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.