“When I started working in a Swedish company, I noticed some differences compared to Brazil, the main ones being: in Sweden there’s more reasonable deadlines; there’s more respect for the employees’ time off work and there’s no conflict in the work place, at least not so apparent, which is a good and bad thing at the same time, because I noticed over time that many issues were just hidden, but not solved."
My story in Sweden began in March 2022, when I was approached by a tech recruiter telling me about an open position for my job role in that Nordic country. My first reaction was to be a little sceptical, because I always wanted to travel to Sweden since I was a teenager, so the possibility TO LIVE in that country seemed too good to be true.
Long story short, I went through all the recruitment process and got approved and suddenly it was time to tell my wife that we could move to Sweden (which she totally agreed) and we had to pack our bags and start the visa process. We just had 2 months to digest the idea before landing in Swedish soil.
When I started working in a Swedish company, I noticed some differences compared to Brazil, the main ones being: in Sweden there’s more reasonable deadlines; there’s more respect for the employees’ time off work and there’s no conflict in the work place, at least not so apparent, which is a good and bad thing at the same time, because I noticed over time that many issues were just hidden, but not solved. This fear of conflict is something that permeates all the Swedish society and I’ll talk more about it later.
In the daily life I also felt there were many cultural differences, for example: it’s hard to make friends here, there’s no safety concerns (not like in Brazil at least), the cities are planned for the population’s well-being and one thing that is very curious to me up to this day: the Swedes will be the kindest and the rudest people you’ll meet in your life!
This contradiction is very interesting: the Swedes will be very kind and polite with you when you need their help for example, but they will also push you when you’re trying to exit the train, very slightly but they will.
The Swedes fear conflict very much, so when they don’t agree with something, their body language will display some discomfort, but they won’t say anything, and if they do, it will be something passive-aggressive or just small hints that they do not agree.
So, for the newcomers, please pay attention to these small hints they tell you.
I will not lie here: my first winter was a very tough period both for me and for my wife. I say that not because of the low temperatures, but because of the darkness. There are only few hours of daylight and probably you’ll be inside the house or the office and won’t be able to enjoy it so much. This had a very big impact on me, I started to feel depressed and eventually went to the doctors and started to take anti-depressants which helped me a lot.
So, if I can give a piece of advice: look for ways to cope with the wintertime, either occupying your time with hobbies or even seeking for medical help, which was my case. The important thing to have in mind is you’re indeed not alone!
It was also during winter that I felt that people take care of each other in Sweden. The houses always have a light on near the window. It feels like a signal that you’re not alone.
After a year living in Göteborg I got the chance to move to Lund and so far it’s being amazing. I feel that Lund and Malmö (the cities I know in Skåne) have a more open minded vision towards immigrants. I feel that the expats are very welcome here and the people are very friendly with non-Swedish speakers. Don’t get me wrong, Göteborg is a very welcoming city too, but Lund/Malmö are even more.
After more that one year living and working with Swedes, I can say that I love Sweden. The Swedes are very quirky and fun to be with! I believe that my Japanese heritage has something to do with that, because I see a lot of similarities between Japanese and Swedish behaviors, but despite that, I feel very comfortable and safe here.
As it was said on the Barbie movie (very tiny spoiler ahead): Barbieland, which is a dream land, is like a small town in Sweden!
/ Cassio Minoru Miaguchi
34 years old Brazilian living in Sweden since June, 2022