Why Sweden is a white diamond
As Seen By Me:
One of the most commonly asked questions I seem to get these days is, ”Why are you living here?”. Well that is a reasonable question to ask, I suppose. For a Swedish person to see an sun-soaked Australian in the working class city of Norrköping, must come as a bit of a shock. Originally, my partner and I had agreed to move to Sweden because she was missing home and we understood that it would be an ideal place to raise our new born (https://dadabroad.com/having-kids-in-sweden/). I was, of course, open to the move, I was feeling stagnant in Sydney, and to be honest, apart from family, there was little keeping me there. But what I didn’t anticipate was just how fantastic Sweden would prove to be. I took to the country and ideals like a fish to water and in no time managed to ingratiate myself into my new community.
For me, it is interesting to see how Swedes perceive Sweden versus how I, as a foreigner see Sweden. When I interact with people, I have the perfect opportunity to illustrate my love for this country and all it offers. Guaranteed, the initial look on their faces is one of horror and disbelief. Why would I actively move away from ‘paradise’? Well let me fill you all in on the same things to preach to them almost nightly.
My experience in this country can be broken down into four easy categories:
- Child care
The Lifestyle aspect, possibly the best reason for moving here. The emphasis on time and the value of personal well-being is something truly amazing to behold when living in Sweden. The working hours are well structured. Your work time is your work time and your play time is all yours. No exceptions. Swedes know that when you are off the clock that is time that you should be spending with friends and family, how else are you supposed to be a balanced human being? And what do they do in their free time?
Fika – A national past time where for a brief moment, everything stops and you enjoy coffee and cakes with friends.
And trust me, Swedes know how to have a good time. They travel, they enjoy all seasons and have a myriad of activities to enjoy life with.
Culture. Sweden is ancient, comparative to Australia and with that comes some amazing traditions and things to see. This country is full of great holidays to celebrate and for Swedes, it is part of everyday life. But for me, these yearly events showcase the unity of this land. It doesn’t matter the wealth of a household, every season is celebrated the same. That is a beautiful thing to see. The cultural difference is immense. When I submerged myself into it all, I came to see what national pride really is. And it was more than throwing an Aussie flag on my back and drinking beers once a year.
Freedom. The freedoms that Sweden afford their people are tremendous. This is not only democratic freedoms, which are amazing here, but the overall freedom of travel and time. Being perfectly located, we can fly almost anywhere in the world for cheap, or drive around Europe easily. Coupled with the great holidays I receive, I can be with my family and travel abroad freely. The social thinking for the majority of the population is one of togetherness and allowing your neighbour to enjoy his or her life to the best that they possibly can. Because we work hard for each other.
Child care. This is a massive deal for me, and one that brings a tear to my eye whenever I go into depth about it. In Australia, I would have had to scrape together 5 weeks to be with my new born. This is taking into account the fact that I would have had to withdraw sick days, holidays and personal days. A stress that is far too often over looked by my compatriots. On top of that, child care cost back home total up to AUD$120 a day. Here in Sweden, that number isn’t even nearly $120 a month. As a foreigner, the government gave me 480 days, why? Because I am now living under their umbrella. 100 of those days are MANDATORY for me to take. When my son was born, I was told by my boss that I NEEDED to take 10 days to be with my new family.
That time at home allowed me to ensure that my partner and boy were safe and prepared. I felt a sense of calm wash over me knowing that should I need more time to be home, it is saved for me. And that, is a great feeling!
For most Swedish people,
these are just a small amount of luxuries that they are used to. Something that they have grown with and in fact, demand. However, for me, I can see them for the true value that it imparts onto people and what a great society it creates. For all of this, I am eternally grateful to Sweden and to all those I have come into contact with. Most Swedish people I meet are aware of how spoilt they are, and what a fantastic society they have been born into. Sometimes, it just takes an outsiders view to really show you what you have.