Manfred Hlina

"While my partner took the next step in her career, I took a year off. A sabbatical. A planned break to recharge, to reorient, to do something else, and clear out my head. (highly recommended, btw.) A few months into my sabbatical, I signed up for SFI and started learning Swedish. What an experience! Learning a new language with people from fifteen different countries is an experience I am truly grateful to have made. There, I even met some of my first friends in Sweden."

A: „What about Shanghai? “
M: „I think that’s too far.”
A: “What about Germany?”
M: “Oh, that’s too close.”
A: “What about Sweden?”
M: “Sure, why not.”

Deciding to move to another country can have many reasons. A job opportunity, adventure, love, or all of them, and many more. In the case of my partner and me, it can probably be described best as “When, if not now?”. The both of us were longing for some change, a little adventure maybe. Taking this famous step out of our comfort zone. But I think we mostly tried not to get stuck in the convenient situation we were in. Convenience can be dangerous as it keeps us from developing. And what else is there to do, right?

New in town

The both of us have spent some time abroad before, but only as students. Moving as a grown-up (whatever that might be) just felt like the next logical step. While my partner took the next step in her career, I took a year off. A sabbatical. A planned break to recharge, to reorient, to do something else, and clear out my head. (highly recommended, btw.) A few months into my sabbatical, I signed up for SFI and started learning Swedish. What an experience! Learning a new language with people from fifteen different countries is an experience I am truly grateful to have made. There, I even met some of my first friends in Sweden.

After finishing SFI, I decided to Swede-up my CV and enrolled at Malmö University. If you ever thought about studying again – do it! It’s great for your mind, and it feels so good to get new input and to learn. Even better, studying mid-career or as a not-so-young person is not unusual in Sweden. It is even possible to get financial support from the state – yes, even as a non-Swedish academic. Check out www.csn.se.

The Kick-Start Program

While studying, I stumbled upon some information about the Kick-Start Program and immediately signed up. It just seemed to be exactly what I was looking for to get a foot into the Swedish job market. Even after having been in Sweden for two years by the time, I only knew some of the information provided. Getting this in-depth information was just what I was looking for and needed. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to do the work of course, but as it is in Sweden: You can get all the information, you just need to know what to look for.

The job

I am not going to sugar-coat it: Finding a job was sometimes very frustrating and a much longer journey than I expected it to be. It was not like a “Bah-bang! We need you! Where have you been all the time?”-moment. I think it can be described best, like a staircase with many steps and you have to take one step at a time. When I was studying, I got the chance to work a few hours a week at the university as a student assistant teacher. That was my first job in Sweden. Then, after leaving university, I got a part-time job in retail. Not in my business area, but I learned something new and got to work with great colleagues. Besides that, I also started working as a freelance designer again. Now, I finally got my first permanent full-time position as a designer in Sweden.

Having met so many interesting and inspiring people, having made so many wonderful new friends, and having gone through so many new experiences, I would not want to miss one step of this amazing journey.

 / Manfred Hlina

 

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