Adrian, The Netherlands

Adrian at lunch

Adrian moved to Sweden for work. The bank he worked for in The Netherlands asked him to apply for a job in Stockholm as they were about to open a new office. He moved here in May 2006. Here he shares his story with us.

I used to work in sales (Commercial Banking), but I took a 2 year permission for studies starting august 2015 in order to become an arborist (a tree-care specialist).


In Stockholm

I felt rather lonely in the beginning as Swedes can be quite reserved towards strangers. In a small team with 7 individuals I was the only foreigner.

My experience is that Swedes are at work to work, not really to make friends.

As a Dutchman, who compared to Swedes are more outspoken I sometimes felt that I was sticking out, which was not always appreciated. I still have this feeling from time to time.

What do you like about Sweden and the Swedes?

Gender equality and equality between individuals in general, no matter what religion, color,  social class, sexual preference etc. Swedes are not really reaching out to foreigners/strangers, but when you ask someone for help you will get all the help you need. And even a little more.

What is your favourite Swedish word?

Gryningen. I don’t know why, I just like the sound of it! (It means dawn)

What do you find strange about the Swedes?

I have been living here almost too long now, but when looking back I thought it was hilarious that people sometimes queue without a reason (Men for example could line up in a queue with mixed genders leading to the restrooms, even when there are urinoirs as well.

I understand that some of them meay have a good reason to line up in a queue for a regular toilet seat, but I really have the impression that many of them simply queue because they are used to it and just don’t think any further). Don’t get me wrong: I do appreciate the fact that people queue otherwise!

What do you miss the most from The Netherlands?

Old friends and family.

What did you find difficult socially when you first arrived?

I thought it was difficult to learn to know Swedish people as they have a rather reserved attitude towards foreigners (at least in Stockholm), at the same time I did not feel like hanging too much of my time on the

Adrian at Torneträsk

At Torneträsk

Dutch Embassy (where my fellow countrymen organize a number of annual events), as hanging with Dutchies only was not what I came to Sweden for. Catch 22? 🙂

What do you find confusing about Swedish culture?

In sales: Swedes can be quite demanding as they really want to understand every detail, you better be well prepared. However, in contact with friends I sometimes am still very surprised how people simply agree with each other in discussions for social reasons.

What Swedish trait do you find interesting/confusing/adorable or irritating?

  • Interesting: understanding approach towards people of all kinds
  • Confusing: why only porridge for breakfast?
  • Adorable: why buying a yellow-blue t-shirt in Paris with the text ”je suis Suedois” (I am Swedish)?
  • Irritating: living social life by overbooking a calendar

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

While I was doing my best to learn Swedish after I just arrived in Sweden, some of my colleagues simply could not help laughing out loud when I would say things wrong – e.g. avsläppande instead of  avslappnande and things like that. (The first word has a resemblance to “passing gas” and the second one means “to relax” – not quite the same thing). However, I really should mention that I got great help from my colleagues to learn Swedish!

Do you have a Swedish partner?

Yes. We met online and decided to go and have a coffee together after finding out that we really liked talking to each other.

Why did you and your partner decide on Sweden?

I decided on Sweden for professional reasons (as mentioned earlier). My partner is Swedish (early stage though, we only met a couple of months ago, it is questionable if we could be referred to as partners, but what the heck…). After an earlier relationship with a ”local” did not work out I promised myself that my next partner would be Dutch. I guess I failed (again).

What are the difficulties of a culturally mixed relationship?

Haha, I hope this time they will be very limited!

What are the positive aspects of a culturally mixed relationship?

Every time I experience that there is another effective approach for solving an issue that I did not think of I really feel inspired!

Do you have any advice for Newbies?

Be proactive. Learn Swedish. Try and participate in social activities. Accept the fact that being new in this country will make you feel rather stupid from time to time (while learning a new language for example).