Anders and I had been married 6 months. I had been to Sweden 3 times: a visit during Christmastime while we were dating, a week at the end of our honeymoon, and a quick trip before we moved in order to find an apartment and to bring Pooka over to get her started on the then mandatory 6-month quarantine for cats.
I had already met Anders' family and many of his Swedish friends (some during my first visit and some at our wedding), so I didn't feel I was going to a place where I'd be friendless and alone. His family, especially his mom, were so welcoming of me and really made me feel a part of the family (and not just because they were so glad HE hadn't decided to stay in the States with me :) haha!
I had already taken a beginner's Swedish class in Chicago, so I had some basic phrases and grammar already under my belt and within a short time was attending a more advanced class at Folkuniversitet. My plan was to study Swedish for 6 months or so and then find a job. Instead, I was pregnant by the end of February, which threw the plans right out the window. I took 4 months of Swedish classes (half at SFI, the free governmental program for immigrants), and then passed the fluency test and waited out the last trimester.
I started making some more friends, Americans this time, and went to the very first meeting of the AWC. My mom came to stay before the baby was due, only to end up getting nearly no time with him at all, since Martin was 3 weeks late. At the end of our first year, we bought our first house in Flyinge and moved from Malmö out to the countryside.
Karin was born in 1999. I applied for and got a job when she was still just a baby, going to work for Ericsson in March of 2000.
Not long after Karin turned 2, we realized our first house was a bit too small for us and we bought a lot and started building a new house. We broke ground in April 2002 and moved in during September. We've been in this house now for just over 9 years.
In 2004, the Ericsson company I worked for dissolved and I found a new job over the road at Axis Communications. I've been there now for just over 7 years.
The AWC is going strong, with over 200 members to date. I've been on the board continuously since nearly the beginning, in several different positions. I've met and made a lot of great friends, both Swedish & expat, and lost some, too, since expats tend to keep on moving.
Now Martin is 14 and Karin turns 13 this coming summer. I have a great life here in this place and home I've lived the longest. For a former military brat, that feels both strange and wonderful. I'm looking forward to the next 15 years!