All posts by g

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.

Midsummer & its important ingredients


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.




Today I visited the Swiss Alps. And Versailles. And Asia.

Today I felt like visiting the Swiss Alps. So I did. It was snowy on Jungfrau-Aletsch, but the impressive view spanned over a green landscape. It was fairly cold up here though so I longed for a warmer place. And wished to experience the beautiful coast of southern Liguria once again. I did. Cinque Terre.

I also took a stroll in the park of Versailles. Since I was already there, nothing could stop me from peeking inside the castle.

One word of hint: googleworldwondersproject

Alright, four words: Google World Wonders Project

If you haven´t been – GO!

Tomorrow perhaps I will take my family on a trip to Yellowstone. Or Stonehenge. Possibly both.

Nothing beats real life. But if you can´t go, right when you want to, this project takes you. I find it fascinating, as I do with the Google Art Project.


Coming/going back home … “home”??


Returning to your passport country. Easier said than done. Harder because you do not expect it to be difficult. Harder because no one else expects it to be difficult. How could it be? It is your country, you are supposed to know everything. You do not receive the understanding and offers of help that you hopefully get when you move to another country; you are just supposed to fit in. I hear tons of stories about people coming home and the alienation they feel. Families, parents, adults, children, teens. And the surprise of it all. Re-entry is usually harder and takes longer than going away in the first place. Things are new but yet not. Things might be different but it is just not exciting. Not exotic at all – after all it is just home. You are not exotic; no longer having the status of an expatriate. And no one really wants to know. I meet people who still after 20 years of re-entry are frustrated by the fact that no one has ever been interested to learn about their time in another culture. So I ask, and listen. And I learn. Society should too. How do we take care of all our global minds that return? How do we make them stay?Imagine the experience wasted from a societal perspective when people do not settle but re-enter the path of constant transition.

What about returning with kids? Think of what “home” is for your children. Lots of parents speak of home, yet their children have almost never lived in their passport countries. To children home is here and now. Think of a teen that has lived his or her life entirely outside the country of the parents´ origin. How is that “coming home”? Imagine trying to fit in. It is hard enough to be a teenager. There is a lot to read and explore on TCKs (third culture kids) on the internet and in the on-line bookstores. It is a great gift to have seen the world but it is also valuable to be aware of the effects hereof, on your child.

Coming home also means start missing things. Things you´d never thought you´d miss. Yep, it´s true! But remember that it is always the good things that stuck. Try once in a while to think about what you did not appreciate – I am sure it was not all that perfect. Nostalgia makes it harder to settle. Go back for a visit after a while, and you will be reminded of details you had forgotten. Things that make you go “oh yeah, glad we escaped that one!”.

Coming/going back home should be properly addressed. Raising the awarness of the potential issues connected to repatriation is key. Just being aware of them makes it easier for you!


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


Har du nånsin luktat skunk eller?

For English version

Jag vaknade med en tyngande huvudvärk. Persiennerna framför fönstren i vår amerikanska lägenhet släppte in ljus och avslöjade att det redan var morgon. Huvudet kändes som att jag inte sovit alls. Men det var något annat som egentligen väckt mig. Stanken. En tung lukt som inte borde vara där. Lite svavel, lite gas, nästan gummi. Som när killarna i 8:an öppnade gaskranarna på kemilektionerna. Lägenheten låg i bottenplanet och när jag drog upp persiennerna möttes jag av buskaget i rabatten utanför, och – i kanten av det gröna – en gasbehållare. Det tog inte många sekunder att göra kopplingen till gasläcka. Imponerande snabbt med tanke på tyngden i skallen.

Jag ringde gasbolaget och förklarade. Och undrade försiktigt, som svenskar gör. Det lät inte alls bra tyckte man, och lovade skicka över någon omgående. Gasläckor var inte att leka med.

Det dröjde inte länge förrän jag hade en serviceminded amerikansk maintenance guy på terassen. Men det dröjde inte heller länge förrän han skrattade hjärtligt.

“Seriously??” sa han. “Have you never ever smelled a skunk before??”

Nej, tänkte jag lättat men aningen förorättat. Vi har inga skunkar i Sverige.

Jag tackade mannen och fyllde på listan med nya erfarenheter man skaffar sig som boende i ett annat land.

Du som utlandsvensk har säkerligen varit med om något oväntat – på grund av olika kulturer, referensramar och normer. Berätta!! Lämna en kommentar! Minst lika kul om du som är inflyttad till Sverige berättar din historia om tokiga svenskheter.

Vårkrukor på engelska

På en av veckans Fun with English gjorde barnen sådan här härliga krukor! Temat för lektionen var våren och vi pratade om massa våriga saker: från blommor och fåglar och andra djur till vad vi gillar (och INTE gillar) att göra om våren. Färger, räkneord,  väder och standardfraser blandar vi alltid in. Och så lite sång och musik på det förstås!

inredning krukor English
Krukor på engelska

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.

Sign up for next series of expat seminars open now

“Turn your family adventure into an enriching experience” – series of seminars/workshop for expatriates starting again in May. Sign up is open, e-mail for further details

Seminarierserie som även passar dig som återflyttat till Sverige efter en tid utomlands. Se under flikenWorkshops.

Easter Craft Workshop in English

Looking forward to the Easter Craft Workshop in English for kids this week, arranged by Globatris. Conversation, singing, storytime and some serious craft!

Påskpyssel på engelska – ett roligt sätt att öva engelska för alla; denna vecka är det dock mindre barn som får chansen! Vi sjunger, pratar, pysslar och läser saga plus lite andra godbitar.

Glad påsk!