"I read about the International Citizen Hub Lund when I was still in Barcelona, and I went there the very first week I was in Lund. I hadn't even settled here (I was only accompanying my husband during his first days at his new job, and I was planning to join him a few months later), but I went to a Thursday drop-in session. I didn't know what to expect, and I was feeling shy and insecure, but I happened to find two nice and kind women, Maria and Martina, who welcomed me with a big smile, cookies and a cup of coffee."
A new place, a new language, a new culture... and you have no acquiantances or friends. This is a really challenging situation, and even more if you don't have a job and a workplace, where it is much easier to meet new people and, eventually, make new friends. I am sure that this is a situation that might be familiar to many of you who have come to Sweden because of a job opportunity offered to your partner. You can feel lonely and blue (and even more during the long and grey Skåne's winters) but this is precisely what the International Citizen Hub Lund (ICHL) tries to remedy. When you go there, you meet other people in similar situations and hear their stories. Then, you see that you are not the only one feeling this way. And this is comforting.
Until a couple of years ago, my career path had been pretty straightforward. I finished university and started working at one of the largest media outlets in Spain. In 2018, though, I accepted the challenge of going out of this comfort zone and I moved to Sweden with my partner.
I read about the International Citizen Hub Lund when I was still in Barcelona, and I went there the very first week I was in Lund. I hadn't even settled here (I was only accompanying my husband during his first days at his new job, and I was planning to join him a few months later), but I went to a Thursday drop-in session. I didn't know what to expect, and I was feeling shy and insecure, but I happened to find two nice and kind women, Maria and Martina, who welcomed me with a big smile, cookies and a cup of coffee. I can only recommend you to go there if you are a newcomer or if you feel lost in any way. This is a good starting point to clear up practical doubts. And, actually, they gave me a good first tip: which is the only bank in Lund in which it is possible to open a bank account without having yet a personal number (and this is a good one!).
After some months here, I was trying to register my own company (my activity as a freelance journalist), which is not specially difficult in Sweden, I must say, but is challenging when you can't speak Swedish and you don't really know how does everything work with Skatteverket. Again, the ICHL helped me a lot. Maria and Martina helped me filling out the official forms, while Lisa shared her own experience. Now it's been a year since I started my company as a sole trader and it is working pretty well. It's easy when you know what to do, but I really struggled at the beginning of the process. So, please, don't hesitate to ask for help if you find yourself in a similar situation!
The first day I met Maria and Martina, they also mentioned the informative sessions, which are highly useful: firstly, you find out about crucial aspects of your life in Sweden (how to learn Swedish for free, how does the health system work, what do you need to apply for the social security, how do you pay your taxes...) and secondly, and maybe more important, you get to mingle with other people and... start building your network in Sweden. Network. This is a word that you will hear a lot. This is difficult at the beginning, of course, but one thing (or person) leads to another. This is an essential aspect of the Swedish society and crucial in your way to find a job. And at this point I should also mention the Kick-Start Program. I found out that my CV was not even close to what it should be to apply for a job in Sweden and I learned how to prepare a job interview in Sweden, among many other useful things. Sometimes you need to think out of the box to be aware of your skills and adapt your background to a new situation.
/ Núria Vila Masclans