Our editor Susan decided to move to Sweden and start a new stage of her life there. She shares some interesting facts about her experience.
Realisationsvinstbeskattning. This is the longest word in Swedish you can find in the dictionary. The Swedish language is much more flexible that English and allows you to create extremely long words without breaking any grammar rules. If you are creative enough, you can come up with a word consisting of more than 90 letters. After finding out about these facts, learning Swedish may seem impossible and moving to Sweden like a foolish idea. After all, it is the language barrier that plays a significant role in the adaptation process.
But this information did not stop me from moving from the U.S. to Sweden. I’ve been to Stockholm for many times and can say that this is one of the few places that makes me feel like home. I enjoy the calm atmosphere, caring people, and even those rare sunny days which you begin appreciate much more after coming here. It was not that hard to make the final decision and pack my bags. If you think of moving to Sweden someday, I’d like to share some of my insights with you.
Learning Swedish Will Be Challenging
And it is not only because of the 90-letter words. The pronunciation is a real test of your intellectual abilities as I’ve been learning for too long to pronounce some of the words correctly. The speed of the language differs very much from the one of English and seems to be slower. Apparently, the calmness of nature had a huge impact on the speech tempo of the Nordic countries. But there is a bigger problem than learning some basic grammar rules. It is almost impossible to practice.
Everybody speaks English in Sweden and is eager to have a conversation in it than struggle with your little knowledge of Swedish. Ever time I tried to start a dialog with a local and he found out where I was from, we immediately switched to English. Swedes consider it to be impolite to make a conversation partner uncomfortable no matter how much I asked them to keep talking in Swedish with me. But if learning this fantastic language is not a part of your to-do list, you will have no communication problems at all. The movies at cinemas are shown in English with Swedish subtitles and the same applies to most of the TV channels.
Making Friends Is Not Easy
First of all, do not try to speak to someone on a bus stop or start a spontaneous conversation with your neighbors. It is just not something the Swedes do. They are not as open as Americans and are not used to small talks. They are very careful about making new friends and wait for some time before letting someone in their lives. The good sign of the start of a new friendship is getting an invitation to a dinner party. This is where you will feel the real Swedish hospitality. This is an important part of social life and is valued very high. Going to a restaurant is just an occasional event but visiting a dinner party is a whole new level.
The Perfect Place for Introverts
One of the most obvious things that will strike you after moving from U.S. is the calmness and quietness. People do not speak loud and do not hurry anywhere. It seems like they know the secret of how to be always on time and stay relaxed. No one will cross the boundaries of your private space and burden you with unnecessary small talks.
Sweden is a heaven on Earth for introverts. If you consider yourself to be one, there is one particular thing I strongly recommend you do. Plan a boat trip to the Stockholm archipelago and you will have the best time of your life. It consists of seemingly an endless number of small islands with only one or two houses on each of them. In summer time it is the favorite place for Swedes to rest, walk, enjoy the scenery and go fishing. During winter it seems like another planet that was recently inhabited by a few people.
Hello Darkness, My Old friend
Prepare yourself to live in darkness during winter. The light day is very short and you will rarely see the sun. This fact impacts the average temperature so make sure you have enough of warm clothes. And do not, I repeat, DO NOT follow the example of Swedes wearing narrow scarves and light duster coats during the winter time. Either their immune system is not afraid of the cold or they are half-gods, but they don’t seem to be afraid of low degree temperatures. If you see someone without a hat and gloves with a red happy face at -20°C you can take a wild guess and suppose that s/he is a Swede. By the way, Anders Celsius who created the famous temperature scale was a Swede.
These are my quick insights from moving to Sweden. I invite you to come here in winter for the New Year celebration or during the summer time to enjoy fantastic boat trips around the city and archipelago. In case you will start thinking about moving here after your first visit, you can find some more practical information about it here. Enjoy your future trip and absorb every moment spent in this wonderful country.