quite decently as well. You will rarely see some one dressed a little casually on the streets. Also, if like me you come from a region where average height is on the lower side, Swedish people can make you feel like a dwarf. I am just kidding there are short Swedes as well, the children. If you ever feel depressed about your height, you can always compete with Swedish children in height.
The apartment in Stockholm tend to be quite smaller especially if you are coming from Pakistan. But on the other hand because of the small spaces, they have probably mastered the art of utilizing spaces. For example when we were apartment hunting there were a lot of apartments that had a special deck on top of the room to sleep and the rest of the ground was efficiently utilized for seating and kitchen area. The apartment that we have is 31sqm but has everything that a couple would require for a comfortable living.
These are my observations based on the first week only. God knows how they might change in time.