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Dhanya Nandakumar

“As I stand amidst the vibrant greenery of this bustling city, I can't help but marvel at the journey I've embarked on thus far. It's like I’m juggling multiple roles with finesse - a dedicated mother, a determined job seeker navigating through rejections, a passionate volunteer, a social butterfly, and an active participant in my son's school parent committee.”

The new path to navigate to find my “lagom”

I'd like to refer to Lund as "the healing city", this tiny city has its unique charm! Hello, my name is Dhanya Nandakumar, and I am originally from Kerala, in southern part of India.

Sweden was never on our list, but we ended up moving to this city with my 11-year-old kid after my husband got a job here.

Portrait of Dhanya Nandakumar

"Life is all about the journey not the destination" is the famous phrase by Ralph Waldo Emerson. To reach here we had to take a long route from Kerala via Dubai many stopovers like Malaysia, Singapore then Germany and finally the destination “Sweden”! In short, we been moving around a lot in past 11 years and now here we are ready to start yet another exciting new chapter of my life.

On 9th January 2024, on a bitterly cold and snowy day, we stepped our foot in a Scandinavian country for the first time. Despite the tough conditions, we remained optimistic about our Swedish experience because somewhere deep inside my mind I was so fascinated about this country and its culture, during our time in Singapore, Sweden seemed to be a frequent topic of conversation. While I was already aware of its reputation for gender equality, I became especially intrigued by its distinct approach to managing the covid-19 pandemic. While other countries were struggling and enforcing strict rules, I heard that Sweden took a different approach, with people being considerate towards each other and no lockdowns in place. This contrast fascinated me, and it sparked a curiosity to learn more about Swedish culture and its people. As we embarked on our journey to explore this intriguing country, those thoughts lingered in my mind, heightening my anticipation even more. It's funny how things turn out sometimes. Even though we never imagined it, here we are, living in Sweden!

Shaping you in ways you never imagined!

We had to relocate several times in the last 12 years owing to employment changes of my husband, the path was never easy however, each location provided me with the opportunity to both learn and unlearn. As a result, some people ask me which is my favorite place! Then it's impossible to answer; all I can say is that "each country has taught me that there is no perfect place; it's all about adapting to the culture and living in the moment. From my first taste of international exposure in Dubai to the incredible 7 years in Malaysia and Singapore, and our two-year stay in Germany, each place has made a distinct effect on me. I miss them all for their unique qualities and the valuable lessons I gained along the way. But I must say it was never easy path, it was hard, frustrating, sense of uncertainty also sometimes its mixed feeling of excitement and at the same time fear and anxiety.

Leaving your comfort zone

Stepping into a different land is to be overwhelming. Everything around you is new and can feel dangerous especially when there is no shared language, but thanks to Lund, where people are happy to engage us in English, that don’t happen everywhere, which is the harsh reality; going out of your comfort zone requires guts!! I left my comfort zone a long time ago, and we've all been there at some point! Yes, I understand this emotion. However, it hits you hard every time. However, as time passes, these strange things become a part of you, and you gradually integrate into it. So here I am, hoping to jell into Sweden and observe my son grow sensibly and learn the values of life!

  • Parenthood can be a deeply enjoyable experience, and being able to fully devote myself to it, allowed me to make lasting memories and deepen family relationships. Because of our back-to-back relocation's due my husband's profession, I decided to put my career on hold to focus on our family and I am entirely satisfied with my decision.
  • I've come to see the value of pursuing my own happiness after years of devoting myself to homemaking and raising my family while relocating. I have a great urge to take action right now to further my personal pleasure. I have a renewed feeling of purpose because of Sweden. I now realize that pursuing one's passions at any age is not impossible, however learning a language can be difficult! I'm still determined to find anything that will let me show off my skills, though. If I have to start over, I'm willing to learn!

Exploring a new city

That's when I discovered International Citizen Hub Lund, an organization that provided me with firsthand knowledge about the culture and job market. Discovering the International Citizen Hub Lund was a huge relief, as it guided me effortlessly through the hurdles of exploring a new city. Their timely and professional assistance enabled me to promptly join in their Kick-Start Program for the spring 2024. Meeting new individuals and learning about job seeking in Sweden made everything seem less daunting. This is the ideal resource for all your needs, whether you're looking for a job, learning about insurance, joining a union, establishing a new business, creating the perfect CV, networking, exploring the city, or managing parental leave. During the stimulating five-week program, I obtained vital knowledge and connected with many inspirational persons, gaining excellent knowledge, learning from their various experiences to settle in well, this was the only country in my experience, I found a such platform for internationals with their outstanding support system, making it incredibly easy for internationals like me to navigate in a new city! As a full-time mother and international homemaker, juggling family responsibilities and adjusting to a new place is never simple. However, taking on these difficulties has enhanced my life, extended my perspectives, and made me stronger and more resourceful.

The importance of volunteering

Organizations such as the International Citizen Hub Lund and the Social Hub have provided significant assistance in allowing me to smoothly blend into Swedish culture and understand the importance of volunteering. I've started helping at the Svalorna Indien Bangladesh second-hand shop, and participating at the language cafe offers me enormous satisfaction. I had an opportunity in this colorful city, I’ve enjoyed showing off my style on the runway while simultaneously supporting sustainability through secondhand shopping. It's my small contribution to a greener fashion industry. Plus, doing a ramp walk for a worthy cause is quite satisfying!

All of this was made possible by the culture of this country, which I like for its simple, humble, welcoming approach. This bustling city keeps me engaged and occupied, even while I look for new opportunity. These organizations taught me the value of networking and being socially visible for both professional and personal goals.

Restarting my career

Since arriving in Sweden, I’ve thoughts of restarting my career and rediscovering my happiness. I am ready to embrace this journey, even if it means starting from scratch! In just three months, we've built an incredible network and gained valuable insights that we never thought possible in any other country! Huge thanks to the International Citizen Hub Lund and Social Hub for being our guiding stars in this journey.

I enrolled with Arbetsförmedlingen to expand my opportunities. But that's not all - during this time, I’ve also taken the initiative to network within the Indian communities, joining various Facebook and What’s app groups and sharing my love for dance with friends. As I stand amidst the vibrant greenery of this bustling city, I can't help but marvel at the journey I've embarked on thus far. It's like I’m juggling multiple roles with finesse - a dedicated mother, a determined job seeker navigating through rejections, a passionate volunteer, a social butterfly, and an active participant in my son's school parent committee.

Every journey is unique

And guess what? I'm not stopping there! I'm eagerly but at same time bit worried and also scared, still looking forward to my next adventure as a student, waiting for SFI admission in Komvux, gearing up to dive into Swedish language classes. It's yet another chapter in my life waiting to unfold, and I couldn't be more excited and scared at the same time! This feeling is very normal!

Ah, the most lovely season is upon us once again! As lush greenery blankets the landscape and summer approaches, I feel invigorated and alive. I've found some truly meaningful friendships, adding an extra layer of warmth and joy to the season and making memories together.

Embrace the wisdom: never compare yourself to others, because every journey is unique. Your path is unique to you, and it is full of joy and significance.

Reentering the job after a long absence as a homemaker and mother is never easy, its going to take a long time but it is a path marked by perseverance, courage, and commitment.as a result, I am prepared to take advantage of any opportunity to interact, explore, experience, and broaden my horizons while remaining positive and never giving up hope!

The bittersweet reality of immigrant life

I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of my own path and learned not to compare. Amidst questions regarding my profession, such as "do you work"? ... Been judged for being a stay at-home mom, caring for my family, and putting my child first! I find satisfaction in the breadth of my experiences - traveling over the world, migrating with my infant when he was eight months old, and now maturing into a pre-teen. It's amid these treasured moments that I have discovered the actual core of happiness.

Well, there is always small hiccups, I do miss my home country, family, friends and food! Yet, I’ve realized that life is a delicate balance of trade-offs. To achieve something valuable, we frequently have to give up certain conveniences. This is the bittersweet reality of immigrant life. Leaving home is never easy, but it is an opportunity for growth and new experiences. Every advantage has a set of disadvantages, and this is one. Despite the drawbacks, the voyage is rewarding, with opportunity to learn, grow, and embrace new cultures. This experience, with all its ups and downs, is developing me into a more resilient and flexible person.

Calling Sweden home

So here I am, loving the present and enthusiastic for the future, but also frightened of the upcoming dark winter, which I am not used to much, 34 years mostly living in tropical weather, I find it really hard at times! I am also eager to continue calling Sweden home for many more years to come, and ideally cherishing it as our second home! I'm becoming tired of the nomadic lifestyle and want to settle down.

Being open-minded, and accepting that it is going to be difficult, and some time even lost, but I will keep embracing my new life and taking my baby steps to get into job market. I may be successful or may not be! But “I shall try until”.

So if you are new to Sweden first thing to do is - find these organizations and be a part of their programs which helps to fit in to the society and also answers to many questions!

Embrace, be curious, be open-minded, open to learn, explore the nature! Find your “lagom” in Sweden.

/ Dhanya Nandakumar

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