"The Swedish concept of "lagom" is a standard that embodies comfort and balance. From work-life balance to the design of IKEA furniture, "lagom" is a concept that has been perfected in Sweden. By adopting this mindset, you can blend into Swedish society more easily and find comfort in your daily life."
In 2020, I made the decision to pack my bags and embark on a new journey in Sweden, leaving behind the familiar streets of East Midlands and its delectable treats from Greggs. As I settled into my new home, I quickly realized that this was no ordinary move – the cultural differences were stark, from the ‘polite way’ of saying thank you when getting off a bus to the cleanliness of the streets.
The question that often comes up is whether or not the move was worth it. The answer is a resounding "yes." Sweden offers a unique blend of a gentle summer, pristine nature, and a work-life balance that is unmatched. However, blending in with the Swedish culture was not an easy feat. The "Peach vs Coconut" culture theory suggests that integrating into Swedish society can be a tough nut to crack, but with persistence and effort, it is possible.
One of the first things that newcomers to Sweden will encounter is the long and complex process of obtaining a permit through Migrationsverket. It can take several months to receive approval, but there are ways to make the process a little less daunting. Having a Bank ID and personal number will be necessary for booking appointments and accessing services. The best way to cope with this challenge is to seek out other international groups and connect with people who are going through similar experiences. LinkedIn is a great platform to expand your professional network and find support from others.
My advice to those starting out in Sweden is to have faith and be consistent. Believe that things will get better and work towards your goals every day. Consistency is key in learning Swedish, taking care of yourself, and proactively solving any issues that arise. It's important to accept that life may not be perfect and to have realistic expectations. With time and effort, you will be able to have conversations in Swedish, participate in local events, and even secure a job.
The Swedish concept of "lagom" is a standard that embodies comfort and balance. From work-life balance to the design of IKEA furniture, "lagom" is a concept that has been perfected in Sweden. By adopting this mindset, you can blend into Swedish society more easily and find comfort in your daily life.
While adapting to a new culture can be challenging, it's important to take time to explore the wonders of Sweden. From the Nyhamnen in Malmö to kayaking in Karlskrona or feeding reindeer in Kiruna, there is so much to discover in this beautiful country. Its generosity, tranquility, elegance, and passion make Sweden a unique and special place. Despite its pros and cons like any other country, a positive attitude and a listening ear to the song "Oh, vilken härlig dag" by Ted Gärdestad can help ease the transition and make your experience in Sweden a memorable one.
As I reflect on my journey so far in Sweden, I can say that the experience of moving to a new country has been both challenging and rewarding. Although I'm still in the process of cracking my coconut, I have faith that with time, persistence, and a "lagom" mindset, I will fully integrate into Swedish society and call it home.
/ Xavier Chen