Tag archives for Love visa

9 Swedish Words that Should Be Incorporated into English Pronto, Immediately, Now

The English language has a lot of words… maybe even the most words of all the languages in the whole wide world. I can’t be totally sure of that because I haven’t counted myself, and even if I had, I probably still wouldn’t trust my count. I’m the kind of person who gets a headache and has to lie down if I think too hard about how Daylight Savings Time works.

Nonetheless, that’s what reputable sources (ahem OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY cough) tell me, and I’m sticking to it, despite claims to the contrary from certain Swedish acquaintances of mine (cough MY HUSBAND I really have to get some cough drops) that the Swedish language actually has more words than English.

Apparently Fredrik Lindström (Notable Expert on the Swedish Language) told him that the English language’s claim to having the most words was a myth. Having not seen the clip myself, I’m going to just keep on saying that English has the largest vocabulary in the world until Fredrik Lindström or Horace Engdahl (another Notable Expert on the Swedish Language) personally consent to an arm-wrestling match or convince me otherwise.

All the same, the English language could always stand to add a few more words to the list.

In the time that I’ve lived in Sweden, I have encountered some words that are just so amazingly perfect I want to buy them coffee, ask them out on a date, and then somewhere down the line ask them to spend the rest of their lives with me. And if they agreed—oh, how happy I would be!!

Marry me, Swedish. MARRY ME?!?! Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

Here’s the catch, though: it’s likely that no one outside of Sweden would understand my Swenglified English. Then everyone would think that I’m a stark raving lunatic (as usual), poke my eyes out and cast me out of society. (It’s happened before.)

My solution is, therefore, to spread my favorite and most useful Swedish words to the rest of the world so that I can keep using them and everyone will understand what I mean.

Ideally, of course, all the words that make me laugh (here and here) would make it on the list, too, but I’ve actually narrowed down the list to only the words that cover some concept that we don’t have a word for in English.

Biggest vocabulary or not, there’s always room for a few more words in the English language. Read more » >>

The Low Down on the Love Visa, Part 2

When I first told my family about the existence of the sambo visa, they were pretty amused and immediately started calling it “the loooooooove visa.” Of course, I cleared up any misunderstandings they might have by showing them this video.

Everyone who is granted a sambo visa is required to enroll immediately in samba lessons and travel in a roving samba-sambo pack. Obviously. Then you have to wrestle a drunken elk. (The winner gets to stay in Sweden.)

Now, I’m no immigration expert, but I get a lot of questions on my other blog, Transatlantic Sketches, about the visa process and what my experiences were. So here goes:

Read more » >>

The Skinny on the Sambo Visa, Part 1

If you or someone you love has been in a serious relationship with someone from another country, you are well aware of the dreaded V word: v-, v-, v-, VISA!!!!

I don’t know what kinds of conversations people from the same country have about the future, but the conversations between my boyfriend and I were dominated by questions like, When will we see each other next? When will we be able to live in the same place again? And where in the world will that be?

Enter the answer to all of your location-based problems: the sambo visa. Bless you, Sweden, for this contribution to international migration policy. May all countries take this as an example. (cough *USA!* cough)

Finally together and happy about it! Thank you Sweden for the sambo visa! Photos: Kate Wiseman

Read more » >>

The Great “Sweden is Socialist” Hoax

In the US, Sweden is often used as a symbol of all that is right or wrong in this world, depending on which side of the political spectrum you fall on.

Environmental sustainability paired with universal healthcare and a strong economy!” shout the progressives. “Doomed-to-fail socialism characterized by wanton hedonism, immorality, and midnight sun orgies!” cry the conservatives. “Meatballs! Loud noises!!” screams the confused guy in the corner.

Frankly, it’s a lot of talk, and usually from people who don’t know that much about Sweden and have never been here. But here’s some food for thought for those who want to have an opinion on the big “Sweden is Socialist” claim:

Have you considered the public restrooms situation?

To a casual observer, Sweden can look a lot like the socialist utopia it’s made out to be. Free university education, (mostly) free healthcare, five weeks of paid vacation, shared parental leave that allows you to actually participate in the first year of your child’s life… And even non-Swedes like me can reap many of the benefits of Swedish citizenship, thanks to the generous provisions of my love visa.

What I fail to understand, however, is the complete lack of public restrooms in any town in any venue where you might expect to see them. You have to resort to finding a larger coffee shop where you can walk in and put on a show of looking for your friend who’s probably right around the corner oh what do we have here it’s the bathroom I’ll pop in for just a second and check if she’s here ahhhhhhhhhhhh sweet relief.

It can’t just be me that’s doing this.

Photo by: four12 (CC BY NC ND)

So what am I missing here? Do people never have to go to the bathroom in this country? Do they run home every few hours to take care of their business, or are they really feeding coins into the nasty public bathrooms every time they want to be outside for the day?

Take the public library, for example. I have to pay 5 crowns to use a dirty, poorly-lit stall in the library. Not that it’s a lot of money. It’s the principle of the matter! You have this beautifully-designed, well-staffed library, and I would like to sit there for a couple of hours and read or work on my computer. But eventually the time will come, and I will have to, you know, pee. But I can’t unless I have a 5 crown coin… and then it’s a kind of disgusting experience.

The train station is another example. As you would expect, there are lots of people waiting and milling around. There are restaurants, coffee shops, and even a bookstore (in the Malmö train station at least). But the bathrooms are available only to paying customers.

Once you get on the train, you can use the bathroom—I guess once they’re sure that you’ve purchased a ticket, you’re entitled to the facilities. But what if you are a tourist and just passing though and have no change? Or an ordinary resident in Sweden who spent his/her last crown on the last bathroom? Where’s the justice?!?!

Oh, Sweden. You are a land of dreams: a feminist, environmentalist, strong-economy Utopia among Western nations. (Leaving aside the weather issue for the moment.) But if you were really a collective of the workers, you would have our basic needs more fully covered. Forget all the opportunities you provide for self-actualization and achievement. Where are the basic structures for my physical well-being?

The game is up, Sweden. The public bathroom situation has shown all of us who live here your true colors: you are so not Socialist.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

My first encounter with Sweden came in Italy, when I was a student at the University for Foreigners in Perugia. I started dating a Swede within the first couple of months, and my Italian roommates had some cautionary words for me.

Svedessi sono freddi. Cold, like their country. Just a little frightening.

The man on the right (my roommate Giuseppe) was responsible for the pearls of wisdom about Swedish people, but clearly we're coming from a very different perspective in any case.

I kept dating the Swede, though, and then I went back to the United States for my last year of college. I got used to fielding questions about Sweden and Swedish people, a country I had still only spent five days in.

No, they don’t have Swedish fish (American gummy candy). Yes, they are really quite blond, generally speaking. No, they’re not all crazy socialists (it’s a parliamentary democracy, duh). Yes, they are really good-looking.

I also got to see my own culture through foreign eyes for the first time: to see how different it is to need a car for life in the suburbs, to appreciate how warm and welcoming Americans are, to experience the joy of actually receiving service with a smile and the delight of unlimited soda refills.

My first trip to Sweden, my first Midsummer in Stockholm, my first encounter with herring.

After I graduated, I went to Sweden for two and a half months during the summer, just short of the 90 days I was allowed to stay in the country without a visa.

I fell in love with the warm summer days, the easy-going lifestyle, the fact that the whole country seemed to be on vacation, and the bicycles. I learned that waffles are a dessert item, not a breakfast food, and that the best way to eat them is covered in jam made of cloudberries, a sought-after yellow berry that grows only in the far north of Sweden.

I also brought parts of America with me, in the form of a 4th of July barbeque party, Mexican food nights, and real American pancakes with maple syrup.

Swedish-style dessert waffles at Skansen, an open air museum and zoo in Stockholm. Note the gooey yellow stuff on the waffle: that's the cloudberry jam!

Another summer ended, and I returned yet again to the United States. I worked in Washington, D.C. first as a waitress and then as an English language teacher at an international language school while applying to other jobs throughout the world. I was aiming for a job just about anywhere in Europe so that I could take a step closer to Simon and to Sweden.

It took awhile for me to figure out that I could actually apply for what my family jokingly referred to as “a love visa” to Sweden just on the basis of my relationship with my Swede. It seemed ludicrous at first. I can get a legitimate visa to Sweden just on the basis of “planning to marry or cohabit with a Swedish citizen?” This is clearly a land both inhabited and legislated by starry-eyed lovers.

I filed the application, and in the meantime, I got a job in Vienna, Austria. I moved there in January 2010, and about a week after I accepted a year-long position there as a project manager, my visa application to Sweden was accepted. Of course.

In May, after a few more months of shuttling back and forth between Vienna and Lund, I gave notice at my job and filed my residency papers for Sweden. In July, Simon and I drove halfway across the continent with a trunk full of my things, headed for the land of Vikings and meatballs, crayfish and Aquavit, long winters and long summer days, Maypole dances and government-mandated coffee breaks.

Two friendly Swedes illustrating the finer points of mushroom picking.

For the last seven months, I’ve had the opportunity to be immersed in Swedish culture as an American abroad, and it feels like I have a foot in both cultures.

My friends are almost all Swedish, and they’ve included me as part of their group and done their best to humor my questions and explain what’s going on. (Now tell me again, why does Lucia wear candles on her head? And why are the boys dressed like wizards?) I’ve been enrolled in my free government “Swedish for Immigrant” classes, where I meet other immigrants and learn about Swedish culture from a pedagogical perspective.

At the same time, I’ve been able to introduce my own cultural traditions within my group of friends, with carving pumpkins for Halloween, hosting our very own Thanksgiving, and baking chocolate chip cookies.

Eating Swedish meatballs in Sweden used to be an exotic and photo-worthy happening. No more.

Welcome to my expat blog at Sweden.se! Skål!