Tag Archives: expat

#blogg100 post 100

My 100 days of blogging are over. I’m glad I joined the challenge #blogg100 but right now I’m also relieved it’s over! I’ve tried to keep most posts on the subjects of expats, TCKs and Swedish/language learning. Sometimes I’ve posted photos of Sweden; simply sharing this beautiful country with you.

Over and out for now!

Good night!

Intention vs. perception – when moving abroad

Moving to another part of the world can be exciting! It can also hold some frustration. When you experience a new culture – a good advice is to just take it all in. Try to leave interpretation and judgment behind for a while, until you learn more about the rules, norms and values. It will save you some emotional rides. I know it sounds easier said than done, but from the top of my head I can think of situations where I have felt indignation and later learnt that there was no such intent behind. It was just a matter of cultural difference.

This is not only valid for expatriation but for all encounters with a, to us, new culture.

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!

Leave our pancakes alone!

As I´m making pancakes for dinner I think about how this is one of the easy dishes that has followed us around the world. No matter where we have lived there has always been milk, flour and eggs for pancakes. We almost always make the thin ones. Sometimes a thick version in the oven, and occasionally American with baking powder. You say the word and everyone has their own perception of the dish in their mind. In Switzerland I remember inviting an American family over for an afternoon playdate. I made pancakes. Oh, the disappointment in the eyes of the visiting boys as we sat down to eat. Their mother tried desperately to explain how exciting it would be to try Swedish pancakes. But no. It just wasn´t their kind of pancake. To them the relocation to Europe was probably enough at the time. “Leave our pancakes alone!”  #TCK

Do you know we use pancake in some Swedish idiomatic expressions ? Literal translations follows.

Luxury pancakes

Upp som en sol ner som en pannkaka – Up like a sun down like a pancake

Himmel och pannkaka – Heaven and pancake

Det blir bara pannkaka av alltihop – It will all just be pancake

Marsch pannkaka! – Off you go, pancake!

 

 

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.

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!