"Important note! You need to stay yourself and not to lose your authentic personality. I often hear that everything takes much longer time here than in our home countries. If I had accepted that already back in 2015, it would have saved me so much energy and self-confidence. Still I am very grateful for this experience and I would not want to change anything."
When I moved to Sweden in June 2015, it was not love at first sight… But my first summer here in this beautiful country – three hot and colorful months of consequent vacations! For the first time in 14 years, when I graduated from high school, I haven’t had such a long break from work or study. I enjoyed life in the summerhouse at the lake Ringsjön in a super quiet countryside of Skåne. My hometown St Petersburg was faraway in Russia and I didn’t miss it a lot then.
I know I underestimated Sweden from the start, because next came autumn and the reality - life here is very different from what I used to have or was dreaming of. Southern dialect of Swedish, zero people on the streets in the weekends and in the evenings, “lagom” approach to basically everything Swedes do.
My Russian hurricane nature started to rebel, missing big city life became very obvious. Now after 5 years of living in Sweden I want to say to myself back in 2015 – “ Katya! So good, that you didn’t give up and gave a chance to this fantastic country”.
Everything will change to the best if you manage to find what you like in Sweden and discover some “swedishness” in yourself! It could be a surprise but we are all a bit Swedes, just give a chance to this small part inside of you! These could be traditions (taco Fridays, Thai food, “Midsommar” celebrations, Easter and Christmas), Swedish music – I found amazing singers which I liked a lot and started learning language in order to understand what they are singing about) , discovering beautiful places in Skåne, finding local exhibitions of modern art.
Important note! You need to stay yourself and not to lose your authentic personality. I often hear that everything takes much longer time here than in our home countries. If I had accepted that already back in 2015, it would have saved me so much energy and self-confidence. Still I am very grateful for this experience and I would not want to change anything.
What are 5 years in a lifetime? For me it was a job offer in October 2015 to which I replied, “Yes, I will try!” and I took this responsibility and managed to launch 4 websites and two B2B web shops for the big industrial company (and I have never done this before).
Then I said “Yes! I will try! “, and in August 2017 I applied to study Web Analytics in the Business school in Malmö, where I was the only one who didn’t speak Swedish in the group of 35 students. All studies were in Swedish. When I was getting my Diploma in the December 2018, we were only 20 who managed to do that. I still sentimentally keep notes from the studies which I wrote for myself in Russian, English and Swedish at the same time. I learned not only the new profession but also a new language.
One of the most challenging parts during my studies was communication barrier and loneliness. I have never felt so lonely in my life and I could not understand why my classmates are not accepting me and why don’t we go out together.
The answer I found out much later, almost after the whole year of my lonely student life and it was much unexpected. My Swedish classmates did not socialize with each other as well! The study was so intense, so no one had energy to do any activities after the university and everyone went home to curl in their “cocoons”! I made the first step and invited them to my birthday party in December, this happened right before our graduation. This was a great party, and since then we became real friends. So far this is my biggest achievement here – my friends.
Talking about friends – I said “Yes! I want to try!” and applied to the Kick-Start Program atInternational Citizen Hub Lund in Fall 2019. This was definitely the best that happened to me in the past year in Sweden. Things started to happen. New international friends, enormous support from the program leaders Lisa and Cynthia – and getting a dream job already in November 2019.
I think International Citizen Hub Lund is the best investment of time and efforts because it gives us, internationals, incredibly much – feeling home outside home! I am very happy to get this opportunity to share my story here and encourage newcomers internationals that everything is possible in Sweden, just give this country some time, some of your positive energy and some love!
/ Ekaterina Petrova