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Serious in Sweden

photograph by Nigel Walker

photograph by Nigel Walker

I guess you’re all wondering why I called you here today.

Recently a reader and former colleague San Francisco sent me a mail asking to address some questions seriously. I really appreciated his feedback. So here goes,,

“Why did you move to Sweden?”

For the adventure really or as my wife put it to shake up the roots of our lives a bit.  In 2007, I applied to the Swedish government for full legal residency and received it in 2008.Yet many factors influenced our move to Sweden.

Language:

My daughter’s growing reluctance to speak Swedish with my wife concerned us. We knew the benefits of a bilingual upbringing and were concerned my daughter would stop speaking Swedish. Knowing her temperament now I’m sure that would have been the case.

After three weeks in daycare in Sweden she flipped over to Swedish completely. This created the reverse dilemma -how to get her to speak to me in English.

Housing:

We hung on to our one bedroom apartment as long as we could. I referred to it as the U-boat, and my mantra was

“ If it doesn’t fit in the U-boat don’t bring it in or chuck it out.”
However after Anja turned 2 years old we needed a larger place.
So faced with the reality of finding an affordable two bedroom or moving to Sweden , we took the latter.

“What do you for work?”   

I worked at an international school teaching 5th grade. I quit last year to pursue writing full time.

“How easy is it for an American to find a job without knowing Swedish?”

If you have a tangible skill or career one can find work in the English speaking corporate world. In my case, my work background was in restaurants and substitute teaching.I applied for one job in a restaurant here and they politely passed on me due to my lack of Swedish comprehension.

So I dropped my name in the local international school’s sub pool list and was working full time within three weeks.
It is the trap of the English-speaking immigrants, taking the short-term solution. It led to four years estranged from writing and performing.

Yet it helped establish us here and gave me tons about which to write.

“Do you think you’ll stay in Sweden permanently?
If so, why don’t you learn Swedish? I mean seriously, not your comedy answer.”

Yes we are staying.I really tried to learn Swedish; my lack of Swedish disappoints no one more than me.

Working full time in an English speaking job and raising a daughter in English leaves little time to learn Swedish.

Also simple necessity, most Swedes speak English well and enjoy practicing on you. Image if you spoke Maltese and someone from Malta wandered into your shop. Wouldn’t you want to speak Maltese to them?

“What is the ultimate aim of your blog? 
Are you trying to build up a great comedy act about Sweden so that you can perform in next year’s humor festival?”

To reemerge after 4 years absence from writing and performing. I’m building a platform, as the kids say which does not mean putting up the Christmas train set btw.I hope to build a readership ( so share the blog) and following, then publish a collection of the stories and eventually develop my stories into other outlets such as in stage, television and film.

I got turned down for entry into the Lund Humour Festival this year. So I don’t know maybe next year.

“Best thing about living in Sweden?”

Biking, I can’t say enough about it. I love being able to hop on my bike and cross the city in 20 minutes.  Safe, green and good for you!

“What is the worse thing about living in Sweden?”

For me it’s the uptight and rigid preordainness of the culture. What do you miss the most of your former life?
Our friends, our family of choice. 

 

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