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CONTENTMENT IN SWEDEN
Interesting stats and answers from a "Contentment in Sweden" survey done by Parent Net Sweden, directed at expatriates: Read more here

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.
 okay
mood: okay
music: Eurythmics—Here Comes the Rain Again


Comments

I sometimes wonder if it is a matter of how we choose to view our experiences. I think OUR attitude to Sweden impacts a lot on the degree of culture shock we experience.

I figured I had two choices here. Positive or Negative. I avoided the expats that fell into the latter category (esp those people who were still complaining about everything more than a year after they had moved here). Their pessimism was like a virus that spread and darkened all of my thoughts and experiences. Sure there are tough times when living abroad. But I think that either way I was going to get through them. Which way did I wish to spend the time while I was doing it? Happy and enjoying the ride? Or griping and bitching while being dragged the whole way? In the end it was an easy choice.

Other things that helped me were

OPENMINDEDNESS

I view Swedish culture from the angle of ”What can I learn?” You have to appreciate that there is always an explanation for why a culture or person behaves the way they do. If you try and be openminded you can often see their viewpoint. The hardest thing for me to learn was that MY viewpoint wasn’t always the right one – it’s just mine, that's all. (still learning that one!)

PATIENCE

I hold on to the mantra ”This too shall pass” *smile* New language, new systems, attitudes or actions different from my own, time-frames that conflict with mine and rules that I often want to argue about. Yep, in time, these pass.

HUMOUR

I laugh! Every chance I get. Is there anything worth getting that upset or serious about? Yes, a few things. But overall life is funny. I try and find the humour in each day and in each crazy experience. I share them with friends and family back home. I find that laughter both heals and mends and it is far better than focusing on a negative situation. Every situation has the potential for laughter.

ADVENTURE

I look at the opportunities to explore and challenge myself and my relationship. I see new things, taste new foods, try the language. Every country, every culture has it’s own adventure. It's a matter of finding it!

ACCEPTANCE

You and I are different. Within each state or province we are different. Within our own families we are different. So of course we are different from those raised in a society different from our own. Accept it!

COURAGE

Moving to a new country is not for the weak at heart. I find myself challenged daily with opposing views, cultural norms and even isolation and loneliness. My normal support systems are an ocean away and even time zones seem huge when I want to call someone back home just for a simple chat. Knowing upfront that I am courageous for moving to a new country can be a powerful reminder when I am feeling down. Let’s face it. Somewhere inside of me, I have courage.

October 2019
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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

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