How I Learnt To Stop Missing England And Love The Herring or : A Decade In Sweden
My life began in the up and coming town of Northampton in 1975. My parents had made the move from London to avoid the gazumping in the property market and they were certain that Northampton, nicknamed "shoe town", would fulfill everything they could wish for. For a while, Northampton sufficed. My Dad found a decent job and my parents had moved to a new area with nice neighbours. Everything was hunky dory. During my development from childhood to adulthood, I stayed in this up and coming area for quite some time until I made the moved to the town centre when I was 22 years old.
After living in Northampton for such a long time, I had become accustomed to how it worked, how it operated and thought that it was a nice town to live in. I always reacted when outsiders to the town dared to criticise it for being boring and simply crap. Ok, I knew it wasn't the best place to live but I knew it certainly wasn't the worst. . or was it?
After a short holiday to Gothenburg in 2002, I quickly noticed the differences between this Swedish city and my hometown. It had the advantage of being on the coast, it had a canal going through it and it only took a short journey to see some really fantastic scenery. I was spoilt by the amount of beauty it had to offer. By the time the holiday had finished and I had made the journey back to Northampton, I was starting to side with the outsiders that had called Northampton crap. It really didn't have the same friendly laid-back feel that Gothenburg had and it certainly didn't have the sea as a neighbour. It had a shoe museum that could be walked through in roughly five minutes, profiling the town as the main centre for cobblers in olden times.
In 2003, I handed in my notice at the newspaper where I worked, which raised some questions from my work colleagues:
"You are leaving us? That's a shame. Where are you going to next?"
This was the usual line of questioning as if they were expecting an answer that I had found another newspaper or magazine to work for instead but my answer was:
"I'm moving actually."
"Oh? To London?"
It was a strange concept to people who assumed I was moving out of Northampton to another town, not out of the UK completely. I was moving for the best reason - love. It's the reason most Brits will move to Sweden with a select few moving just for the hell of it.
I am just one of many Brits who has moved to Sweden who didn't really know what awaited them when they got there. Could I actually survive at all? Would I get a job? Would I ever speak the lingo? Was it obligatory for me to use a sauna naked and eat raw fish at the same time?
All of these questions and more are answered in this book. Now that I have lived in Sweden for ten years, it feels right to write a book like this one.
Most of this book is focused on the comparisons between living in the UK and Sweden, highlighting differences between them. For example, how do ID cards work in Sweden compared to the UK that scrapped them? Why does the wildlife in Sweden display attitude problems compared to the UK wildlife that runs away scared? Why do Swedes feel burdened to owe someone money when they have been bought a drink? It's questions like these that will be answered definitively in this book and will try to explain why.
If you are an immigrant to Sweden, there are doubtless experiences that I have had that might be similar to yours. This book is my own personal opinion about these experiences and how I handled them but whatever your reasons are for reading this book, just relax over a cup of coffee, tea if you are British, and just have a giggle, maybe a chuckle or maybe a full blown laugh attack at what I have found out in a decade living in the country that loves cold fish, Sweden.
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November 25, 2013
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