Let us imagine a situation. You are a French student who just arrived in Sweden, more precisely at Uppsala. You are very happy to be here, you have heard that Swedish people are very cool and that Swedish women are beautiful, so you can’t wait to meet Swedish people. Fortunately, the different nations allow you to participate at many events and parties which offer opportunities to meet new persons. You have two options.
The first is that you can be brave and break the ice with strangers and start the conversation (you don’t need to precise that you come from France because everybody can hear it).
The second option is to be introduced by people you already know and then the mistake is coming. You start by a “Hello” or “Hi”, you approach the cheek and then it’s a disaster… The person on the otherside goes back by looking at you as a crazy man. “Damn what I he doing? He wants to attack me? We never met before and I already want a physical contact?” Yes indeed, we want because it ordinary for us to say hello by this way and its curious how a respect mark in one country can become a cheeky one in another. After this refusal, an unease takes place and you wonder if you are hideous or if your breath stinks but after explains you just realize that is not the right way to say hello. So, you can laugh about that and you use this subject to start the conversation and this mistake could be a good opportunity to talk about your culture.
So, for all the persons who kiss on the cheek to say hello, I recommend you avoid that to avoid being discomforted. For all the persons who would say “Yes but we can do it and say after that it’s our culture like an excuse” I think that there is better way to speak about your culture without embarrass people you are meeting. It’s just an advice. You just can use your hand to say hello and it’s the same to say goodbye because I don’t think that embarrass the person you just met is a good way to make a good first feeling.
However, we can notice that Swedish like hug to say goodbye. Even if you don’t really know the person, you could have the right to receive a wonderful hug (imagine my surprise when a woman gave me a warm hug even though we have just exchange two words). So, the question is, why some Swedish are annoyed with cheek contact while they are ready to make a contact with your whole body with hugs? It’s a question for who wants to be a millionaire.
Culture differences. Good piece of information for me.