Cristina is 26 years old and originally from Italy and through many twists of fate ended up in Stockholm as an au pair. She has now lived here since November 2015 and thus has experienced her first Swedish winter.
Now that you have been here for a while, what was the hardest to adjust to?
In my opinion, the hardest thing during the winter is not low temperature, but the daylight hours. The sunrise is at 9.00 am and sunset at 3.00 pm. Just 6 hours of light. It’s very hard for me living without the sun.
What is your story and how did you end up here?
I had lived in Milan for 7 years and day by day I was realizing that Milan was too big for me. In 2015 I came back to Sardinia, which my birthplace and I was looking for a job but I it was hard to find anything. A friend of mine had visited Stockholm in October 2015, and in his opinion Sweden was my type of country.
At that moment I had nothing to lose, so I decided to find a way to move in Sweden. My problem was that I didn’t know any of the language language – I didn’t even know how to say “Hi”.
So I wrote an advertisement as an au pair. I love children and I thought this could be an opportunity to discover the country day by day with the help of a Swedish family. In the end I found a wonderful family, we met on Skype and after 2 weeks I took the plane to Stockholm.
What was the biggest obstacle when you first came here?
The first obstacle was the time of dinner. In Sweden the dinner time is at 6.00pm, in Italy it’s at 8.00pm. It was very strange for me to have an early dinner and during the first days I was hungry again at 10.00 pm.
What do you like best about Sweden and Swedes
I love the nature in Sweden. Swedes have deep respect for the nature, they don’t destroy the environment but preserve it. They behave very well, like guests. I also find Swedes very humble, not exhibitionist and hospitable.
What is your favourite Swedish word?
My favorite Swedish word is “lagom” ( meaning: just the right amount) of course. I think that is the symbol of this country and I love it because there is not a similar word in the other languages.
What do you find strange about Swedes?
I went out with Swedes and during the night people went home without saying goodbye. I think that for me is not possible to disappear without saying goodbye.
What do you miss the most from Italy?
All Italian people will say food, pasta, pizza etc but personally I miss the bidet 😀
What is confusing about Swedish culture?
I find Swedes very hospitable but at the same time is very hard to create a friendship.
Do you have any advice for a Newbie?
Learn Swedish as soon as possible. In this country English is the second language, all the people can speak English. But I think that the best way to integrate yourself completely is by speaking in Swedish.
Do you have an anecdote about something strange that happend during your first time here?
In Italy when you feel sick, you must stay at home. In Sweden is the opposite. If you have fever or other type of disease you must go out to breath clean and fresh air. Initially I thought that was crazy but now I think that is the better way to recover yourself.