Josefin Fürst about Stockholm: “Literature Plays a Major Role”
Panoramic view of Stockholm’s Strandvagen boulevard (Foto: iStock/fotoVogager)
5 September 2012
When people think of Stockholm, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the medieval city centre Gamla Stan (Old Town) and the skerry coast. But the Swedish capital has much more to offer. Josefin Fürst from the Goethe-Institut talks about the favourite pastime activities of the Swedish and why she likes to travel to Germany.
Is it true that Sweden ranks first worldwide in the consumption of sugar?
Fürst: Absolutely! You can buy sweets everywhere in Sweden and you see people eating sweets all the time. There’s also a strong ice cream culture in Sweden. You might find that hard to believe, but it’s true. Swedish sugar consumption is almost level with coffee consumption, where the Swedish rank second behind the Finnish worldwide. That’s probably surprising, too. But coffee is an important part of everyday life.
Where do the Swedish differ most strongly from the Germans?
What I particularly like about the Germans is that they say what they think. Swedish people tend to say it in a roundabout way. That’s a cultural difference we’ve of course also experienced here at the Goethe-Institut. For example, we recently invited a writer to a reading. He declined the invitation, saying he didn’t have time. So we right away invited him for the following year. He turned us down again, giving the same reason. He simply wasn’t interested, but he didn’t want to come right out with it.
Josefin Fürst: “I like travelling to Germany“ (Foto: Sonja Leister)
As I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, I would really like to swap with the Swedish film director Tomas Alfredson. He most recently screened John-le-Carrè’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. He is very successful and I would certainly like to live his life for one day.
What would be your dream project?
City planning is very important to people from Sweden and especially to those from Stockholm. Urbanisation is a current issue here. We’ve been involved in several projects in this field with the Goethe-Institut. I would be very interested in exploring this further, offering workshops, inviting architects and city planners from Germany, in order to develop ideas together and tap into our combined resources.
The Motorshow exhibition atGalleri Bryggargatan (Photo: Ingo Vetter)
What’s the most important current issue for people from Stockholm?
A top issue is the lack of housing because the semester will start soon. It is extremely difficult for new students to find a place to live. Some even stay in tents outside of Stockholm. Some exchange students are unable to find lodgings and return to their home countries.
What should people stay away from in Stockholm?
Alcohol consumption is highly restricted. We have an alcohol monopoly here called Systembolaget. It’s the only place where you can buy alcohol. Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited. And should you happen to sit in a park and have a drink it is very likely a police officer will show up and seize the alcohol. And in Stockholm you should also always take care to stand on the right and walk on the left when you take an escalator. People in Sweden are very particular about that.
What do culturally interested people do in their spare time in Sweden?
Literature plays a major role in Sweden. There are many libraries in Stockholm, but also in all other parts of Sweden, where the Swedish people spend a lot of time. But people from Stockholm also love to go to festivals. For example, the Way out West music festival in Göteborg is very popular.
“Way out West” festival in Göteborg (Photo: Rodrigo Rivas Ruiz/imagebank.sweden.se)
What do you look forward to most when you come to Germany?
I love to travel to Germany. Everything works in Germany and the country has a pleasant feel to it. I look forward to the beer gardens, a platter of cheese spaetzle and a piece of Donauwelle cake.
And what do you look forward to most when you return to Sweden?
The easy-going way of coming into contact with people. In Sweden people usually are quickly on first name terms. That’s very pleasant and relaxing to me, and I am always aware of it when I come back to Sweden.
Patrizia Barba asked the questions.
Josefin Fürst was born in Stockholm in 1982. As a child she wanted to be an inventor. Instead, she studied political science and worked as project manager and press officer at the umbrella organisation of the Stockholm Student Services. She has been with the Goethe-Institut since 2010 and works as program coordinator in Stockholm. By the way: She spends most of her spare time in cinemas and at seminars about architecture and city planning.