Petya came to Sweden in the spring 2014. She is a twice re-located Bulgarian and devoted art lover. We started by asking her how she came to end up in Sweden.
I had visited Sweden a few years before moving. I was fascinated with what I saw but didn’t really think I would one day live here. I fell in love with many things (architecture, food) but most of all with
Nationalmuseum, which is a real treasure trove for the art lover. I got to spend 2 days there, filming for my blog. The staff treated me as if I were the director of a BBC production and it felt like I had the museum all to myself.
As going to museums is something I love to do my experience there solidified my positive impression of Sweden.
A couple of years later the opportunity to move here presented itself in the form of a job offer for my husband by Spotify. Although we still spent a lot of time discussing what we should do, my previous visit had planted a seed – I knew this was a place I could be happy in.
Not least because the values of Swedish society – tolerance, equality and support for groups and individuals in need – reflect the way me and my husband think about the world.
What was the hardest to adjust to in Sweden?
The price of fruits and vegetables.
What do you like best about Sweden?
So many things – nature, restaurants, the Swedes’ love of good yet understated quality in all aspects of life, their tolerance. I really like the fact that tolerance is something they work to maintain. An everyday thing like getting a nummerlapp when you are queuing, I think, stems from the Swedes’ desire to create a tension-free atmosphere especially in potentially tension-producing situations.
Above all, I like the fact that Sweden and Swedes are not as different as some (including Swedes themselves!) might think.
This is the upside to having relocated more than once – the realisation that behind different terms (“fika” for example that keeps cropping up in articles geared towards newly arrived people), lies a shared experience which is universal. Whatever you call the desire to get together with other people, talk and have something to eat and drink, it is universally human.
What Swedish word is your favourite?
Faktiskt (you will see below why)
What do you like about Swedes?
The relentless desire to exercise.
What do you miss the most from Bulgaria?
Good quality yet cheap fruits and vegetables.
What do you find strange about Swedish culture?
I don’t know if that’s the answer I would have given you earlier on but right now I’d say nothing. The more you get to know a person, the more you can see how idiosyncracies make sense within the context of this person’s life experience. If this applies to the individual, I think it applies to society at large.
If you start off by looking at something you don’t understand/ find strange and then investigate where it might be coming from, you’d be in for a surprise as well as a pleasure – the pleasure you get from making sense of the world and of understanding someone.
What do you find strange about Swedes?
I’m joking when I say this, of course, but that there hasn’t been a riot over the price of fruits and vegetables
Do you have an anecdote about something funny that happend during your first time here?
I don’t have one that’s as funny as one I heard recently. A Russian guy (not that the nationality is important!) thought how rude people are because they keep saying “fuck this”… When he shared this with a Swedish friend, it turned out what he was hearing was “faktiskt” (=”actually”).