Tag archives for Sambo visa

What a year!

My nails are painted and I did my hair… almost time to head to the party!

Holy moly, is it really almost 2012? I can’t believe what a year it has been.

A store in Malmö getting ready for the new year! Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

This time last year, I was in Washington DC, celebrating New Year’s with some of my best friends in the whole world. This year, I’m in Sweden, looking forward to a night of good food, drinks, fireworks, and of course—great friends.

As 2011 draws to a close, I’ve never been happier in my life. I have a great day job, I have this amazing job blogging, I’m married to the most fantastic person I’ve ever met, and I feel at home in my little corner of Sweden. It feels like a dream, but no—apparently it’s real. Read more » >>

When spontaneity culture meets scheduling culture

The part of Swedish culture that I had the hardest time getting used to was definitely the Swedish love for planning ahead, especially when it comes to social events.

Among my friends in the United States, if you want to make plans for the weekend, you can start discussing it on Wednesday. Any earlier than that and you’re kind of pushing it. It’s definitely not a problem to call around on Saturday morning to see what people feel like doing later that evening.

Not so much in Sweden.

Plans for the weekend (at least among my friends) are almost always made in advance, and if you want to throw a party, you need to give all your friends at least two weeks’ notice. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this, but they are far outnumbered by the people with their day calendars and a pencil within reach and ready for action.

Don’t believe me? Check out our condominium association’s laundry schedule. 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:

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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

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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!