Category Archives: Flytta utomlands

Enkät om utlandssvenskar

Svenskar i världens enkät om svenskar utomlands // survey on Swedes abroad

“För att få veta mer om utlandssvenskarna har vi satt ihop en enkät som vi skulle bli väldigt tacksam för om ni tog er tid att svara på. Sprid den gärna vidare till svenska klubbar och föreningar eller vänner som bor utomlands. Ditt deltagande kommer att hjälpa oss i vårt fortsatta arbete som utlandssvenskarnas främsta intresseorganisation. Notera att enkäten endast riktar sig till svenskar som för närvarande bor utomlands och alltså inte de som har sin hemvist i Sverige. Det är heller ingen medlemsundersökning, utan öppen för alla svenskar som bor utomlands.”

För mer info klicka in på www.sviv.se

 

 

 

 

 

 

The headaches of an expat

The headaches of an expat can be surprisingly heavy

My head felt heavy as I woke up. For once it wasn´t the tck baby but a throbbing headache that was calling for my attention.  Bright light found its way through the a bit uneven blinds in our American apartment, giving away that it was already morning. I felt as if I hadn´t slept at all.

It was really something else that had forced me out of my sleep. The smell. A heavy odor that shouldn´t have been there. It was all over our new expat home. Like sulfur; gas; a bit like rubber. For an instant I was tossed back to Swedish high school where the boys constantly opened the gas taps in chemistry class to upset the girls. Or should I say to impress them, speaking boys’ language.

The apartment was on ground level and raising the blinds I was welcomed by the sight of the lush green foliage outside our master bedroom, and – immediately to the left – the natural gas cabinet. It didn´t take long to make the connection smell and gas leak. Impressively fast, considering the condition my head was in.

I called the natural gas company and explained – a little bit cautious as Swedes tend to, not wanting to be such a hassle in case there was nothing to it. Apparently the smell was not good at all. Someone was to be sent over immediately. “Gas leaks are not to be taken lightly. Right, and that´s why I made the call in the first place.

Before long there was a service minded maintenance worker on the patio. He wore sturdy shoes and had a dark blue overall on, as well as a concerned look. It didn´t take long though before he burst out into laughter.

“Seriously??” he said. ”Have you never ever smelled a skunk before??”

What? No, I hadn´t. His reaction left me feeling relieved yet a bit wronged. There are no skunks in Sweden.

I thanked the highly amused man and made a mental note. My list of new experiences, ever growing from living in another country and being exposed to cultural differences, had been added to. Again.

Share your story! I know there are many situations out there that deserve to be shared! We all have problems and headaches as an expat. Surviving expatriate life is a lot easier if we´re able to laugh at ourselves. And believe me; it´s not as if there’s a lack of situations where things can be misunderstood …

This post has also been published in Swedish, go here if you´d like to read that version and the comments!

Cultural parenting – of course! But which cultures?

Parenting styles can vary from family to family. But there are also differences between countries, or should I say cultures. We appreciate different values, which are likely to impact our upbringing of the children. Sometimes they are easily spotted, sometimes they are not. Concept of time for instance is a good example. Coming from a culture where being on time is considered important and a courtesy, I found it annoying at times as a foreign student working in groups with others that were happily an hour late for study meetings. No surprise that we soon found out that Germans and Swedes worked well together!

As always, awareness of the values and set of rules can lead to a better understanding, and less annoyance; tolerance. In the case of time, I simply learnt to agree on another time with the students I knew would be – in my world – an hour late.

Being a parent or not; moving into a new culture you will be exposed to the impact of cultural differences. As a parent a playground is a perfect location for observation and “study”. It´s fascinating that you often can tell from the parents’ responses to their children’s behavior from which country they are. I have encountered societies where one believes that adults should not interfere when children are “playing”. In the beginning I just assumed they did not care; now I hope they care but still want the kids to solve problems on their own. I have also experienced children being constantly corrected and taught. Swedes are normally somewhere in between these two parenting styles; of course, I would like to add with a touch of irony– after all we are the land of “lagom” (just enough) and “mellan” (in the middle).

There are also differences when it comes to physical punishment (illegal in Sweden) and scolding in public. Some people want other parents to know they are dealing with the matter, and some don´t.

Another, always hot, topic is whether it is considered acceptable for a parent to deal with someone else’s child.

I do believe that the culture you are currently living in influences your parenting. It is a way of fitting in, of accepting the hosting society but also grabbing the good stuff!

It is interesting once you start thinking in terms of cultural parenting. What are the cornerstones of your culture/-s when it comes to raising children? Which are the strengths? Have you added anything from your host culture?

Perhaps you are even a slightly different parent in another location! And by that I am not referring to the newly relocated, stressed and culture shocked parent …

Do we really need that … (fill in the blank)?

Moving is your big chance to declutter. Sure, you might be fortunate enough to enjoy a moving company packing service, but still there is often the need to go through things. Sometimes you already know where you will be living, and that space might be less.  Climate can impact too; there was no reason to keep all our humidifiers when relocating to Sweden.  However leaving our garden furniture behind was not a climate-related decision, even though one might think so – especially after this rainy summer.

I usually say that moving once in a while is good for closets and attics. And also for basements, not to mention garages! You can sell things, give them away to friends, or donate them to charities.  Ask friends, at the club/work or the neighbors for ideas.  In the village where I lived a few years ago, you simply put your no-longer-wanted items out in the street, at the garbage collection area. Whoever walked by finding an interest in the object could simply take it. If it was still there at garbage-day, it was removed. My pasta-maker, still in the box, found a new home that way.

Another system seemed to work well in the village nearby.  A couple of days per year villagers could bring the bits and pieces they wanted to clear out to a selected open area. Items were then free to any other resident who wanted them. In the afternoon the remaining things were donated to charity or found their way to the dump.  A friend of mine, a trailing spouse adapting well to the local life, left two chairs and came home with a table. I would like to see more of these environmentally friendly solutions!

In Sweden you can try www.bjussa.se . Here you can advertise items to give away.

Traditions and celebrations – a Smorgasbord for expats

One of the best things with living in different countries, and being exposed to various cultures, is that you get a bunch of new traditions to take on. You can choose freely – adopt the ones that appeal to you and fit your regular schedule of celebrations. It can be big; it can be small. As an expat; try to celebrate with locals if you can. If you moved already, keep the traditions – sometimes they prove to grow even stronger!

In my case there seems to be a strong connection between traditions and food. Anyone else? This year, with a bunch of friends from different parts of the world, we decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo; because of the Mexican food. But we also looked up some information about the tradition, and background, so we all learnt something new. We had a wonderful evening and will most likely do it again.

Thanksgiving is coming up, closely followed by 1st of Advent.  Again; food involved. But we must not forget the most important ingredients – people and the opportunities/excuses to get together!

What are your traditions? Have you started any new ones? What happens when you move – do the traditions grow in importance or do they tend to fade away? Would love to hear your comments!

Falling for fall

Fall is here. The beautiful, rich colors and the crispy air. And, oh yes, the rain. But let´s just forget about the rain for now.  It doesn´t go with the picture. The leaves are turning my garden into an explosion of nuances. It´s like a firework leaving confetti to nurture eye and soul, as well as the lawn. The last brave rosebuds stand strong in the wind, and the blueberries … well, why haven´t they been picked by now?!

Indoors the colors tend to follow the nature´s. Summery shades and patterns are replaced with warm orange and deep reds. Burgundy. Candles, textiles and decorative items add to the luxury of warming up in front of the fire place after a forest walk. A glass of red. Memories from expatriate postings come to life with tiny crafted hedgehogs, autumnal recipe books from overseas and … ahem; the inflatable pumpkin.

Expat home accessorizing – the unique touch

Living in a foreign country exposes you to new things; food, language, customs and rituals as well as people and sites – in one word; culture. Part of the culture are also items for your home, may it be decorations or gadgets. They might be beautiful or downright ugly, but they fascinate you, intrigue you or you just fall in love with them and purchase them to be part of your multi culture. Often this is done upon returning to your home country, or at least leaving the host country. It might be furniture, art objects, tacky tourist thingamabobs. Or simply items only found in the place you live right now. Like a Dalahorse or a cucko clock.

What have you incorporated when furnishing, decorating and accessorizing your home?

Me?  I have a giant Swiss cow bell hanging by the kitchen window.

National Day of Sweden & shoelaces

“6 juni”. This used to be Swedish Flag Day. At school, as a teen, we celebrated with parade and flags. I remember once wearing shoelaces in yellow and blue. I don´t think I have celebrated since. Not in Sweden, but as a Swedish expat for sure. That´s what happens when you move abroad. The heritage you always took for granted becomes important.

June 6 was renamed National Day in 1983. Only made a public holiday seven years ago I guess not enough time has passed to establish any traditions. Why not start now? Consider the fact that we actually are able to celebrate – not a sure thing everywhere. Think about generations to come – traditions have to start somewhere! Do it for the children! Involve them.

Who is most likely to celebrate? Swedes abroad? Expats in Sweden? Hemvändare/repats? New Swedes? How will you celebrate?  Any suggestions where to go or what to do?

Jordgubbstårta (strawberry cake) will be part of my new traditional National Day of Sweden. I might go for the shoelace-thing too.

#nationaldayofSweden on twitter

 

Moving/returning to Sweden? Flytta till Sverige?

Cultural awareness – a great way to start improving our perception of different cultures is to actually be aware of our own culture. We think we are, but posing that question might not give instant replies. Think about it – what is typical in your culture?

Here is a link to an article on Swedish culture – 20 Swedish things you are bound to encounter in Sweden! Good to know if you are planning to move here, if you already live here as a foreigner/expat/new immigrant, or if you are planning to repatriate to Sweden. Or if you are Swedish, living abroad and want a good laugh or reminder, or even just Swedish in Sweden (if you are – make a test: before you open the article; list 20). Feel free to leave a comment if you want to add to the list!

http://www.thelocal.se/followsweden/article/20-things-to-know-before-moving-to-Sweden/#typical Swedish things!)

Att vara medveten om olika kulturer är värdefullt; både för oss själva som för andra. Är man kulturellt kompetent besitter man förmågan att interagera med människor från olika kulturer. Ett bra sätt att öka sin kompetens är att fundera över sin egen kultur. Vad är det som är svenskt egentligen? Frågan är inte alltid lätt; ofta är det så självklart att vi inte ens reflekterar över det. Det finns några givna som alltid dyker upp men försök komma på fler. Nedan följer en länk till en artikel, på engelska, som listar 20 typiskt svenska företeelser. Hur många prickade du in på din egen lista? Har du några fler förslag så kommentera gärna!

http://www.thelocal.se/followsweden/article/20-things-to-know-before-moving-to-Sweden/#

Om du ska flytta utomlands kan det vara kul att ha en liknande lista dels att jämföra med den nya kulturen, dels att dela med sig av då folk undrar hur det är i Sverige!