I left Cairo and arrived in Stockholm on the 20th of Feb. 2011. By that time it was around +20 degrees in Cairo. Funny enough it was also around 20 degrees in Stockholm on that day, but with a slight change (- instead of +). Of course for a person who just left so much sun and warmth, this would be shocking, but as a matter of fact, I really liked the change!
I remember when I told one of my friends in Egypt that I’m moving to Sweden he just said “Oh, are you sure you’re going to survive the darkness and the extreme cold weather?”. I guess that image of darkness and extreme cold weather is somehow automatically associated with Scandinavian countries especially for those coming from the Middle East, Mediterranean and tropical areas.
The truth is, it can be cold and dark in winter! But it also can be sunny, windy or cloudy. I won’t give a geography lesson, but I’ll explain this as simple as possible. Sweden is a long country and because of its size and geographical location, the weather varies a lot from the North to the South. Also this results in the fact that most of the population is concentrated in the middle and Southern parts of Sweden, leaving the North scarcely populated.
I haven’t been to the Northern parts of Sweden yet so let’s concentrate on the Stockholm area. First of all, I usually describe the weather in Stockholm as “variable and hard to predict”. And I’m not talking about the seasonal changes, but I mean everyday you’d expect something different! And not only everyday, but maybe every hour!
We (people from warmer countries) expect it to be sunny and hot in summer, a bit cold in winter and Autumn and Spring are just seasons where temperature starts to go a bit lower and a bit higher respectively. We don’t check the weather forecasts everyday because we don’t expect huge changes.
It’s a completely different case in Sweden (as well as many other countries). You have to add “checking the weather” to your everyday routine and based on my personal experience, one must check weather forecasts using different sources. I personally use 2 mobile apps, in addition to watching weather forecasts on TV and sometimes reading the newspaper. The weather apps (whether on the computer or mobile) are probably better because they provide you with hourly updates which are very useful when you’re planning your day.
Last winter was actually mild according to Swedish standards. It didn’t snow until early January. Me and friend of mine from Egypt who moved to Sweden in mid 2011 were about to experience our first Christmas in Sweden. He told me “My whole idea of Christmas in Sweden has changed. I was expecting lots of snow!”, but there wasn’t any!
Without going through weather details, what I’m trying to say is that stereotyping Sweden by cold and dark is far from the truth. I hardly complain of the weather here and the reason behind this is that I look at it from a different perspective which is enjoying and experiencing real seasonal and even daily variations.