When I moved to Sweden in 2015, I wasn’t expecting sunshine and rainbows - I knew moving from the other side of the world to Sweden would be tough. Over two years later, I still really miss home and I hate the fact that I can’t just pop over for a week or long weekend to visit my mum in New Zealand. 24 hours of flying (plus stopovers) is no joke.
But there were a few things I struggled with, that caught me by surprise. (this is by no means an all inclusive list, just because I didn’t mention it here, doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle in that area)
The short days in winter
I was warned about the cold weather in Sweden in winter (and in summer, I’m still waiting for summer hehe). But it was the ridiculously short days in winter that I struggled to get used to. When we were living in Stockholm, it’d be almost pitch black by 15:00. I found it pretty hard to want to go out and do things after work when it’s already so dark - it always felt later than it actually was. Even where I work in Helsingborg, it was getting pretty dark at 16:00 in December - looking out the window to darkness when you’re at the office makes you think you’re working late (even though it’s only 16:00).
Practicing my Swedish
In the first six to nine months, when I was out and about, and tried to practice my Swedish buying something or ordering at a restaurant in Swedish, roughly half the time, the person would switch to English. This happened a lot more at the start. My pronunciation isn’t the best and there are a few words that I just mumble under my breath nowadays, but back then it was interesting to see how my Swedish was treated. Some people just switched to English, while others made an effort to speak more slowly and clearly articulate their words for me so I could understand - I really appreciated that.
Making (certain) phone calls
Even though a lot of people in Sweden speak English, there are a few occasions where I had to rely on my sambo because I couldn’t speak Swedish. For example: Making a doctor’s appointment. I had to ask my sambo to call the doctor for me, and then tell me which buttons to press (e.g. dial the phone number, then press 0, then 2, then 1 to speak to someone to schedule an appointment). Here I was thinking I’m an independent woman, but then I had to ask my sambo to call the doctor for me. It’s kinda funny looking back. But seriously, something to be aware of.