Why did you move to Sweden?
I moved to Sweden to be able to live in the same country as my partner after doing long distance for about 3 years. At the same time, it was also an adventure I wanted to take on for myself after living a pretty sheltered life in Singapore my whole life.
When did you move to Sweden?
What do you wish you knew about Sweden, when you first moved here?
I wish I knew that the days would get very dark very quickly during winter so that I can figure out ways to cope with the “winter depression” before it hits me.
How would you compare the Swedish work culture to your home country’s work culture?
The work life balance is great here in Sweden and my manager is genuinely interested to know if I am pursuing other interests outside of work. So working overtime is not the norm here unlike in Singapore where you would usually not leave before your boss/manager. My manager also trusts me to manage my time well with flexible working hours. The leave system is also very generous and it is common to take 2 to 3 weeks holidays at a stretch which is not as common in Singapore.
What’s your favourite part about living in Sweden?
I love that I can live in the city yet still be so close to nature. It is nice to be able to go out on long walks in the woods, pluck some berries along the way and just enjoy the fresh air and serenity.
What has surprised you about living in Sweden?
I would say that there are 2 things.
- The queue number system. It took me awhile to get used to taking a queue number for everything, from buying fish at the supermarket to waiting in line for the doctor.
- People spit a lot. I think it is really gross that people think it is okay to spit anywhere and everywhere. It is neither cool nor hygienic.
What do you struggle with the most in Sweden?
I think the most difficult part is being so far away from family and friends back in Singapore and knowing that I would not be able to rush home as quickly as I would like should any family emergency arise.
Have you found the Swedish job market difficult? If so, why? If not, why not?
I feel that the Swedish job market has been okay. Coming here I had very realistic expectations knowing that I was still very junior in the job market (only 2 years of experience) and armed with very little knowledge of the Swedish language. I knew that I had stiff competition from local university grads so I tried to focus on skills which I feel could be useful to an employer which in my case is my Mandarin skills. So I feel like if you are coming to a new country, it is important to be realistic and try to focus on marketable skills that can help you stand out from the natives. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and network and also show your willingness to learn the local language.
Do you speak Swedish? Do you think it’s necessary to learn Swedish in Sweden?
I would say that I speak conversational Swedish but not at a business level.
I do not think that Swedish is necessary if you live in Stockholm but very crucial if you live in a smaller town. However I feel that regardless of whichever part of Sweden you live in, it is important to learn the language in order to integrate with society.
Did you find it difficult to make friends in Sweden when you first moved here? If so, why? If not, why not?
I don’t think it is difficult to make friends with expats but it is a challenge to make Swedish friends. I guess most Swedes are very comfortable with their circle of friends so they don’t see the need to step out of their comfort zone to befriend a foreigner who doesn’t speak Swedish. I feel like I would probably be the same way in Singapore so I think that it is completely understandable.
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