Orlande first came to Sweden in January 2013, it was her first time ever in Scandinavia. She moved to Linköping University for 6 months to complete her Bachelor degree as part of the transatlantic WELD Atlantis program. Two years after, she decided to come back and settle in Sweden last November – the famously darkest time of the year here!
How did you end up in Sweden?
During my studies in Linköping I fell in love with my Swedish corridor mate, and even though I cannot stand even the smell of cinnamon, he finally convinced me that there is no better place to live than Sweden. I firstly thought that my story was quite unusual and romantic, but that was before moving to Stockholm. Like I have now discovered, Swedes seem to be very attractive to foreigners and there is such a thing as “love immigrants” who moved to Sweden for their partner.
What has been the hardest to adjust to in Sweden?
Honestly I thought it was going to be the weather. All this cold and darkness for so many months… But as the Swedish saying goes, there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. So even though I still complain for the lack of sun, I realized that something else was the hardest thing about moving to Sweden. Namely, administrations. Migrationsverket, Skatteverket, Banks… They have a lot of requests and little time, so unless you have already landed a permanent job before your arrival, getting anything from a personnummer to your own bank account can become a very long and frustrating process.
What do you like the best about Sweden?
There are two things I enjoy the most here: nature and the Swedish propensity to respect rules. Nature is everywhere here and is much more part of everyday life than anywhere I lived before. I love those giant forests, the sea everywhere and those amazing colors in the sky whenever the sun is shining. It is also very calming that Swedes seem to make it their personal goal to always respect the rules. It makes the environment feel very peaceful and trustworthy.
What Swedish word is your favourite?
Kärlek, it is the reason I moved to Sweden and I think it is so funny that it took me 6 months to realize what this word meant and how it was – actually – pronounced.
What do you miss the most from your country of origin?
Food food food ! From smelly cheeses to buttery croissants, gastronomy is always what I miss the most when I’m away from France.
What did you find difficult socially when you first arrived?
The most difficult thing was and still is for me to make Swedish friends. I have been extremely lucky that my boyfriend’s family and his friends have been so warmly welcoming from the first day we met so it is great and reassuring to have their support here. However, contrary to other countries I find it very challenging to get native friends and build my own social circle outside the foreigner groups.
What are the difficulties of a culturally mixed relationship?
No matter one’s country culture, I believe there are always challenges in sharing your life with someone, there will always be some compromise to be made. In the case of culturally mixed relationship, the main challenge I see is really the language. Even though both my boyfriend and I have a good level of english, it can become very misleading, tiring and eventually frustrating to not be able to express ourself in our own language. Even with my increasing level in Swedish, some meanings are often lost in translation.
What are the positive aspects of a culturally mixed relationship?
Discovering new perspectives. Even though some of them can be very confusing at the start, being in a very culturally mixed relationship has made me much more accepting and open to changes (my boyfriend is half Swedish half Serbian and I am French with roots in Philippines and Greece). Both my boyfriend and I have now adopted some of each other’s habits. He now loves to enjoy a glass of red wine on Friday evening with “La vie est belle” playing in the background. And I have traded my small sweet breakfast habit and no workout spirit for heavy salty breakfasts and a monthly membership at the nearest gym. Generally, I am working on being a bit less prone to confrontation like my French ancestors and he is slowly strarting to enjoy the perks of being a bit less Viking ”lagom” and a bit more unique and excentric.