Tag Archives: repatriation / re-entry

Growing up in Sweden

Growing up in Sweden

What does it mean to be a child in Sweden? Growing up in Sweden has many benefits.

Learn about school and vacation, family and leisure time, culture, hobbies and joining a club. What is Swedish children’s literature and do all parents work? Is there a support system for the young and how many children really play an instrument?

www.sweden.se shares the full story on Growing up in Sweden.


You know you’re a TCK when …

You know you’re a TCK when …

Most people who are TCKs are unaware of it. I constantly stumble over new twitter connections revealing they have just found out about Third Culture Kids and that they actually are one – or rather ATCK – Adult Third Culture Kid. It is very often followed by a sigh of relief; that’s why I’m me! When I talk about TCKs in my workshops I rarely meet people who are familiar with the term; even though they are expats.

Three days ago I found an article on the funny yet true side of the TCK story – 31 statements along the line “You know you’re a TCK when …” . Tons of posts and pages of this kind can be found on the Internet, but this post is really worth sharing!

I tweeted it, put it on Facebook and Google+. Here is the link if you’ve missed it!

Feel free to add in the comments if you think of more signs!!


Any point in making friends with expats who leave?

In my last post I very briefly talked about summer time as the time when expat friends leave. You can read it here. A reaction I received was that it can be quite exhausting with the constant effort of making new friends, and the sadness when people leave. I agree; it is. Of course it is. But it doesn’t make it not worth it.

When I was about to move the last time, two new expatriate families moved into the village where I had been living for 3,5 years (with no other expats with young kids – how’s that for timing!). We met a few times but there was really not time or energy enough to bond properly before we left.

On the other hand I have met people last minute at other expat locations with whom I have kept contact through the years.

You never know, do you? So, grab the chances, but cut yourself some slack – if you believe timing is way off then be okay with not trying too hard.

Here is a link discussing the point of making friends with people who leave. Click!!


What does washi tape have to do with learning a language?

Learning English, Swedish, French or Chinese? Or any other language?

To work on your vocabulary when learning a new language I want to share the following tip with you. Put washi tape on items, drawers, shelves and boxes and write the object’s name on it. Remove when you have learnt the word and choose new objects.

Great for bilingual kids too, expanding their vocabulary! At home I use it for my children (TCKs) to not forget words after returning to passport country after expat life.

Washi tape is pretty masking tape, originating from Japan. It is removable and reusable, slightly transparent with a paper feel to it (made from rice paper). It comes in all sorts of patterns and colors; select one that goes well with text for this language learning project! Washi tape is commonly used for scrapbooking, art journaling and other creative projects.

Ready, craft, go! Learn!








#worldcolors Green

If you’ve followed my blog you know I like photography. That’s why I immediately joined #worldcolors when I stumbled upon Naomi’s blog post. According to it March is all about Green! But is it really? Well, in my part of the world it is fairly grey right now; cold, winter and no snow at all. If you read my blog post the other day you know I’m more than ready to welcome spring and green colors into my world again.

For the photo project #worldcolors I first planned to go through old photos to find the lush green ones, filled with memories from all over the world. Then on Friday I spent a few hours outside in the biting cold and decided to make #worldcolors Green a real challenge. I would look for green objects to shoot during the day – outside. And yes it was quite a challenge, but a fun one! Below are my green finds! Please feel free to join the #worldcolors! You still have a couple of weeks to find your take on green!












International women #IWD


Accompanying spouses need to take on many new roles. Let me introduce to you

  • the Moving Queen
  • the Relo Expert
  • the Resilience Champion
  • the No. 1 Assignment Glue

Many employers and relocation organizations count on them. What about acknowledgement? I once heard of a spouse that received a “thank you” from her husbands employer. She said it was easily done but meant a lot to her.

What are your experiences?

Expat hand-me-downs

Living a life where you meet people from different cultures and parts of the world equals living a life of constant discovery and learning. You taste new food, learn about other views of life and take part in  fascinating traditions. I have written about Cinco de Mayo and Cheese fondue, of Fredagsmys and Midsummer. I have also pointed out, to myself, that a lot of traditions are food related :). I love trying new dishes, and gladly collect recipes from friends called Martha, google and … well, closer friends too.

Naomi has also been thinking about food secrets and hand-me-downs. If you’re an expat you know that it’s not only easily stored artifacts like recipes that is left behind when nomadic people set off on their next adventure. You can read about Naomi’s thoughts here and learn what some people have shared on their expatriate journeys.

Do you have any treasured expat hand-me-downs? Did you leave something behind?


Repatriation – immigration to passport country

20% of all people immigrating to Sweden during 2012 were repatriates (source SCB Befolkningsstatistik 2012). Repatriation is usually not planned for as much as is expatriation. But returning to a passport country can often be even harder than leaving it. Not expecting it to be difficult – after all you are going home – can be a great cause. Also, the people that stayed behind expect you to fit in immediately and be familiar with everything. This means you might not get the help and understanding you could have had use for. Things change and you have probably changed too.

When I returned to Sweden I had some reentry assistance. I was then told that within a few years of repatriation a majority of the people either expatriate again, divorce or leave the employer that invested in sending them abroad in the first place. What a waste of globally experienced work force! I´m pretty sure that with acknowledgement and adequate support on coming home; as well as when going away; this figure can be lowered.

If you are thinking of returning, or know someone who is, at least find out what to expect. It is good to make an informed decision and easier if you are prepared.


Postman never rings twice. Or even once.

Another thing that I had put on my list of first impressions moving to Sweden was the mail and parcel service. Abroad I had parcels and boxes delivered to my door, by the mail company. The postman would ring the doorbell, I would open and scribble my signature on some electronic gadget and I would get my stuff. The Kavat shoes for the kids! The handbag that I had had to return since the shop assistant had neglected to remove the alarm device. The DVD player. The contact lenses ordered from Sweden (yes – cheaper than buying on location). Here there is a slip in the mailbox urging me to go to the grocery store to pick it up, or a text message. Few people are at home during the day in Sweden. People can’t open the door to the mailman.

To queue or not to queue – that’s not a question; that’s cultural habit.

Queuing is special in Sweden. If you feel Swedes are being distant and you want some physical closeness – join the lines for the ATMs. There you will find it. Even when it is your turn to withdraw the money you can be sure of having someone behind you, just an inch away. I have never seen the painted lines on the ground here, marking the private zone. Not sure it would help though. Why? I keep thinking it’s because in Sweden queuing might not have been practiced enough. In our culture there is usually always queue numbers. You can use this system for buying the softest prosciutto and tasty cheddar, for getting tampons and ibuprofen, for that annoying bank and post matters, for the weekly white tulips, for the cardamom laden cinnamon rolls, for that hot new too expensive dress and for inquiring about the cost of traveling to a far away resort. Not long ago it was also used for buying chardonnay. There is simply a system telling you when it is your turn.

What happens when another check out counter opens up in the grocery store in Sweden? Usually the last person in line for the already open one runs to the newly opened counter. This is apparently not a question of who has been waiting the longest, but of who is the fastest runner. I have to admit I never really thought about this until I expatriated to the US. There it was always the next in the existing waiting line that was served by the new counter. No exceptions. Once a man behind me darted out of the line and went for the new check out. The sales girl said with an icy, stern voice (think about immigrant control at an American airport and you get the picture) “Sir, I said NEXT IN LINE pls.” Don’t think he ever dared to shop there again.

On the other hand I have seen yet other systems. Let me mention to you when I tried to get lunch at a much known hamburger/fast food chain in Turin, Italy. It was like going to a rock concert where the counter would be the stage. Oh, did I mention I had a toddler and a giant (robust thank God) Swedish stroller with a hungry baby in it? Imagine trying to squeeze the stroller and the kids through the masses of hungry teenagers shouting their orders in loud, beautiful Italian. And then back out again after what seemed an eternity. I wish I could say it was the best burger I’ve had. At least it was the most memorable.