Why did you move to Sweden?
I wanted a home base in Europe that I could explore from. Sweden was a much more interesting choice than London and satisfied my desire to learn another language, but with the ability to fairly easily find a job in English.
When did you move to Sweden?
End of April 2019
What do you wish you knew about Sweden, when you first moved here?
That Swedish people like to hug people they barely know, including at work. This took me by complete surprise, especially as going to hug someone you work with in Australia borderlines on sexual harassment. This has resulted in a number of awkward encounters for me but now I have come to the realisation that I may just have to embrace it (pun intended 😂)
Or perhaps that one is a bit weird in which case…
That in summer the sun almost never goes down! I use the sun to help me naturally wake up and remind me to go to bed. However I had no idea when I first arrived about this and often found myself confused why the supermarkets were closed so early.
How would you compare the work culture of your home country to Sweden’s work culture?
In my home country, we work less hours than Sweden. However working late is expected and often seen as how you show you are committed to your job. People have poor work life balance, to the point that some companies will allow you to expense dinner and a cab ride home. Stress is common and working 60+ hours in my industry is fairly normal.
In comparison, Swedes encourage a work life balance and often check out well before they’ve completed their contracted hours. Despite this, I find Swedes seem to sweat the small stuff more.
Did you have any trouble getting your professional credentials (for your work) recognised in Sweden?
No, degrees and our industry certifications aren’t very important. In my industry, people are more interested in your experience and your skills than a piece of paper, which is usually the case in most countries.
What’s your favourite part about living in Sweden?
Just being able to live somewhere which is so completely different to my own culture, means that I learn something new almost every day.
What do you struggle with the most in Sweden?
People not being direct, especially at work. Coming from a very direct culture, I struggle with this, as for me it is both inefficient to beat around the bush and also prevents me from getting the feedback necessary to improve. For Swedes, at times my bluntness has also been misinterpreted as rudeness.
What’s the biggest misconception you’ve come across about Sweden and/or Swedes?
I’ve not met many people down under who know an awful lot about Sweden. As a result, many imagine Sweden full of blondes eating meatballs on IKEA furniture. Living in Sweden has made me realize that one thing Sweden should be known for is it’s innovation. Many of the big brands of today, which we mistakenly assume come from other countries, actually started in Sweden, such as Skype, Spotify, Daniel Wellington or Volvo.
Can you speak Swedish? If so, how did you learn? How often do you get to speak Swedish?
A little, from just living in Sweden and also doing one class at Folkuniversitet. Basically any time I leave the house there is an opportunity to speak Swedish, especially as I’m often asked for directions.
What advice would you give to someone who is moving to Sweden?
Come for a holiday before making the decision to move here for work. Better yet, come over during winter. Coming from Australia many assumed my sunny disposition would be displaced over the long, cold, dark winter, however winter in Sweden may actually be my favourite season. For some people though this is not the case and knowing if cold, dark winter’s nights will suit you is good before signing on the dotted line.