I love fika. I hate fika.*
In the lab that I work in, there is a 30 minute fika at 10am and 3pm every day. Everyone congregates in the newly re-opened coffee/lunch room for coffee (or tea), bread/cheese (in the mornings only!), and a snack if you were organized enough to remember one whilst stepping out the door in the morning.
When in the lab, I’m always torn about whether to go to fika or not. On one hand, I want to socialize and meet other people in the lab/department. This is also a good opportunity to stretch your legs and give your eyes that ”mini-break” workplace ergonomic classes always tell you to do but that you always forget about. and of course, free coffee and bread/cheese (in the mornings only!) doesn’t hurt either.
On the other hand, if you attend both fikas, it could take up to an hour of your day, which is inconvenient when you’re in the middle of a delicate time-sensitive experiment or manipulating data charts like a spastic Excel wizard. Also, people usually speak in Swedish unless I make a strong effort to include myself. Honestly, this is exhausting when you take into account that this is the norm for many of my daily social interactions. But there isn’t any point in going to fika if I DO NOT engage in conversation and simply sit there like a dull-witted wall flower! I’m afraid my Protestant American work ethic (Max Weber citation needed here) really cannot tolerate this. Interestingly, however, I do notice that some Swedes don’t engage anyone in conversation at fika. Is this normal, I ask myself, or should I take it in the context of my field, where you can never discount the possibility of some social awkwardness?
My jury is still out and may never return, but maybe I will see you at fika sometime…
*roughly translates to ”coffee break.”