Its been exactly 8 years (to the day) since I’ve moved to Sweden. What better way to celebrate than to resurrect a blog about Sweden that I haven’t updated in nearly 4 years?
Having felt like I had already written about everything, experienced everything, and not wanting to become repetitive and boring, I simply stopped. After so many years in a new place – it isn’t so new and exciting and romantic anymore. The quirky differences become normal. The food no longer tastes strange. The language is understandable. The traditions and holidays make sense. You adjust, little by little. You start to live life the best you can, even if it means making changes and stumbling along the way.
Being busy naturally played its role in my disappearance. The first year of my blogging, it was basically a full time job – I had no friends, no job, nothing to do – so, in 2012 with all of my free time I wrote 115 (long and detailed, I might add) blog entries. I knew I could never live up to that, so 40 posts in 2013 seemed a lot more reasonable and maintainable. It dwindled down to 13 posts in 2014 having been so concentrated on the last of my Swedish studies, and then in 2015 I got admitted into dental assistant school and suddenly 11 posts seemed like a lot. I don’t even count the two last half-hearted attempts in 2016. Despite a 4 year hiatus, I still have people reading old content, leaving comments, and even subscribing from time to time. Which must mean that Something Swedish is still relevant, even if I was feeling obsolete and uninspired.
So, I decided to change my perspective and take back something I loved doing. It’s important to look back and see how far you’ve come and how much you have managed to achieve (This goes for everyone, always). It’s not bragging, its taking inventory (and hopefully, inspiring others that are in the beginning of their journey). It’s easy to let the years go by and think you are standing still.
Since moving to Sweden 8 years ago I have…
…gone through Svenska för invandare (SFI) /Svenska som Andra Språk (SAS)/Svenska 1+2 (high school level Swedish) (2012-2015)
…landed multiple part-time jobs – despite my lacking grasp of the Swedish language – such as English tutor, restaurant employee, preschool/kindergarten substitute teacher, text translator, transcriber, voice actor – moving to a new country is the perfect place to try new things! (2013-2015)
…moved into our first (full-sized) apartment together and made it a home
…become a Swedish citizen (dual citizenship) (2015 – on my 30th birthday, how serendipitous!)
…gotten accepted into dental assistant school (finally using the Swedish language instead of just studying it, managing to keep up with a class of native speakers) (2015)
…finished my 1.5 year dental assistant education (dec 2016)
…gotten my first full-time job – needing to interact with coworkers and patients in proper and professional Swedish all day, every day. This improved my confidence and Swedish skills tremendously, both verbal and written. (2017)
…voted for the first time in Sweden elections (2018)
…been promoted to clinic coordinator/manager (2018)
…bought a house in the country-side to fix up and eventually spend weekends and summers (2019)
Within this time and throughout these milestones I have…
…met new people and made new friends (fellow expats and Swedes alike)
…become somewhat fluent in a second language
…acclimated to the Swedish work force
…learned Swedish laws
…eaten a ton of Swedish food…and learned how to cook some of it
…been to (and understood…and enjoyed!) Swedish concerts, theater, inspirational speakers, stand-up comedy
…celebrated Swedish holidays and embraced new traditions
…traveled to Denmark, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and Cyprus (all of which I would’ve probably never gone to if I hadn’t moved here)
It’s been quite a journey. A journey that I want to share with those about to embark on journeys of their own, those preparing a first visit or a picking up and moving, those curious because they are in a long distance relationships with someone Swedish, those with distant family from Sweden, those who accepted a job offer in a country they know nothing about, those who simply like to travel for the sake of seeing the world, those who are already here and can’t seem to fit in or figure it out.
I hope those who read this know that they aren’t alone, and it does get better. Moving to a new country (or state or town, for that matter) isn’t the easiest – but there are success stories to be inspired by (much bigger than my own). Open your mind and change your perspective – you can do it! Take the risk, you can learn something. The struggle only makes you stronger. No matter how bad your accent is or how much you dislike the taste of pickled herring or how you wish alcohol was sold in supermarkets or how stupid you think it is to dance like a frog on midsummer – there’s hope for you yet! You don’t have to like or enjoy every aspect of a place in order to find YOUR place there.
Take a step back and think about all YOU have achieved, how long you have come, what you want to do and how to make it become a reality. It’s easy to get stuck on being homesick and missing the way things were or the people you love, but if you never embrace your new life – it will never embrace you back.