Tag archives for Work

Walk to Work With Me in Stockholm

So far, weather has not stopped me from walking to work. Come along with me one morning as I walk to work…

I cross through Humlegård, a large city park dedicated to Carl Linneus  who is “known as the father of modern taxonomy and… one of the fathers of modern ecology.” There are several statues of Linneus in the park and the enormous National Library. The park was a royal garden established by Johan III, who grew fruit, spices, and hops. “Humlan” has been a public park and a popular spot to relax since 1869.

November is typically soggy and dark. The park’s unpaved paths are wet and gritty. Pedestrians bundled in black hustle past me talking on their mobile phones. Ridiculously fit (jealous much?) and ridiculously motivated joggers pass me wearing multiple spandex layers.

I cross Birger Jarlsgatan, a relatively wide city street with an island in the middle. The crossing lights aren’t coordinated so if I obey the lights then I get stuck waiting on the island which isn’t so pleasant in cold temperatures with whizzing cars really close. People “in the know” just walk against the lights. Well, when in Rome…

It’s important to note which part of the crosswalk is for bikes and which is for pedestrians, otherwise you either get run over by a cyclist or you get a warning bell from the cyclist or maybe even an expletive. It took me months to learn to remember to look which side I was supposed to walk on. The short white stripes are for the cyclists and wide white stripes are for the pedestrians.

(The National Library in Humlegården; the difference between pedestrian and cyclist paths.)

National Library crosswalk

Once across Birger Jarlsgatan, I enter the walking tunnel I showed in a picture in a previous post. Here there is also some confusion about the whole walker vs. cyclist thing because they switch back and forth which side they want the walkers on and, to make matters more confusing, the paint establishing which is for which has worn off. (I suspect there is someone up in a window with binoculars who must get a kick out of all the confusion…) My strategy is to follow the people in front of me and stay to the side they choose. It’s like football—they are my blockers, clearing the way for me to carry the football into the end zone (or at least get to work in one piece.)

(The entrance to the tunnel in between 2 staircases; the tunnel itself.)

tunnel entrance tunnel

On the other end of the tunnel, which reader Monica, and I agreed looks like the famous Sasquach tunnel from the “Six Million Dollar Man” TV show, I come out at Sveavägen, a very busy street. I am on the backside of Högtorget, a popular shopping district. The tunnel disgorges people right near a back entrance to the subway and most people seem to be going towards the tunnel so it is always a fight upstream to get to Sveavägen. Plus, the walkers and cyclists switch sides again, just for yucks and giggles.

There is heavy construction at that intersection right now and it’s easy to miss the brass plaque in the paving stone walkway that commemorates the spot where Prime Minister Olaf Palme was assassinated in 1986. It was a watershed moment for Sweden and you can read more about that on the Internet if you like.

(The Olaf Palme commemorative plaque (with construction dust)…It says “On this spot Sweden’s Prime Minister Olaf Palme was murdered on the 28th of February, 1986.”; this sidewalk is better-marked about who should be where…)

Palme memorial sidewalk marks

I cross Sveavägen and now I’m on Olaf Palmes Gata (I guess he got the whole street named for him after he died.). Among other stores, I pass an electronics store, a nutrition store, an Asian speciality market and a Thai travel specialist. Right in there is the most amazing smelling bakery I have ever passed. I have not gone in because I can’t eat gluten anyway. I am afraid to ask if they have anything gluten free because then I would go in there every day. It’s a tiny, tiny place and you can see the bakers doing their thing. The cinammon buns…oh, don’t get me even started!

Pedestrians don’t tend to stick to the right so there’s lots of awkward moments where I nearly crash into people. I have tried to learn to stop saying “sorry” all the time because it outs me as American immediately and because Swedes don’t usually acknowledge this kind of thing. They wordlessly keep going, even if the fault is theirs. They aren’t meaning to be rude, I don’t think, it’s just the culture.

I pass Drottningatan, a pedestrian-only street (for many blocks, anyway) marked by two stone lions that must also function as a physical bar to drivers who try to turn onto Drottningatan. Early in the morning, the shops aren’t open but on my way home, Drottningatan is packed with shoppers and don’t even ask me about weekends!

I pass an antique bookseller that seems to also sell used books. They have a bin outside selling used thriller for 10 crowns ($1.50).

Left turn up an alleyway gets me to Kungsgatan where I turn right. I cross busy Vasagatan and sometimes have to fight my way through people milling outside the hotel on the corner. If I’m in a bad mood I think, why can’t these people see that they are blocking the sidewalk? It’s a mystery ho come people just stop in the middle of sidewalks and don’t notice the people forced to move around them.

(Sveavägen and the shortcut through the alley)

sveagatan alley

I cross Kungsbron (King’s bridge)–not my favorite part of the walk. There are two parts to the bridge. First I pass over all the trains coming and going to Central Station on the tracks below and then I cross over water between the islands that according to the map is called Klarasjö (Clear Lake) but which looks like a river and is really just part of the archipelgo water flowing between the islands of Stockholm. The reason that it’s not my favorite part of the walk is that it’s usually cold and windy on the bridge druign the winter. Sometimes it’s icy and there is lots of dark sand spread on the sidewalk to keep it from being too slippery. Also, one has to cross a number of on and off ramps leading to the freeway. But I do like looking down at the water.

(View from the two parts of Kungsbron…One through the safety fence on the bridge and one from where the bridge crosses the water, connecting two Stockholm islands.)

trains river

The bridge leads to Kingsholmen, the district where I work. The whole walk I have been playing zip up my jacket, unzip my jacket. The November temperatures have been all over the place and I find it challenging to have the right coat. I am either too cold or too hot. And the moment I enter the ground floor of my office building, I have to immediately take off my scarf, coat, etc. or else I will be a sweaty mess by the time I make it to my desk. Sometimes I am anyway.

In a way, I look forward to colder temperatures so that my jacket will not be too warm!


Swedes and Bodies

Swedes have a reputation for being more comfortable with their bodies and sexuality. I find that to be true. Here are three of my experiences:

The Locker Room
There’s a gym on the first floor of the office building I work in and so consequently I see a good percentage of my female co-workers in the locker room. Sometimes we have just attended the same yoga class. The locker room is quite small and everyone changes out in the open. The two showers have no curtains and offer no discretion. The door to the locker room is worrisome because if anyone opens it very wide, not only will the whole gym see see naked women but there is a straight line of sight to the street through the  glass front wall of the gym. Read more » >>

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:

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!

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.

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.

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.

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


How to find a job in Sweden from abroad

If you want to live in Sweden and you’re not an EU or Swiss citizen, you’ve got basically three options: one, study; two, have a lasting and genuine relationship with someone else who has permission to live in Sweden; or three, find a job.

Choosing to study in Sweden is probably the one you have the most control over; the second is a little more up to fate. And then there’s the third option.

Finding a job in Sweden is tough, especially since the EU has certain protectionist laws that make it difficult for European countries to hire non-Europeans. (This does not necessarily apply to international companies, which are free to transfer employees throughout the organization.)

I get questions about searching for a job in Sweden all the time, so I thought I’d share some of my experiences as well as a letter from a blog reader. Read more » >>

Brief Update from Southern Sweden

My proper blog post is going up tomorrow, but I just had to share this story and video with you.

I know that North America is currently besieged by a nasty heat wave, but here in Skåne (the southernmost state of Sweden), we’ve been enduring a prolonged cold snap. Plummeting temperatures, wind, miserable amounts of rain, even a little hail here and there—all of a sudden, I realized that July is almost over, and then it will be August, and then it’s the fall, which means IT’S ALMOST WINTER AGAIN. Ahhhhh!!!

(Don’t mind me, I’m just a little traumatized from last year.)

Well, we FINALLY got some sunshine yesterday, and it was warm enough to wear sandals again, so life is good. I worked until about 7:30 last night in Malmö, and just as I was closing up the office around 8:00, I heard what sounded like an accordion being played in close proximity. Is there a radio in here? I wondered, and took another look through the office. I couldn’t find anything, so I locked up, and then it started again.

I crossed the street, looked over the edge into the canal, and there it was! An evening canal boat full of guests, drinking beer and wine, just cruising through Malmö to the sweet music of an old man and his accordion- and guitar-playing friends.

Check it out!

How awesome is that? When I saw this, I thought: Now this is Sweden. What a great way to spend a summer evening in Malmö.

If you can’t watch the video right now (not that you would be reading blogs at work or anything… right??), here’s a photo.

A lovely evening in Malmö. Photo: Kate Wiseman

I hope you are enjoying summer wherever you are—stay cool, keep warm, whatever it takes!