• Sweden's news in English
 
Opinion
'Moving wasn't a choice, Sweden called to me'

'Moving wasn't a choice, Sweden called to me'

Published: 25 Jul 2014 08:25 GMT+02:00

Love refugees. International couples. Labour migrants. PhD students.

Oh, and me.

Born and raised in a conservative, uber-religious small American town, I replanted my south-western roots in cold Swedish soil when I was 20 years old.

I left my parents, my sisters, my hometown, my friends, and an obvious culture drought.

It was never a choice. Sweden called to me.

But when I told people in the US that I was moving to Sweden, they always seemed a bit perplexed. “Oh, really? Why is that?”

I would gush about the language, the culture, the food, the jovial songs, the way the sunlight hits the water in the Stockholm archipelago, mention my heritage... and then I would add that I was dating a Swede.

Only then did understanding dawn in their faces. “Ah, I see,” they would respond knowingly.

No. No, you don't see.

What I saw, time after time, were social stereotypes, blind patriotism, dusty norms, and gender roles. I saw that supposed epiphany in people's faces so many times, it's a wonder there is still hair on my head. I wanted to rip out every strand in frustration.

Why did everyone insist that my feelings for a man had to outweigh my feelings for a foreign country?

Surely no one would leave their homeland of their own free will, they seemed to say. “You're crazy, but it's fine, because you're in love.”

Here in Sweden, I found my conversations with other expats were not much different. I threw myself eagerly into Swedish culture, but of course getting to know the often-reserved inhabitants was a bit of a challenge. So I associated with plenty of other foreigners and fellow Americans as well – but I frequently found that I couldn't relate to them.

Everyone I met who appeared to be in my situation didn't share my feelings at all. The vast majority had moved for love, and a handful had moved for job opportunities. And they quite openly expressed their apathy for their new country.

“Sweden is where I live, but it will never be home.”

Words that were said on a stage at an American club event which were echoed and applauded with unanimous empathy from the audience.

Part of me still can't even fathom it. How can you live in such an incredible society and not appreciate it? How can you not long to embrace it?

A musical language where it sounds like people are singing all the time – and where they frequently are actually singing, about summer and sunshine.

A subtle, humble pride of the culture and the nation's accomplishments, while maintaining a curiosity and openness to the world and new ideas.

A collective altruism where people take for granted that the greater good is indeed just that – beneficial for everyone.

The fact is that, even though they may not wear it on their thermal long sleeves, Swedes are filled with joie de vivre – which during the summer months generally means plenty of strawberries and cream.

They know how to live, and they love it.

I have learned, of course, that Sweden is not a perfect country. Like any other nation, it has its demons. Globalism has presented certain challenges, and racism still rears its gruesome head from time to time, momentarily tarnishing the glow. Government policies stumble, pick themselves up, brush off the dust, and try again.

And of course the winters are tough – I needed an alarm clock with a sun-simulator to get me through the first one. But the summers are worth it. Sweden, in general, is worth it.

As it happens, I kept falling in love with Swedes as well, and I am still in love with a Swede, although not the same one. And our relationship is wonderful enough that it would be worth relocating for. But the point is that, for me personally, there's no better place to be.

I guess you could say that I did move for love. I had two relationships, one with a Swede and one with Sweden. The first one ended.

My love for Sweden never did.
 

Follow Solveig on Twitter.

For more stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Solveig Rundquist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sweden in for 'warmer than usual' spring
Budding Magnolia trees in Lund in southern Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden in for 'warmer than usual' spring

Sweden could be just the place to soak up some sun this spring, as experts predict the country will see unusually high temperatures in March. READ  

Trouble-hit Malmö school to reopen after closure
Swedish police outside the Värner Rydén School on Monday. Drago Prvulovic/TT

Trouble-hit Malmö school to reopen after closure

UPDATED: A Malmö school that closed amid concerns of violence and criminality is set to reopen to pupils on Tuesday morning, after crisis talks were held between staff and directors on Monday. READ  

Christian Democrat party leadership race heats up
Chairwoman Chatrine Pålsson Ahlgren with Jakob Forssmed, left, and Ebba Busch Thor, right, at a press conference. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Christian Democrat party leadership race heats up

The leadership battle in Sweden’s right-wing Christian Democrat Party is heating up. On Monday the contest was narrowed down to two candidates, Ebba Busch Thor and Jakob Forssmed. READ  

Accelerated for Ice Music
Dylan guitarist makes music history in Sweden
Charlie Sexton strums an ice bango at the City of Songs Ice Music concert in Luleå on February 27th, 2015 co-founder. Photo: Luleåfotograferna

Dylan guitarist makes music history in Sweden

Bob Dylan guitarist Charlie Sexton helped write a piece of musical history in northern Sweden at the weekend with the world premiere of new compositions written expressly for ice instruments performed at the Ice Music City of Songs concerts in Luleå. READ  

Anti-racists set to swamp Pegida rally in Sweden
Counter-demonstrators at a Pegida rally in Malmö earlier this year. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Anti-racists set to swamp Pegida rally in Sweden

Counter-demonstrators are expected to outnumber anti-Islam protesters at a Pegida rally in Swedish town Linköping on Monday night. The march is set to go ahead even after the local organizers dropped out. READ  

SAS walkout halted but Norwegian strike looms
Travellers delayed in Copenhagen over the weekend. Photo: TT

SAS walkout halted but Norwegian strike looms

Staff working for Scandinavian airline SAS have said they will return to work after a four day strike, while Norwegian workers based in Sweden could strike later this week. READ  

Madonna set for debut gig in Swedish capital
Madonna performing at the Brit Awards 2015. Photo: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

Madonna set for debut gig in Swedish capital

Madonna fans across Sweden were getting ready to party like a virgin as the superstar announced she was heading to Stockholm in November – her first solo gig in the Swedish capital. READ  

Ikea turns furniture into wireless phone chargers
Ikea's design centre in Älmhult. Photo: TT

Ikea turns furniture into wireless phone chargers

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has become the first global budget retailer to launch a set of desks, tables and lamps that will wirelessly charge phones and other devices. READ  

Drones tested by police forces across Sweden
A drone in use in Oslo. Photo: TT

Drones tested by police forces across Sweden

Police in Sweden have purchased several unmanned aircraft to test how authorities might use them as part of their work in future. READ  

My Swedish Career
'Swedes have a different kind of creativity'
Joshua Ng and Julieta Talavera in Malmö. Photo: Private

'Swedes have a different kind of creativity'

A space where global meets local, where people come together to make both the world and their own neighbourhood a better place – such was the dream of two international students living in Sweden two years ago. Here, they tell The Local how they are on their way to making it happen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
How could Swedes' passion for 'fika' help cut nerve disease?
Gallery
People-watching: February 27th - March 1st
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Why Copenhagen attacks led a Swedish uni to cancel artist's lecture
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
Blog updates

27 February

Editor’s blog, February 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Our most read story this week got picked up by global media from Al Jazeera to..." READ »

 

18 February

The mysterious -s, part 2 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"-s expressing “each other” (reciprocal verbs) You have most likely used this form of the verbs..." READ »

 
 
 
Business & Money
Ten Swedish start-ups you haven't heard of (yet)
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Super cute sloth twins charm visitors to Swedish zoo
Lifestyle
Meet Sweden's first woman chef to win a Michelin star
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: February 26th - March 5th
Accelerated for Ice Music
What is Bob Dylan's guitarist doing in northern Sweden?
Features
How well do you know Sweden's top celebrity couples?
Business & Money
Are company boards 'too white' in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: February 25th
Technology
Sweden is dubbed second most 'digital' nation in European Union
National
Why more Swedes want a sex change
National
The return of Sweden's Ace of Base
National
Why has Julian Assange's case been going on for so long?
National
'21' or 'IS'? Swedish police confuse birthday with Islamist extremism
National
Spring has sprung in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Ängelholm
National
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
National
Is Sweden home to the world's oldest living cat?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The life and career of Fredrik Reinfeldt
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why are Swedish Jews worried?
Gallery
People-watching: February 19th-22nd
National
'Racist' bird names banned in Sweden
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Nobel prize to go under hammer
National
Swede named 'Fanny' banned from getting UK loyalty card
National
Spotlight on the Swedes that could be funding Islamists
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Gallery
People-watching: February 18th
National
Is a chocolate crime wave sweeping across Sweden?
National
What we know about the Copenhagen shootings suspect
National
Danish Ambassador: 'We'll live our lives the way we always have'
National
What does this '90s pop act have to do with a former minister?
Lifestyle
How to embrace Sweden's creamy semla bun tradition
National
Did this Swedish hotel really refuse a gay couple?
National
Why are so many escalators down on Stockholm's Metro?
Gallery
Property of the week: Kungsbacka
National
Can Zlatan's tattoo stunt help end world hunger?
Gallery
People-watching: February 14th
Lars Vilks
National
Who exactly is controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks?
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to tackle Sweden's bizarre mating rituals
Sponsored Article
'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future
Lifestyle
How to make traditional Swedish blackberry pie
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

959
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se