Heidi LaGrasta

"I think newcomers who are creatives face additional challenges compared to those who have careers related to tech or sales. You have to find your own way a bit more. So part of my professional journey has been to examine new ideas that I never would’ve considered before, like starting my own business or creating my own cultural attraction. In my down time, I’m illustrating children’s books."

Two years ago, our family packed their bags and moved to Sweden. We had no family or friends here, but wanted to try an international adventure and felt Sweden would be a good place to raise our son. Integration has been slow, but we enjoy the pace of life and the new community of friends we’ve gotten to know here.

Back in California, I was the director of a contemporary art museum. I loved connecting artists and the community. I loved solving the challenges each new exhibition brought. But without native fluency in Swedish, it hasn’t been easy finding a similar job in the Swedish job market. I think newcomers who are creatives face additional challenges compared to those who have careers related to tech or sales. You have to find your own way a bit more. So part of my professional journey has been to examine new ideas that I never would’ve considered before, like starting my own business or creating my own cultural attraction. In my down time, I’m illustrating children’s books.

I’m very grateful that the International Citizens Hub Lund exists. They have been my first bridge into Sweden’s professional network and have helped me learn a lot about places and people to approach. I’ve gotten more than one email from Lisa or Martina introducing me to someone new, which has been wonderful. I always leave the Hub feeling more encouraged then when I walked in the door.

Bit by bit I’m finding my way. I’m glad to have finished SFI so I can speak more Swedish. Joining the local American Women’s Club has been great for building a social network and addressing the peculiarities of being an American abroad. I still miss the feeling of knowing the landscape, language, bureaucratic processes and subtle social cues like I did back in the US. But being a newcomer here I feel more free to ask more questions like, “How does this all work? Where should I go and who should I talk to?” And maybe by not knowing where the boundaries are, I am able to dream a little bigger.

Heidi LaGrasta

 

>> To the Linkedin profile of Heidi LaGrasta