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MALMÖ

8 telltale signs you live in Malmö

Do you live in Malmö, the self-proclaimed capital of Skåne, Sweden’s most southern region? Residents of Malmö, Malmöiter, are known for their love of falafel, their cocky nature and their almost incomprehensible accents. Read on for eight signs you're one of them.

8 telltale signs you live in Malmö
Malmö is Sweden's third largest city. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

You know where to find the best falafel

Or at least you think you do. Maybe you swear by Värnhems Falafel. Maybe Falafel by Yousef in Jägersro is your go-to. Maybe Köpenhamns Falafel gets your vote. You have strong opinions of how bad the falafel is in cities you’ve never been to. But one thing is for certain – alla grönsaker, blandad sås (“all vegetables, mixed sauce”).

You proudly stand up for your new hometown

Although it’s safer than many cities, Malmö has received a bit of a reputation as a dangerous place where you can barely go outside without something bad happening to you. Your mum has probably called you on at least one occasion to make sure you’re OK after reading a newspaper article about something happening here. You know you’ve been here long enough when you hear yourself responding to her by saying “it’s not that bad, I feel safer here than I did at home!” Although having said that…

You have had your bicycle stolen at least once

This only needs to happen to you once before you learn to invest in a good bike lock. Maybe two. Actually, get three for good measure. And don’t even think about leaving your bike parked in the city centre overnight. In Malmö, “used” and “stolen” are synonyms when buying a bike on Blocket.

You have stopped complaining about how badly the cyclists behave

When you first arrived, you were terrified to cycle. Nobody indicates! People cycle in both directions on the bike paths! Why doesn’t anybody use bike lights? And why did the bike lane just disappear and leave me alone with the cars on a busy road?

That was in the past. Now you just shrug your shoulders and keep pedalling. You know the quickest way to get anywhere is by bike, especially when Skånetrafiken’s public transport network is down for maintenance so you can’t buy a bus ticket. You’re one of us now.

A red and yellow Skåne flag in a sea of supporters of local football team Malmö FF. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT

You start doubting how good your Swedish actually is

You thought you were OK at speaking Swedish. You can talk to your colleagues with no problems and were pretty sure you knew what they were saying. You’ve even got a hang of the southern Swedish accent in Malmö, which leaves Stockholmers wondering if they accidentally got off the train in Denmark.

Then you meet your partner’s uncle from other parts of Skåne and don’t understand a thing. “It’s OK”, your partner explains, “he’s from Trelleborg, I barely understand him myself”. It turns out the Malmö accent isn’t the most incomprehensible in all of Sweden, after all.

You’ve gone vegan

Malmö is known as Sweden’s “vegan capital”, with the best vegan food scene in Sweden (if you ask people from Malmö, that is). If you find yourself wondering whether you should cut back on the meat and dairy, you’re a proper Malmöit. It’s not hard in a city with such good vegan places like bakery Leve, restaurant Rau, and Ica Söder’s extremely well-stocked vegan and vegetarian department.

The Öresund Bridge connects Malmö to Copenhagen in Denmark. Photo: Janus Langhorn/imagebank.sweden.se

You can go on safari without even leaving the city

Chances are your courtyard is home to an adorable family of wild rabbits. Why are there so many wild rabbits in Malmö? Are there more seagulls than people? You have accepted being attacked by nesting seagulls on your commute as part of your daily life. And are the rumours really true that there are goats living on the island in Slottsparken?

And finally… you talk about going “to Sweden” if you’re travelling north of Skåne

When this happens, there is no turning back. You’re off to visit friends in Gothenburg or Stockholm and you find yourself telling people you’re visiting “Sweden” for the weekend. You’ve forgotten that Skåne is not an independent country, no matter how many red and yellow flags we fly. All hope is lost. You’re a Malmöit now.

Are there any quintessential Malmö experiences you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!

Member comments

  1. I lived in Malmo for a year., and I loved it. Coming from Miami, I laughed when people complained about crime. My son Kaj was born in Malmo, and travels to Sweden every year from Ft Lauderdale. I rode my mountain bike all around town( I did have a large U lock), and went into the Bastu in the winter, and jumped naked into the Baltic like a Viking! So much fun. Great people and good Swedish food and international food. Wonderful year abroad.

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OPINION & ANALYSIS

What’s in a name? Getting to grips with the Swedish postal system

OPINION: I'd never thought before moving abroad that something as simple as the procedure for delivering a parcel could differ so much between different countries. Oh, how wrong I was...

a woman collecting a parcel from an ICA supermarket
Good luck persuading postal workers to deliver your parcels if they're addressed to your nickname. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In the UK, where I grew up, parcel delivery regulations are relatively loose. Friends have sent letters to me addressed to all manner of nicknames based on my name, Becky, with “Beckminsterfullerene” a particular highlight. These letters always reached me without issue, as the UK’s postal service, Royal Mail, is relatively unbothered about whether the name on the post matches the name of the recipient.

I suspect that this is partly due to the fact that the UK has no up-to-date records of all residents, with their full legal name tied to their current address.

The closest we have to this system is a census is carried out once a decade, supplemented by the electoral register, listing registered voters’ address and name. This means that the British postal service, Royal Mail, does not have a country-wide population register against which they can check addresses against the names of the people who actually live there.

Sweden, however, could not be more different. The name on your parcel must match the name on your ID, or they will refuse to hand over your parcel. This isn’t just postal service workers being difficult – their IT system will not approve parcel delivery if this ID doesn’t match.

Here, parcel delivery and the postal service is closely linked to the folkbokföringsregistret – the population register, where everyone living in Sweden with a personnummer (a Swedish identity number) is listed with their name and current address. Not being listed on this register is the reason why some people living in Sweden without a personnummer sometimes may have trouble receiving post.

This can be extremely irritating, but actually makes sense in my opinion – if the postal service can’t confirm that the recipient lives at the address, then how do they know that important post isn’t being delivered to the wrong person? With vital documents such as bank cards and pin numbers still being delivered by post, this is actually a smart protective measure against identity theft and fraud.

As you may expect, my friends and family at home find this hard to believe, as they are used to a system where the name on the parcel is completely unimportant. This has led to some infuriating discussions at my local supermarket where I pick up my parcels, with postal service workers refusing to hand over my post for a number of seemingly trivial reasons. Scroll down to read some of my best (or worst?) stories.

1. The Christmas present saga

Last year, my dad sent me a pair of trainers as a Christmas present. To make postage easier, he decided to order them directly from the website to my address in Sweden, rather than ordering them to my parents’ home in the UK first.

In theory, this was a good idea, saving postal costs for him and saving the environmental impact of two journeys instead of one.

In practice, I didn’t get the parcel until February, two months after he ordered it.

The reason for this was that he, without thinking, had addressed the parcel to Becky. Unfortunately, my legal name is Rebecca. The parcel arrived at my local post office in good time for Christmas, so I dutifully grabbed my Swedish driver’s licence and my ID card from the Tax Agency and headed out to pick it up.

When I got there, they refused to hand it over. I patiently explained that I was, in fact, Becky, and that Becky is a common nickname for Rebecca.

“I understand,” said the postal worker, “but I still can’t deliver the parcel to you, as it doesn’t match the name on your ID. You’ll have to call Postnord [the Swedish postal service] and ask them to change the name on the parcel in our system before I can hand it over.”

She helpfully gave me Postnord’s phone number and sent me on my way.

Later that day, I called their number, and was met with a 45 minute phone queue – understandable, considering this was just before Christmas, and just before the UK was due to leave the EU, so they were undoubtedly bogged-down with calls asking about customs information.

Eventually, I got through and explained the issue. “We can’t change the name,” they informed me. “You’re not the sender of the parcel, so you’ll have to ask the sender to change the name instead”. I sighed, thanked them for their time and called my dad. He doesn’t speak Swedish, so I drafted an email for him to send to Postnord.

My shoes were on a shelf like this five minutes away from my apartment for two months. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

A few days later, he got a reply. “According to the system, this parcel was sent from a shoe company, not from you. You need to contact the shoe company and get them to change the name instead.”

At this point, we were getting quite annoyed. There were only a few days left to Christmas, and the parcel was only going to be stored in the post office for 60 days before being sent back. The UK was due to leave the EU in January 2021, meaning that we would have to pay import tax if it got returned before we could sort this out.

We contacted the shoe company, based in the UK, and the British customer service representative was perplexed. She was happy to help change the name, but the Postnord website had no information in English, so I had to painstakingly translate the relevant pages. She informed me she would see what she could do, but with Christmas and New Years coming up, they were unlikely to be able to get it done before January.

We waited. January came and went, and the problem still hadn’t been resolved. With just a few days left until the parcel was to be sent back to the UK, I tried one last time to pick it up.

I had a thought – maybe if I took my UK passport with me, they would be able to hand over the parcel? Swedish driving licences have a barcode on the back which postal workers scan, automatically uploading ID into the postal system, meaning errors can’t manually be fixed by postal workers. My foreign passport doesn’t have this barcode – maybe they can change the data manually?

I stood in the queue, heart racing, feeling like I was about to do something illegal. I smiled and handed over my passport like everything was normal. The postal worker typed in my details and went to collect my parcel.

“Is this really happening?” I thought. “Have I gone through all of this when I could have just gone in with my passport instead?”

I still don’t know whether my name was updated in the system or whether she manually input my name as Becky instead of Rebecca.

One thing is certain though: my dad has never sent a parcel to me addressed as Becky since.

2. The baby gift addressed to my newborn daughter

You may have thought that was my only story – if only!

Another issue I had goes back to when my 18-month-old daughter was a newborn. One of my English friends had very kindly ordered a book addressed to me, my husband and our daughter.

Unfortunately, she had only written our first names on the parcel. This was an issue for a number of reasons: firstly, my newborn daughter did not yet have a passport, so there was no way of proving her identity.

Secondly, my husband’s last name was not on the parcel, so we couldn’t prove his identity.

Thirdly, it was addressed to Becky rather than Rebecca, meaning that my name didn’t match the name on the parcel.

Still waiting for your newborn’s passport? You’ll have to wait before you can collect their first post. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Finally, me and my daughter were still waiting for our personnummer applications to be approved, meaning our names were not listed in the Swedish population register and therefore we didn’t exist on the postal service’s system.

I went down to the post office with my husband’s passport, my passport, our wedding certificate, my daughter’s birth certificate, wearing my daughter in our baby carrier. This wasn’t enough. They believed we were who I said we were, but their system wouldn’t let them hand over the parcel without valid approved ID.

We had the same issue as above – she had ordered the parcel directly from Amazon to save postage rather than sending it directly from the UK, so they were responsible for changing the names on the order.

Unfortunately, they were so slow to act that the parcel was returned.

We did get the book in the end though – we ordered it ourselves from a Swedish company instead and my friend sent over the money.

3. The wedding present addressed to the wrong last name

The final story for this article happened after my husband and I got married. I had chosen to keep my last name, something I had mentioned to family and friends in the run-up to the wedding. A woman keeping her name upon marriage is unusual in the UK, so most of my British friends and family had assumed I would take my husband’s name instead.

Despite this, my mum very excitedly sent a parcel to us after the wedding with some gifts from family. She followed British naming customs, meaning that parcels are addressed to Mr & Mrs, followed by the husband’s first initial and last name. Understandably, this confused the Swedish postal service.

Titles such as Mr and Mrs are uncommon in Sweden, and letters addressed to married women are not addressed to their husband’s name (quite rightly if you ask me), so they were confused as to why I was trying to explain to them that the parcel was addressed to me, despite the initial and last name not matching my own name.

Shes going to have to update her name in the population register before picking up any wedding presents. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix

If this wasn’t bad enough, my mum had also misspelled my husband’s surname. By some miracle, the postal worker agreed to hand over the parcel once I produced my husband’s passport and explained that my British mum wasn’t particularly used to writing Swedish surnames, not without reluctantly commenting “I shouldn’t really be doing this…”.

Somewhat exasperated, I rang my mum and patiently explained that no, I hadn’t changed my surname and no, people don’t really use Mr and Mrs here, and yes, it is important that parcels match the recipient’s legal name.

All credit to her, she hasn’t done it again – although I do still call her before she sends a parcel just to make sure.

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