Arriving, setting yourself up and living in Sweden can be daunting. It’s a cool enigma, a challenge, unique, amazingly unknown – and now your home! How are you going to manage this riddle?
Alison Allfrey writes:
"I arrived in Stockholm with my husband and two young boys in July 2012 with little or no knowledge of Sweden. I had lived abroad in France before as part of my degree, but never in Scandinavia. This was a journey of discovery, challenges, revelations and one which changed our outlook and sphere of experience.
Being in Sweden was tough to start with, the umbilical cord with the UK seemingly cut, the inevitability of months of cold winter beckoning and a sense of bewilderment with so much change to assimilate. The boys were all at sea, my husband had to get used to office politics Swedish style, I was juggling all this plus working freelance.
For a while it seemed uphill work, but having formulated an attitude of trying to adventure and make the most of all the opportunities our ex-pat posting presented, we began to peel back the layers of what Sweden and friendships with people from across Europe and the world had to offer. It was hugely invigorating, liberating and exciting. In the end, we really didn’t want to leave.
An experience that has remained with us, three pivotal years where we somehow transitioned from nervous ex-pats to lovers of the Swedish way of life.
Still inspired by Sweden, I am currently completing Stockholm – Sweden at your Fingertips in conjunction with specialist ex-pat guide to Stockholm, Jessica Dolling Gripberg. At once insightful, inspirational, practical and humorous, this is what every newcomer to Sweden needs to get started, understand how to fit in and discover special places that will begin to make Sweden feel like home. It has a wealth of insight and detail, from key tips about working practices, winter tyres and how best to amuse children on dark winter days, to monthly ideas for making the most of the highlights of the year in Sweden, recipes so you can conjure up Swedish specialities, and ideas for discovering the archipelago, beautiful castles, the exhilaration of skating on open ice and thrill of dog sledding. Look out for it on Amazon this spring!
Synopsis of So Sweden – Living Differently
In 2012 an adventurer, a linguist and their two small boys left the hedged
cosiness of rural England for the mysterious, watery expanses of Sweden and
magnetic draw of ravishing Stockholm. Out of the comfort zone and into a
vast, detached, pristine country with a different DNA - unflinching pride,
egalitarianism, hair-shirt doggedness and immersion in nature. A challenging
conundrum and life abroad with a difference - red wooden houses, tortuous
vowels, feet of snow, studded tyres, ABBA and a constant seasonal symbiosis
between water in every form and light of astonishing clarity.
Grappling with a people wrapped in a cloak of silence until the awakening
call of spring, a fierce climate and a sense of isolation was baffling. But
liberation from England’s strictures, adventure and the chance to embrace
Sweden’s calm otherness and families from across the world brought new
imperatives – open-mindedness, perseverance and living for the moment.
After 18 months they didn’t want to leave.
So Sweden is the intrepid, wry and enlightening story of the life-changing
posting to Stockholm of a family from a ‘non-skiing nation’. A journey
from apprehension to almost unconditional adoration of a cool, distinct
country, admired from afar, little known. Sweden.
"Fantastically witty tale about living in the cold country of ’lagom’.
Such a hilarious, but at the same to very accurate, description of the
challenges of adapting to the Scandinavian way of living. Wonderful language.
A must read for anyone visiting or moving to Sweden". (Helena Wigart, Amazon
"This book is a delight. An easy read with a loving and accurate description
of embracing Swedish life in all the brilliant moments and some of the
frustrating ones too. It is a real family memoir and beautifully written".
"So Sweden' is a charming memoir of a family's three-year posting to Sweden.
Allfrey's is a fresh, authentic voice behind writing that is both clean and
descriptive. Images of snow - 40 different kinds of wax for skis and the
first sightings of spring - are beautifully described as is the author's love
of good food. The challenges that face not only young mothers but any family
in a foreign land are met with humour and courage. Ultimately the love for
their adoptive country shines through". (Susana Ingram, Amazon customer).
Thursday 9th November at 18:30.
The English Bookshop, Södermannagatan 22, Stockholm.
Merlin – the man, the myth, the legend. Launch of Rhuddem Gwelin’s latest book ”The Wrathful Traveller – the Merlin Chronicles Volume 2”. Reflections by the author on the role of the legendary Merlin in the historical battle between magic and the ever-more powerful church. Presentation of the new novel, in which Merlin is cast into the madness of the Crusades. Reading, signing, drinks and refreshments. In English. Free.
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About the blog
Interesting bits and pieces about life in Sweden, including all-important song words.