The au pair year has become a tradition among Swedish young people for their '˜gap year' before attending university, and many of our au pairs hail from this Scandinavian nation. With a rich history in the liberal arts and sciences, Sweden is home to the traditional Midsummer festival as well as Pippi Long stocking. This Nordic culture offers a wealth of creativity and fun! Let's explore Swedish skills and attributes that may be important to you as a host family:
Country Facts: Sweden has a population of 9,029,000 people. The capital is the beautiful city of Stockholm and the official language of the country is Swedish.
English: Young people begin learning English in Sweden in 3rd grade (or before), and English instruction typically continues through secondary school as well as in university. For this reason, Swedish au pairs tend to have very strong English, both written and spoken.
Driving: Sweden's strenuous driver's license process and infrastructure transfers well to driving in the U.S. Young people can obtain a learner's permit starting at age 16, and a driver's license at age 18. Parents accompany those with a learner's permit, but first have to take a class on teaching driving! Most young people will take 10-20 driving classes in order to be able to pass the written and practical tests. In addition, the Nordic winter lends itself to more practiced snow drivers. Au pairs from Sweden are likely to be used to much smaller vehicles and may find American cars, trucks, and SUVs to be intimidating when they first start to drive in the US.
Communication Style: Sweden has a very social, open culture, and independence and self-sufficiency are valued. These values, paired with English confidence, means many Swedish au pairs will communicate more directly and with greater ease than some other cultures.
Cooking: Traditional Swedish cuisine includes fish, meat, dairy, breads, and potatoes. Many children are involved in family meal preparation, and the school system provides home economics classes from ages 10-15 to help young people learn to cook simple meals, cakes, and bread. Adolescents are often in charge of preparing one family meal per week, and most families dine together.
Highlight: Sweden's Midsummer festival is a time of great celebration in Swedish culture. At the end of June, Swedish folks gather outdoors, sing songs, dance around the maypole, play field games, and dine on traditional herring and potatoes. Ask your au pair candidate about their first memory of 'Mid sommar!'