How living abroad changed the way I view Sweden

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How living abroad changed the way I view Sweden
Christina Myrianthous left Sweden almost 20 years ago. Photo: Private

Christina Myrianthous, a Swede in Cyprus, contemplates how living abroad has changed her.


When you live abroad for many years you come to view your home country in a different way to what you did when you actually lived there. You tend to see it as the dream place to be, colours are more vivid, the people are so much nicer, everything is clean and tidy. Pretty much like the dream sequences in movies.

But is our home country really that magical place we think it is? Or is it just how we want to picture it? Have our memories been distorted to fit our emotions? Yes, I think so.

Living for about 18 years in Cyprus, I definitely view Sweden and us Swedes differently from what I would have if I had not taken the plunge and moved away.

The first years living here I couldn't stop comparing how much better everything was in Sweden. Everyone in Sweden was a better driver (they still are) than here, Sweden had so much better infrastructure (we still do), we have such great tools – like osthyvlar (a type of cheese slicer popular in Scandinavia) – and oh my god, can't Ikea finally come to Cyprus and teach people here how proper furniture should be delivered?! In flatpacks of course, everyone knows that!

And now they know here too. Ikea finally came to Cyprus and peace was restored (at least in my home).

I have to confess though, that after careful consideration, I have tried really hard, and managed I hope, to tone down my complaints as much as possible. Because we expats should all take a moment to think about the implications of our complaints and rants about our new home country. If everything is so good "back home" and we have so much problems to adapt to in our new home, why don't we just move back?

For me the answer to that question is simple: I don't want to. Hence the reason I am trying so hard to not complain too much, because what I gain in my new home country is worth so much more than I had expected.

Even though driving is somewhat challenging due to the incompentence of certain people, it only takes me 15 minutes to get to my job, with hardly any traffic jams worth mentioning.

Weather plays a big part. Nearly every day of the year I can fika at the beach and take a swim in the Mediterranean should I wish. This may sound like simple pleasures, and they are, but oh so important for my wellbeing. Oh, and should I miss the cold snow from the north, there is always the possibility to take an hour's drive up to the Troodos mountains and go skiing in the short winter months.

And yes, the laidback Mediterranean life is something I have got used to and I think has changed me slightly, I hope for the better. Becoming a bit unorganized does not mean the end of the world.

Biggest news for us Swedish expats in Cyprus this year: H&M opened a store here. So now when we can dress and decorate our homes the Scandinavian way, why should I go back?

Things you learn when living abroad: Flexibility

Things you have to teach the locals: Proper use of osthyvel

This column was written by Christina Myrianthous, a Swede who lives in Cyprus. Would you like to write a guest blog for The Local? Email us at [email protected].


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