Something has happened to my ability to care for foliage. I don’t know how or why this happened but I can say to you, with the greatest confidence, that if there is a plant you hate you must bring it to my house. I will care for it and love it until its little shiny green leaves turn brown and wilt. Its flowers will drop off. Its soil will sour. I will return it to you, in no time at all, a shadow of its former self. I will present you with a stick.
I never used to have this problem. It’s very upsetting because I love plants and flowers and I’ve always done well with horticulture. For all of my life, I had lush, green, beautiful plants in my home. I had gardens of lilacs, iris, peony, strawberries, raspberries, flowering trees and other earthly delights in my yard. A year ago, I watched as friends and family carted off my big beautiful plants as I prepared to move to Sweden.
Perhaps this is payback from the gardening world. I gave away my plants and I am now poison to them.
My guy, believing that I could handle the responsibility for caring of plants, presented me with gorgeous lemon trees, orange trees, olive trees, and beautiful potted beauties. I was delighted. I loved them. And I killed them off… one by one. He finds this immensely entertaining and can not keep from smiling each time I mention the subject.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»
There are some things you have to give up. There are some things you absolutely will not give up. When I moved to Gothenburg, I knew there were going to be sacrifices which would have to be made. I knew I’d no longer enjoy International Coffee creamer in my morning/afternoon/evening coffee. I’d miss those wild New England thunderstorms. And lord knows, I would probably rarely, if ever, see a dirty martini made the way my favorite bartender in Connecticut makes it. (Sweden just doesn’t understand the dirty martini.)
In place of these sacrifices, I gained other things:
- Two beautiful Swedish kittens. They are my joy.
- Heart shaped ice cubes in a plastic bag. Brilliant! Love them. (Seriously, you fill a shape separated plastic bag with water and freeze it. You can get a variety of shapes so your cubes are custom made.)
- Long long summer days and beautiful Scandinavian skies.
- Herring, which I grant you, took a bit of getting used to … but now I couldn’t live without.
- And one of the best things. Fika!
But still, there are those things which you simply can’t live without. For me, it’s bagels. It’s almost impossible to find bagels in Gothenburg. Who would have thought? Aren’t bagels international?
There were times when my guy would literally traverse the city looking for bagels for me. Yup, he’s a nice guy. For weeks, we hunted for bagels. Finally, when we discovered the market where we can buy them (it’s truly a hit or miss situation), they aren’t those wonderful NY style bagels but a bit heavier. A bit doughier. No matter … beggars can’t be choosers. Right?
At this point, I’m very happy to have what I have. My bagels, albeit a bit substandard to what I was used to, are now adorned with Philly cream cheese (yes, they have that here), tomato and capers. Absolutely wonderful.
Sacrifices made indeed, but in doing so, it all turns out ok. One thing replaces another. You just have to keep your priorities in place and never give up on the hunt for bagels … or whatever it is that truly matters to you. Make it work!
I once read that being an expat is like being a five year old again. Suddenly everything needs to be relearned. It is exciting? Yes. It is frustrating too. It is an adventure and it is a remarkable privilege. But what most people don’t realize is that along with the glamourous stereotype of being an expat, it is also very very hard.
Yesterday marked my one year anniversary living in Gothenburg Sweden. While I can’t say it was a great year … it has certainly been a learning experience. There were ups. And there were downs. Here are some of my observations:
Adjusting: I think success as an expat comes from your attitude. I don’t complain that the city is too small. Too big. Too rainy. Too windy. I don’t have a problem that Swedes put sauce on everything (if you don’t like the sauce, don’t use it… for heaven’s sake). I don’t have issues with the people, the driving, the pizza (which btw…shrimp on a pizza is wicked yummy), or Systembolaget.
I like Sweden. I appreciate its system of doing things. The way it cares for its people. Its freedom. I feel safe in the knowledge that I have heath care and some built-in assurances. I love Göteborg and all the little coffee shops (embrace Fika!!) and pubs. I love the architecture and living in the city. I like the multicultural environment of Europe. I embrace the equality found in Sweden. And, I love love love these long summer days.
I think the only real issues have been with the dark winter (which I’m already dreading) and the isolation. If only I could import all my wonderful American peeps, or find new ones, I’d be the happiest gal on the planet. But it’s not that easy.Read More»
A re-post from my blog at www.lisamikulski.com/blog.
Oh hell no! Not me. But yes, it did happen to me and it was dark and ugly and intense. I never expected to experience culture shock in Sweden. After all, I had visited the country three times and because of the relationship with my guy, I considered myself fairly well educated about the culture, work environment, the society and current events. I mean really, how much different can Sweden be from the US? Even more surprising was that I would experience this seven months into my move to Göteborg. So, when I began to wonder exactly what the hell was wrong with me, it came as a complete shock to learn that indeed I might be shocked. I’m not even sure that I’ve come out the other side of this cultural shakeup yet, but I’d like the think the worst is over and that the pendulum is now swinging toward something more normal. There were several other contributing factors to my melancholia, some of which I will share with you, some of which I will not. For the sake of this post, let’s focus on culture shock.
I was pre-warned about the dark, dark days of winter. And while it was always a concern, I am a solar powered gal, I can write to you that the utter lack of sunlight took a profound toll on my senses. When you hear about the dark Scandinavian days, they don’t just mean dark . . . They mean a total lack of sunlight. Gone were those warming rays of the sun that I once felt in my home land,Read More»