Tag archives for Expat life

15 Impressions After Living Nearly One Year in Sweden

Here’s some thoughts and impressions after 11 months doing “Swedish time.”

Society

• It feels odd that there is no contact when you sit next to someone on a bus or buys something from a cashier. Of course there is the exception but typically there isn’t much “Hi, how are you?” or “It sure is cold out.”

• If someone bumps into you on the sidewalk or suddenly swerves into your path, they’re not going to say, “Whoops, didn’t mean to do that.” They’re most likely not going to say anything at all.

Sculpture in Kungsholmen

Sculpture in Kungsholmen. Photo by K. Lund

 

• It’s impossible for me to understand Swedish when it’s loud and there are lots of different conversations (for example, in a restaurant). Interesting how the brain computes languages differently. I wonder at what point I will be able to follow a two conversations in a restaurant? (What I actually mean is to understand one conversation while there’s a distracting one nearby.)

• Sweden has a really marked group mentality. I’ve written before how nearly 95% of Swedes seem to prefer a black winter coat. So now that it is Fall, I am seeing this black sea on the sidewalks again. Thursday is the day to eat pea soup and pancakes. In August, you eat crayfish…Is there a rebel who secretly eats crayfish in, say…January? (not the season they’re caught, I suppose…OK then, is there someone who eats pea soup on Saturdays?)

• Every apartment door that I’ve seen in Sweden says “Ingen Reklam” in some fashion. This means the inhabitants don’t want any advertisements pushed through their mail slots. It always makes me laugh because to me, it looks like someone named “Ingen” lives there.

apartment mailslot

“No snailmail spam, please.” (Name obscured to protect the innocent.) Photo by K. Lund

 

Dogs

• Dog owners seem to rarely let their dogs off leash in the parks. I think it’s generally not allowed but I admit to be a little hazy on the subject. Perhaps because I sometimes let my dog off the leash and because I want to have plausible deniability about my ignorance of the laws. Bad. Very bad.

Dog in the park

“Rabbit” enjoys a rest in a park near Sundbyberg (Stockholm). This picture looks like a painting to me. Something about the light…Photo by K. Lund

 

• There is a mandatory dog register in Sweden, and every dog is micro-chipped so there is clear responsibility if the dog is lost or the dog hurts someone. It cost around $10.00. Yup, Rabbit is registered. Don’t worry.

Food, Restaurants, and Medicine

• Soda in Sweden seems to have less carbonation. I miss the extra bubbles.

• There’s much less high fructose corn syrup in Swedish food. Hurrah!

• There’s less preservatives in the food so milk and meat spoils sooner. It’s worth the effort of going back to the store.

• This Fall I have noticed that most of the restaurants put blankets on the chairs of their outdoor seating. These chairs (and tables) are often right out on the sidewalk and I am amazed that the blankets don’t “walk away.” The blankets are designed to cope with the fact that it’s really too cold to sit outside on the sidewalk, even with your coat on.

blankets on outdoor tables

If you choose to dine outside, you can take advantage of the blankets the restaurant sets out. Photo by K. Lund

 

• There are lots of everyday medicines and supplements that come in a tablet form designed to drop in water and dissolve in a fizzy burst. Here in Sweden I’ve casually seen vitamin C like this, headache pain medicine, and charcoal tablets for upset stomachs.

• There were 30 kinds of orange juice back in California. Here in Sweden? There are 30 different kinds of dairy products. It’s hard to understand what the differences are.

dairy products

There are lots of dairy products to choose from… Photo by K. Lund

 

Household Stuff

• Why hasn’t that little loop (for hanging up) on towels in Sweden not caught on in other countries? It’s such a small thing and such a great thing! And it works so much better than trying to make the tag do the work (if there even is a tag that forms a circle.)

Autumn leaves

Autumn color in Stockholm. Photo by K. Lund

 

• Boy howdy, but it’s hot inside buildings and houses! Even after surviving last winter, I find that it is difficult to handle, the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures. It’s pretty cold outside now (mid October) and as soon as I go inside, I need to immediately strip down to a thin shirt, preferably one with short sleeves. Sweaters or even turtlenecks don’t work for indoor work because it’s too hot for them. Guess I shouldn’t have brought those. This still feels unexpected, seeing as how it’s Scandinavia which the whole world thinks of as the Cold Dark North. I never expected it to be too hot!

Special bonus: I love signs in other countries. Check out the one below which I saw in a restaurant in Stockholm. Really, it needs no introduction…

sign in Stockholm

This is disappointing because I thought thieves would look obviously different from me…black hat…twirling a devious mustache…at least SOMETHING different! Photo by K. Lund

 

5 Tips on Finding a Job in Sweden

Female engineers in Sweden

Sweden is one of the world leaders in gender equality. Employers are bound by law to promote equality among their employees. Photo by: Cecilia Larsson/imagebank.sweden.se

 

Because I came to Sweden on a work permit, I am often asked by readers for some tips on finding a job in Sweden.

Here are five good pieces of advice:

#1
It’s the usual story. Network, network, network. Tell anyone you know with the slimmest of connections to Sweden that you are looking for work. Make phone calls! Send emails!

#2
Learn Swedish. Many job announcements want you to be fluent in Swedish and English. There are oodles of ways of learning Swedish online—numerous apps, lots of websites, and Swedish TV, Swedish news, Swedish radio on the Internet.

#3
Subscribe to alerts from job websites (you can customize what sort of jobs you want to receive alerts about). For example, I used to receive a daily alert about Monster.com jobs located in Uppsala, Sweden.

Sites I have used include (use Google Translator if only in Swedish and you need English):

Swedish Monster.com (in Swedish)

The Local has lots of job ads Note: I used to be suspicious that these were real jobs but I recently met someone who got a job via The Local so there you go.

Step Stone (in English)

Eures (European Public Employment Services)

Vakanser (in Swedish)

Sweden.se has a plethora of information about how to go about working in Sweden. Start here. Then you can read here about what to do after you receive a job offer.

#4
Use Google Translate to translate job announcement into English (or your native language). Either click the link next to Google Search to translate the page or paste the content into Google Translate directly.

#5
Create a spreadsheet and keep careful track of where you have applied and what the response was. Don’t give up! Keep trying!

 

Goodbye for now

It’s been very difficult for me to write this last post on the Expat Blog. A lot has happened in the past six weeks, and I am happy to share that I have moved back to the United States with my husband to start a new adventure together – one in which we will switch roles so that I will be the knowing native and he will be the hapless expat (or something like that).

To be honest, over the last year and half of blogging for the Swedish Institute, this blog has become a little like my baby. I love it. I agonize over it. I try not to brag about it but find myself subtly working it into conversations. You know, very normal behavior. And now it’s time to say goodbye.

Springtime in Lund. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

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Eating Foreign Food in Sweden

Japanese Restaurant sign

Funny how this restaurant seems to just be named “Japanese Restaurant.” Photo by K. Lund

 

It’s interesting how foreign food tastes different in every country.

For example, Thai food tastes different in Sweden than it tastes in the US. It’s the same for the other foods I’ve tried here, such as Chinese and Japanese. I can’t speak for all nationalities of food since I avoid eating gluten and I don’t dine out much. Dining out in Sweden is notoriously expensive.

I mostly have experience eating Asian food, and usually it’s at lunch.

In my opinion, the Asian food in Sweden has saltier sauces and the vegetables are less varied (you work with what you can get.)

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Shopping for a Winter Jacket

Dog in Swedish woods

Rabbit explores a Stockholm lakeside on an overcast day. She’s wearing the windbreaker she brought from the US. It doesn’t work at all in the rain. Photo by K.Lund

 

A reader of this blog, “Janerowena” suggested I write about buying my dog, “Rabbit” a winter jacket. I mentioned feeling the chill in the air a few blogs past and so, as all “parents” do, I immediately reasoned that since I was cold, maybe Rabbit, was also cold. And if she wasn’t yet, she would be soon. For myself, I am prepared and have been eyeballing last year’s winter jackets in the closet and wondering when I would need it.

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