So why am I writing this, maybe because I heard that writing can be therapeutical but at the same time I would like to share my experience in another country and a bit of my life.
I suppose a majority of people would be surprised to see this different side to me. I have always given that impression to be that stable person in a group. The nice funny guy, but little by little I have lost myself many times.
However I also get glimpses of who I used to be and what kind of person I could become.
But after 5 years, 4 therapists, broken relationships and the inability to find a stable apartment. (I believe I am on my 8th apartment)
For the first time I am starting to doubt this Swedish dream of mine and maybe it is time to move on. But maybe you and I would get a better understanding of my journey if I start from the beginning.
I was just 18–19 when I first took real notice of Sweden. Sweden never really appeared on my radar until I met this Swedish girl on the island of Fiji. I happened to be on this island because after I finished high school I decided to go and live in Australia and work at a school.
When it was school holidays I decided to take a quick 2 week trip to Fiji. Not knowing that this would be the beginning of my complications or the roller-coaster journey of my experience with ‘love’.
Of course I have heard of Sweden before, most likely because of the band Abba and the Swedish chef that appeared in the Muppets. Or maybe it was the stereotypical images of blonde Swedish girls shown on TV programs.
But this girl soon opened my eyes to the fact that the country is beautiful with showing me pictures of her home and telling me all about it etc..
I decided to stay in touch with this girl for a year, we just became pen pals. We kept each other in the loop while we were travelling. She decided to come and visit me in the UK when I started studying at university.
This started the nearly 4 years of long distance relationship between us and me flying to Sweden roughly every 2 months.
I don’t know if this was ideal, I was 20 at the time and I had family and friends saying that you should be having fun. Whatever ‘fun’ means, supposedly sleeping around to most of my friends, the general stigma that is forced on the general younger generation.
But I have never been like that as a person.
So yeah, every 2 months I would be in Sweden. I remember the first time I flew into Gothenburg. This was in the good old days when Säve airport was still open. Flying into the airport that reminded me of a farm and taking the bus to town through the open countryside.
I still remember that feeling, when Sweden felt so foreign to me. I could not understand the language or the system and relied a lot on my girlfriend for support. Something that would later come to damage my personality and our relationship.
To cut a long story short, we managed to get through the long distance and I decided to take the plunge with moving to Sweden.
The things we do for love I suppose. I would do anything for love, but maybe not the singer Meat Loaf would, haha.
But I am a old romantic in that way. So I proposed to her and I suggested moving to her country as I wanted to keep the relationship alive because I know one of us would have to make the commitment if this was going to work between us.
However, before this, she did give England a try, but there are slight differences with the English and Swedish culture.
This is with regards to how we view equality, that is from my opinion anyway.
For example, as a kid I would read gaming magazines and then they would randomly throw in a pair of breasts next to the Playstation game I was reading about.
Or the fact that still to this day that one of the newspapers in England still show the breasts of the day on page 3.
(But I wont continue to bang on about that, that could be something else to write about)
I moved to Sweden when I was roughly 24–25 years of age.
‘Lucky’ for me I had a Swedish partner who could show me the ropes with applying for my residence permit and necessary paperwork. No personal number, no job. No job, no personal number.
I can’t imagine what the process must be like for people who move here by themselves.
However, from this day I started to lose my independence and relied on someone else too much.
I am sure everyone by now knows the difficulty with finding somewhere to live in Sweden, if you don’t, then I am telling you now, haha.
Back in England, if you have the money to pay rent, then you can pretty much sort out a place for you to live. In Sweden, you might be lucky to get yourself a room in someone’s basement.
However, we managed to live at her parents place for 4–5 months. Not ideal, but lucky to have a roof over our heads.
It was then onto the next stage of fixing myself a job.
But to my understanding of living in a country were your mother tongue is not so commonly used in the job market was pretty naïve.
However, when you live in another country you must be determined. Nothing will fall on your lap like it would possibly do in your home country. Even there, it might be difficult, so you can imagine the difficulty a foreigner would have getting a job in a tough market.
So you can imagine the strain this can have on a individual, which can in turn damage a relationship if not cared for. (Something I see in hindsight, but keep learning the hard ways).
That is my opinion anyway, there is too much pressure on couples nowadays.
I would love to love someone and not have a care in the world. But money makes the world go round, if you are wanting to pay rent, do nice things etc..
But if you love someone then make sure you communicate about everything, something I am still trying to learn about and have improved with over the years.
Anyway, I managed to fix a job. This was a 2 hour journey both ways. I was impressed with the fact that I could fix myself a job. However, it was in English and customer service with online fashion.
This was strange to me, because my education was within construction. Now I was pricing female underwear and not delivering bricks, haha.
I think when you move to another country you are making a sacrifice. Leaving your family and friends behind or even career opportunities.
So think about it carefully, you can still be adventurous but cautious, haha. But I guess that is part of the excitement as well, the unknown.
From my experience it is hard work or unhealthy to have a decent relationship when you are putting too much stress on yourself.
I believe my problem is putting a time frame of were I should be in my life and what I should have at that moment in time.
Maybe that is due to media streams around me or when I compare myself to friends. But you should never compare yourself to someone else, we all make different decisions.
It is great to have goals, but for me they were unrealistic in Sweden, maybe not unrealistic, but challenging.
So my tip is be realistic, take your time, life is precious, don’t damage the things you love.
So while I was commuting for this job, I did not really have much of a social life. I felt like it was me against the world, I lost myself and almost forget I was in a relationship because I was so consumed.
With that I decided to quit this job and focus on learning the Swedish language. Something I thought was important if I am to be here for the long run.
I was looking at the bigger picture and forgetting about the here and now. But I think sometimes that has to be done, but do it in the right way.
Anyway, after getting a grasp of the language I managed to fix a ‘praktik plats’ at a logistics company. A ‘praktik plats’ is basically like a paid work experience, a great way for someone to get work experience.
Especially for foreigners who are wanting to get their foot in the door.
At the same time I got this job, my 7 year relationship went down the drain.
This was a devastating moment in my life, I was alone in Sweden, no friends and no family. I relied on her social network too much, so once she was gone so was that half of my life.
I remember coming back one day to the ‘etta’ we lived in, it was empty.
Most of the stuff was hers, its like I didn’t invest anything of mine into the apartment.
All I had was this cat called Chess (because she was black and white), something we got together a month a go because this shit hit the fan.
I remember my family was desperate for me to move back to the UK, but for some reason I decided to stay. I think my reason was because I put so much energy into Sweden and the relationship that I didn’t want to throw everything away.
Did I trick myself into thinking that Sweden was the country for me?
You are constantly reminded that Sweden is a great country to raise kids, a country that has a good way of life. But this is not easy to come by.
I had to cut contact with everyone I knew and hanged out with this cat. She was a lifesaver in a way, but I soon had to get rid of her because with this ‘praktik plats’ you don’t exactly get a lot of money.
I then got kicked out of this ‘etta’ and managed to fix a room in the garden of a shared house.
This room reminded me of a padded cell, I had no money, no life, but yet I managed to find the determination to carry on. But us humans tend to find this mysterious energy to survive.
I am sure there might have been another way to get through this period, but at the time I could not think of another way. I definitely improved as a person in some way during this period, but also damaged myself mentally as well.
What is one suppose to do in another country to make friends?
I tried those Expat meet ups, but it was like forced speed dating and it was always the same questions, why are you here? What do you do? Blah blah, nothing natural about it.
People who move to another country don’t have the benefit of knowing childhood friends. If you are lucky you can make friends at work, but you have to be very proactive in this department.
Maybe you can find yourself a sport, but you have to be very creative in your ways of getting a social circle.
However I started to feel alive again once I fixed a job at this English school in Gothenburg. It seems like everyone who worked here moved for that Swedish love and that we were all in the same boat one way or another.
This job was a saviour, as I made a lot of my friends here, but at the same time you didn’t feel like you were in Sweden because you worked in English. It was like an English bubble here.
It is silly to say, but I felt love again. Kids are like dogs in a way, haha, they always show love towards you, no matter what mood you are in.
Little by little I was starting to see light at the end of the tunnel again.
Maybe I was even ready for another relationship, something I experienced again in the house I was living in. At the same time I don’t think I learned as much as I wanted from the previous relationship.
Sometimes you can’t plan for love or the people you meet.
I was definitely better equipped with my emotions, but fell into the same circle of expectations. I put pressure on areas that didn’t need pressure on.
I tried to be too independent and didn’t let myself be as open as I wanted or listen to the relationship needs.
But I won’t be talking about this relationship though because it is still fresh in the mind. But i think about her everyday, in a way I get to focus on myself for the time being.
I recommend not to have relationships in another country until you are confident with yourself and are sure that you are settled down and feel happy with what you are doing.
Especially if it is someone you really care about. Sometimes you can damage something or someone that is not your intention.
We are only humans at the end of the day, not robots.
Be adventurous and free flowing, not everything can be as straight forward as you want it.
But after all I this, I am finally working in Swedish and for a Swedish company. I have a good group of friends, a great family back home. But part of me is thinking to throw in the towel and move to another country, as I don’t know if the negative experiences out weigh the positives in Sweden.
But what I do know is that love is important to people. More so to people living abroad maybe. Don’t be isolated, give a foreign friend or person you know a hug, the chance is that they would appreciate it.