Tag archives for Swedish

Cultural Training on Both Sides of the Pond


Dalahäst. Photo by: Cecilia Larsson/imagebank.sweden.se


I recently enjoyed a gig as a consulting “American/Swedish Experience” expert.

I know, right? I’m all that. Plus a bag of chips.

An independent cultural trainer in Boston, Massachusetts contacted me. She was working for a relocation company who helps corporate clients who have relocated abroad. She had a new client–a Swedish family consisting of two teenage sons, a mother, and the father who had taken a job in Boston. The family moved from Southern Sweden to Boston in August. The large pharmaceutical company he worked for invested in cultural training for the family. Companies understand that they need to support the whole family of expats because if the family isn’t happy in the new situation, then the new employee is going to have a harder time of it.

For the record, even though I came to Sweden with a job offer in hand, I did not have any of this cultural training. Everyone’s arrangement is different and I suppose it also depends on the size of the company. Read more » >>

Experiencing Expat Self-Doubt

Do you ever doubt what you know to be true?

Sure, you do. You’re human.

I think when you’re far from your comfort zone and living in a foreign country, you doubt yourself even more.

I thought I’d share with you something that happened to me back in June. My family was visiting and we took the blue line (in the Stockholm subway) a few times back and forth around Stockholm. Then we were up in Uppsala a few days then, back to the blue line, crossing over from the train to the subway at Central Station.

Now, this particular exchange in Central Station is a little hectic, the hallways filled with travelers going in every direction, eternal construction, mass confusion. But we were old pro’s by that time, or at least I was trying to show that I was an old pro in the Stockholm subway. These were my guests and I was demonstrating that I had everything “under control.” Read more » >>

Autumn in Stockholm…“Winter is Coming”

Stockholm City Hal

Stockholm City Hall. Photo by: Anna Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se


It’s gorgeous in Stockholm these days. It isn’t necessarily sunny–more often than not the sky is cloudy, almost gray. Sometimes there’s rain. But the air feels crisp and clean and the suggestion of winter is definitely here.

I like it.

I grew up on the East coast of the US where there are defined seasons but I spent the last 25 years living in Northern California where the seasons were less distinct. So I recognize the arrival of Fall as something I missed out on for a long time.

I arrived in Sweden in late November of 2011 so this is my first Swedish Autumn.

I like it. Read more » >>

Reason number 537 to learn Swedish

Here is something that most people know about me: I am the least sneaky person on this planet. I have no poker face. I can’t hide my emotions. I can’t cross a room without bumping into a chair or knocking something over. Not sneaky.

But now I’m on vacation in Italy, and I can speak Swedish. Holy moly, I have gone from speaking the most easily identifiable language ever (American English) to communicating in a secret language all of my own (shared with just 9 million people or so). I might as well be speaking Slytherin. A RIDDLE WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY INSIDE AN ENIGMA, I TELL YOU. And the key is Swedish.

My level of sneakiness: without Swedish. Photo: Simon Reuterswärd

Read more » >>

Stress Less, Speak More: 15 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of Saturday’s post, where you can read Tips 1-7 for learning a language!

Swedish is not a language many people study just for the heck of it. Romance languages, German, Chinese or Japanese—not too out of the ordinary. But Swedish? Not so much.

Nonetheless, when in Rome…

For expats and all language learners, here are my top 15 tips for kick-starting your language learning, even when it’s rough going, even if you’re shy, even if you think you can’t.

8.   Be brave!

Learning a language is not for the faint of heart. It’s important to be kind to yourself during this process by taking breaks when you need them, allowing yourself to be imperfect, whining about how difficult it is (we’ve all been there!).

As soon as you’ve gotten that out of your system, though, you have to be brave! You have to get out there, you have to talk to people, you have to let yourself be vulnerable. Above all, do not allow yourself to be shy.

Shyness is the language killer. Don’t kid yourself that doing an endless number of grammar exercises is going to result in your waking up one day and suddenly being fluent! You have to talk.

I’ve gotten pretty good with my Swedish, but there are still times when I suddenly feel shy or nervous for some reason. When that happens, I try to trick myself into being brave. For example, I’m the oldest of three girls, and I am very protective of my two little sisters. (Not that they’re little, really, but I will think of them that way for the rest of my life.)

If I tell myself before I go into a shop that I’m going to do something for them, I am automatically 5 times more courageous and more determined than I would be on my own. It’s not me that wants the coffee, it’s my sister! For some reason, creating a scenario like that pushes me out of my own shell and gives me that extra edge that I need.

Every now and then, you’ve got to take a break and maybe even have a delicious fika to recharge your brain. Photo: Kate Wiseman

9.   Take breaks when you need them. Read more » >>