Tag Archives: utlandssvensk

Swedes and our precious weather talk #10

Swedes like to talk about the weather. Or do we really? I mean, the weather in Sweden itself is usually not very fun. To me it´s more like a mandatory subject as small talk. Sometimes I think we resort to climate talk when we don´t know what else to say. Because silence can be awkward, even though Swedes are known for not being bothered by that. Tonight weather has been brought up four times in my life. First, a dad on the door, picking his son up from play date. Then a mom, picking her daughter up. After dinner I started on a couple of blog posts related to the topic (don´t want to repeat the word again). Later I received an email from a Swedish expat friend – we exchanged weather status. Of course!

I honestly don´t think it would have been such a big deal had we had more of the really good weather here. As an expat I loved being able to relax about it. There was no stress going outside, or going to the lake. There would be nice days, sooner rather than later.

Can´t wait to see what the weather will be like tomorrow!!

Just kidding.

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!

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!



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.

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.