Photo by Mörby Centrum/ Courtesy of http://mediabank.visitstockholm.com/
Over the summer, many of us have had adventures and that often involves traveling. For us in Global Mobility, it gives us a wonderful opportunity to walk the walk of our clients. When traveling, it doesn’t take much to feel lost and not understand how everything works for tipping, or getting around by public transportation, or better yet converting currency exchange rates - a rather depressing task for Swedes at this time. These are some of the everyday frustrations your expats experience for at least a few weeks or even months after they move to Sweden. We will suggest some ways you can help.
Being in new places is such a pleasure for many reasons not least because it provides a reason to think of how to quickly immerse yourself in your new surroundings. It is often difficult to gain an understanding of how things work, like culture, language and making friends so I made a point this summer to ask others how they approach it.
Just like with your health, it doesn’t really matter which angle you start with all roads lead to Rome anyhow. If you start to exercise, you will eat and sleep better or if you sleep better you will make healthier decisions automatically.
It’s the same with making a new country your new home. What I did hear over and over again was that people use culture to understand Sweden and the Swedes.
The first thing that everyone mentions is language. Swedish is a foreign language for everyone except Danes, Norwegians, and some Finns. It’s part of the Germanic language tree; Therefore, it’s actually quite accessible to many nationals who can pretty soon grasp written text and even understand spoken Swedish. There are many apps and resources that can be downloaded for free, as well as a range of language schools.
For a list of resources for your newbies to immerse themselves in Sweden and Stockholm download our guide.
Going to a grocery store can be really educational and lots of fun. Not only is it a good place to learn some new words, but the way it’s set up gleans a lot about society as a whole.
Will we find manned fruits and vegetables, cheese and meat stands in the store? Are there small specialty shops or large stores that sell everything under the sun and food too? In Sweden, we do have bread stores with long lines especially on weekends, smaller convenience stores, as well as large grocery stores.
How you pay is also a telltale sign, cash, card, or even if you have to scan your own good? Do you get help bagging your groceries and is it plastic or paper bags? A lot of the tasks that are taken care of by store clerks in other countries is up to the customer to do in Sweden.
These nuances all tell a story of how easy it is to find people to work in stores and whether the cost of labor is high in which case a lot of the work is handed over to the customers.
We have listed the variety as well as specific stores in our guide
Cooking Swedish recipes are also fun. To feel and taste the culture can be done by baking and cooking at home, but also by going to restaurants and understanding the culture by seeing how Swedes eat. It’s also company-specific. Some companies have big kitchens and eating areas and bring homemade food to the office, others get food delivered, and many go out and eat affordable cooked lunches. The resource guide lists cookbooks as well.
Musical memories are amongst the strongest since they trigger the part of the brain in charge of emotions. That is why we can typically remember a summer by hearing that summer song again, who doesn’t remember D’espacito from last summer? What better way to get to know Sweden and Swedes than listening to Swedish music? The ABBA museum has a section dedicated to Swedish music over time and it’s a really fun excursion too.
Many of our clients say that concert tickets are more accessible than in large cities around the world, that is especially true for classical music and opera.
I always make a point in going to local museums to get to know more about local art and history through painting and design. Stockholm offers a lot in this realm.
Art is usually shown chronologically so you can see through history how life has changed. Design is always fun and inventions can be seen in design museums.
The City and Historical museum along with Skansen show life now both in the city and countryside. A list of museums is in the resource guide.
LITERATURE & BOOKS
Reading fiction is a great way to understand the culture and even more detailed. We have had clients that have learned to find their way around with scary murder mysteries, the Stieg Larsson series with the Girl with the Dragon Tatto is translated to many languages as well as a number of bestsellers that you can easily pick up at the airport, we have a list of books that we recommend as gateways to Sweden. Not all will keep them up all night!
I got an unexpected suggestion by a client that proposed that going to cemeteries is a good way to understand a bit about life expectancy, professions and family size in a country that you don’t know yet.
GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS
There are many groups available to foreign talent when they move to Sweden and can be a great resource for immediate friendships. This is good to share with your talent so they have others to explore and demystify Sweden with.
Nimmersion also offers Professional Inspiration which is a complimentary online program. We aim to give our clients guidance in preparing for a move not only with practical matters but the mindset. There are 36 films of other expats, Swedish HR and managers to view to get an idea of Sweden both by Swedes and those foreign talents that have come before them.
If you’re planning to bring foreign talent to Sweden, navigating an unfamiliar culture and immigration process can slow you down. Thankfully, Nimmersion’s Immigration Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden is here to help. Let’s get your new talent down to business.