Tag Archives: living in / moving to Gothenburg

Swedish ABC – pop culture

Are you familiar with the Swedish ABC? Well, perhaps not this one.

Check this alphabet out to learn – or smile knowingly – about Swedish pop culture. Equally interesting whether you are Swedish, new or seasoned expat in Sweden, or simply curious.

Radio Sweden has made a compilation of Swedish culture and language in their own ABC. Listen to it by clicking the link below.

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=2165159

Anything you want to add?

Save your first repatriation impressions

Repatriation impressions

When I moved back “home” I wrote down my first impressions. I have moved and settled quite a few times and I know that sooner or later many of the first impressions will fade away. What you find astonishing, weird, beautiful or just different might become everyday and taken for granted. I’m not saying all of it will, but first impressions are simply not just called first impressions without a reason.

I moved back to the same little town I had once left. It was all familiar yet quite different. I was looking upon the village with different eyes. The very first thing that struck me was how coastal it all looked. Lots of wooden houses in different pale colors, the older ones with gingerbread work. It was a dark winter evening but yet I felt the presence of the sea without actually seeing it – all due to the building style of the houses. Today I don’t see that anymore. But sometimes when I pass a certain house I think about this first impression I had returning from expat life, and try to get the feeling back. It would have been lost without my notes.

Why saving first repatriation impressions?

I am so happy I saved these first images and thoughts. I have even written on top of the paper that I expected to not find any of it peculiar after a while. Some things I can still see why I wrote down, others are a complete surprise to me today. It is really amusing. It is also something to reflect upon; how quickly do we adapt? Do we ever fully integrate and accept things? When repatriating; do we go back to the same values? It is also a reminder of what we found marvelous in the beginning and that we just take for granted by now; a reminder to still appreciate it.

My advice to you is to write things down if you are in a new place or situation. I did the same thing each time I had a baby. I kept a tiny notebook by the bed and tried to scribble down a few lines about the new life. These memories are golden. Save them!

Pls share or comment! I love to hear from you!

If you wonder why I quoted “home” – find out why 😉

20130214-235002.jpg

Who turned the light off? DIY for winter blues.

So we´re here; right in the middle of it. I´m talking about the cold and dark time of the year. Tiredness, low mood and not being as social as you usually are – not uncommon at all. Not surprising at all. Personally I feel  as if the days were shorter which of course gives less room for being social; it is not likely that I would say “hey, let´s meet up in the park after work “. The day is already over.

Luckily we have the tradition of fika in Sweden. Always works. Ask someone over for coffee and a chat. The smell of freshly baked (works with the cinnamon rolls from the gas station too) goodies is sure to lift your mood. Yes, I think cocooning is trending winter time.

Lack of daylight might contribute to a chemical imbalance in the brain, affecting us negatively; some more than others. There is even such a thing as winter depression – SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Apparently it is not even heard of around the equatorial line. Go figure.

What can we do about it? GET DAYLIGHT. Preferably real, but there are also artificial lights. There are day light lamps, wake up lamps and even facilities with beaches, sun chairs and bright light.  I have to try that. Wonder if you can get a colorful cocktail with a straw too?

In Umeå, 600 km north of Stockholm, the energy company decided to treat bus commuters to some benevolent bright light. Bus stops were lit up by ultra-violet light therapy for a few weeks last fall. Bus drivers complained; they were blinded by the light … But all in all I´m sure it was a success, not at least PR wise.

Try to get some daylight every day, even if it´s overcast. If you can squeeze in at least the shortest of walks you will most probably benefit from it. If you can´t – open the curtains, position yourself by a window.  I did exactly this writing this text. May I suggest you drink some water too, avoiding headache. Just saying.

Turn the lights on; candle lights are nice for the soul and mind too, but won´t fill your need for light. Alternate!

It´s cold. Yes. Dress accordingly, go out and enjoy the weather and landscape on a nice day. Try ice skating, skiing or tobogganing. Or just fika in the snow; watching the others. Nothing beats hot cocoa and an energy bar. Don´t forget the lambskin to sit on. Or fake fur.

Go for light colors. You might not want to redecorate your home (admit it´s a good reason though ;)), but accessorize with pillows, blankets as well as curtains in pale, pastel shades, or whites.

Buy flowers, tulips are great and affordable – buy every week! Spring flowers like crocuses and snow drops look pretty on the windowsill and make me happy too. At least when I remember to water them.

Perhaps you could even consider dressing differently? Skip the black for a week; dare to try something new – lemon, pistachio, baby pink? These are not my colors at all, so I´ll go with beige. Again, accessories might do (half) the trick. People must have been happier in the 80´s right?

Needless to say, if you suffer deep from winter blues and are depressed you should contact your doctor/vårdcentral.

Tulips – very Swedish

Tulips are my favorite flowers. The first sign of spring during our long dark winters; the first pastel colors after the intense reds and greens of Christmas. I love them! But I´m not alone – tulips are popular in Sweden. Swedes buy most tulips per person in the world, adding up to one million per day. US is still the largest market but the buying pattern of the Swedes- often a bunch per week – is far from matched. So even buying flowers can be culturally different, as well as the value of the flower. We happily buy them for ourselves when we do our weekly grocery shopping, whereas in other countries they might be considered more exclusive. Today– Jan 15 – is the Day of the Tulip in Sweden – “Tulpanens dag”. And yes, I bought some today! In spite of my admiration for tulips I haven’t grown many of them in my garden over the years. You see, it is not only Swedish people that can’t resist them; they seem to be favorite food for part of our wildlife. Last fall though I planted quite a few which I will guard vigorously when the time comes. Actually, due to the mild winter, one or two are peaking up already. As an expat I was lucky to enjoy smaller, botanical tulips in one of my rented gardens.

Updated 2018

Read more about tulips here, Tulpanguiden in Swedish, or just enjoy the pictures!

 

20130305-223845.jpg

 

Small Swedish lesson:

en tulpan – a tulip

tulpaner – tulips

en blomma – a flower

blommor – flowers

en bukett – a bouquet

att slå ut – to bloom/to enter the flowering state

en utslagen tulpan – a blooming tulip

att sloka – to wilt, to flag

vissna – to wither, to shrivel

vissen – shrivelled

en rabatt – a flower bed

en dag – a day

Tulpanens dag – the Day of the Tulip

Midsummer & its important ingredients

Midsummer!

Midsummer is important to Swedish people, of all ages. There are lots of links to articles and YouTube clips on social media explaining the tradition. The other day I asked a group of people what is important to them on Midsummer. The group consisted of expats in Sweden (having been here for a long time), Swedes that have been living abroad and  … just Swedes. There was no difference between the answers of the Swedes and the expats, but as expected the now repatriated Swedes seemed to have celebrated more when abroad, and especially if they had children at the time.

Flower wreaths (for hair), may pole, dancing, sunny weather, picking flowers for decoration, food

White dresses, floral prints dresses, rain gear

Spending time with friends, going to a traditional may pole celebration, lottery, outdoor games (i.e. spoonrace with egg or potatoes)

Strawberries, egg, herring, barbecue, new potatoes, gräddfil (sourcream), fika

These things were also important when living outside Sweden: brännvinsost (type of cheese), prinskorv (small sausages), dillchips, estrella dip sauces, meatballs, arranging a bigger get together with other Swedish people.

No one mentioned schnapps or beer, or singing at the table, but this of course, is part of it too! As is setting the table up outside, having to carry it inside when the rain showers appear, and then outside again …

What else is important?

I shall ask @Sweden for help with input.

 

 

 

What do expat people miss from Sweden?

You don´t know what you´ve got until it is gone. Sometimes things are not even important to you until you can´t actually get it anymore. This happens when you relocate. All of a sudden those salty liquorice fish are to die for. You celebrate holidays like never before and order lucia-gowns in adult sizes. Frozen liver pâté and long johns from Polarn O. Pyret fill up the suitcases. And even though you hate queuing, you know it´s a rather blissful invention.

 

If you live abroad; besides family and friends – what do you miss from Sweden? Leave a comment! Click the bubble on the top right of the blog post to see what fellow expats – or “guest-Swedes” – miss!

If you are an expat living in Sweden; find out what people miss from Sweden – believe it or not? Will you miss the same? Not likely. Not all of it.

I have yet to miss the winter weather of Gothenburg though.

trailing spouse and identity – coaching workshop

This week´s workshop covered the trailing spouse and identity loss.We focused on identity GAINS, and created our own personal mood improvers! Just working on it made us all smile, and even LOL!