Navigating life in Sweden is one of the most interesting and adventurous journeys of my life that I didn’t know I needed. If you’re an ardent follower of my podcast then you must have heard me talk about bits and pieces of my life here in Sweden and so far I think that the settling down process in a new country should never be glossy told except its that way in reality and that’s why it’s important to tell our stories so that the people coming behind can manage their expectations.
In all honesty, I didn’t have any specific expectations of what life in Sweden would be like, I saw pictures of amazing architectural buildings and I imagined walking those streets, taking pictures, making new friends, a community of like-minded people, building something concrete, networking and doing all sort of amazing things.
Eight months into my master’s program and living in Sweden and I can categorically tell you that I’m still finding my way on how to navigate life here.
Nothing prepares you for a new country than living and experiencing it.
I feel I should say at this point that navigating life in Sweden has not been entirely a bad one because you’re probably reading this and wondering ‘where is the happy story, I have met some incredible people, people who gave me a soft landing when I got here and friends (people like me who are new to the country and people who have lived here for the most of their lives) who have made my life easier and added colour to me.
I think one of the most disappointing experiences one would go through in life is when our expectations don’t match our reality, nothing prepares us for it.
I didn’t prepare myself enough for the reality that comes with navigating a country where their language was a big part of their identity and even though I had started taking some online classes on Duolingo, the reality of it all was unmatched… but I’m also thankful that the English language is also a second language.
Also, coming from a country or society where ‘it generally takes a village’, where everyone knows someone you know and then coming to a new society where individualism is practised to the core and there isn’t any form of warmness felt by the swedes.
This is not to say that they’re not a kind and friendly people or warm towards others, it’s not just their first approach and most of the time they would typically try to avoid you except for reasons beyond their control and then they would strike up a conversation. Although, the popular belief is they’re more friendly and would strike up a conversation with you when they’re drunk or have some alcohol.
Also, I think all of these experiences might have stalled my creative process and I hope to do better and create more content consistently on all of my publishing platforms.
Another thing I have found in navigating life in Sweden is that they’re big on who you know when it comes to getting access and opportunities and this was mind-boggling for me because I felt this was only prevalent in third-world countries or places where corruption is on the high.
I expected that your skills and your application for these opportunities should be all you need and a sprinkle of the grace of God but alas! it is not like that. It is all dependent on who you know, who can recommend you and it doesn’t matter whether a more qualified person has applied as long as you know someone, the chances of you getting the job is increased than the most qualified applicant.
This is just sad!
However, this doesn’t mean that one should stop applying because of the way the system is. For me, I think I have applied for close to 100 jobs since I got here, lots of rejection emails in the process but the goal is to keep applying and keep knocking on those doors till they eventually open.
Thankfully, my master’s program has been all shades of awesomeness even though there might have been some hiccups, I’m grateful that it has been a smooth course so far and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In conclusion, navigating life in Sweden has not all been rosy and if I’m to write about all of my various experiences there will always be something new to write but I think the most important thing is to keep our stories authentic and not make them glossy especially if they aren’t.
Anyway, what is life without having to surmount challenges since it gives room for a better and improved life?
If you made it to the end of this post, don’t forget to leave me a comment and check out my previous post titled “International day of education: European union youth sounding board” here and listen to episodes from my podcast here.