"Don't waste your energy trying to explain why your home country is more appropriate in some aspects than Sweden. It is better if you concentrate on the benefits of living here and learn how to reach your goals. We find this attitude helped to remove the feelings of frustration and demoralisation trying to understand the system."
We have been living in Sweden for eight years, and we are still discovering Swedish culture.
My wife María, my daughter Jessica, and me Salvador, we like to share our experiences moving from México City to Sweden. I started to learn about Sweden when I joined Tetra Pak in México City in 1999. I came to Lund in 2002 for the very first time. Travelling to Lund for business gave me the chance to taste the flavour of the Swedish way of living. I enjoyed talking with my Swedish colleagues and heard fascinating information about the country, and of course, I shared my experiences living in México City too.
I enjoyed my stay on every trip to Lund; the architecture, the culture, the people, the food, the close contact with nature, and the safety moving around. Through the years, I started to imagine how would be our life living in Lund. I can tell you that I spent hours sitting in traffic jams in Mexico City, thinking about this idea.
So, we started to talk during the dinner (my son Iván was a teenager at that time) about the possibility of moving to Sweden. Each of us wrote on paper the pros and cons, to discuss and analyse all the points. The results showed more pros than cons. It was not an easy decision leaving our comfort zone moving to another country and start from scratch, but we were determined to try.
I started to apply for jobs in Tetra Pak in Lund from México City, and after several tries, I got an affirmative answer. Our journey to Sweden was just getting started.
As a family, we can share our experiences from different perspectives, and we hope some of them can give you some guidance in the same way our friends and colleagues helped us during the transition.
Don't waste your energy trying to explain why your home country is more appropriate in some aspects than Sweden. It is better if you concentrate on the benefits of living here and learn how to reach your goals. We find this attitude helped to remove the feelings of frustration and demoralisation trying to understand the system.
For us, it’s an advantage knowing the cultural differences because we can adapt and apply the best of both cultures in our daily life. Following the local etiquette is one way to show respect to our Swedes friends. It’s funny, but sometimes we feel like tourists when we return to our home country, the people perceive a different behaviour on us.
The technology can do the job for you. The internet is a powerful tool if you know how to search. Even if you don't understand Swedish well, try using Chrome. Add the translation extension and set your language to be translated into Swedish.
As an example, looking for a place to pick delicious strawberries near Lund, I start translating from Spanish "recolección de fresas en Lund", and Google responds "jordgubbsplockning i Lund". Next, I search the sentence in Swedish and Boom! "Sjalvplock i Skåne" appears among other hits.
It is not a perfect translation, but you can find immediate answers to your questions, even if you don't master the language.
Not all the websites have English text as an option; I use the same technique for reading contracts or policies from insurances companies, banks, schools, telephone or internet providers, or just for a finding hobby.
Thanks to this tool I capitalized some benefits from:
I've found International Citizen Hub Lund while surfing on the web in 2015; I was captivated after reading their website and immediately subscribed to the newsletter waiting for the nearest event. This is how I met the exceptional staff and had the opportunity to talk with people like me from other countries during one of the events.
By the way, do you know that Spotify can give you notifications if the artist you love is performing live in Sweden or near Sweden? I went to a concert in Copenhagen because of this alert.
Facebook and LinkedIn are useful tools for following the company that you want to apply for a job or for getting notifications about cultural events near Lund. I’ve learned this tip from one of the sessions at International Citizen Hub Lund.
We start living in a rented apartment in Lund. Then I began to learn how the housing market works in Sweden. I must confess that it was so complicated for me at the beginning, but my colleagues and friends guided me. I discovered that it is a straightforward process once I identify the rules and very organised as well.
Some tips they gave me:
We settled a strict saving plan for the down payment. For two years, we don't take vacations, buy a car or spend money on fancy products. Konsumentverket provides templates to get inspiration for planning your expenses.
Lund, it’s fantastic for riding a bicycle. Always wear a helmet; we want to enjoy the ride and reach our destination safe and sound. The helmet protected us several times from bad injuries. Use the front and backlights in the bike during the nights; you are invisible for cars, motorcycles or pedestrians.
It’s fine riding the bike during winter, just make sure that you change to winter tires and use special grease to resist the low temperatures.
More about safe bicycle riding at The Swedish Transport Agency
Do you want to buy second-hand bikes (or any other article) use the popular webpage Blocket.
There are many different options for city or mountain bike. I like to ride over the old railway system and search for the train stations between Lund and the surrounding towns. Do you know that the pathway between Lund and Södra Sandby was before the railroad for the steam train?
More about railway pathways
Sydkustleden is perfect if you like to cycle along the sea and enjoy the landscape of Skåne.
My name is María Camacho, and I was working as a Head Nurse in one of the biggest hospitals in México City, I have a long academic trajectory and experience.
I went to Arbetsförmedlingen, and for my surprise, I couldn't apply for a job because of the language, despite the high demand for my profession.
Ten tips for finding a job in Sweden
Luckily Arbetsförmedlingen started to guide me and specify all the requirements. The top priority was the language, and they recommended Yrkes-SFI (Swedish for immigrants with professional orientation), to learn both, the technical jargon, and regular Swedish. It took me three years to complete the program, and now I'm back to business.
"Arbetsförmedlingen provides me with all the guidance and contacts to speed up my preparation for the labour market. I recommend translating your professional documentation into Swedish and don't get frustrated learning the language; there are many options in Lund to practice."
My name is Jessica Segura, and I'm studying at Malmö University. The student life is more balanced between study-leisure time compared with my home country. I can enjoy having fun with my friends without worrying about insecurity.
I recommend staying alert about the careers fairs to know about all the different options for studying in Sweden or exchange studies. As education is free in Sweden, you can try various programs before deciding your career pathway. Even after having done a career, you can try different areas. I have classmates studying their second career.
I feel lucky living in Lund and travel easily not only in Sweden but also in Denmark and visit different expositions and events.
We have the belief that our decisions claim a cost always. If we decided to stay in Mexico, we must deal with things like traffic, pollution, insecurity, earthquakes and some other adverse elements. On the other hand, there are advantages of staying at home, like close contact with our family, friends, language, food, and of course the weather.
The reward for us living in Sweden is that we get a better quality of life and opportunities to travel around Europe. Our family and friends can now spend vacations with us.
Grandmother Ruth, now age 85 years old, visited us during the winter in 2014. She was amazed about how life is in Lund. She took notes with detail to preserve her memories on paper and share her experiences back home with family and friends.
Wherever the reason you are in Sweden, permanent or temporal, we recommend taking the most positive attitude and enjoy on every opportunity in front of you.
/ Salvador Segura