Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Sweden:
The expat community in Sweden is thriving in areas like Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Uppsala and I venture to guess any major university town. Lots of people come to Sweden to study. Higher education was tuition-free for foreigners outside of the EU and EEC until recently and many are still completing programs or working in Sweden. There are also lots of “love expats” and others working on post-graduate projects, working for multi-nationals and exploring Sweden because of their love of the culture and nature. It is easy to find like-minded people and fellow expats through social media and social networks. Internations is a great example of both. There is no need for an expat in Sweden to feel alone.
I had visited Sweden many, many times before I moved here, so there was not so much culture shock… only the pressure of learning the language and all the nuances that go with speaking in Swedish. For a while, I felt as if I lost my identity… I couldn’t communicate my personality when I spoke because I was speaking like a 3 year old. However, immersing myself in society, through an internship and a job, helped me tackle that barrier.
There are things that I had to adjust to, like remembering to take my shoes off when we visited people’s homes, to always cross at the crosswalk, eating smörgås (Open-faced hard bread sandwiches) for breakfast, taking a number to wait on queue, and of course the language. Sometimes things make me think twice or confuse me, but I’ve never experienced pure culture shock - just a perpetual learning environment!
I have traveled quite a bit around the world, so I don’t think I experienced much culture shock or had any trouble getting used to Sweden. I mean, there were little things like not being able to tell what the million different kinds of milks and creams in the dairy section meant and why I had to pick up mail packages at the grocery store. The high taxes and prices of things were a little shocking at first, but once I started earning money here, it evened out. With all the benefits that come with living here, I have no problems paying taxes to Sweden!
My husband had warned me that the situation that I could face in Sweden will be completely different with the one when we lived in England but I guess it is kind of good having some shock so it made me push myself even more and learning how to become a survivor. If I could, I would not change anything but maybe would make some preparations before we moved to Sweden.
One of my favourite things about Stockholm is that it’s such a small city compared to London, so I can easily bike around it rather being stuffed into a smelly underground train. I definitely spend a lot more time outdoors, both in the summer on the water and in the winter on skis.
The expat community in Göteborg is wonderful. I hooked up with InterNations and the members I met there were friendly, supportive, experienced, and came from all over the world. They made a huge difference in my life here, provided insights and answers to questions and resources that would have taken me months to discover on my own. Many have become some of my best friends now.