Livia came to Sweden in 2014. She is originally from Florida but married a Swedish guy and decided to give Sweden a try. This is her story.
The weather & the people are the most difficult things I find to adjust to. The weather, especially the lack of sun in the winter is the toughest. The people are warm, but not overly expressive and very reserved to strangers. But I love the fresh air, beautiful clean nature and the amazing water. The freshest I have ever tasted! Coming from Florida, our water is added with chlorine and fluoride, so I am loving how fresh the water tastes here. My cells just drink it up!
What Swedish word is your favourite?
I am beginning to learn swedish, but I would guess one of my favorite words are infart or utfart.
What do you find strange about Swedes?
Their perfectionism and rule abiding nature. Their closet full of black clothes. How everyone tones down their dress, speech, and emotions. How easily embarrassed they are. How they need alcohol at every occasion. How they do everything themselves and do not hire others for services.
What do you like about Swedes?
I love how dependable the nation is. I love how elegant they dress when they actually wear color. I love how friendly and caring they are once you break the ice. I love how they love to care for their home.
I love how they honor their family time and spend quality time with their children. I love how organized they are in general, especially with recycling. I love the welcoming feeling in most stores and restaurants that includes candles and cozyness.
What do you miss the most from the US?
People laughing out loud, strangers making conversation with ME, eye contact with strangers, smile and greeting strangers, wild and rowdy people who can cut loose, people who don’t embarrass easily, being able to say what you want, when you want, however you want, with no guilt or repercussions. Feeling connected to total strangers & making friends easily. Sun, Beach, and salsa dancing. Easy Deliveries to my front door. Cheap services offered in every business niche. Gorgeous clothes at discount prices. Restaurants at every corner with take out and decent prices.
What do you find strange about Swedish culture?
Perhaps I have not been to the right parties, but Swedes don’t know how to party. There is no dancing at a party. They have been too formal. I also find it strange that stores do not stay open very late.
Do you have a story about something strange that happened during your first time?
My family and I were at Ikea and it was very busy that day. We stayed until closing time. Over the loudspeaker, the manager stated we had about 30 minutes left, so people began rushing to finish up. Since the store was packed, people weren’t exactly finished shopping, but the manager kept insisting that it was closing time and people needed to leave.
Then about ten minutes left, a song came on the loudspeaker (”Bron över floden Kwai”) or (The Bridge on the River Kwai) aka the song the 7 dwarfs whistle when they are working. It was intended to say “everyone get out of here”.
Then the lights went off! If you can imagine hundreds of people trying to pay really fast with lights off and a strange song. I have never experienced something like that in the the states before! In the states, they just keep the store open as long as there are customers.
How did you meet your partner and why did you decide on Sweden?
We met through a casual dinner with close friends in Florida and I wanted to learn about my husband’s culture and to create a better and safer upbringing for my daughter. That’s why we ended up in Sweden.
What did you find difficult socially when you first arrived?
No one smiled and it was hard to make friends.
What is difficult and good about a culturally mixed relationship?
We misunderstand each other with every sentence. We have to make sure we are on the same page all the time. Even very simple language can be completely misunderstood. We often had misunderstandings around what punctuality meant. And of course, my husband expects me to read his mind.
But we learn about new morals and values that are not taught in our own culture. We take the best of both cultures and grow together with them.
What typically Swedish trait do you find interesting/confusing/adorable or irritating in your partner?
Interesting – quiet, reserved conversations about nothing deep. Confusing – what is offensive to others and why are some things so embarrassing? Adorable – Their care for the environment and some rules I agree with. Irritating – Quiet public meals and quiet conversations, my partner misunderstanding me when I get excited and raise my voice (it’s just excitement!).