It is something that millions of us might aspire to – the adventure and romance of living abroad. And while for some, it is all of that, with travel to nearby foreign countries, new friends and new languages, there are ways in which living abroad can break your heart – no matter how effortlessly you have managed to fit in to your host country.
Being away means exactly that. So when there are funerals or weddings which take place in your home country and you can’t go, either due to work or financials, it can be a devastatingly lonely event. It might not even be something as traumatic as a death or as joyful as a marriage. It could simply be that one day you are walking down the street and are struck by a memory – an all consuming heart-wrenching knowledge that someone you love very dearly is 3,582 miles away.Read More»
Life can sometimes get a little dark. For whatever reason, any one of us might find ourselves in moments (or months) of sadness, confusion or doubt. While it’s important to embrace this dark period, for without it, we never grow; it is also important to keep in mind that it is meant as a temporary state of being. One must, in time, come out of the darkness and again find the path of light.
When I came to Sweden two years ago, it was my absolute intention to live the rest of my life in Scandinavian bliss. Back in the States, I had cared for two elderly and terminally sick parents, two sons, a house, a business, and now at 50 years of age, this was to be my time. A new beginning. It was my time to spread my wings and follow some dreams. Imagine my disappointment when I found that my ability to flourish in Sweden, a country which I loved, was completely hampered by my utter inability to be assimilated.
I realize that my past, my moral code, and my beliefs make assimilation impossible. I have a history and a previous cultural upbringing. These things I am proud of. They make me who I am and they connect me to lifetime family and friends. While I certainly tried to embrace a new culture and add it like some prized treasure to my bag of collected personal experience, I realized that perhaps I will be forever an outsider in Sweden. It was a devastating blow … “Why can’t Sweden love me that way I love it?”
Spending the last few months reflecting, I pondered about what it is that makes a person more or less likely to flourish in a new country, or even right at home. Is it a matter of self or place?Read More»
The following conversation is one between myself, and two North American expats, Nelson Neville and Jenna Lee Iwanchuk. This chat was in response to several of the recent articles I had written regarding foreign educated immigrants and Sweden’s learning curve on multiculturalism. Nelson is a resident of Sweden, presently living and working in Borås. He has lived in Sweden for 19 years and originally comes from Baltimore, Maryland. Jenna Lee Iwanchuk has lived and studied in Göteborg for the last two years. Her home country is Canada. She has recently started her own business.
Lisa Mikulski: We all come from countries and environments where open opinions and ideas are very much valued. It is still my whole hearted belief that conversation, and the exchange of ideas, is a good and true start toward any given problem and its ultimate solution. Recently the Gothenburg Daily called into question as to whether Gothenburg is a “Dead City.” The article was based upon a recent report published by Västsvenska Handelskammaren, entitled Tron på Göteborg. Västsvenska Handelskammaren’s report sights many issues which plague the harbor city in terms of immigration, infrastructure, housing, and a general lack of openness to new ideas, people, and cultures.
Nelson Neville: Lisa, I agree with the issues you have raised in your articles and have been saying the same for months. Despite Sweden’s good intentions, there are some fundamental issues which I see as having gone awry here in Sweden.
The first thing is that Swedes really don’t want to talk about anything that can turn emotional or into a disagreement. There is simply an unwillingness to discuss an issue to acknowledge its existence or what can be done, as individuals, to help in a larger movement.
Secondly, race and multiculturalism are two separate things and both are foreign to even the most liberal of native caucasian Swedes. They have not been exposed personally to either of these things because they have had such a homogeneous population for untold generations. This is all new for them. And in all things unfamiliar, you can only speak from a third-party perspective until you are involved in the life and exposed to multicultural environments.Read More»
Recently, a friend on Facebook was posting that she had moved to another state and was experiencing some night time anxieties and stress. She also remarked that the “truck” was coming the following day with all her stuff and that would help make her feel more at home. God, yes it would!
I reflected on this because I have had no such truck. I arrived in Sweden with three suitcases and a few carry-ons. The majority of my stuff is in storage in Connecticut. It has been there for as long as I have lived in Sweden. Well … not all my stuff. Most of it was sold, burned or given away. But those few treasures that I did keep are not with me and I have no idea when I’ll be able to send for them.
This was a HUGE mistake!! If you are moving, definitely arrange for a truck. Immediately.
I essentially walked into my guy’s apartment and that was it. I brought a few little items with me and put them on the shelf in the living room but basically … I’m living at “his place”.Read More»
I had a pair of old wooden skis that my dad made for me. They were tiny little things for a tiny foot and were probably fashioned sometime around 1965. They were my first pair of skis ever, and they served me well during my early childhood. After I outgrew those skis, they hung for years and years on a nail in our garage, replaced by newer fiberglass versions.
Life came and went. My father passed away. I moved away, got married, and had two sons. My mother remarried and sold the house where I grew up. She and my stepfather bought a new home in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Oddly enough, among all the stuff that gets tossed out or given away during a move, those skis made the transition from their old house to the new.
In 2008 my mom passed away. Her house once again sold. And somehow, unknown to me, those skis ended up at my house … on the side of my garage, weathering the seasons, thrown in a wood pile.Read More»