Some of you may be familiar with a post I wrote entitled, “Sweden’s Learning Curve.” This post was picked up by my editor at The Local – Sweden and published on their news website on February 11th, 2014 under the title “Sweden’s foreign professionals suffer a multicultural learning curve“. The resulting responses were overwhelming. Since that time, hundreds of comments, emails, and private messages from expats and Swedes were received across social media platforms. Nearly all of the stories were the same and the outpouring of frustration was resounding.
In my attempt to relate a variety of challenges which face foreign professionals seeking employment in Sweden – such as economy, networking issues, multicultural acceptance, and learning curves – the conversation quickly turned to one centering around the requirement of having to learn the Swedish language in order to obtain work in Sweden … any kind of work. Even the lowest paid jobs in Sweden, such as dish washing, appear to require fluent Swedish.
Much like myself, none of the respondents disputed the need to learn Swedish. Nearly all agreed that learning the language of your new country is just plain good manners as well as the avenue to integration. In fact, many explained that they were taking SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) and/or had completed a solid education in the language. Some of the respondents wrote that they were either fluent in Swedish, or very nearly fluent. Still they have not been able to obtain work, or even an interview, after months (and in many cases – years) of attempts and hundreds of CVs submitted.
Many immigrants have come to Sweden by choice. They explained that they were not looking for handouts but that in some way, they seem to have been swept under rug. A visit to Arbetsförmedlingen’s website, “Are you new in Sweden” serves as one example of this. The information contained in this link does not apply to those who have come to Sweden by choice. It is for refugees, and their families, only. What is an expat to do?Read More»
Somewhere along the line, while pursuing my new nearly full-time role as an expat, I begin to feel as if some very essential component of my own identity was being neglected. Almost forgotten, in fact. This can happen when one moves to a new country. The process of adapting and integrating is overwhelming and time consuming. Eventually, however, like peeling the layers of an onion, we come back to those things which are woven within the fabric of our soul.
Reclaiming my love for art, and the compulsion to once again start writing about it, I went in search of artistic beings in Gothenburg. This is how I met Samantha Hookway. We recently sat down together to discuss her evolution as an artist, and an expat, now living in Gothenburg, Sweden.Read More»
Hello. I’m an American. I come from the land of instant gratification. I didn’t realize this was the case, or even an issue, but herein lies another cultural hurdle I’ll have to jump. Here in Sweden, we wait. We wait and wait and wait…
We wait for the bus. We wait for our documents to come to us via snail mail. (That’s right, Sweden, one of the most sophisticated technological countries in the world works via snail mail.) We wait a month to get a paycheck. We wait for our paperwork to be filed (often this takes weeks). We wait in a queue at the store and advance only when our number has been called.Read More»