Today’s interview is with Héloïse, a French expat who is living in Sweden. I am Héloïse, 23 years old and originally from Saint-Malo, a beautiful city on the North-West coast of France. I moved to Sweden about 3 years ago and I am now living in Stockholm.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I first moved abroad to study. After finishing my bachelor’s degree (International Business), I wanted to have a broader experience abroad. So I applied to Lund University for a master’s program (Service Management and Logistics). After the master I found a job, and I am still abroad now!
2. How do you make a living?
I have been working for the last 20 months. I was not even done studying when I started to work. This is the main reason why I moved from Helsingborg to Stockholm. I first started to work at the container terminal of the port of Stockholm and now I am working for a shipping line. Still in sea freight and shipping!
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I do communicate with my family back home pretty often. Most of the time by texting and via What’s App and whenever we want to talk more, then we use Skype or Facetime. I would say that we see each other via video calls about once a week.
Then, I try to go back home twice a year – some years it is more and some other less. It really depends on everyone’ schedule!
4. What’s your favorite thing about being an expat in Sweden?
Excellent living conditions. Without a doubt, and after having all the paperwork done! Working in Sweden gives a lot of benefits – workwise, and it is really pleasant to have a good balance between work and private life. We have an easy access to the nature, excellent transportation to commute to work or travel locally and Stockholm is made of islands, so no matter where you go, there is always a nice landscape.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Sweden?
The integration is really complicated and long. Currently, and after over 3 years in Sweden, I still don’t feel integrated in the city (Stockholm) or country. So, meeting locals and making friends is not an easy task here. Today, 90% of my friends are foreigners. Most of them also came for studies or jobs and found themselves in similar situations.
6. What do you miss most?
I miss nice sandy beaches! I come from a city where the sea is everywhere, and we have a lot of nice sandy beaches all along the coast. Here in Sweden, it is mostly rocks!
Of course I also miss the proximity to family and friends but thanks to all the technologies, it is easier to cope with this.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
This is something that I am still working on! But work helps a lot to meet people, as well as some classes I took to learn Swedish. Then, I think any social activities are good to meet people – locals or not – but it is much easier to meet people through sports, clubs, activities etc.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The idea of personal space! This is something that we don’t really have in France. We kiss to say hi, we touch people and we sit next to others in the bus! I had to adapt a bit to this as it was completely foreign to me before moving to Sweden, but I need to say that now that I am used to it, it is really comfortable!
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That everyone is blond! Many people, especially young children have really blond hair, but not all are blond!
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is higher here than in France – especially when you are not from Paris! But overall, salaries are a bit higher too. The main problem in Stockholm is the lack of apartments available – so high demand and low offer is not really good!
11. What advice would you give other expats?
You need to come to Sweden for an extended amount of time (especially in winter) to see if you would like it. I’m thinking of about 4 weeks – it gives time to have a good overview of the system, administration, job opportunities and way of living. And during the winter, because here, they are really long and dark, which is not easy to explain to someone who’s never seen such phenomenon before. Winters here are quiet challenging, but for sure worth a try!
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in June 2018, after graduating from my master. The main reason why I started is because I could not really find updated information about moving to Sweden. A lot of blogs were really old and the information not valid anymore.
But the blog is also a way to show a bit to all, how it is like to live in Sweden, and that the expat experience is not always easy! I think my main objective here is to show the reality of living abroad and travelling.
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