The Phileas Club 62 – Special: Swedish paradise…?

On this episode we talk about… Life in Sweden!

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  1. Rock Westfahl says:

    Just listened to the show with Breki Tomasson and really enjoyed it. We spent several days in Sweden in the summer of 2012 and I really could identify with his remarks. I found the Swedes to be generally reserved but mostly it was a matter of them simply minding their own business. When we spoke to people they were quite friendly and helpful. Also everyone I think under the age of 30 or so spoke perfect, unaccented English. I thought at first that the country was full of American college kids doing summer jobs in Sweden. I asked a woman who was a cashier in a gas station about this and she said that it was true. “There are only 6 million of us and if all you speak is Swedish, you won’t be able to talk to many people in the world.” At any rate we enjoyed our time there very much. Thanks
    Rock Westfahl

    • Thanks! Very glad you enjoyed the show. I’ve gotten a few people saying the same thing, and it’s really comforting to see that this new (additional) direction for the show is hitting the mark. 🙂

  2. Ted Dushane says:


    I’m just another follower of your work; have written to DTNS in response to your commentary and analysis.

    I thought of you Fri night, and I wanted you to hear that your fans/audience cares about you a lot.

    I thought particularly of some of your thoughtful discussions about government surveillance and privacy.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Ted Dushane (PhD/MD from the States who’se occasionally written DTNS about relatively trivial topics like heart rate monitors)

  3. I very much enjoyed this podcast and the Saudi one before it. Since your schedule is monthly maybe 3 or 4 time a year seems about right. I have a long time Swedish friend who also speaks impecable English. It was facinating to hear the very same mild accent with Swedish overtones coming from Breki. My friend also thinks that all Americans talk like the Swedish Chef from the muppets. The truth is most Americans do. 🙂

    Finally to counteract all the gloom about the weather, let me remind you that everyone gets the same 12 hours a day, on average. It is just not distributed evenly. My wife and I once visited our friend in Uppsala in the summer and found it hard to get back to sleep when it was daylight outside at 3 in the morning.

    • This issue is I’m not sure 18h of full sunlight is better! I mean, yes better than eternal darkness, but I’m not 100% in love with it either… It makes for an interesting life for sure!

  4. Hej,

    Väldigt intressant podcast! Jag är en fransk, jag bor i Stockholm nu och jag tycker om dina “phileas club” ämnen. Jag lär mig svenska också som du!

    Anyway, enough “broken” swedish! I am a 23 years old French “IT guy” living in Stockholm.
    I was listening to your amazing podcast while biking in the cold rain of Sweden (still not snow) and I was really sad not to be able to grab a microphone and speak with you, so here I am in a written form.
    I really like your topics in your “club”, but I enjoyed this one even more.
    I have lived in Hong-Kong too, which has an extremely different system and society.
    Hong-Kong and my French background gave me a few insights on the subjects you spoke about, and here are my two cents about some of them:
    – Yes, people are mixing Sweden and Switzerland. I have for a fact from my girlfriend (hongkongese), that these two countries have a really close word in chinese. Hell, even her parents still don’t know in which country she has lived for more than a year now!
    – Darkness is a common fear among foreigners.
    Fear not! First, Sweden has a lot of activities during winter (swimming pools, cinema).
    Second, you can catch up with the sunshine during summer more than anywhere else.
    Third, once snow came, everything is much brighter during the sunshine hours than anywhere else.
    When I was in Luleå (close to the polar circle), it was much better than my life in Brittany.
    I highly prefered short but bright days with snow, than a gray sky, storms and rain all the time.
    Last but not least, a fact that you wouldn’t expect, Sweden has “normal suicide rates”. A good society is far more important than weather on human beings.
    – I am suprised by two points from Breki. First, I was shocked by the amount of married young people in Sweden compared to France.
    For me Swedes look much more interested in long term relationship than us frenchies.
    As for sexual activites: well, I never saw anything special here, expect for the naked practice in sauna…
    It might be different when gettint older though (40’s).
    – The second point is that Swedes look more religious than us. It might be due to the fact that their version of christianism is more “adapted” for a modern society and therefore less “dropped” by youngsters.
    – Swedes are shy, really shy. They wouldn’t say sorry if they bump in someone for the reason that they prefer not to talk to strangers and avoid public arguments. It looks like Asian style in some ways.
    Once you know them, they are as friendly as in any other places in this world.
    – I was laughting when you spoke about Swedish hairstyle.
    It’s true that they share the same (sometimes ugly) hairstyle. But that the same for us French, we have our trends too even though you might not notice it anymore.
    To be honest Hong-Kong boys have the same long-hair on top and short on the side style too.
    Sadly, nothing to do with a society full of “pseudo-clones” like you were suggesting.
    – It looks like you are trying to represent the Swedish society a bit like an utopy from Si-Fi book were everyone lives happily together but everyone become boringly the same.
    Swedes are really differents, I do not share this vision at all. It was much more striking in a society like Hong-Kong were the end-goal is money, marriage and fame!
    But I would agree that Sweden flattens a lot the hierarchies: for instance I can share a lunch with my “big-boss” without much fears, teachers and students are much more close together.
    – I agree with you about your explanation on the social system. I would define Sweden as country using social actions to promote itself.
    The taxed money is reinjected into the system in some social plans (health, transports, sport…). Hopefully these plans will help people to live better, work better and generate more money in return.
    A problem arise when some people fear, don’t understand or dislike this system and put their individual advantages first.
    From a good working system for everyone, you switch into a system unfair for some, advantageous for some others and a lot of debts for the country itself.
    The rising immigration, changes in youngsters … brings a lot of people not sharing (yet) this way of life, recently. Whether this system is working or not is a real hard question.
    – France is following the same system but don’t have the same success, that’s true. We have to remember that France has a much bigger population.
    Solving some problems and faster is simplified for Sweden. Early education is also a key-point and France is kind of slowly changing on that part.

    Anyway, I am in hurry to be in the subway tomorrow and listen to the rest as I am sure it will be excellent as always.
    I wish I could be a more active participant as I am deeply interested in life-abroad and different cultures, but I am not as talented as you guys! Hopefully one day I can share my experience in Asia, Sweden and my lovely home-country France.


    • Thanks a lot for your comments Jean, it’s nice to hear the perspective of a foreigner as well! You seem a lot more enthusiastic and positive about the country than the Swede is… I’ll just assume it’s false modesty and shyness on his part. 🙂

  5. Chrys Miller says:

    I have listened to you on This Week in Tech for about a year, and was grateful that you participated last Sumday (Nov 15) as to the events
    that had just occurred in Paris. I have also greatly appreciated your insights and wisdom shares on that podcast with Leo and his guests.

    My husband is half Swedish, but has never visited Sweden (his grandparents immigrated separately to the U.S. before and after WWI). Even though I worked a year in Switzerland in the mid 1970’s (not married at that time), and traveled throughout the European continent, I had been unable to visit Scandinavia (it’s on my bucket list). I appreciated your recent Sweden paradise…? podcast and all of the views and information that was shared. Thanks!

    • You are very welcome. Glad you enjoyed these shows, and hopefully you’ll like the next Phileas Club as well (we’ll discuss the attacks).

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