The Swedes vs. The Swiss
Talking about geography, let’s consider the similarities in the spelling and sound of the names of two countries – Switzerland and Sweden. Sometimes these countries are confused with each other regarding their place on the map, their capitals and even their languages. There are actually explanations of the difference and complaints available on the Internet, including on social media.
“It’s time for a little bit of geography! Do you know the difference between Switzerland and Sweden? These are two completely different countries, but they often get mixed up.”
“Making new friends in Sweden? Don’t say to them ‘I love your cheese and your Alps’”.
Taking into account the fact that most complaints of this kind have come from the Swiss, I decided to perform my own geographical research and asked 5 Swedes about their feelings on being confused with the Swiss.
Photo: Maria Talanova / suissepic
“It happens sometimes. Mostly we laugh about it. I would enjoy it if people knew their geography a little better”.
Unfortunately the problem is most prevalent among Americans. Vitaly, who has been living in Stockholm for more than 10 years, says that the Swedes even have a certain stereotype regarding the American level of education, and Anton confirms that.
“Yes, that happens sometimes, mostly with Americans, confusing Sweden with Switzerland. I just say ‘Sorry, you are mixing us up. I am from Sweden – Abba, Volvo, Bjorn Borg’… or something like that. They are just similar words. It’s nothing to be offended by”.
Scandinavians are famous for their patience and diplomacy, and the Swedes believe it is polite to listen and get to know the person first. They find a way to show respect even at the moment when a mistake is made. Indeed, a person who has confused these countries will be calmly corrected, but the conclusions will follow.
“Well, I’m not usually the type of person who gets offended by being confused with another nationality. But I must admit that I find it irritating sometimes. It could be ironic, if you know that you are interacting with a well-educated and intelligent individual. I think it’s worth listening to what is said first, whether it is the Swiss or the Swedish… To be honest, I’ve got no problem with doing a little correction if there has been a mix-up, and then continuing an enjoyable conversation”.