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Katrina, Philippines

Katrina arrived in Stockholm in June 2009 and the summer had just begun. She was searching for a place that could fill her wish to explore the world.

I remember that it was a warm sunny day, just around 22°C. The streets were empty of people as it was close to the holidays and Midsummer.

How did you end up in Sweden?

I was just a girl with ambition who was bored and under stimulated – seeking a country that could satiate my desire to explore the world. I also loved European art (too much reading about art histories) and I was looking for the pot of gold (I found a pot but there was no gold, just kidding). Among the countries in Europe, Sweden was the only one that opened the door of opportunities. “Det kan man säga.”

What was the hardest to adjust to in Sweden?

Everything was hard, especially understanding the language.

In addition, adjusting my wardrobe to Swedish weather conditions is by far the hardest and I am still struggling how to do this properly. Wearing the wrong shoes/clothes will make you run the risk of being uncomfortably cold or committing a crime of fashion (I apologize for my shallowness in advance).

What do you like the best about Sweden?

There are so many things to choose from and I will write the top 5 best things in Sweden.

  1. I love the infrastructure (from taxes, starting a company, getting insurance, getting a loan for your apartment, etc…), it´s always easy and reliable as long as you follow the rules.
  2. And the SUMMER season! I love the long Swedish summer nights when the sun is up until 10 p.m. and then it goes down for four hours and its up again around 2 or 3 a.m. I love the way it feels that the night is infinite because I´ve always been to fun parties in the summer, the time when you are so happy that you don´t want the moment to end.
  3. I love the city of Stockholm – I can experience both the excitement and the beat of the city while at the same time enjoying the beauty and serenity of nature.
  4. I love that almost everyone looks great and physically fit 🙂
  5. I love that I can have 25-40 vacation days in a year, and nobody questions your vacation day-off at work – your manager will even encourage you to take it!

Katarina

What Swedish word is your favourite?

Lugn – it means quiet, calm, peaceful

What do you find strange about Swedes?

I don´t understand them and I need to read what they said between the lines. Most of the time, they don´t exactly mean what they say.

I think that the Swedes are the most polite people I´ve met and I really like their courteousness and good manners. However, sometimes they just need to be a little bit more straightforward and honest because it can save them a lot of conflict and misunderstanding.

What do you like about Swedes?

I will only speak for the kind of Swedes that I´ve met: their love for travel and adventure is charming.

What do you miss the most?

I miss the comfort of being in my home country. I miss my family. I miss the consistent warm weather throughout the year. I miss the spontaneous beach trips on weekends because everywhere I go in my hometown feels like a holiday spot. I miss speaking my own language. I miss the tropical fruits and the fresh seafood. I miss being treated like a princess :-). I miss being understood beyond words (though this is probably not the case now because I have turned into a hybrid citizen of the world).

Do you have an anecdote about something funny that happend during your first time?

During my first few months in Sweden, I was still adjusting to the working culture and actually I was a workaholic (bad habit formed in the Philippines), I was staying late at work almost every day. Until one late night, my manager told me,

Katrina, in Sweden you can go home before your boss leaves. It´s not like in Asia where the minions stay until their boss leaves.

It was a wonderful epiphany, hahaha!