Sweden

My first impression of the situation in this country was sad, but today I have learnt to see people from other sides. As I learnt Swedish, young people started to see me from the lighter side, as they had their prejudices, but together we developed.

Sweden has one of the world’s better functioning democracies, which even allows its minor population to have a word in decision-making concerning their education and educational environment. When asking my friends for their opinion on young people’s situation in Sweden, some were positive while many did not realise how lucky they should be growing up here. It is true that the young enjoy quite a comfortable life, being taken good care of by the state. Everyone gets to have an education, develops an interest in spare time, etc. Terms such as ‘child labour’ are unknown and children are allowed to be children. The young people’s issue is not financial, nor juridical, nor ideological. It is emotional. We tend to forget our ancestors’ hard work to build up Sweden as a welfare state; therefore we presume it will always remain. This apathy that is spreading among young people will be stopped the day we realise that there are more fights to fight. One includes fighting for the survival of this country’s democracy. What results may come out of setting democracy aside we do not know yet, but we should not let it go so far. Somebody needs to wake up the sleeping youth of Sweden, make them realise that even our generation will have its share of fights and reforms, by taking good care of our democracy and by helping those who are asking us to help.

Young people in Sweden are getting less to do because the state gives them less money. They are important because they need a place to go where they can meet adults. There are more drugs here then before and a lot of sex. If we can talk to them, they can be informed about how to protect themselves. Young people in Sweden are getting less time from the parents, because very often both have to work and do not have time to talk with them.

Studies show that many young people in Sweden suffer from low self-esteem, and that is suffered especially by young girls. Young people of today’s Sweden also have difficulties to get their first job. There are many restrictions for working conditions in Sweden, which is good, but there are also few opportunities for young people to get experiences for less qualified work. Young people today also suffer from an increasing intolerance between different ethnic groups. Young people with parents born in countries outside Europe see fewer opportunities to have a good future than other young people. Therefore in some marginalised groups young people start committing small crimes and create a sub-culture with less tolerance for current laws. I have only described what is bad in the situation for young people so far. There are also things that show that the situation for young people is bright. Many young people experience a sense of freedom and a lot of opportunities. The situation in the country is stable and for young people who look for opportunities there are opportunities everywhere. Young people in Sweden today communicate with people all over the world on the Internet and they have a big awareness of the situation in the world and political issues in general.

Even though there have been many efforts to involve young people in decisions that affect them, it is still very difficult for young people to have a real influence in politics. It is hard to make yourself heard, put forward your opinions and perspectives and be taken seriously. A lot of young people feel the pressures of every day life not only when it comes to the school environment but also in the family, among friends and in society in general. There are a lot of expectations to be met. There are also many obstacles that hinder the development and especially the empowerment of young people. Young people in Sweden have difficulty to enter the labour market, as the lack of experience, lack of contacts and scepticism from the employer makes it very difficult to compete in the labour market. However, compared to other countries there are many possibilities to study in Sweden as you often have a right to student allowance which makes you quite independent. There are many young men and women who want to change their society, and are often organised in different informal and formal organisations and networks.

Sweden is a fairytale country with flowers and sunshine, but darkness takes over the land for several months each year. This has an impact on the way of living for young people in the country. They want sun, meaning they learn languages and travel towards the South. Young people in Sweden are rather independent, they tend to choose their own path in life, and the path often leads abroad. Most youngsters take at least two other languages in school. Many go abroad to work and to travel after finishing high school. Awareness is one quality that is found among young people in Sweden. Being young now means that they have to clear up the mess when they become in charge of society. Many are active in some political way, whether they choose to be vegetarians or to take an active part in a political party. And just the fact of paying lots of attention to their looks is a sign of awareness. Young people are rather free to choose their way, either they want to study at university or take a job at 18, live at home or move out. But there are obstacles as well. It is hard to find a job, and rent on flats is high. But the idea of being free to choose is the most important thing. It is hard to tell if there is a difference in being young in Sweden compared to other countries. Here young people are counted for and have freedom as young people should be everywhere.