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Maybe Moving To Sweden... Advice Needed  
User currently offlineseansasLCY From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2007, 903 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 2482 times:

I am considering moving to Sweden. My partner is Swedish but she lives in the UK atm, as do I.

We are both thinking long term and we believe the standard of life we would have in Sweden would be better than what is on offer in the UK.

The only thing stopping the move is that I don't speak Swedish. I speak English and some Chinese. Does anybody have any experience of looking for work in Sweden without speaking Swedish?

I am trying to learn but obviously it would be much easier to learn actually being in the country so its a catch 22 situation!

Any advice would be appreciated.

27 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAirPacific747 From Denmark, joined May 2008, 2478 posts, RR: 24
Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 2471 times:

Well everyone in Sweden understands/ speaks english too so no worries. I spend a lot of my time in countries where english is not the primary language and I still get by fine.

User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26150 posts, RR: 50
Reply 2, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 2427 times:

Funny, far more Swedes move to the UK then the other way around.

As a Swede myself, I could never imagine moving back. Sorry.

But as far as the language as long as you are not in some smallish rural area, many people, especially younger generations do speak English. However knowledge of the language will be extremely helpful still in day to day interaction and ability to read signs, papers, documents, comprehend TV/radio etc.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineDoona From Sweden, joined Feb 2005, 3772 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 2402 times:

Quoting seansasLCY (Thread starter):

AFAIK, there will be free Swedish courses available to you once you move there, called SFI (Svenska för invandrare, or Swedish for immigrants). Not sure of the quality (probably varies from city to city and teacher to teacher), but at least it's something.

Getting a job before being able to speak the language won't be easy, but certainly not impossible if you know where to look. If you're happy working in certain coffee shops that cater to a more international crowd, or a hostel for instance, not speaking Swedish is fine. I've worked as a newspaper delivery man for a couple of summers and there were plenty of people who barely spoke English, let alone Swedish and it was fine.

Do you have a certain field in which you're looking to work?

Cheers
Mats



Sure, we're concerned for our lives. Just not as concerned as saving 9 bucks on a roundtrip to Ft. Myers.
User currently offlineseansasLCY From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2007, 903 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 2393 times:

Quoting Doona (Reply 3):
Do you have a certain field in which you're looking to work?

Ideally aviation! I currently work in administration/politics but would be open to ideas.

Thanks for the comments guys.


User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3766 posts, RR: 29
Reply 5, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 2367 times:

Well I am German and when I was 15 I moved to Denmark, another scandinavian coutry, for 4 years, and I did not speak a single word of Danish then.

My experience:

1. For Germans, learning Danish was rather easy. For someone not used to a germanic language, it certainly is harder. Swedish is similiar to Danish, I would think it even might be a bit easier to adopt to. I would say if you really want to live in a country, you MUST learn the language. However, Scandinavia is probably the easiest place for English speaking people to live and slowly adopt to the language.

2. Dont expect open societies. That is certainly true for Denmark, but Sweden is not so much different, I have heard. Its a fact - it is not easy to make friends, unless you know other foreigners. But dont give up.

3. Taxes are high. You get used to it..

4. It sucks in the winter.

Which is compensated by nr. 5

5. Summer is great.

Overall: Give it a try. Great landscape, interesting countries.

Michael


User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2344 times:

I have many friends who have lived and worked in Sweden many years without speaking Swedish. One more than 25 years.
They all work for international companies and often in specialist positions or international sales. Outside those places I think it is hard to get jobs unless you go to cleaning and similar jobs and sadly pay will not be much in that case.

That said, I think you will learn (enough) Swedish quickly. It really isn't that difficult as long as you want to learn. Your biggest problem will be that people will hear you're not from Sweden and reply in English.


User currently offlinewunala From Australia, joined Mar 2005, 950 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 2323 times:

How difficult is "Do you want fries with that?".

Only joking, best of luck with the move. I moved to a foreign country 14 years ago and never regretted it.


User currently offlineYVRLTN From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 2548 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2262 times:

I know two Swedish sisters, their mum is Scottish which no doubt helps, but no exagerration they speak the best, purist, most beautiful English I have ever heard. Im sure you will be totally fine, they all learn English pretty much as kids and keep it up and if its something you have to do, you will be amazed how much your wife can teach you.

As for a job, go for public sauna attendant. I believe job satisfaction would more than compensate the salary you are probably used to now.  



Follow me on twitter for YVR movements @vernonYVR
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3766 posts, RR: 29
Reply 9, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2226 times:

Quoting YVRLTN (Reply 8):
As for a job, go for public sauna attendant. I believe job satisfaction would more than compensate the salary you are probably used to now

        

I remember taking the train from Denmark to Malmö. In copenhagen, people were good looking already. But once you got to Sweden, wow 


User currently offlineMillwallSean From Singapore, joined Apr 2008, 1295 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 2198 times:

Quoting seansasLCY (Thread starter):
I am considering moving to Sweden. My partner is Swedish but she lives in the UK atm, as do I.

We are both thinking long term and we believe the standard of life we would have in Sweden would be better than what is on offer in the UK.

The only thing stopping the move is that I don't speak Swedish. I speak English and some Chinese. Does anybody have any experience of looking for work in Sweden without speaking Swedish?

I am trying to learn but obviously it would be much easier to learn actually being in the country so its a catch 22 situation!

Any advice would be appreciated.

Ive been in your situation. Been there, done that and it saved me from a life of trouble...
Bad news, you need Swedish to get yourself a decent job unless you're in the IT or medicine sector etc.
Don't be fooled by people speaking English. Everyday talk is completely different to work or friendship. Finding a decent job is going to be a challenge for you and you'll need to build a decent network asap. The network is your best bet. Be mentally prepared, its bound to be difficult for you to find a good job.
You come with overseas degrees and don't speak the language. You are behind the locals in the pecking order, full stop.
Also why we might think its great to hire people with overseas degrees most recruiters don't, they just see it as an increased risk and so does most employers. Frustrating for a newcomer, but fully understandable.

Lots of Americans/Brits etc cant land a job in Sweden despite good degrees / experience from their home countries.
If you have an education where there is a skill shortage sure, then you will find a job pretty easily, IT etc, but admin/politics will be a battle. Be prepared that it will take time.
Check the stories at www.thelocal.se etc and see what other English speaking migrants have to say.

English blue collar workers have actually been the third largest migrant group in Sweden over the past few years so you wont be alone. While swedes do an OE in London and some stay behind, the brits moving does so in search of a better life. You cant compare the two groups.

The best piece of advise I got when I moved to Sweden was this:
In an English-speaking country, "I have good manners and respect you as a person.....therefore I acknowledge your existence by greeting you and perhaps making small talk."

In Sweden, "I have good manners and respect you as a person ... therefore I respect your right to peace and quiet and do not disturb you by talking. I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help."

Read it understand it and you'll find it much easier to read swedes and how they expect you to be as a person.

To be honest we English don't understand the Scandinavian culture. Since they speak decent English we fool ourselves into believing Scandinavia is similar to the anglophone world. That couldn't be further from the truth. We struggle with the nuances and understanding the culture, we miss the signs and we make heaps of cultural blunders.
Keep in mind that the Swedish culture is very different from the English one, that friendships etc are formed in different ways and be open and prepared to adjust and blend in. You are moving to a completely different culture that values and look up to different characteristics than what you are used to.
My experience, about 50% of the americans/brits etc that move to Sweden get very frustrated, they complain about the country, the people and they never understand the small things that makes you fit into the culture and as a result these people tend to get rather bitter and negative.
The ones that succeed are the ones that's ready to adapt and accept that the culture is very different. (Not much different from the migrants that come to the UK)


--------------------------------
To be honest what I just said is pretty basic. But even me myself struggles with it. At present im living in NZ (working in Asia - long story) but in New Zealand I don't have a single kiwi mate.
I have heaps of Europeans and Asian mates but not a single kiwi. I just don't have much in common with them or enjoy them. Their interests and way of thinking is different from mine. So I choose other friends. As a result I cant really say that Im part of kiwi society or that I want to be that but because I am English I can still get around and get anything done. (Auckland is like 35% immigrants so this isnt as bad as it sounds)
With you being a person that don't speak Swedish you will struggle unless you really try hard to understand the swedes and how they interact. Crack the cultural codes and accept that you're in a country where Swedish is the main language and where your wives friends are just that her friends. not yours and you need to build your own network of friends and that takes time, heaps of time.
Im fortunate enough to work for Scandinavian companies so I have work for life. I will get hired 100 time sout of a 100 because I have lived in Sweden and as they say understand Swedish mentality and Swedish management.
My suggestion is for you to understand and learn too. It will make your life in Sweden so much better and more rewarding.



No One Likes Us - We Dont Care.
User currently offlinemad99 From Spain, joined Mar 2012, 616 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2171 times:

Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
You are behind the locals in the pecking order, full stop.

I'd say this is true in any country, if you don't speak the lingo you're second class.

Quoting seansasLCY (Thread starter):
I am trying to learn but obviously it would be much easier to learn actually being in the country so its a catch 22 situation!

Sound like an excuse. You need to put the hours in to learn, no other way.

What i did before moving to madrid was to practice interviews in spanish. You know what they are going to ask so the scope of what you need to know is quite small. No need to learn all the farm equipment names or animals etc just focus on what you know's coming.

After my first interview they offered me a job but i didn't understand and just kind of agreed . Two weeks later they rang home looking for me and asking if i intended to start. After i got my first pay cheque i learnt how much i was earning!

and so it started....


User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2149 times:

Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
The best piece of advise I got when I moved to Sweden was this:
In an English-speaking country, "I have good manners and respect you as a person.....therefore I acknowledge your existence by greeting you and perhaps making small talk."

In Sweden, "I have good manners and respect you as a person ... therefore I respect your right to peace and quiet and do not disturb you by talking. I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help."

        

This is the best advice I have seen in this thread. It isn't language that is the key to open up society. It is understanding the "rules" that govern that society and I have never seen a better summary of the rules applying to the Nordic countries.


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12966 posts, RR: 25
Reply 13, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2108 times:

Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
In Sweden, "I have good manners and respect you as a person ... therefore I respect your right to peace and quiet and do not disturb you by talking. I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help."

Boy, that brings back bad flashbacks of a co-worker from Sweden who personified the old saying, "You can always tell a Swede, but you can't tell him anything"! 

I actually refused to interview for a job at a company he joined just because he was there. He was the most stubborn person I've ever run into in my professional career.

Maybe that worked in Swedish culture, but to us he was a huge   ...



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineKiwiRob From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 7838 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2091 times:

Quoting seansasLCY (Thread starter):


The only thing stopping the move is that I don't speak Swedish. I speak English and some Chinese. Does anybody have any experience of looking for work in Sweden without speaking Swedish?

After 7 years in Norway I'm afraid to say my Norwegian is pretty bad, but it's never stopped me getting a good job, at the moment I have an excellent job working for a great company which doesn't discriminate, there are many non Norwegians in key positions and we are international. I'm sure Sweden is a lot like Norway where you can easily live without speaking the Swedish, my bank's webpage is in English, as are my tax papers and any coirrespondance I have with the state or local authourities.

Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
The best piece of advise I got when I moved to Sweden was this:
In an English-speaking country, "I have good manners and respect you as a person.....therefore I acknowledge your existence by greeting you and perhaps making small talk."

In Sweden, "I have good manners and respect you as a person ... therefore I respect your right to peace and quiet and do not disturb you by talking. I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help."

Never a truer word was written about Scandinavian people.

Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
My experience, about 50% of the americans/brits etc that move to Sweden get very frustrated, they complain about the country, the people and they never understand the small things that makes you fit into the culture and as a result these people tend to get rather bitter and negative.

It's a phase you go through, all the non Norwegians I know went through it, some never get over it, some get over it but still like to complain (that would be me) and some leave.


User currently offlineCadet985 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 1671 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 2059 times:

Sweden....wasn't this site still good when it was run by someone who was from there?

Marc


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12966 posts, RR: 25
Reply 16, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 1993 times:

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 14):
Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
The best piece of advise I got when I moved to Sweden was this:
In an English-speaking country, "I have good manners and respect you as a person.....therefore I acknowledge your existence by greeting you and perhaps making small talk."

In Sweden, "I have good manners and respect you as a person ... therefore I respect your right to peace and quiet and do not disturb you by talking. I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help."

Never a truer word was written about Scandinavian people.

It does point out the huge difficulties in integrating.

The non-Scandanavian thinks the chit-chat is a form of socialization and perhaps bonding.
The Scandanavian thinks the chit-chat is a form of questioning their competence.

No wonder it ends up in tears.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 1984 times:

Quoting Revelation (Reply 16):
The Scandanavian thinks the chit-chat is a form of questioning their competence.

I think you got this all wrong. Scandinavians don't mind chit chatting, is what "fika" is about. The difference is in when, how you approach it and to some extent what you chit chat about. Telling someone how things should be done is well above chit chat to most people.


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12966 posts, RR: 25
Reply 18, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 1962 times:

Quoting cmf (Reply 17):
Scandinavians don't mind chit chatting, is what "fika" is about.

Good point.

Quoting cmf (Reply 17):
Telling someone how things should be done is well above chit chat to most people.

That's where the disconnect starts.

We have:

Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help."

versus:

Quoting Revelation (Reply 16):
questioning their competence

versus:

Quoting cmf (Reply 17):
Telling someone how things should be done

so we can see it's a touchy subject.

In the technical fields, it's quite natural to be discussing how things are being done or going to be done.

If one side of the conversation presumes such talk is questioning their self-sufficiency, competence, etc. by having such a discussion, it's going to end up in tears.

And in some situations I was a participant in where there were sound reasons to question a person's implementation of a solution, it went beyond tears.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 1934 times:

Quoting Revelation (Reply 18):
And in some situations I was a participant in where there were sound reasons to question a person's implementation of a solution, it went beyond tears.

I have seen that in most countries where I have worked. I think you're mixing a geographical with individual traits. In general there isn't a problem to tell people if they are doing something wrong and most are happy to learn something new. But it is pretty much as in golf. You don't just blurt out that you should do this or that instead. If someone is doing something then you let them do it until they ask for help or if you see some problem you ask if they want help in doing it easier. I don't see MillwallSean's and my descriptions to be contradictory there.


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12966 posts, RR: 25
Reply 20, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 1909 times:

Quoting cmf (Reply 19):
I think you're mixing a geographical with individual traits.

Perhaps, but then why do we see MillwallSean's comments implying Scandinavians prefer self-sufficiency and don't appreciate talkative people and unsolicited help get wide acceptance here? That's not to suggest there aren't people with the same preferences in other geographies/cultures, it does suggest though that the tendency is higher amongst Scandinavians. As with all such statements, there are always exceptions.

Quoting cmf (Reply 19):
If someone is doing something then you let them do it until they ask for help or if you see some problem you ask if they want help in doing it easier.

That's really not how it goes in the technical fields. The predominant practice is that your work gets reviewed by others so you will get "help", like it or not.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 1892 times:

Quoting Revelation (Reply 20):
Scandinavians prefer self-sufficiency and don't appreciate talkative people and unsolicited help
get wide acceptance here?

In my experience few people like unsolicited help. Scandinavians tend to be quiet and certainly not pushy. It is mostly about how you approach.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 20):
That's really not how it goes in the technical fields. The predominant practice is that your work gets reviewed by others so you will get "help", like it or not.

Don't know where you work but I'm used to getting my work reviewed at predefined quality points. Not having someone hanging over me while I do it. If you don't pass QC then you get help but we can't afford having people only watch what other people do. Been like that at every place I've worked.


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12966 posts, RR: 25
Reply 22, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 1887 times:

Quoting cmf (Reply 21):
In my experience few people like unsolicited help.

It's really about how one reacts to such. Some take it gracefully, others act insulted, and lots in between.

Quoting cmf (Reply 21):
Don't know where you work but I'm used to getting my work reviewed at predefined quality points.

Design reviews, code reviews, joint debug sessions, others enhancing my code, me enhancing their code, etc. I probably spend 1/4th to 1/3rd of my working hours reviewing the work of others or having my work reviewed by others.

Quoting cmf (Reply 21):
Been like that at every place I've worked.

Where I work now, we don't do the lone wolf development style, for many different reasons. I could discuss further, but I fear we are veering OT...



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineHELyes From Thailand, joined Oct 2010, 1002 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 1859 times:

Quoting MillwallSean (Reply 10):
I respect your right to peace and quiet and do not disturb you by talking. I respect your competence to be self-sufficient, so I do not offer unsolicited help.

Sounds like Finland. The high tolerance towards silence can feel odd even hostile if you come from a different culture - or it can feel like home as one Japanese guy once told me.


User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1844 times:

Quoting Revelation (Reply 22):
Design reviews, code reviews, joint debug sessions,

I.e. at quality points.


25 Revelation : Reviews, yes, others, not really...
26 Flighty : Scandanavian and (north) Asian cultures have some similarity. Understatement, no yelling, things unsaid. An interest in keeping things tidy. The Engl
27 KiwiRob : Someone forgot to tell the Norwegians about keeping things tidy, the country is a mess, most people aren't interested in keeping the outside of there
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