As a Dutch girl, I come from a culture somewhat similar to the Swedish culture: we both work hard, aren’t too social but also not unsocial, we always talk about the weather and we’re both in the list of the happiest countries in the world. You’d think that integrating in Sweden would be really easy for me, right?
I started learning Swedish two years before moving to Sweden and downloaded many Swedish news apps to get better at the languages and know what’s going on up there in Sverige. I read a lot about their culture and was really interested in the history of Scandinavia and Sweden!
Basically, I thought I’d done everything right in order to feel completely at home in Sweden.
After I arrived in Sweden, I started to look for a part-time job. I didn’t come to Sweden to work, but it was still nice to do something in your free time. I noticed that finding jobs is really hard in Sweden, and you have to do a lot in order to actually find something! Weeks later (more than expected), I finally found something good, which I’m still really happy about. Still though – finding a job in Sweden was much harder than I thought. Especially if your Swedish isn’t super fluent.
In my daily life, I barely spoke any Swedish. I could speak it, but the moment Swedes heard that I wasn’t Swedish, they just changed to English. Often I kind of liked that because of course it’s easier to let them know what you mean and you sound a lot smarter, but it doesn’t really make you feel “one of them”.
Swedes never meant this in a bad way of course, they just want to make it easier for you, but the feeling wasn’t always very nice! After a while, however, I just told them that they could continue in Swedish because it would only be a good practice for me, and ever since that part has gotten better.
Nowadays, it’s still pretty hard for me to really befriend Swedish people. My friend group is like 20% Swedish people and 80% international. The Swedes I know are so incredibly kind and welcoming, and I really think that Sweden makes it easy for immigrants to be a part of the Swedish society (for example SFI). It’s just the small things that had a big impact on me, and I wonder what it’s like if you’re from a culture that’s so different than the Northern European one.
I’m really interested what you thought when you just arrived in Sweden 🙂 Say it in a comment!