Tag: Living in Sweden

Life In Sweden – 2 Years On

The 5th October marks 2 years since we arrived, joined Dadda, and started our life in Sweden…it has gone crazy fast and I can’t believe we have already been here that long.  Our little people are starting to be not so little anymore, and all three have now started school here.  I have previously reflected back at the 6 month point and I also evaluated life after being here for 1 year.  This year I thought I would do something a little different, and rather than write the whole post from my perspective, I thought I would do a little interview with all the family members and see what they had to say about our life here in Sweden.  I asked each family member (including myself) 5 questions.  Please bear in mind our double trouble are still only 6 so their outlook on life is very different (but nevertheless just as important) from us other three 🙂

1.  What do you like about life in Sweden?

Twin 2:  I like having a bigger garden, all the snow, playing on the big swing at school (play equipment in schools in the UK is rare), and having grandparents to stay with us for many days instead of a few hours.

Twin 1:  Less school, lots of snow, I can climb trees at school (this was certainly not allowed at our daughter’s school in the UK), and there are lots more types of mushrooms growing.

Little lady:  Our bigger garden, wearing her own clothes to school, more freedom and independence (she is able to go out on her own with her friends here (with all the safety measures in place, but we would never have considered this yet in the UK) campfires and fire pits, and there are lots of different food celebration days (for example chocolate ballswaffle day, and cinnamon bun day).

Dadda:  It is more peaceful and calm here (less people really help!), and people are just more generally laid back about life on the whole.

Mamma:  I am so happy with the schooling ethos, the accessibility to nature and allemansrätten, the slower pace of life, having four proper seasons in a year, being amongst such welcoming people, much less traffic, and our lovely wooden home.

2.  What Do You Find Hard About Life In Sweden?

Twin 1:  Eeeeeerrrmmmmm……..

Twin 2:  *silence while the brain ticks over with no result*

Little Lady:  Having less friends.  There are less people on the island so I have less amount of friends and it is because my class is much smaller too, so there are less people to be friends with.

Dadda:  Learning Swedish is very hard….finding the time and energy around full time work and having three children.

Mamma:  I am finding teaching myself the language very difficult.  SFI (the free language course available to attend) is not so accessible when you are chasing after three children and the first finish school at midday, and you are trying to grow a little business of your own.  Progress is happening (I just need to keep thinking we didn’t have any words when we arrived and now we can hold a simple conversation….well either that or people are very good at bluffing!).  I miss having support….support of those who really know you and your children, especially when going through the tougher times with three children or even just needing to take a break from them for an evening.  Everyday tasks can also take a lot more effort…for example booking a doctor’s appointment through the automated system is a total nightmare for me to navigate, or just simple things like understanding a letter to pay a bill.

3.  What Do You Miss About The UK?

Twin 2:  English sausages!!

Twin 1:  Pirate park (a park near where we used to live), Grandparents, my old room, and Smiggle (a very expensive but lovely children’s stationary shop….and my wallet does not miss it!!).

Little lady:  Family and friends.  She has perhaps been the most affected of all 5 of us by the move and her friendships becoming long distance.  We have been very fortunate in that people have visited us and we do a lot of FaceTime, but when she feels low it does hit her very hard. She has no one who has known her for years to vent to.  She is making some lovely friends here, and now language doesn’t hold her back, she is happier to socialise more and more with them.

Dadda:  Accessibility to alcohol (the nearest place is a 20 minute drive and it is all in special state run shops here), our old VW van (we so wanted to bring it with us, but being right hand drive it was just impractical as would have cost so much in the long run.  But it did make such a difference to daily living as a family of 5).  Family and friends.

Mamma:  As well as family and friends I really miss prawn cocktail crisps, spray polish, Marmite (which people ship out to us!), and popping to the local garage to pick up a bottle of red wine for the evening.

What Would You Change If You Could?

Twin 2:  I would get a dog….

Twin 1:  Eeerrrmmmm…..

Little lady:  I wish we could have brought our van….she is now squished in the middle of her twins car seats in the back of a Volvo….she had space in the van around her to bring the 377 things out a little girl needs with her for a quick 5 minute drive.

Dadda:  More time and energy to learn Swedish.

Mamma:  Brought our van…..I miss the ease of it to throw three children into the back, as well as everything a family of five needs for its outdoor lifestyle in the boot (not to mention being able to change children in it during very cold, snowy, or rainy weather so easily!!).  I would have also tried to start learning Swedish before arriving in an ideal world….as it was we only had 4 weeks notice Dadda was leaving the UK, and then I was left looking after 3 children and packing for an international move on my own!

Does Life In Sweden Get The Thumbs Up Or The Thumbs Down?

Twin 2:  Thumbs up

Twin 1:  Thumbs up

Little Lady:  Thumbs in the middle

Dadda:  Thumbs up

Mamma:  Thumbs up

I hope you have enjoyed seeing how we are all finding life in Sweden two years on now.  Overall we would all say we are happy and settled with life in Sweden, and of course there will always be things we miss about the UK, but all 5 of us unanimously think of Sweden as our home.  When we travel back to the UK to see family and friends we don’t say we are going home, that is when we return back to Sweden.  Of course it isn’t or hasn’t all been plain sailing.  We have all had our emotional ups and downs, and sometimes a very good hard cry (I’m not sure Dadda has participated in one of those yet, but there is still time!), and especially for our little lady expat grief is something that crops up when she is having low moments.  If you fancy life in Sweden, want to move abroad, or have moved abroad, and have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me either through the comments or my email, or if you can offer any advice to us too!!  Follow us on Instagram to see more photos of life in Sweden and living the outdoors lifestyle here with three children in tow.

Life In Sweden 2 Years on, living in Sweden, Sweden, Living abroad, expat, expat living, Scandinavia, moving abroad, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Chokladbollar – Chocolate Ball Recipe For Chokladbollens Dag

Friday 11th May (fredag elfte maj) is chokladbollens dag….yes, that’s right, they have a whole day dedicated to eating chokladbollar (chocolate balls)!  The longer I live here, the more I feel this country is the perfect place for my sweet tooth to have taken residence.  It seems there is always a yummy treat to spend a day officially celebrating!  We have celebrated cinnamon bun day, “Fat Day” with semlor buns, and waffle day.  Now it is time for chocolate ball day.  So, in order to show we were integrating well into Swedish culture and life, we whizzed up a batch of these no-bake treats (like we really needed a reason!!).  Give them a go and tell me what you think.

So what do you need to make this gooey treat for chokladbollens dag?

Ingredients for Chokladbollar:

250g soft butter

400g rolled oats

175g caster sugar

4 tbs cocoa powder

4 tbs strong cooled coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

desiccated coconut

This made around 30 balls, but I think it should easily reach 40-50 if you don’t have a 10 year old chocoholic deciding the size of them 🙂

Method To Make Chokladbollar

  1. Whizz all the ingredients together, apart from the coconut.
  2. Pop into the fridge to allow them to go a little firmer.
  3. Once firm, roll into small balls, and then roll each ball into the desiccated coconut to cover it.
  4. They should keep in the fridge for around a week….ahem….if you haven’t got me living with you!!

These are very easy and quick to make, and perfect for little people who enjoy “helping” in the kitchen.  Although to be fair my little lady is actually a help now, rather than a hindrance.  As for the twins……….!!!!

 

choklad bollar, chocolate balls, chokladbollens dag, chocolate balls day, Swedish food, Swedish recipe, Sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

A Swedish Easter – Påsk

I would like to share with you a little about what a Swedish Easter (Påsk) is like compared to back in the UK, and whether or not we have fallen in love with yet another part of Sweden’s culture.  Easter back in the UK for us, was always a mix of Scandinavian traditions and English ones, with me having my Norwegian background. So a Swedish Easter for us is only a little different, and not too much of a culture shock.

 

  1.  First of all the decorating of our home.  We have always hung little wooden, glass, or painted eggs onto branches around our home.  This is a Norwegian tradition I have always done in our UK home, but has become increasingly more popular the past few years in the UK as well. A Swedish Easter is no different.
  2. They adorn their branches in the garden with colourful and bright feathers.  This brightens up the outdoor space where spring is struggling to be seen, and adds colour whilst we wait for the natural colour of spring blooms.

3.  Eggs are hung in the windows, which are visible both from inside and from outside, and make the home look cosy and inviting.

4.  The Swedish Easter tradition with chocolate is slightly different too.  There is definitely still plenty of it, but instead of masses of foil wrapped Easter eggs, here in Sweden you have a beautifully decorated paper shell of an egg (available in various sizes, but beware they hold a lot more than you think!) filled with candy.  Although there is still a lot of candy available, I like this idea, as it is a lot more simple. Also, the children are less saturated with an abundance of chocolate Easter eggs, which you then spend the following months trying to let them eat without feeling guilty with them having so much chocolate!  They are very pretty, and best of all reusable 😉  Of course, we will have an Easter egg hunt in the garden too!

5.  Eggs (the chicken variety), and fish feature heavily on the food side of the Swedish Easter celebrations.  Eggs for breakfast, eggs on open sandwiches, and various fish dishes including pickled herring (one of my mother’s favourites I’ve never quite been able to adopt!), all washed down with some good strong Swedish snaps.

6.  Many children dress up as witches at Easter in Sweden, and on Maundy Thursday (skärtorsdag), you’ll spot children with face paints on and broomsticks. Some will be knocking on doors asking for treats, a bit like in the UK at Halloween.

7.  Swedish Easter is also the first long weekend of the year, with potentially warmer weather, that people head out to their summer houses.  The weather has to do a bit of a rapid turn around to make this come true this year!  We are lucky that our new home is in a place that people would consider is somewhere to have a summer house, so we can stay in the comfort of our home and enjoy our surroundings 🙂

8.  Påskmust:  For those of you who read our Swedish Christmas post  you may remember reading about the drink Julmust.  This is a very sweet drink…think Coke, then think sweeter still! In fact, I can feel my teeth wanting to fall out when I drink it!  Well, it is wheeled out again at Easter when the same drink is re-branded as Påskmust.  I do serve my trio this, but I have to say I cringe inwardly every time I do, thinking of the poor dentist!

 

I hope you have enjoyed learning about a Swedish Easter, and have fun celebrating it wherever you are, whatever traditions you are keeping 🙂

A Swedish Easter, Påsk, Easter, Easter in Sweden, Spring www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Moving To Sweden – Tips For Your Arrival

We were very lucky when we moved, Dadda had been in the country for 8 weeks before I and the three children arrived in Sweden.  This was due to the time it took us to find, purchase, and move into a house.  However, if he hadn’t been our “advanced party” a few things may have tripped us up moving to Sweden.  However, with no children or family logistics to distract him, Dadda was able to get himself sorted out, get paperwork done, find out what needed to be done, and settle into a new country, before the rest of us landed and we needed help.  He sussed out what was needed to be done ready for us.

Photograph: Sonia Cave

So what would be my top tips for moving to Sweden?

Get A Personal Number ASAP:

This is your top priority when moving to Sweden.  It really is a magic number that is the key to unlocking your life in Sweden.  Without it you can’t get a bank account, library card, supermarket membership (even for self scanning), the list goes on….

Sit Back And Wait:

Be prepared for things to take time, from paperwork to home WiFi being installed.  Nothing is done in a rush here, and as frustrating as that can seem when you are still waiting for Försäkringskassan to sort out your child benefit payments a year after your move (they prefer to write a letter to you and send it via Swedish snail mail when they hit a snag), you need to accept this pace of life with good grace, and plan for it 🙂

Photograph: Sonia Cave

Don’t Plan To Get Things Done In The Summer:

Sweden is on holiday in the summer.  Yes, that is right, the whole of Sweden (or so it seems when you trying to get things done).  One reason for moving here was the Swedish work/life balance, but when the full force of this hits you during an international move/immigration process, it can be a little frustrating.  Dadda arrived in Sweden in the middle of August.  He needed to make his arrival in Sweden official, settle into a new job, look for a house, and buy one, sort out purchasing a family car…..and everything else that goes along with all that.  However, during the summer months it is very hard to pin anyone down due to the fact that they are far too busy enjoying the Swedish summer months….fair enough, the summer life is fabulous here, but just don’t try and do your moving to Sweden then 🙂

Be Punctual:

We are English, we need to arrive 5 minutes before an appointment time or if we are meeting someone, it is polite.  It’s bred into us English people that that is the right behaviour.  Or if like me and you have three small children to drag out the house, you are always running, stressed, and late!  Either way, that is not Swedish.  In Sweden, there is a time for something, and you arrive bang on that time.  We once were viewing a house and had arrived 5 minutes early.  We looked around the property a little confused as to why no one was here from the estate agents.  Then, bang on the allotted time, a deluge of cars arrived, both other prospective buyers and the agent.

Photograph: Sonia Cave

Sign Up For Supermarket Membership:

Obviously this is only after you have your personal number!!  See the first point made.  In the UK, you load your shopping onto a lovely long conveyor belt, wait your turn, then pack it up as it is gently passed down the other end, and then you pay.  Moving to Sweden, I suddenly found the whole packing a weekly food shop up for a family of 5 very stressful.  You can only load a small amount of shopping as the conveyor belt is very short.  This means that you have to keep loading it on, while it is being whizzed through by the cashier.  You don’t get a chance to pack anything before you must pay.  A barrier goes down so the next person’s food goes off down a different lane.  However, in the blink of an eye, their transaction is done, while your food is still needing to be packed and getting so squished as the conveyor belt is still moving everything to the other end in one big pile (handy tip….never put eggs, biscuits, cereal, or milk through first!!).  You now get all hot, sweaty, and stressed as the barrier lifts and the next person’s shopping hurtles towards yours! In short, get membership, get scanning as you go along, and make the food shop a lot easier to deal with 🙂

Embrace The Sauna:

These delights are everywhere, and you need to leave time to use them.  After going swimming you will head into your changing room (male or female), to be faced with everyone casually sitting naked in the sauna, drying after their shower…..mind boggling for a reserved Brit!  You will discover saunas floating in the fjord, so you can leap right into the fresh water afterwards.  You will wander round your little Swedish island discovering them in all shapes and sizes in gardens.

I hope, if you’re thinking of moving to Sweden you will find these tips helpful (if you have already moved you may have experienced them).  If you are not moving to Sweden, I am hoping you will have gained a little insight into what it is like to move abroad!  If you like my photos of Sweden in this post, hop over to Instagram where you can view more photos of  beautiful Sweden 🙂

Click here if you want to read more about moving and living in Sweden.

Moving to Sweden, living in Sweden, Moving abroad, living abroad, Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Photograph: Sonia Cave

I have had a similar article published by the Newbieguide.se and it can be found by clicking on the following link http://www.thenewbieguide.se/moving-sweden-tips-arrival/ 🙂

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