#BecomingSwedish: A Brit's ultimate bucket list journey to citizenship

Tomas Spragg Nilsson
Tomas Spragg Nilsson - [email protected]
#BecomingSwedish: A Brit's ultimate bucket list journey to citizenship
What does it take to become a Swede? Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

"Do I really have what it takes to be a Swede?" wonders Tomas Spragg Nilsson, who is planning on becoming a Swedish citizen soon to keep working here after Brexit.


One week ago I agreed to complete an intense list of 72 tasks that were set for me by the Internet. The tasks would have me tour the country and hassle complete strangers to join me on the adventure. If that wasn't enough, I have less than one year to complete the tasks. So I definitely need your help to get the job done. But to understand why I'm embarking on this crazed adventure – I need to back up a little.

In just under one year – I plan to put in my application to Migrationsverket (the Swedish Migration Agency) to become a Swedish citizen. As a Brit living in Stockholm, I'm naturally looking for a way I can continue to live and work in Sweden post-Brexit, hassle free.

But my application for citizenship means much more than just that. I've lived in Sweden for a few years now and visited frequently before I moved here. My wife is Swedish and my Swedish daughter was born here. I speak some Swedish, I laugh at bad jokes in Swedish and I even got caught up in Swedish election fever. I've realized that as the days go by, I've started to feel, well, Swedish.

Admittedly this is a strange realization for anyone – so I started to question my eligibility to become Swedish. Sure, I will hopefully meet the legal criteria to become Swedish (five years in Sweden or three years if you've lived with a Swedish partner for at least two years – there are no language requirements or other citizenship tests in Sweden). But do I really have what it takes to be a Swede? We're talking about more than just a piece of paper from the government.

I started to joke with my wife over dinner one night that I should put together a list of things I should see, eat and experience in Sweden before I put in my application – to qualify me to be a proper Swede. I wanted the list to be more than the usual things I could experience as a tourist. I wanted to delve into the corners of Swedish attitudes and culture to see what I was missing. This gave birth to what I'm affectionately now calling my 'hinklista' (a bad direct translation of 'bucket list' to you and I).

I then did what any other self-admitted social media addict would do. I put the call out on Twitter to see if anyone else had something for the list. You can guess the rest of the story – this is how I ended up with a list of 72. Don't get me wrong, the suggestions were great and came from Swedes from all over. Some suggestions were made multiple times, to visit Visby and Kiruna for example, and some were a little more niche, like watching the 318 episode strong soap opera Rederiet (thanks to The Local Sweden's Emma Löfgren for that…).

What struck me the most about this process though, were the really great conversations I was starting to have with random Swedes on Twitter. This is not a typical Twitter experience for me. I'm used to the more troll-filled-shouting-factory side of the platform. This was refreshing – and it got me thinking – what if this project was less 'learning about Sweden', and more 'learning from Swedes'?

So I hatched a plan. Working through my hinklista needed to be more than me travelling the country, eating nice food and watching TV shows. It needed to be about meeting Swedes and hearing from them first-hand what it is to be Swedish. Dare I say it – this may even be my chance for integration that I so crave, and help me break through the well-reported barrier that is making friends with the locals.

So this is where I need your help. If you are Swedish or live in Sweden, I would like to meet up with you to experience one of the things on my list. It doesn't matter where you live in the country – if you are up for the adventure – I'll find a way to get there! Oh, and just to add one extra layer of complication: my plan is to film the whole experience, write a monthly blog for The Local and upload regular vlogs to my YouTube channel.

So if you are going to a game, seeing the midnight sun, or watching a film, please get in touch! I want to become Swedish – and I need your help. 

A final note: I don't pretend to be an expert in matters of citizenship applications – but If like me, you are a Brit in Sweden and are wondering if you qualify for citizenship – it is well worth checking out The Local's guide on this.

The hinklista


Falun Mine
Höga Kusten
Göta Kanal


Ice Hockey (Djurgården and AIK)
Jumping in ice hole after sauna
Cross country skiing
Dog sledding
Outdoorsy stuff in winter
Ice skating
'Sladda med 245:a'
Midnight sun
Be on a styrelse
Play with reindeers
Sing in choir


Flygande Jakob
Masses of lingon
Falukorv with pasta and ketchup
Homemade cinnamon bun

Learn to

Exhale and inhale to say yes and no
Use English words when speaking Swedish
Memorize the weeks of the year
Become emotionally detached
Not brag
Complain about weather
Not talk to strangers
Stand in line
Cancel on a friend to spend time alone
Stop being loud in public
Master lagom
Du gamla du fria
Abba lyrics


Vår tid är nu
Swedish reality TV
Moa Martinsson
Millennium Trilogy
Mannen på taket
Astrid Lindgren
Nile City
Göta Kanal
Kalle Anka
August Strindberg
Selma Lagerlöf
Ture Sventon
F**king Åmål
Torsk på Tallinn
Skrotnisse och hans vänner
Den bästa sommaren
Vilse i Pannkakan

Tomas Spragg Nilsson is a politics-obsessed communications professional and storyteller, based in Stockholm. In his spare time, he has embarked on an integration project that will have him travel the country in an attempt to understand what it means to become a Swedish citizen.


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[email protected] 2019/03/02 17:31
Why use American English spelling if you are British?

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