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»
I arrived at Landvetter airport in Göteborg on June 19th, 2012, one day before my mother’s birthday. I didn’t get the chance to visit the grave site of my parents before departing Boston on what was to be perhaps the biggest and longest adventure of my life. I boarded the plane with a new laptop, cellphone and ipod… none of which are still serving me today (there were some bumps in the road). I was raw and haggard as I said goodbye to my two sons, my family, my pets, my house, my friends and nearly everything I had accumulated in my 51 years of life.