Switzerland is in Sweden – right?

Last week I wondered if people knew where Sweden was as they so often think that I’m talking about Switzerland when I say that I happen to live in Sweden.

I wonder if the opposite is true? That there are lots of Swiss out there who get asked if they live in Sweden! Now – what kind of conversations do they have, I wonder…

chateau-de-chillon-lake-geneva-switzerland1

So, close your eyes and … (no – hang on! If you close your eyes, you won’t be able to read this) … OK: just imagine that I have a twin sister (who is not nearly as witty, intelligent, good-looking or modest as I am). Let’s call her Lady Di. She lives in Switzerland.

And you all know where that is, right?

continents_map_sm4

So, Lady Di gets into a taxi and asks to be taken to the airport. Ron Turning happens to be the taxi driver again.

Ron: So, where ya’ll flying off to then?

Di: Switzerland.

Ron: Oh, Switzerland. But hey – didn’t you just fly there last week?

Di: Er.. no, you must be thinking of my plain twin sister.

Ron: Oh, I see. So, you’re off Switzerland, where they have lots of naked blondes everywhere.

Di: Um … no … no! NO! You’re probably thinking of Sweden.

Ron: No, I’m thinking of Switzerland. Where they whip each other in the sauna.

Di: Er.. you’re still thinking of Sweden. Or maybe even Finland.

Ron: Why drag the French into it? I’m thinking of Switzerland. Where IKEA comes from.

Di: Sweden again.

Ron: That’s what I said – they have lots and lots of forests there.

Di: Still Sweden.

Ron: You’ve got the Arctic Circle there too – and polar bears on the streets.

Di: S.W.E.D.E.N.!!!!!!!!!!

Ron: Everything is efficient and the trains often run on time.

Di: Well, you’re getting a bit closer now…

Ron: Told ya! Switzerland .. That’s where the people don’t have a sense of humour, right?

Di: Yes, that’s right. It’s a real hazard not smiling all day long and just eating chocolates while watching cuckoo clocks chime… (The irony seems to be lost on Ron.)

Ron (dropping Lady Di off at Departures): You have a good flight back to Sweden now, ya hear!

***************************************************

So, there you have it!

Now.. did you get it right? Switzerland can be found in Europe – right here, in fact:

europe_location_che

What misconceptions do people have about where you live?

63 responses

  1. You are so creative, and yet you don’t sew? Hmmm….

    Anyway, there are no misconceptions about where I live, only about the residents of the town that I live in. The running joke is about the number of teeth that the borough collectively has.
    For example…

    -What is 1/4 mile long and has three teeth?
    -The line at our town festival.

    -How do we know that the toothbrush was invented here?
    -If it was invented somewhere else they would have named it the teethbrush.

    November 21, 2008 at 12:26

  2. Back when i lived in Kenya i would tell people back in the States that i lived in Nairobi. And they’d ask if Nairobi was a country, where in Europe Nairobi was, and once even if i had learned to speak Kenyan. (At least that guy was able to narrow it down to a country!)

    November 21, 2008 at 13:50

  3. When i was in America, and I told people I come from Singapore, they would say, “Thats in China right?”. Surprisingly most Danes seem to know where Singapore is located- I think its because many of them travel to the neighbouring country Thailand on holiday. But I always get the classic “But you dont look Singaporean”- and I’d ask, so what do Singaporeans look like, and they are ” No idea, but you dont look it.” My grandparents did come from India but Singapore is a multiracial country with a Chinese, Indian and Malay population.

    November 21, 2008 at 14:25

  4. I live in Detroit and it is considered a mean city full of lazy auto workers and accomplished thieves. Now for the question of whether or not it’s a true picture …

    November 21, 2008 at 15:06

  5. I once heard someone say that everyone in my little town wears rubber boots. And frankly? That particular type of footwear is vastly underrated! Rubber boots are highly practical, they’re even fashionable now. Seriously. Get yourself a pair:)

    November 21, 2008 at 15:45

  6. Western PA…USA…people ask if we belong to a amish dutch settlement. Ummmm…..nooooooo……not everyone in New Wilmington is Amish.

    November 21, 2008 at 15:55

  7. PH

    I know where Sweden is. Sweden is the capital of Ikea right?

    Many Americans seems to confuse Dutch with Danish/Danes. They tink Dutch people come from Denmark or Danes come from Holland. Or that Amsterdam is the capital of Denmark or similar confusions.

    November 21, 2008 at 16:08

  8. Jen

    Try being told that you only live in igloos, or teepees. And that everyone in your country runs around in loincloths. And the Vegas taxi driver was completely serious.
    Well I guess if he looked around him, a good portion of Vegas does run arouond in skimpy outfits……

    Jen

    November 21, 2008 at 16:40

  9. Well this is one I actually new the answer too. I guess being European gave me the advantage. I knew it had to be good for something eventually.

    November 21, 2008 at 20:46

  10. Hi! I wandered over from Typ0’s blog. I live in Norway, and the questions I fielded from people back home were astounding! At a breakfast with friends, one gentleman (in his fifties) asked my husband where, exactly, was Norway located in Sweden? I think my husband did an admirable job of not falling out of his chair!

    We’ve also been asked where Norway is, like they didn’t realize Norway was in Europe. At the end of the dat we can only laugh!

    November 21, 2008 at 22:26

  11. Bluefish

    A lot of people ask me where I’m from even though I have lived in Canada since the age of 9. They do not know where Taiwan is and often try to guess every nation in Asia…but they couldn’t never guess Taiwan.

    Now I tell people my husband’s Danish…that’s another challenge. People often mistaken his nationality for Swedish, German, Swiss…some of them don’t even know where Denmark is. I find it’s very sad.

    November 22, 2008 at 02:44

  12. Hahaha, nice joke. I am chinese but people I met on the net, think that all chinese are from China. My roots are in China but I am not from China, my both sets of grandparents are from China and daddy was born in china too but mummy was born in Singapore. My paternal grandfather even spotted a pigtails (during Qing Dynasty ended 1911, the men wore their hairs long and tied into like a pigtail)

    When I told them I am from Singapore, they think Singapore belongs to China. NO NO NO, Singapore is an independent country and do not belongs to China. Some might have mistaken Singapore for Hongkong and yes Hongkong now belongs to China not Singapore.

    November 22, 2008 at 02:53

  13. Everyone asks if I ride my horse to school, if I own a gun and if I personaly know George Bush since I am from Texas. The answer is no to all three. I don’t even have a horse. But I would like to say that I knew exactly where both countries were because I have been to Switzerland and I met a Swedish woman who tried to teach us how to say the number 7. Yep, couldn’t do it! p.s. see if you can see the pics now??

    November 22, 2008 at 06:35

  14. Hi Lady Fi, Minnesota misconceptions.. That we have only 10,000 lakes..we have 11, 842 that are ten acres or more and several thousand that are smaller. Everyone from Minnesota lives in Minneapolis/St Paul area…60 % of the population live there. The other 40% live in other parts of the state. (Like me) We have four seasons, before winter, Winter, after winter and Road Construction..close, but we do have four seasons..but winter rules for the better part of the year. We are mostly Lutheran..there are some Catholics and a few Baptists. That we eat hotdish all the time..not true. That our mosquitoes are the size of small birds..close..but not quite! And lastly we have no mountain ranges:)

    November 22, 2008 at 07:48

  15. I married my brother, I live in a trailer and I eat roadkill. I live in the south. Yes, it’s definitely annoying when people stereotype you or get your geographical location completely wrong! Enjoyed your post!

    November 23, 2008 at 08:18

  16. Blue

    And everyone that lives upstate New York have no teeth, mullet hair cut, an oily cap and they chew tobacco and go to obscure bars where you can find a three legged dog under the pool table…?

    Isn’t that correct? ;o)

    Actually, my fav bar is upstate NY and all of the above is true…but I have seen “real” people there too…upstate New York that is…just not in Waneta Lake bar though :-p

    November 23, 2008 at 21:05

  17. Sorry, I live too close to answer this question. ;)

    November 23, 2008 at 22:52

  18. Too funny! You’re so right though! When I tell people I am from Africa, they say “what state?” Then I might elaborate “South Africa” and they think I’m being vague, like I don’t want to tell them which country. Geography is just a little on the ignored side of education.

    November 24, 2008 at 11:19

  19. Pingback: Sweden » First win for Hellner

  20. That was a delightfully fun read! I live in Canada and people think Alberta is near Toronto or Ottawa. The also think we drive snowmobiles all the time and walk around with snowshoes. We, too, have four seasons. Spring, Construction, Fall and Winter! And we love IKEA any season of the year!

    February 15, 2009 at 05:25

  21. haha.. so funny..

    February 20, 2009 at 14:05

  22. LOL I’m sorry I payed attention in school and I can actually point to the map and tell you where Switzerland/Sweden are!
    I live in New Mexico. Yes it’s the 49th state of the Union. So Yes I live in the United States! I love when people ask me if I speak English! The best? When I was 12 and went to Cornell University in NY for a summer camp and everyone asked if we rode our wagons to to town!

    March 3, 2009 at 19:13

    • Nolan

      I live in New Mexico too! People on the East coast USA think we are from Mexico!

      My favorite is “Is it safe to drink the water where you live?”

      October 21, 2009 at 18:54

  23. Chantal

    As a child, I lived in the Emirates in the Middle East. I was always asked why my hair wasn’t blond as I was swedish..from Switzerland!! And when I came back to Switzerland, I was asked if I went to school riding a camel and lived in a tent in the desert…Hey, ignorance is worldwide! PS: we DO eat loads of chocolate and we DON’T look at cuckoo clocks as they come from Austria(no, that is not Australia).

    March 15, 2009 at 17:35

  24. I thought this post was hysterical.

    June 22, 2009 at 18:27

  25. “and the trains often on time”

    That’s a total understatement. They are ALWAYS on time, and if they are more than 1-3 minutes late people start making that sound one makes when they kiss their own teeth. It’s quite funny actually. But it rarely ever happens.

    Same thing with buses and trams. If the bus is a tiny bit late you’ll get to hear people complain in three languages depending on what part of Switzerland you’re in (they have three national langauges: French, Swiss-German, and Italian).

    I’ve lived here for almost a year now and it’s really comical when they get pissed about one or two minutes – in Canada, a bus/train/streetcar can be 20 minutes late before people start to bitch.

    I guess it’s all about building expectations.

    To your point, I don’t even want to tell you how many people I’ve met that suck at geography. But if you’ve never ever traveled than I guess you really only need to know the place you are.

    July 8, 2009 at 11:05

  26. J

    Great post. Most of the Chinese people I talked to about the UK didn’t realise Ireland was a separate country. Let alone that England, Wales, Scotland are actually also different countries, and you shouldn’t use ‘English/England’ when you mean ‘British/Britain’. Just hoping none of them ever found themselves in say, a Republican area of Belfast.

    July 20, 2009 at 20:12

  27. cartablog

    i liv in Hong Kong but some friends fom America are still asking me how is lfe in Japan ….

    August 6, 2009 at 07:28

  28. People ask me if we have elephants on the streets in India – you do encounter them sometimes, but they are not as common as cows.
    And naked fakirs – I have yet to see one
    And snake charmers – they exist, but not all that common

    But, increasingly it is now call centre employees that people think of when they think India.

    September 10, 2009 at 09:14

  29. razif

    this is hillarious, but its true! they dont like to refer the maps, but love to talk about it, and we smile all the way.

    January 20, 2010 at 02:18

  30. diane

    Yes we do get people thinking my husband is from Sweden instead of Switzerland. When we correct them they shrug and say well “Its the same thing”. By the way cuckoo clocks come from Bavaria in Germany not from Switzerland.(Although they can be found in Switzerland that is not where they originated) I love ABBA.

    March 18, 2010 at 11:42

    • Holger

      Now, I’d thought the cuckoo clocks originated mainly from the Black Forest, which is just “down the Rhine valley” from Switzerland and mostly in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

      But then I guess, they’re all over the Alpine region in Europe.

      March 19, 2010 at 22:40

  31. We live in Sweden, too and one guy from Germany once asked if it’s really half year bright and the other half dark. When I visited MN, USA I was asked if there were deserts in Germany. When I was in Finland a girl asked if all Germans were Nazis. Ignorance knows no borders.

    June 15, 2010 at 23:33

  32. Celine

    FUNNY cause I’m Swiss living in the states and everytime I tell someone I’m Swiss they confuse it with Sweden! Its like Hello I said I was Swiss not Swedish!! IDIOTS!!

    July 12, 2010 at 05:36

  33. swiss

    haha. I’m Swiss and I met many people who thought I’m talking about Sweden.
    Once somebody even confused Switzerland with the Ukraine. It was like: “Hi where u from?” – “Switzerland” – “Hey everyone. Meet my new friend. She’s from the Ukraine”

    (By the way: Trains/Buses are late A LOT!)

    July 13, 2010 at 22:00

  34. absolutely beautiful.

    July 19, 2010 at 00:02

  35. You’re so right. I am a Swiss expat living in Australia. Quite often I get introduced to someone, the person introducing me says, Bill here is from Switzerland, he speaks Swedish. Some years ago i started work here in Australia for a Scandinavian Company. The Swedish boss asked me where I was from. When I told him I was from Switzerland, he smiled and said (with his tongue firmly in his cheek) as, so we can speak Swedish. He knew.

    August 10, 2010 at 00:06

  36. ben tengker

    Do you know it is really true that in Zurich where I leave you can not flush your toilet after 10pm. Do it and your neighbour will report you to the police.

    September 5, 2010 at 07:39

  37. This was a great post! I remember when I lived in the USm people always confused Sweden with Switzerland.;))
    xoxo

    September 17, 2010 at 13:25

  38. This Diana used to live in Switzerland. Those proverbial cuckoo clocks come from the Black Forest in Germany. When I worked in the library in Zurich, I once got a letter from the Office for Information to the US President. Addressed to Zurich in Germany. Hope his geopolitical info is usually right ;>)

    October 17, 2010 at 09:31

  39. Claire

    True!!
    I live in Czech Republic and people very often think I´m from Czechoslovakia,state,which doesn´t exist for over than 18 years…
    Last summer I was on a concert and one english signer said : ,,Hi Czechoslovakia!´´

    October 24, 2010 at 15:51

  40. Pascale

    I live in Luxembourg and since this country is very small, I can understand if someone from the US don’t know Luxembourg.
    But I was really shoked when a French person asked me if Luxembourg belongs to France…
    Now I’m studying in Belgium, 200 km from Luxembourg…and people keep asking me, if german is my my mother tongue…hello, luxembourgish is a language!

    December 14, 2010 at 21:32

  41. Ha! I love it….that is so good. I get to see this all the time; as you know Jahnu is from Denmark but lived in Sweden for so long, still goes back there annually, and when people (sorry but especially Americans!) hear he’s from there, they ask the stupidest questions and say the most bizarre things. I just wish I could think of a few right now :)) But you know the type…”Oh, so you’re from Denmark? That’s in Sweden right?” Or “that’s the same as Sweden?” Fortunately Jahnu finds this highly entertaining; I have met Danes who would be mortally wounded by such chatter….though I admit, that’s rare: Danes are ridiculously comical, aren’t they? :)))

    Jahnu’s coming in June….you should meet him, Fi….he always remembered you asking about him and your thoughts and words. He wrote to you, didn’t he?

    February 2, 2011 at 05:41

  42. Great post!

    I live in Canada (in Toronto, actually – which is the 7th largest city in North America) and people assume it’s always snowing up here, or that we all speak French. Oddly enough, today it’s sunny and warm with no snow to be seen (for the 1st day of spring), yet our neighbours to the south – you might have heard of them… Americans. :) in New Jersey are in the midst of a blizzard.

    Who is cold now, eh?

    P.S. Sweden = Mats Sundin. :)

    March 21, 2011 at 16:53

  43. switzerland is in middle east.
    middle east is in eu.
    eu is in south pasific ocean.
    south pasific ocean is in new atlantis.
    new atlantis is in new babel.
    new babel is in jerushalem.
    jerushalem is in metzamor.
    metzamor is in vatican
    vatican is in old atlantis.
    old atlantis is in HELGOLAND.
    HELGOLAND is in PLANET MARS.

    April 14, 2011 at 14:15

  44. Too funny! I think the best way for people to absorb geography is to travel, travel, travel. Think, the US is huge, but most Americans know where most states are. But most people who have never been to Europe don’t have a clue as to the location of the different countries. The one I find most confusing is: my sister-in-law for more than 50 years is from Copenhagen and speaks Danish but when I try to picture Denmark my mind mixes up the locations and mother tongues of Holland, Netherlands,and Denmark! The second best way to learn geography is by studying one’s ancestry online, and visiting the places via Google satellite/street of where the old relatives lived. I’m learning a little about England right now by do that! P.S. One of these days I really hope to visit Europe and take motor trips all over the country!

    October 29, 2012 at 00:12

  45. I suppose people think of cheese, beer and the Green Bay Packers when Wisconsin (USA) is mentioned. I don’t like beer, nor do my friends, but some Wisconsonites do drink their share of beer. We love Packer football here. Most who grew up in the state own several pieces of Packer clothing. Right now in our home we have Gouda Cheese, American, Havarti, Provolone and Cheddar. We do love our cheeses.

    January 11, 2013 at 06:02

  46. I just stumbled on this post… rather late, I must add, but couldnt resist commenting on it!!! we have loads of these misconceptions… even within India… like I am a Tamilian, from the state of Tamilnadu down south, and live in Mumbai, on the west coast. Almost everyone in the northern, western, eastern and central parts of our vast country believe that anyone living in the south is a ‘Madrasi’. the word comes from the city of Madras, which is the capital of Tamilnadu. No matter how much u try to explain that there are 4 states down south, each with a different language, and so many differences, it doenst register…. we are all Madrasis, no matter how little connection we have to the city!

    January 12, 2013 at 06:07

  47. Pingback: Classic Elvetia - HASHAS Travel

  48. This post made me smile! I thought it was only Americans who are lousy at geography! I’m glad to learn it’s not only us. Recently, there was a lot of carrying on because Google didn’t mention the Christian holiday of Easter on it’s page on Easter day. Instead they had an article about Cesar Chavez (the late labor leader who empowered farm workers in the US). There was a huge uproar because the Christian holiday was not mentioned. Instead, people decried an article about the semi-terrorist, Latin American Dictator Chavez, confusing Cesar with Hugo. Oy vey!

    April 22, 2013 at 19:11

  49. I meant “its” not “it’s”. I may be speechless sometimes, but I’m not dumb.

    April 22, 2013 at 19:12

  50. Ahoj Lady Fi, ty si ma inšpirovala k tomu, aby som napísala podobný článok. Ja žijem na Slovensku a veľa ľudí si mýli Slovensko so Slovinskom. Poznáš obe krajiny? Tvoj článok je napísaný veľmi vtipne. Videla som, že si bola na mojom blogu Zrkadlenie, ale ten je už ukončený. Mám iné nové blogy. Teraz sa toto pokúsim preložiť pomocou google prekladača :-)

    Hey Lady Fi, you inspired me, that I write a similar article. I live in Slovakia and many people confuse Slovakia with Slovenia. Do you know this two countries? Your article is written very funny. I saw that you were on my blog Zrkadlenie, but it is already completed. I do not speak English and I use only online automatic translator.

    April 29, 2013 at 18:35

  51. shewhocarriescamera

    Okay, I definitely know the difference between Sweden & Switzerland, BUT I will admit that I do get Sweden and Norway mixed up (at least geographically)!

    May 20, 2013 at 13:42

    • shewhocarriescamera

      But, then again, if you give me a blank map of the U.S. it might take a few extra minutes to figure out a couple of those midwestern states! Those square states are a bugger! :-)

      May 20, 2013 at 13:46

  52. Super funny, Di, I mean Fi! Gees who are you anyway? Misconceptions for my hometown/city/province is that icebergs keep us a float and it is never ever ever ever warm! Almost right! But I like mine straight up!!

    Ron

    May 20, 2013 at 15:55

  53. Pingback: Bratislava, hlavné mesto Slovenskej republiky | FAREBNÝ SVET

  54. Kev

    Lmao! That really is funny…I’m one of the lucky ones who does know the difference even though I haven’t been…yet.

    November 2, 2013 at 10:27

  55. I live in Switzerland and it was definitely not in Sweden last time I looked! Cuckoo clocks are for the tourists or maybe Heidi in the mountains, but the marvellous Swiss chocolate is for everyone!!! See here:http://reflectionsandnature.blogspot.ch/2012/10/je-veux-du-chocolat.html
    Greetings from Sandra, born in Britain but who lives in Switzerland!

    November 7, 2013 at 17:41

  56. I completely understand where you sre coming from. A lot of people think New Zealand is a part of Australia, that we are a state of it or something. Though the best I have heard is that Auckland, NZ is connected to Australia by a giant bridge, even though it is a 3 hour flight between the two.

    February 14, 2014 at 10:19

    • Ek

      Oh I love geography. I live in Syria and I know the location of every country in our planet. I can name each one and location it whether it was in Europe, south america, north america and central america, asia, oceania or africa.
      once I was telling my friend that I would like to visit sweden one day.
      he was very very very dump

      and he asked me if there are white people in sweden because he thought that every one in sweden is black (no racism). that happened because he thought I was talking about sudan or maybe because aswad (أسود) in arabic means black so he thought that swede السويد means black people.

      February 20, 2014 at 00:13

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