Something Swedish


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Being an American in Sweden

At ten o’clock this morning (4am EST)  Air-force One landed on Swedish soil, that’s right – President Obama is in Sweden. I know because we watched it in class for almost an hour, yes, it’s THAT big of a deal here. Granted, it IS civics class which discusses domestic and international politics, so it was pretty relevant, but I was still surprised. Over the past week or so it has been impossible to turn on the radio or open a newspaper without hearing or reading about this jam packed 24 hour (completely televised) visit. Before I delve into the details on Obama in Sweden, I figured this gives a relevant transition into how it feels to be an American in Sweden – or at least a few broad one side observations that I hope don’t offend anyone, but just came to mind:

First off let me point out that we are few and far between, unless you are working at an International school. Keep in mind that Sweden accepts a large amount of immigrants and refugees, so the ratio is not too surprising. Outside of native English speaking teachers recruited to Sweden, I’ve met 5  Americans in two years (one in passing, one moved back, one being my old boss, one in my current class and one a friend from school & the blog I don’t see often enough), plus a few Swedes that have lived in the US for a long time. Compared to the large groups of people from other countries bonding during class breaks (often in their own languages), sometimes it can feel a bit lonely. Not to say that people aren’t friendly and welcoming, but cliques are natural. I’m guilty of it -  hanging out with a mix of Americans, Brits, a New Zealander and a Canadian. Oh, and Swedes.

For the most part I want to say Swedes like, or are at least impartial to the U.S. The bigger happenings in America are often reported here, which is an upside of being an American in Sweden – being in the know. Someone in class today asked why it was such a big deal that president Obama is here in Sweden, knowing that if it was a president from any other country it wouldn’t have been as important or such a big deal. As much as I hate that many Americans seem to think that the U.S is the center of the world or know little to nothing about other countries, (I’ve been asked if Swedish is really a real language and told that I can drive a car from NYC to Sweden instead of fly) it’s true that America gets a lot of attention world wide, at least in Sweden. It’s not that the world cares so much about America, but one way to look at it is that the European Union and the United States are two sides of a coin – large and powerful with many smaller parts (countries / states). Countries in Europe, to me, are like states in the U.S. – different cultures, languages (Dialects, anyway), economies, politics. News is no more reported about all European countries combined than it is about the U.S.

In almost all of the classes I’ve been in and many casual conversations I’ve taken part of, America has been brought up in discussion in one way or another, sometimes more relevantly than others, sometimes with more or less hostility than others – all with me feeling awkward wanting the conversation to change (I’ve never been a fan of politics). Being the only American in a room when the super power gets brought up is a lot of pressure; either you’ve got to have an opinion, your political views are assumed, or thankfully sometimes you aren’t put on the spot but you are anxiously waiting for it to happen anyway.

Sometimes the conversations are welcomed and pleasant, especially depending on how much you enjoy talking about politics and the like. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to talk about where you are from, your opinions, and find out that people are interested in something you care about or are invested in. Sometimes it’s not even politics, which is even better.

Oh, and don’t be surprised to see Yankees baseball caps here and there -  unlike I originally thought, this does not mean they are from, or have ever been to the U.S.

I’m constantly reminded of common advice most Americans have heard at least once in their life, “When traveling abroad, say you’re from Canada.” You’re never sure how people will respond to you, what they will ask you, or what they will assume about you just because the country you come from has gotten involved in a few too many things. Oh, and sometimes being “American” automatically means being a Texan, the southern accent being a favorite to use when quoting Americans. Other stereotypes: being loud, prude, rude, and good tippers.

It’s been interesting hearing so many outside views of my home country, sometimes as if I’m not even in the room, being offended, enlightened or amused. As an immigrant, I get to learn about not only Sweden, but so many other cultures through my fellow classmates, all of whom seem to have a different opinion about something that is happening, or has in the past happened in America. I’ve heard conspiracy theories, admiration, confusion, hatred, respect, and just plain interest in current events. On the other hand, some people don’t even know who Obama is, let alone anything concerning news in the U.S.A., maybe with the acceptation of something that effects Sweden or their homeland.

Most of the time though, I’m met with positive reactions, “Oh! Where in the U.S are you from!?” Thankfully I’m from NYC, which always opens up the conversation of “Really? I’ve always wanted to go there” or “It must be really different here” or “Oh! I’ve been there!” Which are all great ice breakers.

All and all, it’s nice to live somewhere that isn’t too different from living in America, unlike if I moved somewhere where I couldn’t buy my meat already slaughtered and prepackaged, or where technology wasn’t so advanced, or where English isn’t understood or spoken by the majority of the population.

Maybe this deserves it’s own post – more on Obama’s visit tomorrow instead.


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All About Working in Sweden

A few weeks ago I managed to find two part time jobs (Actually, one found me)! Not only are they in a new country with me speaking a new language, but also in fields where I have little to no experience – a restaurant and a preschool. Read about my job hunt Here.

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Snack Time (Mellanmål) with Name Tags

Lärare Vikarie (Substitute Teacher): I’ve taught children before as an English tutor, but never ages 2-5, and certainly never in Swedish. It’s fun to play with the kids, help them build and figure out puzzles and read to them in Swedish, even if I sometimes struggle to understand (sometimes it’s simply baby talk). It’s great practice for the language, I pick up a few new words each time I am there.

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Hair up. Rings off. Hat, Apron, and Smile On!

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             Språk Praktik (Language Practice):

More often I am at my other part time job, which is more like an internship to train my Swedish in a workplace. (Explained below) While I do a lot of what a normal worker would in the restaurant such as working the cash register, serving and preparing food and cleaning, I work less hours each shift and focus on improving my language by interacting with customers and co-workers in Swedish. This helps me become more comfortable with conversations and descriptions.

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          About Working in Sweden

It feels great to finally be part of the work force again, socializing with new people, doing different things, and learning something new every day. Expats tend to get in a funk somewhere along the way, but once working is back in the equation it helps a lot.

When you start looking for work in a new country you have to be open to try new jobs or career paths; even if you have experience, education, and comfort doing something else. It’s about adapting to a new environment, training your new language, getting your foot in the door, networking, and picking up new skills along the way.

Remember:

You never know what you will find, so just go out there and try.
Don’t be picky – Any Experience is Good Experience.
Don’t expect to (or count on) finding a job within your first six months – learning the language is priority and makes everything easier.
Don’t get easily discouraged, it’s hard for everyone.
Networking is super important, especially when you don’t have any experience or references in your new country.
Be competitive – Take initiative and be persistent.

So, What are Some Differences of Working in Sweden?

Swedish Resume: Swedes are very humble and modest, especially when it comes to work experience, responsibilities and achievements on a resume. Unlike in the USA it is considered rude and pushy if you start to list every one of your responsibilities and show off that you were the best at everything. The Swedish resume is much simpler with fewer and shorter bullet points for each job description.  Most important thing about your resume is the cover letter and when you get called in for an interview remember that being punctual in Sweden is a must.

Payday (Lönedag): Instead of weekly or bi weekly paychecks, Sweden revolves around it’s monthly payday – The 25th. This method really shapes the way things function from paying bills to going to the movies. A lot of people are pretty much broke by the 20th and life seems to slow down, it’s especially noticeable in restaurants when less people spend money to eat out. It’s a whole different way of budgeting and handling money, after the bills are paid off by the 27th, anything goes for a couple of weeks – it’s like the town comes back to life. I’ve heard very positive things from Swedish workers who love being paid a bigger sum on one day instead of a little at a time, they say it is easier to budget and save. Payday is a big deal here in Sweden, something to adjust to – it does feel like more of a celebration!

Language Competence: One of the big complaints about Sweden and finding a job here is that your expected to have very good Swedish to do anything at all. Even if you are applying to a cleaning or maintenance job where speaking, reading, and writing is not required, your Swedish has to be much better than what most people can manage within their first year or two of studying. The thing that aggravates people about this is that Sweden has the best English fluency in Europe, but being able to speak English doesn’t help in most cases. Great Swedish is usually required. In fact, it means very little that you are fluent in English in Sweden since so many people are, meaning English is not the huge asset that many people think it will be when they move here.

Breaks: Something that many non-Swedes notice and need to adjust to is how often the Swedish workplace allows/expects breaks. Fika is a very strong tradition here, and is not only limited to after work, but during it as well. Several times. When I volunteered at a school last year I couldn’t wrap my head around the staff and kids having 15 minute fika breaks other than lunch time. When I am in Svenska Som Andra Språk a two hour class has a 15 minute break, which seems unnecessary to me since I’ve never had such breaks unless the class was four hours long.

Minimum Wage: There is no national minimum wage in Sweden, but it is instead agreed upon between the different unions (Fackit…pronounced like “fuck it”), which are very important and active in the Swedish Labor market. Wage is often dependent on age brackets, experience, and what time the shift is (Night/Weekend vs Daytime/Weekday).

Paid Vacations: After being employed for a full year  at one location all employees are entitled to five-weeks of paid vacation, by law. July has always been a very popular and expected time for this vacation leave, and many businesses close during the month. Lately, vacation weeks have been more spread out over the year to decrease downtime of companies. Vacation time can also be accumulated for every year you work at a company for a total of ten weeks. In comparison: The U.S. has  ZERO paid vacation time on a legal federal level – any paid vacation you receive is directly from your employer/Union agreement.

Paid Sick Leave: Your employer must pay about 80% of your salary for 13 days sick leave a year after the first sick day which doesn’t count (no payment) because it is considered to be a “waiting period.” You must show a doctors note if you are on sick leave for more than seven consecutive days.

Paid Parental Leave: Stay home with your newborn child for 480 paid workdays without worrying about losing your job. This time is offered to both parents and is often split between both mother and father for better equality. Must be employed for at least one year. In comparison:

Paid Home with Sick Child: There’s even a special verb for this which comes from “Vård av barn” which means care of child, which is “Vab.” Where is Inga? Hon vabbar idag = Shes home with her sick kid today. If your sick child is under 12 years old and you take off of work to take care of them, there is also a type of paid “Temporary Parental Leave” that can be applied for which is paid by your employer and the state.

Arbetsförmedlingen (Job Center): This is a really helpful tool for anyone new to Sweden (with a personnummer) who doesn’t know how to get started. It could be compared to the U.S.Unemployment Office, but with a lot more to offer, easier to maneuver, and no negative connotation. It is considered to be a “Placement service” centered around helping you find a way into the workforce through meetings, workshops, or classes. You are given a case worker, can schedule a translator if needed, can place your resume on their website, search though jobs according to location or career, print helpful resources and forms, attend vocational training programs, receive help to set up your own business, go to nationwide recruitment meetings and job fairs, translate documents such as school degrees into Swedish equivalents, find information about what level of education is needed for which careers, research which careers have a good future prognosis all around Sweden, and more. Website Here. Remember that only 1/3 of available jobs are listed on Arbetsförmelingen, so use other means such as handing out resumes and trying different job searching websites.

Praktik, Step In Jobs, New Start Jobs: These are the best ways to get your foot in the door. Set up by Arbetsförmedlingen for people who are new to the country or have just graduated high school, been unemployed, or have been in prison.These ease you into a job by providing a percentage of your paycheck or a stipend which increases the chances of getting a job with a business that is unsure of your skills, language, or if they can afford another worker.

Instegsjobb: Arbetsförmedlingen can pay up to 80% of your paycheck. Only available if you arrived in Sweden less than three years ago from a non-EU country and currently studying SFI (NOT SAS).  If you work less than 51% this set up can last up to two years, if more than 50% then only 6 months.

Nystartsjobb: Arbetsförmedlingen pays 32% or 64% of your your paycheck depending on age. If you arrived to Sweden less than three years ago, have been unemployed for 6-15 months (depending on age), or were in prison for at least one year. Can last 1 – 5 years depending on age and other factors.

Praktik: If you are unemployed and collecting unemployment benefits Arbetsförmedlingen can set you up with an obligatory praktik that they find for you or you can find one on your own. A praktik lasts 3 to 6 months and provides a daily stipend instead of a hourly wage, ranging from 100kr/day ($15) to 680kr/day ($100) depending on full time or part time hours and weather or not you are collecting unemployment benefits. Suggesting that you are looking for a praktik when our job searching is a great way to get started since the business owner is getting extra help for free.


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Shopping in Swedish Supermarkets

When you move to a new country it isn’t the huge cultural differences that catch you off guard, but the day-to-day tasks that are seemingly the same but secretly aren’t. Food shopping in Sweden seemed easy enough whenever I tagged along during my short visits, never paying close attention to the details, but when I started solo shopping I started to notice differences.

These are observations and experiences beyond the obvious language barriers, currency/prices, and metric differences that I wrote about here when I first arrived.

Tubes: In Sweden, tubes aren’t only for toothpaste, apparently. When you walk around the supermarket you will find tubes everywhere. Mayonnaise, tomato paste, but most of all caviar and many many different flavors of cheeses! These soft cheeses have flavors ranging from ham, turkey, shrimp, lobster, bacon, reindeer meat, to mushroom or onion.  Even the tubed caviar has started to branch out into new flavors such as caviar mixed with cheese, dill, or even diced up boiled egg! You can spend a lot of time browsing these tubes! Seems strange to me, but completely normal in Sweden!

Quantity: Unlike in my hometown you will never see anyone shopping for a months worth of food in a single trip. Where as people often take hours in the supermarket, shopping in bulk, with food piled high in the cart, creating long lines and general chaos, it has been the exact opposite experience in Sweden. In the five months that I have lived here I have only seen the large push carts used a few times, and never even half full, let alone filled to the brim. Most use the small hand baskets, (or none at all) only walking out with one or two bags of food. (This is based off of living near the center of a small town, which to me is similar to living back in Queens, NY. I’m sure some things vary if you live in the country or a large city.)

Frequency: Shopping for less at a time means more trips to the supermarket. Instead of going two or three times a month, I now go food shopping at least two or three times a week. At first I thought this was a pretty annoying inconvenience, but I have grown to enjoy it. Each trip is quick and easy.

Freshness: Part of the reason shopping this way makes sense in Sweden is that the food does not last as long. If you buy vegetables, fruit, or bread, do not expect them to last for weeks. This took a long time for me to adjust to, constantly buying too much food only to have to throw it away later in the week. The amount of preservatives is much lower, the fruit ripens faster and goes bad faster. We buy our bananas green and we look for the firmer peaches, avocados, mangos, and nectarines. The next day or two they will be ready to eat, unlike the agonizingly slow week I used to wait for my fruit to ripen, which then stays ripe and ready to eat for at least a week or two- which I now see is just far too long. Our bread must be freshly baked; I’ve never paid such close attention the the best before date before – it turns out that mold forms quite quickly, who knew? Until now I never understood why my husband was scared of American bread after seeing it stay fresh for weeks. I have thrown out way too many loafs of bread and far too much fruit by refusing to believe things here don’t last as long as back home. Buy only what you need for those few days, then its back to the store for more.

Look for the Green Keyhole: No, that was not a riddle. Sweden marks healthier food alternatives, lower fat and/or higher fiber, with a green keyhole on the packaging (since 1989).  How convenient, too bad I didn’t know about it for a long time. Use it.

Lösgodis: On the other side of being health conscious, a staple in every Swedish supermarket is the colorful wall of sweet and salty lose candy. This sets Grocery shopping in Sweden apart from anywhere else. More details about the Swedish candy craze here.

Bag it: In Sweden the line doesn’t stop moving because the cashier needs to hold your hand. I haven’t been in, or ever heard of, a supermarket where the cashiers bag your groceries for you. It’s not their job, so don’t expect it. Instead there is a longer split conveyer belt to give each customer time and space to pack their bags. In New York most supermarkets bag the groceries for you, (or you will you find a youngster waiting at the end of the conveyer belt packing your bags for you in hopes of a tip). Many times only to be repacked by the customer afterwards because they are unsatisfied with how they were packed. Some stores have special “Bag your own” lines that some people use, but usually only when other lines are too long.  As an ex-cashier, I can say that bagging everyone’s groceries is a stressful waste of time, especially when there is a huge quantity and the customer sits back and watches instead of speeding it up by helping. I think Sweden has it right to have everyone pack their own groceries, it makes the line move faster and it can be packed the way the customer wants.

Bags: In Sweden you have to buy your grocery bags along with your purchase. Nice, quality, no-need-to-double-up, can-fit-a lot-of-stuff,  won’t-break, bags. Instead of paying the 2 Kronors for a bag you will sometimes see people use the free produce bags for smaller/lighter items and carry things like soda by hand. Many people use other bags that they have from other stores, or backpacks, or purses. So, it’s not completely odd to see cheese, milk, and chicken sticking out of someones purse.

Barcodes: In Sweden instead of your cashier helping you bag your groceries, we help our cashiers. Instead of carelessly piling your items on the conveyer belt, Swedes are more thoughtful and organized. No piling. No mess. Instead, it is common to try to place items with the barcode facing the scanner so that the cashier can swipe quickly and easier. This speeds up the line significantly and is appreciated by everyone.

Sssshhh: I can tell you first hand that in New York people love talking to the people ringing up their groceries. We know customers by name, what days of the week they came in, what they always buy, we knew about their family, their neighbors, and the latest gossip. Some customers even get on longer lines just to talk to their favorite cashier. Spending our work hours talking to and laughing with different people was the best part of the job, it kept our mind off the long hours of standing and repetitious work. I have never seen any of this in Sweden. One likely reason is because of the quantity and efficiency differences. Cashiers are often only ringing up a max of 20 items instead of 50-100 and spend much less time with each customer (especially with not having to bag or look for a barcode), so there is not as much time to make conversation. Another is that talking too much to customers slows down the line in itself, which wouldn’t be appreciated. In Sweden it is normal to smile and say hello, then continue to place your items on the belt and wait for the total. Everything is very friendly, but nothing beyond that. One stereo type of Swedes is that they are not great at small talk, which this truly showcases.

Cheese: Before I met my husband I never enjoyed cheese. When he came to New York he searched all of the local supermarkets for a decent selection, only to be disappointed time and time again. There is a very strong love of cheese in Sweden, from frukostsmorgas topping (Open breakfast sandwich) to evening crackers and cheese, so you will always find a huge selection.

What differences have you noticed in your new local supermarket?


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Never Stop Doing What You Love

Four months ago my husband urged me to keep doing what I love. Writing. He knew I was out of my element when I moved to Sweden and out of the groove. He suggested to start a blog. To keep me inspired, to keep my skills sharp, my mind alert, and my passion burning. It’s hard to get back into my old rhythm, but I know that I miss it and I need it.  This is to inspire myself and others – a reminder. Moving abroad turns your life upside down and inside out, it takes time to find yourself again, but never stop trying. Take the time and do it. Take your new life and use it as ammo, fuel, momentum.

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Life changes. Things get harder just because they are different. It doesn’t take much.
You’re not where you thought you would be. Time flies. People change.
Adjust.
Make the best of it. Find balance. Never Stop Doing What You Love.
Don’t say you’ll do it later. Or that you have more important things to do now.
Even if life is perfect and all the pieces aligned, don’t neglect your passions.
Sometimes we forget we have them.
Sometimes we adapt new ones and forget the ones we had.
Remember the way they made you feel.
To write. To read. To knit. To play an instrument. To throw a ball. To dance. To sing. To draw.
These things built you. Made you who you are today, wherever that might be now.
Sometimes we feel empty and can’t figure out why.
Life can be great. You love who you are with, where you are, and what you do.
Though something isn’t right.
It’s those passions you forgot about, pushed away and neglected. Priority elsewhere.
Bored, fading, and tired of waiting, they reach out to you and beg. Tugging on your sleeve.
Pick them up. Dust them off. And start again.
Don’t think it. Or say it. Or promise it. Or plan it.
Write. Read. Knit. Play. Dance. Sing. Draw.
Now. You haven’t forgotten how.
Only how they made you feel.
Complete. Calm. Skilled. Proud.


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Feeling at Home: Känna sig Hemma

I know today is a day to support the website black outs, but while I support it, instead of talking about that, which I assume will be a popular topic for today’s bloggers, I will carry on with my regular content.  Learn more about the SOPA/PIPA  black out here, here or here.

Everyone moves at some point, be it down the block, a few miles away, a different state, a different country. Every time you move you almost rediscover yourself, and in a way need to reinvent yourself. Its a fresh start, even if it’s a five minute walk away from where you were. Moving becomes more and more drastic the further the distance.Why? Even if you are not materialistic, the fact of the matter is you need to start over.

You go through your old stuff, find that a lot of it can be thrown or given away, not worth the hassle of bringing, doesn’t fit, too old, no longer your style or hobby. You organize while you pack, every box has a label and you know where everything is, it might be the most organized your belongings have been in years. You unpack into a new place, new space, new dimensions, new colors. You find where everything has a place. If you can’t make it fit you get rid of it. You are a master of your own domain, but that environment also makes the person. You create it the way you want it to look and feel, the flow of the furniture, the functionality of your belongings. The further you go usually means the less belongings you bring with you, so the less control you have. It’s not about being materialistic, its a comfort zone. Some people pack three suitcases for a 5 day trip, for flexibility, comfort, and security.

Home is where the heart is, I believe that completely. That’s why people are able to move around the world or across the country. Sometimes home is where the money or success is too, it depends what you already have, who you are with, what you need in life. Your “house” changes, not your home. Home is where you make it and it is what you make it to be. My home is now in Sweden, with someone I love, in a small apartment, with about a fourth of my belongings. For those of you that have moved to another country, what did you bring with you? What was important enough to bring and easy enough to leave behind? How many suitcases did you drag to the airport?

Once you’re there, how do you make it feel like home after you threw out or gave away (or left behind) a lot of your stuff? You shop. You decorate. Well, at least I do.  We started transforming the apartment to be more “ours.” We shopped at Ikea (Which is from Sweden for those who don’t know, and usually has a nice cafeteria with some Swedish food  if you are ever curious), we bought from nearby stores, we scouted thrift shops, and flea markets, trying to tastefully meld our styles.

Its also about which things you bring. Sentimental items, photographs, memorabilia, decorative touches, hobby supplies. Those are the items that make the place more your own, no matter where you are.

(Yes, that is my first NY souvenir, bought out of JFK Airport right before my  flight to Sweden)

Maybe this post is a sentimental follow up of yesterdays post about adjustment, or maybe it was triggered by a thoughtful gesture the hubby made. He didn’t only make a gesture. He made a cubby.  That’s right, my hubby made me a cubby! Apparently the word “cubby” doesn’t translate well into Swedish, so it threw him off when I said I needed a cubby and that I would go and shop for one. Cubby, short for cubby-hole, being a small space or enclosement used for storage, I suppose is not an often used term. I fondly remember having cubbies in elementary school for our jackets and belongings.

So, yesterday he arrives home from work with a bag from Clas Ohlson, a large Swedish chain that has a little bit of everything-household, in one hand and a large plank of wood in the other. Whats in the bag you might ask? A large hand saw, nails, and some ruler-leveling tool, of course! Before I knew it my husband transformed into a carpenter right before my eyes and build me the most perfect cubby ever! What do you do to save space or get organized? Apparently I love shelves and hanging things up!

It’s the little adjustments we make that makes a house feel more like home. Just like the adjustments you need to make in yourself to make your new life feel like home. Three small shelves has made my day and made me feel more comfortable, I can only imagine what it will feel like once I learn the language. What makes you feel more at home after you move?


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Adjustment: “Justering”

It’s official! I have been living in Sweden for exactly one month!

Reflecting upon this I think its appropriate to list some things that I have already, or need to in the future, adjust to. This applies to a few different things: being in a new country, being “on my own” for the first time, becoming a wife.

  • Language: I’m currently waiting to be allowed to take my SFI (Svenskundervisning för invandrare: Swedish for Immigrants) classes. Its easy to live and survive in Sweden without knowing the language. But why? I want to stop missing out on conversations, be able to socialize easily, grasp the culture better, and I don’t want to be “That ignorant American”
  • Money: I’m finally getting the hang of converting Kronor (SEK) (Krona is the singular, which translates to “crown”) to the equivalent amount in Dollars (USD), which is very helpful in understanding how much I’m spending on things, especially in relation to what I’m used to paying for them in NY. However, there is a step beyond this. I think I’m beginning to be less dependent on that relationship, I am learning the prices of things in correlation to other Swedish things instead of American equivalents. I’m getting the hang of judging if something is too expensive compared to Swedish prices of the object or if i can find it in another store for less.
  • Shopping: This is obviously directly related to money, plus some additional factors. Sweden has a 25% tax. Having said that, naturally things are in general more expensive than I’m used to. It’s a different economy which would of course mean that prices are different anywhere you travel. (I have read many forum threads of people complaining and crying about high prices which is so rude!) The tax is calculated into the price. I love this, but it did take some period of “Oh…right!” There is no surprise at the end when the cashier gives you the total. There is no calculating the wrong amount of money. A lot of Swedish stores charges for bags. I’m pretty sure there are a few areas in the U.S that has started doing this recently, but it was very strange to me at first. I think its great, actually, but I am still adjusting to remembering it. It is usually 2 Kronor for a (sturdy) plastic bag, that’s the equivalent to about a quarter (25 cents). Instead of using 4 bags, its easy to pack everything into 2, or use bags from other stores you already have on you. The thing is you have to remember to place the bag on the conveyer belt or you don’t get one. Or in other stores (like clothing stores) they ask if you would like to buy one. Which, while I have learned my numbers and I can understand how much I am paying at check out, I still have to ask what they said so I don’t miss out on a bag. Take a number. A lot of stores use the ticket system instead of waiting on line, it’s usually only enforced and used if the store is rather busy, but I am still not used to looking for the ticket machine.
  • Grocery Shopping: I’ve always enjoyed grocery shopping, more than shopping for clothes, even. However, I’ll be the first to admit that I did not do it that often, living at home meant I was not the one doing all the shopping. So yes, part of this adjustment is getting used to being the one who does a lot of the shopping (maybe most), which is part of being “on my own” and being a wife. The other part of this adjustment is cultural and the language boundary. Its aggravating not being able to recognize the food you are looking for, or looking at. Sometimes its the packaging that is not what I’m used to and sometimes I just can’t read or figure out the name because its in Swedish.
  • Cooking & Cleaning: No, its not an adjustment because cooking and cleaning is different in Sweden, I’m just doing more of it. So, part of my adjusting this month is keeping our apartment clean, doing laundry, dishes, and cooking. I actually do enjoy it, its pretty relaxing and keeps me busy and entertained since I am not currently working. Thankfully I have a great husband who helps with any of this whenever he can (Willingly, without being asked!) And who likes to cook. Score!
  • Co-Existing: I’ve never lived with anyone aside from my family.  It is going excellent  and I think we are both pretty easy to live with, but moving in with someone is always an adjustment!
  • Being Without: Its easy to get used to the things you do, the things you eat, and the things you buy and use on a daily basis. Some of those things don’t exist here or are very expensive, which is fine, I am not complaining, but it is worth mentioning along the lines of adjusting.
  • Missing Friends and Family: I think this goes without being said and doesn’t even need an explanation.

Over all its been a great month and it will only get better once the adjustments are easier to handle. One day at a time.

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