What I Learned After Living in Sweden for 1 Year
Exactly one year ago, Miguel and my family drove me to the airport. This is it, I thought. After the long process in the Philippines, I can finally move to Sweden—the country that Miguel and I both wanted to move to. Cliché, but time indeed flies fast when you’re having fun. The first couple of months were my most difficult time here; emotionally and financially.
Sweden, particularly in Stockholm, is so different from the Philippines. I miss my friends and family, but I would still choose to continue living here. If I could bring my family here, I would. The thought of being alone in Sweden scared me. First, the living situation will never be the same as it is in the Philippines. Second, the language barrier (though the majority of the people here can speak English). Third, it is a fresh start.
But, hey, I made it. One year in Sweden! I met a lot of great people, I met people I don’t want to meet again, I learned more about myself, and more importantly, I learned to love myself more and treat myself better.
I still feel in disbelief that I am already living in Sweden for one year every time I look back on my situation before. Everything happens for a reason, you just have to fight for something worthwhile. I didn’t give up when I got scammed for a job in New Zealand. I didn’t give up when I couldn’t get an interview in Australia or New Zealand because I don’t have a visa yet. I didn’t give up when I failed my first interview for a job in Australia. I just gave up on looking for a job in those countries. That time it felt like it wasn’t for me.
So, I tried applying for a job in Sweden… And, here I am.
What I learned after living in Sweden for one year
I fell in love with Sweden before I went here. I fell in love with Sweden when I first moved here. And I’m still in love with Sweden a year later. Sweden is not perfect, but everything here is bliss.
I learned to take a break.
Work doesn’t end in one day, and you can always do it the next day—unless there’s a deadline. I like to feel busy at work and even when I get home. Over the past few months, I am so into my blog, growing my followers and potentially have an extra income. I thought that I have to post weekly, and it felt like I’m writing for the sake of having something to post only. Blogging wasn’t fun anymore.
Instead of planning and pressuring myself to have content, I decided to take a break and just blog whenever I want.
Not only in blogging, but in other aspects of my life too. I always set myself a deadline (which is often good), but it’s unhealthy. I had to “reset” my life and start doing nothing first, then slowly start with something I really want to do.
Autumn or winter is a perfect excuse for your lazy ass
I use the comfort of my apartment and the cold weather as my excuse for my lazy ass. I’ve dealt with the cold weather 5 days a week when I go to work, and I just want to stay home and not wear winter clothes for the rest of the weekend.
I’ve always looked forward to experiencing autumn and winter. One year have passed since I moved to Sweden, and I am so happy I experienced the 4 seasons already. Honestly, the cold weather is manageable with proper clothing. I thought I would have difficulty adjusting to the weather, but, apparently, the cold weather was not my concern; it is the short days and long nights. I cannot function in the afternoon—as early as 2-3 PM when the sun goes down—because it is dark all the time. My body thinks that it’s time to sleep at 3 PM.
People are happier when days are longer aka when there’s more sun.
It’s a-must to enjoy the sunlight (when there is one). There’s no excuse for you not to go out when the sun is up. During my first few months (it was spring when I arrived), I don’t like walking in the sun, so I always find shaded areas that I could walk into. After experiencing the dark months, I am so eager and excited to get some sun. Like I would literally stop and enjoy the sunshine on my face.
When spring starts, you’ll notice that it’s becoming more crowded. When the sun is up, the Swedes are out! Haha.
HUGE taxes, but definitely worth it.
Living in the Philippines in my entire life, paying huge taxes is not worth it. Hello, look at our government. 😛
But here in Sweden, I don’t mind paying that much—I mean almost everything here is taxable—because you can benefit from the taxes! I’m not a citizen yet, but I am entitled to almost all of the benefits here.
You pack your own groceries.
I am used to grocery stores with baggers. Whenever I buy groceries, I always make sure I buy less so I don’t have a long time putting it all in the bag. What I usually do when I know I need to buy lots of groceries is order it online and just pick it up on a certain day and time. Saves me a lot of time + prevents me from getting all the food that I don’t intend to buy.
PersonNummer + BankID = you’ll be fine.
It’s my first time to have a unified ID. During my first 6 months, I didn’t have my personnummer (personal number), and it felt like I don’t live in Sweden. In everything that you do—applying for a gym membership, getting a bank account, buying online, etc—personnummer is required. In some Swedish websites, you need to have your BankID as well which serves as a secured identification online.
I cannot remember that last time I had to use cash in Sweden. The stores here rarely accept cash, and you can usually see cash-free signs.
Buying an apartment is cheaper than renting.
It’s difficult to rent an apartment, especially when you’re looking for a long-term contract. What I don’t like about second hand rentals here is landlords will ask you to pay up to 4x more of the rent. In which most people don’t have a choice but pay because of the housing shortage.
If I buy an apartment, my monthly cost will be almost half the cost of my rent now. Imagine the money that I could save per month!
Anyway, I love my apartment and its location. I would love to stay here longer, but I really can’t wait to buy an apartment and save more money. You can checkout my apartment here!
Indoor shoes only in the gym.
This means that it is guaranteed that the gym will always be clean. When you go to the gym, for example, SATS, you will see that there’s a seat by the entrance where you can remove your shoes or you can get a shoe cover. It is required for you to wear shoes that you haven’t used outside.
Nobody judges you.
I am more confident now because I know that nobody will judge me here. If they do, I learned not to give a f*ck anymore. The mentality of people here is way different than in the Philippines. In the Philippines, literally everything is a big deal. Here, you can walk around without wearing a bra (#freethenipple), wear clothes you’re comfortable with and nobody will catcall you (been here for only one year, and I’ve never been catcalled).
I’m Comfortable being alone.
I am surrounded by friends and family in the Philippines. I rarely have weekends when I don’t have plans. Since I was new here, I didn’t know anyone but my coworkers. We don’t hangout on weekends, obviously. Then I started to enjoy being alone. I like the peace I have in my environment, I like how I don’t have to care about the people I’m with, I like having my own choices and decisions, I like being alone.
There are days when I feel sad because I miss the comfort of my friends and family. I let myself feel that way, because it’s normal and it really takes time to fully settle in another country. The most important thing to have is communication, and it helps a lot! As I’ve mentioned in the list, I became comfortable being alone now.
One year in Sweden, and I had a good experience! No horror stories yet, please! If I got one, I will definitely share it! Or probably rant in Twitter. Haha.