07 Nov 2010

Simon tells it like it is

6 Comments Driving license (Sweden), Get a job (Sweden), Learn Swedish, Move to Sweden

As promised here are the answers to the questions you’ve asked me.


1. Had you been to Sweden before you moved there in August this year?

Yes once. I was over visiting Anna for a month in December 2009/January 2010. The photos from my trip can be seen HERE.

 2. You’ve lived in Sweden for 2.5 months now, how do you like it so far?

Moving here in August has made the experience less likeable, especially coming from a winter into another winter. Except it’s not even winter here yet but it’s already cold and wet. It’s not an ideal situation, be prepared to freeze your ass off. =) Having no financial ties back home in Australia  would also have made this move less stressful. In hindsight maybe I should have sold my property back in Australia because now  I’m struggling to get a job to survive financially which doesn’t give positive thoughts of Sweden. It also would have been nice to take advantage of living in Europe and seize  the opportunity to travel around a bit when I’m still unemployed which isn’t possible in my financial situation. I would recommend having as much money as possible saved up before moving here to limit the stress.

 3. Have you lived outside Australia before?

No I haven’t lived outside Australia however I moved from Adelaide to Melbourne seven years prior to moving to Sweden. I knew no one in Melbourne at the time so that move was in some ways similar to moving to Sweden.

 4. Have you been homesick at all since you moved to Sweden?

Yes a little bit, I miss the Australian lifestyle and my friends. It doesn’t feel like I have a life in Sweden yet. However living away from my family for the past seven years I’m already used to not seeing them that often but this is just taking it to the next level. I speak to my parents and sister on Skype once or twice a week and being able to have video calls make me  feel like I see them more often than I did back home. Skype is amazing!

 5. What’s the differences between living in Sweden compared to Australia?

They are similar in ways but also very different in others. It’s a lot more expensive to go out and do things here whether it’s going out drinking at a pub, eating at a restaurant or having breakfast at a café. Social activities in  general are expensive so a lot of people socialize at home which is very different from the Australian culture I’m used to.

Part of the reason why these social activities are more expensive is that the government is the sole distributor of alcohol and it’s heavily taxed. Only one chain of stores is allowed to sell it and it’s only open ridiculous hours compared to Australia. Drive through out the window!

6. What do you miss the most about Australia?

Sport – Here you have to pay to be able to watch good sport on TV, it’s not broadcasted on the general channels.

Meat – if you like eating porter house steak or T-bone steak then you’re out of luck. You can get scotch filet but it’s very expensive (about $50/kilo) and the quality of the meat you buy in the supermarket isn’t as good.

Big events – Spring Carnival, the music festivals, big artists etc.

7. How is it moving from a big city like Melbourne to a small town like Jönköping?

A  bit of a shock. Going from being able to get anything at any time to not even being able to get a green curry. To be fare though some of the things I miss about Melbourne (like the green curry) I would probably be able to get if we lived in a bigger city in Sweden. But moving from a city of about 3.6 million people to a town with about 120 000 people is bound to be different. One pro though – there is not that much traffic. =)

8. They drive on the right side of the road in Sweden, how do you experience that? Is it difficult?

Weird to start with and a bit scary, wouldn’t recommend to learn it in December like I did when it’s icy and snowy. But now I’m fine. Everyone drives a manual here so that takes some getting used to plus the indicators are on the opposite side too. But not really much to worry about must people use public transport in the cities because they’re so dense and petrol prices are quite expensive.

9. Do you have to get a Swedish driving license?

No, not for a year.

 10. What’s the food like in Sweden? Is it very different from Australia?

Food in general is not that much different. The prices in the supermarkets in Sweden and Australia are about the same. The difference is that you have more options in Australia to get cheaper meat from a butcher and fresh produce from markets, like the South Melbourne Market or the Queen Vic Market for example. Flavoured milk is not common and fish and chips shops are non-existent.

Swedes eat a lot pork and fish. Lamb is very rare along with T-bone and porterhouse steaks. Swedish people barbecue only in the summer and barbecues, “Australian style” are not very common. Swedes mostly use charcoal barbecues.


11. How do you find it meeting new friends?

It’s hard, I haven’t made any friends yet besides Anna’s family and her friends and the all live elsewhere than in Jönköping. That’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at moving to Göteborg if I can get a job there cause Anna misses her friends too. It’s difficult when you don’t have a job and I can’t really go out due to my financial ties to my property back in Australia. Once I get a job I’ll be able to afford going out drinking at the pub and meeting new people will probably be easier. I’ll also try to get into a group sport once I settle down with a job but were we’ll be living in the future is a bit up in the air right now. I would recommend moving to a larger city in the first place.

 12. What are Swedish people like? Are they open? Friendly?

It’s a bit hard for me to judge that since I haven’t been out meeting people at a pub etc, I mostly met up with people Anna knows and they’ve been nice but not as open as Australians socially.


13. Do you know any other languages besides English?


 14. Not speaking Swedish must be a bit challenging, how do you find it getting around with English? Are Swedish people in general good at English?

Yes, it’s a bit difficult to approach people speaking English but once they realize you’re English speaking it’s fine. You just feel a bit awkward.

 15. Do you and Anna speak any Swedish with each other?

No, not yet.

 16. I know you study Swedish, but how? With SFI or some other school? What do you think and how is it? Do you find it easy to learn? What’s the hardest?

I study at SFI here in Jönköping. I’ve only taken an introduction class so far and I’ll actually start my first real class on Monday. I’m quite surprised how much I’ve learned over these first three weeks. Studying it every day makes a big difference. I would recommend starting as soon as possible after arriving to Sweden and hopefully you’ll don’t have to get through all the dramas I went through trying to get my personal number, which is required. Anna has written about it here in the blog before in the category Move to Sweden. If I had another extra three weeks of studying behind me I probably be competent having small conversations in Swedish already. I did however do a 16 weeks course in Swedish back in Australia at CAE before I got here, but that proved to be quite useless for me as I had no one to practice with when I got home. But I would recommend doing as much as possible before you arrive. Everyone does speak English but I would say Swedish is essential for getting a good job.

There are a lot of words in Swedish that are similar to English and then there are words that are completely different. The hardest is probably the pronunciation of letters and groups of letters that are nonexistent in English and the sentence structure that is different from English.

 17. How many people are there in your class? Are there any other English speaking people?

So far in the first three weeks there were two English speaking people in my class however my new class starting on Monday have about 30 English speaking students. However English is banned at school, you’re meant to speak in Swedish all the time. The teacher only speaks in Swedish unless you can’t understand. They’re a lot of people in the class from Middle Eastern countries.


18. What did you use to work with back in Australia?

I was a technical sales representative for a camera surveillance and alarm wholesaler with a great bunch of guys and I did love my job.

 19. You haven’t found work yet but can you tell us a little about how you experience the job seeking process? Is it different from Australia? Where do you look for available jobs?

The process’ are similar you can go through a job agency or find the job online – Anna has given some good links HERE. The biggest challenge is that the job sites and ads are in Swedish which makes it a long and frustrating google translating process. =)


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6 Responses to “Simon tells it like it is”

  1. Reply Helena says:

    Tack sa mycket Simon! 🙂

    Dina svar ar valdigt hjalpsamma. Det ar mycket intressant att hora vad du tycker om saker och ting. 🙂

    Just nu packar jag och James vara vaskor, om tva timmar ska vi aka upp till Brisbane for att ga pa var intervju pa Svenska konsulatet! Vi ar mycket nervosa, men hoppas att det kommer ga bra. Vi ska halla er uppdaterade!

    Tack igen och ha det sa bra bada tva 🙂

    // Helena och James

  2. Reply Carolina says:

    Thank you very much, Simon! I will show this page to Glen when he gets home from work, and I'm sure it will answer a lot of his questions as well! Very nice of you to take the time to help other people who are in a similar situation!

    In regards to prices of grog in Sweden I think Glen's plans are to either rent a truck and go to Germany, or to brew his own 🙂 He is a keen brewer of the Coopers' kits and also whatever else he can find in home-brew shops here. He is a bit worried though that he won't be able to find any in Sweden, and I wouldn't have a clue how he'd go… But if he succeeds we'll have to bring some down for you when we move over there! All being well we'll live in Motala, 120 km north of Jönköping. However, I am not sure how Glen will like living there since Motala is a much smaller town than Jönköping even… Not too many aussies there!

    Good luck with your Swedish-studies and job-hunting! I am not sure if you've looked into this, or if you'd be interested at all, but have you contacted the university in Jönköping? My sister goes to school there, and since a lot of the students at the International Business School are from overseas they always need help with technical support regarding computer labs and similar things. If nothing else at least you will be able to speak English for a change 🙂

    Take care and all the best,

    Carolina and Glen

  3. Reply Anna - Swaussie says:

    Sv Helena:
    Oh spännande, vi ser fram emot att höra hur det gick. Som du skrivit tidigare man tycker ju "vårt förhållande är ju äkta hur kan man misslyckas med att bevisa det", men sen samtidigt vet man ju aldrig. Läskigt att ha sitt "öde" i någon annans händer sådär. Men jag tror säkert det gick bra.

  4. Reply Marie says:

    My boyfriend (american) moved to Gothenburg and we lived there together 3 yrs before moving to the States. Its tough and I think I realize what you are going through right now (I am new in the States, that not a piece of cake either) I think learning swedish and getting a job is essential to get into the society. In Gothenburg I would recommend working in at Hard Rock or a international café called Språkcafét. Its off course not professional jobs, but nice environments to learn swedish and get to now some people. Our best wishes to you both!! Marie and K

  5. Reply Samantha says:

    Wow reading this blog…so much rings true! I'm a 27 yr old teacher, I have been in Sweden for nearly 4 weeks…I'm here for 12 months at least, living with my husband who is Swedish. I also live in a small town in Sweden of about 25,000 people. I came from Oakleigh in Melbourne, very close to Chadstone. I haven't seen anything like Chadstone Shopping Centre in Sweden yet, even in Stockholm. I feel like I'm living in a 'country town' I think I am haha! Getting a job does seem very hard in Sweden. I am not trying at this stage, about to start SFI. So it's interesting for me to read what you say about it, so thanks. I love Sweden, but damn it's freezing & a challenge in the beginning at least, financially, etc! But I hope to make the best of the experience 🙂 Good luck to you guys!

  6. Reply Anna - Swaussie says:

    @Samantha: Glad you find the blog and information useful. It sure is a challenge moving to another country but if we can help someone by charing our experience we're happy. 🙂

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