In one of the accompanying articles, a woman had this to say, "What I needed during my first years in Sweden was for someone to say to me, "It is really difficult to live in a culture that is so different from the culture in which you were brought up. It is natural that you are having a hard time." Unfortunately, I never heard this; I was told by the people around me that I was obviously not doing the right thing, not behaving correctly, not being this way or that way. In short, I was wrong and everybody else was right. I was a failure. No matter what I did--learning the language well, my academic achievements, finally landing a job--I was still a failure because I hadn't 'adjusted', 'adapted', or whatever I had to do to feel good about the place I lived and the people around me."
I have had the complete opposite experience, although I don't know if she had unrealistic expectations or had never lived abroad, but I have to say, I KNEW it would be difficult living in a foreign culture, even one as "Americanized" as Sweden, and have always tried to think of it as an adventure. This is the philosophy that my parents succeeded in instilling in us during a childhood moving from one place to another. I've always thought I WAS doing the right things, and never doubted for a minute that I would succeed and assimiliate to the extent I wanted to. I wonder if that just reflects on my own self-esteem and self-confidence or if I'm just obnoxious. Probably both.