Three years and a lot of ruminating

23 April 2013

Well, it’s definitely time to put that last post behind us. Besides, the universe seems to have responded to my complaints and is attempting to shape up and I am actually, well, not hating living in Sweden at the moment! Life’s not so bad, after all.

That said, today marks three years since we moved to Sweden, and the first time I ever remember tearing up with homesickness, thanks to “Summer of ’69″ on the radio. With its themes of nostalgia and longing for summer and the carefreeness of youth and its classic American vibe (I know Bryan Adams is actually Canadian, but still), it really conjured up some feelings. And next some Europop come on and I felt better, because I love Europop.

Magically, in the two-and-a-half weeks since my anti-Sweden diatribe, spring came, Swedish people started lining up to spend time with us, I got hired to teach some interesting classes this fall (!!!) (if they make, that is), my volunteer work has gotten even more fulfilling, Little Girl learned how to bike on our quiet little street, my sister-in-law had a healthy baby girl whom we’ll meet soon, and my husband and I booked a luxury trip to Prague next month to celebrate our upcoming ten years of marriage. All this bodes well and reflects why we were supposed to be living here in the first place.

I Have to tell you, I have very much appreciated your support and insights about my situation here in Sweden. There are lots of terrible things about blogging but the feelings of connection I have to people who understand me isn’t one of them. It’s always amazing to me how writing here improves my spirits and outlook, and not just because it’s as if I have divested myself of my problems by dispersing them into the ether of the internet, but because of knowing you guys are out there, giving a shit. Thanks, you guys!

I’ve had time to think about everyone’s comments on my last post, and I want to clarify that my complaints about Swedish society and people were not particularly directed to the people in my village. They were the culmination of every negative thought I’ve had from any Swedish source these last three years. And I don’t say that just because of my terror that someone in this village will happen upon my blog and tell everyone else about it, probably at a party to which I wasn’t invited.

No; people are perfectly nice to me. Acquaintances chat with me when we run into each other while walking our dogs; strangers ask friendly questions at play places; friends text me to make plans. Just because not everybody is clamoring to be my best friend doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly lovely people, different as they may be from me. One again I remind myself: Swedish niceness is not American niceness, therefore a lack of American niceness does not equal Swedish rudeness. It’s just…something else. And the locus of my social life can be elsewhere without its meaning that I am shut-out from the village. I guess I have just had some idea that living in a village where you could get to know everybody and walk to your friends’ houses meant that you had to get to know everybody and have friends there to whose houses you could walk. But really it can just be an address.

These realizations are one thing leading to my feeling better, but probably the change in the weather, the sun’s reappearance, is really the main thing. Six months of winter are more than enough, thanks. Of course, now I think that 52 degrees Fahrenheit is a lovely, warm day, worthy of shorts and bare feet. I have no idea how I’ll survive South Carolina this June. Maybe then there will be some homesickness reversal!

6 Responses to “Three years and a lot of ruminating”

  1. Alyssa Says:

    These are good realizations. I don’t know how I’d fare having moved the way you have and making a new life. Feel proud.

  2. a Says:

    I’m glad things are feeling better. Good weather makes everything brighter…and perspective from people who don’t have any skin in the game can sometimes make you feel better too.

    Glad to hear that you have some more satisfying career options on the horizon – I know that really bothers you. Much luck, and I hope that works out exactly as you hope it will.

  3. meli Says:

    That’s wonderful! I meant to leave a comment on your last post but it seemed everyone else had said everything. That’s so great about getting to teach some courses – I’ve had that opportunity this year too, and it’s totally changed my experience of living in Norway. Getting to use your expertise is just a soul affirming thing. I think it’s hard to make good friends, full stop. I feel incredibly lucky that I have one good Norwegian friend (we are friends with her husband and daughter too). She’s a very unique person though, and loves travel and foreigners. All my other Norwegian contacts are friendly at work but I don’t connect enough with them to spend time together outside of that. Aside from that, I have a handful of expat friends from various places – only one of whom I see on a regular basis. It is enough.

  4. tarazandra Says:

    Amazing what pleasant weather can do for our souls! Glad things have turned around.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I discovered your blog and have read with great interest. I have traveled quite a bit to Europe, but not yet to Sweden, though my husband is of Swedish descent. Your posts do remind me, though, of 1981 when I was a new mom and moved from a city to a small town in Western Michigan. I’m amazed at the similarities in how isolated and alone I felt, with little to no support network. Most people I knew didn’t NEED a new friend because all their relatives lived close by. Eventually we moved back East, where much improved as my family was near – and I was able to make new friends, many of whom were first time moms living in the area, away from family, while their husbands attended graduate school. After living in a country town for nearly 10 years in a second marriage, we became city dwellers again almost 3 years ago. Putting down new roots is challenging. I was glad to read that some things are better. I haven’t yet done an international move, but we hope to live in Europe for six months when we retire. Until then I guess almost a month in France next summer will have to satisfy our desire for a longer European stay.

  6. L Says:

    Hey, I wanted to say I love your blog and I am glad things are looking up. I don’t even remember how I initially stumbled upon it, I was looking for expat blogs and wanted someone older and more educated than all the popular bloggers seemed to be. I recently moved to Sweden to be with my Swedish husband. We used to live on and off because I had a good university job in Austria, but then I got pregnant and we figured it was time to settle. Even though much of my research pointed out that Sweden may not be the place to go, I still wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, especially as it was his homeland, whereas Austria was not mine (I am originally from an Eastern European country that not even I wanted to live and work in). Little to say I am mortified and even though everyone is trying to make me feel welcome, nobody can really hide the fact they have no idea if I stand any realistic chance of ever having a career similar to the one I’ve had before. That has also taken a lot of joy out of my pregnancy (which was not planned and happened due to faulty contraception, so came also as a bit of a shock) and after spending my entire adulthood being a strong independent woman with an international career, I suddenly found myself pregnant, unemployed and in a foreign country which doesn’t seem to want or need me in any capacity. So you can imagine how genuinely happy I am to see a positive post from you :) Think I’m gonna start blogging too, to have a vent (feel bad complaining to husband and his family, and feel even worse complaining to my family, as they are already hurt enough by the fact I ran off to North Pole to have their first grandchild, being miserable about it and yet sticking with it just adds fuel to the fire). Until then I’m going to enjoy yours, please post more often. I couldn’t really figure out where you live, but we are in Stockholm, so I assume a “small village” and that are not a match, which is a pity, I wanted to ask you out for a cup of coffee, your blog really helped me sort my head around this move.


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