#MySweden: 'I love the uncomplicated life in the countryside'

The Local Sweden
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#MySweden: 'I love the uncomplicated life in the countryside'
Lucille Manantan lives in south-western Sweden. Photo: Private

Every week one of The Local's readers takes over our Instagram to show the world their Sweden. Today, Lucille Manantan from the Philippines shows us around her village of Ätran in Halland.


How old are you and how do you normally spend your days?
I'm 37 and about to join the 38 parade. Normally I spend my time exploring the many nature reserves, naturums (visitor and information centres at nature reserves) and national parks in the country. 

I’m happily sitting out here in our #balkong while writing this. This early part of höst feels like a second spring here in the Swedish #countryside. The days are familiarly humid, the nights cool enough for fires and the skies wonderfully clear on occasions. Hi, my name is Lucille and I look forward to sharing with you the understated beauty of the Swedish countryside. Six years ago, the husband decided to pursue a degree in computer networking and chose #Sweden as it is gaining popularity for tech startups. We left our busy lives in Manila and moved to a small village in southwest Sweden. Our village community is small with a population of roughly 500. Our home lies a few feet away from a forest and is surrounded with several lakes which attract tourists every summer. Here, it can sometimes feel like we have stepped into a more innocent age (albeit with fiber-optic internet connection) when flying a kite or asking a neighbor for a favor is not a remote possibility. My work as an assistant nurse makes it easy for me to know the local culture and its personalities. My free days are spent exploring the many nature reserves in #Halland and sometimes, when opportunity permits, I get to sit out here in the balcony, write and enjoy the year’s second spring.

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Sep 27, 2019 at 2:51am PDT

When and why did you move to Sweden?
The husband moved to Sweden in 2013 to study SISCO networking and we later joined him in 2015. 

All good summers include a trip to the farmers market. #Falkenbergs Matdagar is an opportunity to discover the local cuisine and produce in one setting. Falkenberg’s stortorget is lined with trucks and vans, each with a trestle table set up in front. The event is small and not yet fashionable, customers carry baskets instead of cameras. The farmers bring in what they have taken from the earth or the greenhouse a few hours earlier, eagerly discussing trade secrets in growing vegetables. The cows from the local dairy farm are chewing on grass while one or two brave enough kid dare to come nearer and pat them.A chatty old lady is sure to gossip on the expensive free-range eggs sold in the supermarket. Go to this farm, she says, the eggs are larger and better. Everyone is busy eating and looking for a bargain. My daughter is not one to merely look at the produce- sniffing tomatoes, suspiciously poking a large head root celery and announcing loudly a caterpillar’s attendance in a pile of kale. I nervously laugh and offer to buy more kale than I possibly need. #MySweden #TheLocalSweden #falkenberg #halland #FalkenbergsMatdagar

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Sep 28, 2019 at 7:08am PDT

What do you love the most about the place where you live?
I love the uncomplicated life in the countryside. I am comforted by the idea that everyone knows everyone but everyone let's everyone go about their business. 

I waited for two years to get my Swedish personalnummer. Unable to enroll in SFI and find work, I relied on my husband to help me with everything from paying the bills to talking to the store cashiers in Svenska. Without a personalnummer, I had challenges in accessing health care and had to deal with the ego-crunching conundrum of identifying myself in certain situations. No bank records. No tax records. Nothing. I was a floating entity tied down with anxieties and fears of the unknown future. My growing sense of frustration made my husband feel stuck with this wild-eyed, short-tempered harridan wailing over yet another episode of dirty dishes. I worried that my full-time homemaker status would end up doing my family more harm than good as I am not naturally blessed with a skillset to handle missing socks and Lego pieces. In an effort to calm the Asian Hulk inside me, I took my wild-eyed self to the forest and left her worries there. I started to believe in beauty and pursued it within everything and everywhere with startling intensity: autumn sunsets; the humming silence of late afternoons; the bold red rowan predicting winter’s strength; the smell of a woodpile; lighting a fire to mark the arrival of spring; the joy of going for a walk alone on summer mornings. I took pictures of everything I saw and imagined stories about forest trolls and the Philippine duwende to which my children delighted in hearing about at bedtime. I paid attention to the beauty around me that melancholy rarely got a chance to rear its ugly head. My favorite thing about the Swedish countryside is it found me at the right time, at a time I really needed it. I think I found redemption in its vast space, unburdened to clutch my story or my troubles so tightly to my chest. #MySweden #TheLocalSweden #swedishcountryside #countryside #mentalhealth #naturetherapy #falkenberg #halland #visitfalkenberg #Pinay #pinayabroad

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Sep 28, 2019 at 6:56pm PDT

What annoys you the most about your part of Sweden?
Public transport or lack thereof.   

•Gaps• Amazing how my children can roll out the å ä ö vowels with ease while I suffer from an embarrassing enunciation disability. I used to tell my kids to check on the TV- kolla på TV- when I meant to say that they can watch a program on TV. While it may be easy for foreigners to communicate in English when they are in a big city like Stockholm, it is not the same case for foreigners who are lured by the charms of the agrarian Swedish countryside. Most of the locals “kan inte engelska” while those who can, tell me I speak too fast. We then switch to talking in Swedish and I eventually bore them with my 10 words per minute talking speed. Some would politely say my Swedish is very good but the paralyzing fear of pronouncing a word and the constant gamble I make on ett or en nouns must be the same feeling a trekker feels while climbing the slippery slopes of Kebnekaise without a GPS. Although I understand the language, I am simply unable to casually throw in a rebuttal or rejoinder. “I could have said that”, I tell myself after reviewing a conversation in my head. Det kommer. It will come, I am assured by an elderly neighbor who does not seem to mind my 10 words per minute talking speed. Location: Hjärtaredssjön, Ullared #MySweden #TheLocalSweden #learningswedish #learningsvenska #pinayinsweden

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Oct 1, 2019 at 12:54am PDT

How should I spend a day in your neighbourhood?
We'll start our morning with waffles for breakfast in Backa Loge. The café has a lakeside location within Fegen's nature reserve. Go canoeing in Fegen lake after a hearty breakfast and row towards Sandviks kyrka.
We'll head to Ästad's vingård for lunch and visit the neighboring Öströö fårfarm to try out their lammsafari.
We'll spend the rest of the afternoon waiting for the sunset in Skreastrand and grab a few drinks in one of the hotels along the beach. 
What's a fun fact not everyone knows about your area of Sweden?
We have a small theatre (Teater Albatross) nearby and about 20 kilometres away from Gekås, Ullared. It's a shopping mall with its own TV programme on Kanal 5.

There is a palpable sense of freedom in this place and an atmosphere similar only to a Studio Ghibli film. Despite the common observation on the social nature of Swedes, the people here are friendlier and more apt to stop by for a chat about the state of potatis given a particularly dry summer. The key to befriending a Swede when you are in the countryside is to start gardening! I credit my cabbage and tomatoes for the friendly relationship I have with my neighbors. ? Thank you Matt and Emma of The Local Sweden for this amazing opportunity to host for a week. The past hosts did a wonderful job and I would love to meet you all one day. Thank you everyone for reading through my posts. I hope to see you soon in Halland. ? #thelocalsweden #mysweden #halland #visithalland #visitfalkenberg

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Oct 3, 2019 at 10:56am PDT

Follow Lucille Manantan on Instagram here. To find out how you can become The Local's next #MySweden host, click HERE.


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