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Liesl Joubert

"I have been wondering when I would get to a point where deciphering a foreign world would not occupy my brain every single day. The sheer amount of assimilation we have to do, new clothing, new vegetation, new birdsong, new colour palettes, new groceries, new shop names, cycling/driving on a new side of the road…"

From South Africa to Sweden

A job opportunity for my husband led us to decide to leave our home city of Cape Town in sun-drenched South Africa. We arrived with our 3 year-old son in late November 2021 to blistering cold and the shortest days I’ve ever experienced.

Liesl Joubert with light wood panels in the background

With no job and only one vague prospect, I was ready to be a woman-of-leisure/home executive for a while after building a successful career in biotechnology for the last 11 years. I was extremely lucky to have that one prospect materialise and I signed a contract with Lund University shortly before Christmas. Adjusting to an academic environment in a new scientific field has been eye-opening and jarring. I marvel daily at the good and bad differences.

Adapting to a foreign world

I have been wondering when I would get to a point where deciphering a foreign world would not occupy my brain every single day. The sheer amount of assimilation we have to do, new clothing, new vegetation, new birdsong, new colour palettes, new groceries, new shop names, cycling/driving on a new side of the road… and that is just the first week. Then you start to learn the language, the school structure, the phone apps, the Swedish keyboard and the norms of Swedish society. Then you have your first afterwork drinks or playdate or fika and you find points of connection with people.

And if you are really lucky the weather gets better and you rejoice in the Scanian summer. Everything is green and white cotton candy clouds pile up high in the sky. You find people stopping mid-commute to eat berries straight off a bush. Twenty five degrees celsius is ‘hot’ and they sunbathe on beaches without waves. The municipalities go all out to arrange outdoor activities like concerts and dancefloors. Restaurants magic outdoor seating out of nowhere. You aren’t using your translation app every single time you go to a shop or café.

Making memories & friends

I’ve survived the body blows of moving countries. I’m not there yet, but I can see how I can thrive in this city. Maybe if I become fluent in Swedish or when we make more memories or if I can finally make a friend. I am hopeful.

/ Liesl Joubert

Linkedin profile of Liesl Joubert

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