When contemplating a move to Sweden, one can be quite mistaken in thinking that the Scandinavian culture will be somewhat similar to one’s own. This, I find, is especially true of expats and foreigners who come from the US, Britain, Australia, and Canada. We assume that we are moving to a country which will allow us to integrate with ease into a multicultural, white – yet diversified – and progressive society. When we find that cultural mores and differences stand in stark contrast to our own, confusion reigns. There is complaining. Many experience culture shock. There are those who rebel. Some of us become very depressed, and some just get lost between the cracks. Integration into Sweden does not come with a guide book or instruction manual. Until now …
Julien S. Bourrelle, founder of Mondå, seeks to connect people and provide a light in which to guide Swedophiles toward a more satisfying and successful integration. His new book, A Social Guide to Sweden, is a much needed resource for people hoping to understand Sweden and her sometimes rather odd character. Not only for foreigners, the book also shines a light on Scandinavian nuances which will enlighten many a Swede as to how they are perceived by the outside world, and it illuminates the challenges faced by those who seek a new life in the Nordic nation.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!
Every Saturday morning I wake up excited and enthused about the weekend. Oh, the plans I have. And because it’s the weekend, everything is going to be just for me. I’m going to write, read and take photographs. I’m going to sort through those papers, take myself out to lunch and maybe even do a bit of shopping.
In the late afternoon, I sit on the couch my living room bathed in the afternoon sun. I am a sun worshipper. I pick up a book and after reading five pages, my eyes begin to close. I am frustrated because unconsciousness is a waste of time. But my hands are cold and my feet are cold. I only want to warm them under the soft comforting embrace of my favorite blanket. What’s so bad about a Saturday nap after all?