“The Weather Is Depressing”: American Expat In Sweden Details Why So Many People From The US Regret Moving There

As an American, I’ve always viewed Scandinavia through rose-colored glasses. The home of gorgeous scenery, excellent education and healthcare, and systems that seem to work efficiently and actually benefit taxpayers, who wouldn’t want to move there?

However, there are pros and cons to living anywhere, so one expat who moved to Sweden nearly a decade ago recently detailed on Reddit why the land of pop music and IKEA might not be right for every American.

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It’s common for Americans to romanticize the idea of moving to a Nordic country

Image credits: Anete Lūsiņa (not the actual photo)

So this expat has broken down some of the ways moving to Sweden may not be exactly what Americans expect

Image credits: Catalina Johnson (not the actual photo)

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The expat later shared an update explaining what they love most about living in Sweden

Expats should expect to encounter many cultural differences anywhere they relocate to

I actually spent a year living and working in Sweden myself, and although I loved my experience there, I can understand where this person is coming from. Making a doctor’s appointment was impossible unless I called the second the line opened at 7:30am, and dealing with the migration office was always a nightmare. It’s extremely hard moving to Sweden as a temporary resident because you cannot receive a proper personal number that allows you to create a bank account without restrictions, make appointments anywhere and even pay for certain things. I needed to have my passport with me to pick up a package from the post office and encountered many issues when trying to get a COVID vaccine. You can’t expect anyone to be willing to bend the rules for you, ever.

As with any move to a foreign country, expats in Sweden should expect to be met with plenty of culture shocks and understand that it’s necessary to learn the local language to fully assimilate. But despite all of the challenges I encountered when trying to navigate the Swedish bureaucracy for the first time, I would not trade my experience there for the world. I absolutely adore Sweden. The nature is stunning, the amazing summers make up for the cold, dark winters, and I loved the culture. Yes, it can be difficult to make friends, as Swedes tend to be more reserved than Americans, but they are such good-hearted people. They are kind and practical, and I met so many who were curious about me and surprisingly welcoming, despite the stereotypes that surround them.

Image credits:Erik Odiin (not the actual photo)

Americans, in particular, must be prepared to live differently than they would in the United States

One excellent point that this expat on Reddit made is that Americans can’t expect to move to another country and continue living exactly the same way or expect things to work exactly like they do in the United States. Yes, moving to Sweden might bring some people a “better life”, but that does not come without challenges and sacrifices. It will always be difficult to move somewhere that you don’t speak the language and have not grown up in that culture. It’s also important to understand yourself before taking the leap to move to another country. If you hate cold weather and are deeply affected by seasonal depression, Sweden might not be the place for you. The winters are long and dark, and although they can be gorgeous, it can be very challenging to adjust to them.

According to Relocate to Sweden, there are several things that can make an expat’s experience in the land of meatballs and cinnamon buns go much more smoothly. And the first thing the team at Relocate to Sweden recommends for expats is to do plenty of research and planning. “Checking immigration requirements and the time frames involved is key, as the whole relocation plan can depend on this,” they write. “Gaining an understanding of what to expect from the Swedish rental and property market is also essential for setting realistic expectations.” It’s also important to get advice and ask for help. There are plenty of Facebook groups with expats who have been through the exact same process who will be willing to help you out, so don’t be shy.

Being a successful expat in Sweden also involves seeking to understand cultural differences. You may be surprised how many you encounter, but keep an open mind and resist the urge to think that the way your home country does things is superior. In fact, you might even prefer many Swedish ways of doing things. Personally, I love a good Swedish cheese slicer and butter knife, and I’ll never live without them now! Plus, fika is my favorite time of the day. Relocate to Sweden also says that successful expats make an effort to learn Swedish and build a social support network. Free Swedish classes are provided by the government to foreigners, so there’s no reason not to take them. (But I’ll warn you, the classes are intense!)

Image credits: Quintin Gellar (not the actual photo)

Moving to Sweden certainly comes with challenges, but assimilation is possible with an open mind and determination

If you really want to experience Sweden, you have to explore. “Sweden is a beautiful country with much to offer,” the Relocate to Sweden team writes. “Those who relocate successfully remain curious and tend to be adventurous when it comes to trying out new experiences such as food, sports or travel. An interest in the great outdoors is also a definite plus as most Swedes appreciate an active outdoor lifestyle and Sweden offers an abundance of activities for each of its four distinct seasons. The winter season in particular offers many surprises to newcomers such as ice swimming, as pictured above.”

I miss Sweden all the time, and I would happily live there forever if I could, but unfortunately, life has taken me in another direction for now. We would love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments, pandas. Have you ever lived in Sweden? Have you ever wanted to? Feel free to share about your own experiences in the birthplace of IKEA and countless pop songs, and then if you’re interested in reading another Bored Panda article discussing cultural differences an American mother noticed after moving to Denmark, you can find that story right here!  

Image credits: Jon Flobrant (not the actual photo)

Many people joined in on the conversation, discussing the importance of having reasonable expectations when relocating to another country

The post “The Weather Is Depressing”: American Expat In Sweden Details Why So Many People From The US Regret Moving There first appeared on Bored Panda.

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