While everyone’s path is different – the whys and the hows. If you are able to connect with people who are in the same area as you, wearing the expat hat, it can be a very positive network to have. I say the same area because as we all know the people and ways of life in a country can and do vary depending on where in that country you are. I have been fortunate in that I have had old friends become expats in different countries and finally have an awesome expat crew of my own here in Malmö.
Once we had put the wheels in motion to move to Sweden I tried to be as well prepared as possible. I started researching moving companies, schools for Eva, While I had a very positive attitude and high hopes for becoming an expat and moving to Sweden with our little tribe. Finding a community of people who are similar to you and listening to their advice can be a significant factor in your expat journey.
So I want to use my blog to give other peeps the opportunity to find some hints when it comes to taking the expat leap. Especially as mums we always have so much guilt as to whether it is the right thing to do – uprooting your family or starting your family away from “home”. I have expat friends who have moved with children, started their families after their move and those trying to decide when to take that next step of marriage/children.
I had them take part in a short Q&A and I’ve got to say I loved reading them. They made me laugh out loud, agree whole heartedly and be thankful I can call them friends. Enjoy:
First up is my old work buddy and one of my awesome friends Olivia Harvey she is the rock star of media who moved to Amsterdam a Digital powerhouse and newlywed. Now she is a business owner and mother to the gorgeous baby Bo. She is the ray of sarcasm to my anger! The Statue of Liberty to my Tina Turner (fancy dress work do we rocked) and we both love a good burger+beer combo!! Her son has the most amazing hair in the world, head over to her hola bb instagram to see. We are lucky that not only do we get on but so do our hubbys and little ones. Eva introduced Bo to his favourite Swedish song and our husbands love to be cavemen trying all types of beer and grilling combos. We also started a new tradition of going to Spain with our broods 🙂 Here’s her take on life in Amsterdam or “The Dam” as I call it!
- Moved from London to Amsterdam
- Occupation – Now, Mum and online shop owner –Hola bb
- Why did you relocate? – For fun, we had the house, the cats, had just got married and wanted an adventure before settling down
- What was the biggest challenge at the beginning of the move? – Making friends, I still worked in London and so for the first year and a half I didn’t integrate at all. Amsterdam felt like a long weekend or holiday home. Once I quit my London job and started working here things got a lot easier.
- Two things you love about your Amsterdam? – The laid back lifestyle, cycling and how small and accessible everything is. It’s like living in Zone 1 London but I can actually afford it!
- One thing you miss from your birth country? – The food!! London has the best food from all over the world, the Dutch like to take food from all over the world and make it Dutch…
- Do you call Amsterdam home? – Yeeeessss, but I also call the UK home.
- What’s the biggest misconception (general/personally) of becoming an expat? That you can integrate fully with locals, what happens is you just hang out with other expats. Not necessarily British but it seems like 90% of our friends are from everywhere apart from Holland.
- Fav Dutch – pastime, indulgence, tv programme – Cycling, drinking beer in the sun, hot food in the wall (jokes)
- One Dutch quirk you can say never too? – I will never ……… paint my face black for Sinterklaas (ahahahaha)
- Best advice you was given to you once you had moved. – Learn the language, or at least just try a bit.
- One bit of advice you would give to a new expat? It’s so weird how countries so close to where you are from do things so differently! From bank accounts, to health insurance you won’t have a clue unless someone helps you. If you don’t already know people there sign up to a language course to meet people in a similar situation and get chatty down your local bar 🙂 We met some of our only Dutch friends through drunken late night conversations….
Second is this awesome beaut who I met at a mutual friend (and fellow expat’s birthday) here in Malmö. The first time I met Carys I knew I loved her. She has the best laugh and a penchant for vino like moi. She has a great sense of humour and will pretty much try anything. She had such a positive view of her life in Malmö and her life here. The second time I met her I invited her to my camping birthday with other friends and family. I am just a tad in love with her gorgeous little boy and stunning home. The home she will allow me to live in when I leave my husband …. for the night/weekend/long weekend or a month. Think SATC2 – the use of Carrie’s old apartment
- Moved from Australia to Sweden
- Occupation PhD student
- Why did you relocate? My husband is Swedish and wanted to move home. He lured me here with the promise of free education (I got offered a place in a Master’s programme at Lund university) and endless summer evenings!!!
- What was the biggest challenge at the beginning of the move? Figuring out what to wear to stay warm. I just thought I could wear the same things I wore in the tropics but with a coat! That definitely didn’t work!!!
- Two things you love about your Sweden? (1) The social and gender equality. And all the policies and provisions that go in to generating that equality – like free education and (almost) free childcare and paid parental leave for both parents and so on and so on. It feels like things just work like they should here. (2) There’s always a day in early spring when it’s unseasonably warm. It’s suddenly gloriously sunny and people basically just strip off and sit around basking and smiling at each other. It’s like the whole city just thawed out and woke up. A magical feeling that you could never experience if it wasn’t for the cold winter days!
- One thing you miss from your birth country? Primark! But I like that decent employment protections and unions make Primark’s business model essentially untenable in Sweden. I also like that Swedes seem to have a less throw-away attitude to clothing. They tend to buy quality things that are expensive but that will last several years.
- Do you call Sweden home? Absolutely! I got my citizenship a couple of years ago and have never felt prouder 🙂
- What’s the biggest misconception (general/personal) of becoming an expat? Not sure. I think it’s probably harder than most people think, especially as you get older. You really have to start all over agin with everything (buying new clothes and new furniture, adapting to new ideas and attitudes, maybe learning a new language, making new friends, adopting new technology and ways of doing things). I think that can be tough if you like the life that you have.
- Fav Swedish – pastime, indulgence, tv programme? Biking everywhere. It’s such a nice feeling to be out in the fresh air, especially with a small child singing away in the seat behind you!
- One Swedish quirk you can say never too? (I will never ……… eat Kalles caviar or salty liquorice …bleugh!!!
- Best advice you was given to you once you had moved? I was complaining about the impending dark and cold winter to a couple of friends who surprised me by saying that they actually looked forward to this time of year. They told me that they love to cosy up at home with candles or an open fire, snuggle on the sofa watching tv and eat a little extra, guilt-free. You can’t really do those things in summer! I really liked their idea of embracing each season for what it IS, rather then being disappointed about what it is NOT.
- One bit of advice you would give to a new expat? Try not to be negative about your new home, even when it’s frustrating. Sure, they have strange ideas and do things that seem really dumb right now but there are probably good reasons and explanations that you just don’t understand yet. Ask questions and listen instead of pronouncing things “stupid”. I cringe now when I hear other new expats making the same presumptuous statements I did when I first arrived.