In February 2016, I rock up in Sweden. Shivering, but with over-booted, sweating feet, I wait in the tiny passport control queue at Skavsta Airport.
“I like your boots.” Was that sarcasm? I look up. The source of such compliment is smiling at me. He looks around my age.
“Yeah, just prepared for the cold,” I respond over the separator with an awkward laugh. I heard him chatting with some other Brits behind me in the plane. Him and his wife had moved to Sweden for work a while ago. Unintentional earwigging of his call on landing had taught me that she was now at home drinking champagne. At 11am? It sounded luxurious.
Millennial Life Mash-Up
I want to quiz this guru of Swedishness. I mean, come on, he’s wearing ‘up yours, minus temperature’ trainers and jack up jeans; he must know a thing or two. I want to quiz him about his life. I want to quiz him about what I have got myself in to by agreeing with my husband to start a new life here. Too intense for a passing encounter? The passport control man coughs. The guru throws me an inquisitive glance and goes to the desk.
Our Mid-Twenties Crisis
Maybe me and my husband, Joe, aren’t the only mid twenties Brits who think we’re on to something by leaving the UK. For the past eleven months I’ve been, at best, reasonably desperate, and at worse, desperately unhinged. Joe hasn’t fared much better either, hence our willingness to up sticks and traverse the North Sea when the opportunity came. When Joe was offered the job, I cut the cords on an enviable career and an MA course, which I was acing. We even sold our house. Funny, how you can seem to “be lucky” and have a lot to be thankful for when really inside you are just trying to keep your soul from withering beyond repair.
Save Us, Sweden!
Sweden became our life line. We knew it was renowned for favouring a life balance over the dreaded ‘work life balance’, if there is such a thing when that term requires use! Perhaps in Sweden, we dreamed, we could get back to health by losing stress and acquiring fewer life expenses and demands. Maybe we would actually be able to spend unzombified time together. And, I could start something I could only drool about before: write.
Clearly my OTT footwear is enough to make me look like an immigrant, but I learn fast. I’ll opt for flip-flops next week.
So here I am. I’ll be sharing my new experiences of all things Swedish with you. I’ll try not to make too much of a fool of myself … it’s best not to make promises.