"Office environments here tend to be a lot more informal than my previous jobs. It is likely that even your boss will be OK with being addressed by their first name only. Work is planned around the week number (I had never seen this before!) and holidays are booked well in advance."
Born and bred in Brazil, I had spent the last fifteen years in Ireland and after reviewing what I wanted from life, I decided to make an international move one more time. So one year ago I moved to Sweden.
I had expected that after so many years in a European country I would have no problems with the transition. So it was quite surprising to me that funding my feet in Sweden was not as simple as expected.
But through the course of the year I readjusted my expectations, adapted to country and I now feel settled here.
Don’t expect things to work here the same way the worked back home. Actually, this is a good rule wherever you. Countries have different ways of organising services, the society and the government.
Your ability to access services here depends on having your "personnummer", and this can take days or weeks to be processed. I moved here just at the beginning of the summer, applied for my number as soon as staff started their summer holidays, and therefore had to wait a long time. It was a great exercise in patience.
Learning Swedish helped me navigate the system here. Being able to read letters from the health care system, understanding the news or singing along to a song feels fantastic now.
Yes, the vast majority of Swedes speaks English, and very well at that! But this is not the country’s official language and day-to-day activities are all handled in Swedish. Supermarkets, banks, transport system, authority offices all operate in Swedish and being able to access all of this with confidence is a huge step.
I found out that one of the best ways to improve on my Swedish is to start a conversation. Simply say to a Swedish person “Hey, I am learning Swedish. How do I say…”. You will be surprised how happy they will be help you and to find out more about this.
I have said to all my Swedish colleagues that I want to improve on my language skill and they are all delighted to help!
Also, offer help when you can, ask their recommendation at the coffee shop, see if they can help you find a book, comment on the weather and take it from there!
And talking about work, this is another aspect that I had to adapt.
Office environments here tend to be a lot more informal than my previous jobs. It is likely that even your boss will be OK with being addressed by their first name only. Work is planned around the week number (I had never seen this before!) and holidays are booked well in advance.
Eating lunch at your desk is not a very welcome practice, but having fika with your colleagues is a healthy and bonding habit to have.
If you can join an association or committee, sport club, attend parents meetings at schools, take the opportunity. This is great to integrate in the society, meet people and make connections.
I volunteered at the International Citizens Hub Lund and found this to be invaluable. It gave me the chance to learn about the country through the talks organised, I was able to meet many people, and it gave me a sense of purpose when I needed, being able to help other people who were in similar situations that mine.
I hope you get to enjoy your time in Sweden!
/ Flavia Destro