Every country is different from one another. Both when it comes to its culture and norms, but also society in general. And I believe that is the beauty of our today’s world. That every country has something unique to offer. And that we can chose where we want to live and what we want to experience. Of course, life itself can lead one to a specific place. And that is exactly what happened to me. I have been living in Sweden for 7 years now and I can tell you that it wasn’t a matter of choice, but more a matter of fate. Do you believe in that? If so I would love to hear your opinions!
Anyway, being in Sweden for a while now, made me realise there are some unique aspects of this country that can influence one’s life here. And if you chose to move here or if life brings you here for reasons only known to the universe, here are some things that can have an impact on your life in Sweden.
Before I go into explaining them, I want to say that everything I will tell you is from my own experience as an expat or a migrant as you want to call it, and they are my personal opinions and experiences of this country. Someone else might have lived another reality. But in this video I will share with you the experiences of a Romanian teenage / young-adult girl living in Sweden for 7 years. So let’s start!
Coming from a country where seeing the sun is not a celebration, I didn’t pay so much attention to how the weather influences one’s life. I actually didn’t believe in that concept: that weather might have an impact upon your mood. It never happened to me and I’ve never imagined something like this even existing. But it is true. Weather truly affects oneself. It affected me. And really hard. I didn’t know why I was sleepy all the time, or why I had no motivation to do anything. During the dark autumn days and then winter months (which last for almost half a year) I just wanted to hide under a blanket and hibernate like a bear.
Going to school or work seemed so hard for me and I could barely wake up in the morning and do my daily chores. Not to mention that when you wake up in the morning it is as if you woke up at midnight – that’s how dark it is outside. Then you go to work or university and that’s the only time when it’s “light” outside, and then when you finish working or finish your classes and go home it is dark again. And rainy plus windy and cold most of the time. So in a way, the only light you’ll ever see during the dark autumn days is gonna be an artificial one. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, perhaps you’ll be lucky to see sun in November. However, I wasn’t this year.
The remedy for this is to take LOTS of vitamine D and also take some days off (maybe one or two weeks) and go to a warm place. Like Thailand – if there is no coronavirus – or somewhere warm in central or latin America. This is what swedes usually do in order to cope with this kind of weather.
However, that is the bad side of experiencing weather in Sweden. The other perspective is filled with light and sunny days, mild weather, not too warm and perfect for spending time outside as much as you can. I just can’t wait for the month of March or April when the whole nature is resurrecting after cold days, when flowers and trees start to bloom and when the grass is greener than ever. Those are the days that will make you love Sweden and its nature. Those are the days that will turn the balance in its favour and will help you throughout the dark days of autumn and winter by knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
So much light even, that you’ll need really dark curtains and sleeping masks in order to fall asleep. I remember that during my first year here I was shocked by how much light there was compared to my country. I couldn’t believe that there were only 2 – 3 hours of “evening” where you could still see the sky. And that at 10 or 11 in the evening there was still so much light as though it was only afternoon. Those are the days you’ll live for and expect every year!
2) Swedish System / Welfare system
Who hasn’t heard about the swedish welfare system? For some years now a short video describing parts of it appear on my facebook page, maybe monthly. Have you seen that? The one with parenting? The one that shows dads taking care of their children as well because of the paid parental leave which says that both parents can take time off to spend with their children. And that is only a small part of the welfare system that sweden offers.
Other parts include free healthcare, free education, elderly care and a pig part that is social security, which includes a lot of “bidrags” in other words monetary aid offered by the government as support in special cases such as if you have a child, or in you can’t afford a housing, or as handicapped and you cannot work.
I can say that the welfare system really influenced my life here from teenager to young adult. Each day in high school, I remember, there was free lunch, with three courses to choose from. I attended the best high school program there is free of charge, which is the IB and the school made sure we got everything we needed in order to successfully take our diploma. It included a free laptop, all course books and a professional calculator for our math classes.
3) Swedish Society
Last but not least I wanna say a few words about the Swedish society as I experienced it. When moving to Sweden I was only a teenager and I went straight to highschool, surrounded by people one year younger than me and whose language I didn’t understand or speak. I’ve heard Swedes were welcoming and warm before moving here, but it wasn’t like that in my case. Perhaps, because they were young and didn’t think too much about opening up to a newcomer, especially a foreign one.
I don’t blame them. I would have done the same if someone came to my last highschool years in Romania, when I already had my friends and group. But this time it was me on the other side of the story, I was the new girl. I didn’t know the language, didn’t know the culture and definitely didn’t have the knowledge of the Swedish society. And I was young and naive as well, not knowing what to do in order to… well, maybe adapt better to the situation.
However, as time went on and I managed to go to university, I noticed that for me it was again hard to have a good connection with Swedes. So, I only made international fiends, being really afraid to explore the Swedish people. Perhaps also due to the bad high school experiences. Anyhow, things totally changed when I started to get involved in the working life of Sweden. Then I discovered how warm and welcoming people here are and even though my Swedish is still not like a native’s one, they encouraged me to speak and say that for a self-taught person I speak really well. I am really grateful to have met some wonderful Swedish people, that were very kind towards me.
So I guess it depends on everyone’s experiences of the Swedish society. Some might enjoy it from the start, if they are lucky to have a nice and welcoming environment, some might not. But one thing is for sure. Swedish people are super independent, and greatly into their own bubble. And if you ever wanna make friends with a Swede, then you have to break those barriers. It can take time, I still haven’t gotten to experience that part as I still know more international people, but I believe that behind those big cold Swedish walls, lies a kind heart ready to open up for a new friend.