'I was a bit headstrong when I arrived in Sweden'
Published on: 15 Jun 2015 07:00 CET
Jordan Nasser got his first taste of Sweden while working in the US for Swedish fashion retailer H&M, where he helped set up the country’s first outlet on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
After the occasional work trip to the Nordic country, including a four-month stint between the dark winter months of November and February, Nasser was offered a job in 2008 at the retailer’s Stockholm office to head up the global marketing team on a one-year contract.
“After moving here you realize it’s more than just the weather,” he laughs. “I had amazing friends and a great career opportunity. I’ve really grown to love it.”
But other things took some getting used to.
“Working culture in Sweden is very much about meetings, agendas and getting along,” he laughs. “It takes some getting used to coming from an American working environment which is very hierarchical.”
Overall he thinks the change did him some good though.
“I was a bit headstrong I arrived and now I feel like a completely different person. I’m a lot quieter than I used to be.”
Now, after six years in the Nordic country, Nasser has acquired citizenship and feels like has integrated into Swedish society, partly thanks to his Swedish friends, many of whom he met through colleagues.
But he does have some regrets.
“My Swedish is poor but everyone loves speaking English here so it’s not so easy in practice. But I get by just fine.”
He advises fellow expats planning a Swedish move to take up language lessons as soon as they move.
“I only thought I would stay here for a year which was a big mistake because I got too comfortable speaking English. I wish I had made more of an effort.”
Last year, after 15 years working for the fashion retailer – including six in the Swedish capital – Nasser decided to take a career break.
“I realized that I had a book inside of me that I’d been dying to get out. Of course so many people say that but I’m the kind of person that actually takes a risk and does something.”
This year Nasser completed ‘Home is a Fire’, a novel loosely based on his own personal experiences regarding the intersection of gay life and southern culture in Tennessee.
The book, he says, was primarily a way to reconnect him with his American roots.
“After six years in Sweden I felt the need to re-explore being American and reconnect with the south where my family lived. The book has really helped me do that.”
After self-publishing his work he’s had positive reviews both from friends and strangers.
“It’s amazing seeing it take a life of its own and move on from friends to friends of friends to people I don’t know who leave positive reviews.”
Nasser is currently working on a sequel and is unsure about his future career plans.
“But for now Sweden is my home.”
See video below for a reading of the first chapter from 'Home is a Fire':