Rona came to Sweden 12 years ago to do a PhD at the Karolinska Institute. After finishing her studies she was offered a dream job. She decided to stay and is now working as a medical genetics researcher at Karolinska Institute. Rona is a dear member of our multinational blog team and makes a great job covering research and sport themes.
You have been here for 12 years: do you have any advice for students, post-graduates and researchers coming to Sweden?
If you need a bank account before you’ve got a personal number, take your passport with you and firmly suggest they use your passport number as a temporary identifier. It worked for me anyway.
Also, find a student pub! It’s the most friendly place I’ve come across and great to meet locals. Drinking there is good, working there is even better for meeting people.
Do you remember what you found the most challenging to adjust to during your initial time in Sweden?
Swedes are not very considerate (not saying this as a woman, but as a person!) – not holding the door for the person behind you, not saying thank you, stopping in a doorway to check the phone without realizing/caring that your blocking the door for others, not queuing if there is no numbered ticket system (yes, very British I know!).
It was also hard to adjust to the “everything is ok” culture. At work people are happy to moan over coffee about the various problems that exist, but in a meeting when the opportunity is presented to comment on things that aren’t working, no one wants to comment.
Finally, Swedes are generally good at English. So getting started with speaking Swedish can be frustrating when people switch to English. This might also be why they are not very flexible when listening to newbies trying to speak Swedish. Unless your pronunciation is exactly correct they really don’t understand what youre trying to say.
What is – from your point of view – the best with Sweden?
The light in the summer and the work-life balance. Bureaucracy might exist, but for the most part its quite transparent and efficient. Most things work smoothly.
Swedes are often considered to be a bit reserved. What is your experience?
Once you get to know them, they are true friends, it just takes a while to get there☺ And I love their dry sense of humour and that they appreciate and respect nature.
Is there any social behavior in Sweden that you find a bit strange?
They are pretty quiet – until they have had a few beers!
Finally, do you have any favourite Swedish word?
Lagom. (A hard to translate word that means something along the lines of “just right”).