Today, I’ve been living ten whole years, prick on this day, in Sweden.
Lund. Eskilstuna. Linköping. Knivsta and soon Uppsala. This is where I’ve been living. From a room in a basement from a giant house, to furnished room, to my own first apartment that I bought after having rent it for two years, to another rented flat, to M’s and I first common bought flat, to a rented house in the middle of nowhere and soon to a big flat, bought together with M. So many places where I’ve been experiencing Sweden, but with my own home somewhere, which is neither Swedish nor French. I am thankful to the Swedish society that permitted me to find a place to live, when I was single and poor, a place to sleep safe and to build my world. I am not sure that I would have been able to make it like that in France, where you often need money, much more money than the rent, to get a flat to live in. At the same time, it happened a lot in Sweden in ten years and even if you can find places to live, it’s much more difficult than it was to me. Or maybe I was extremely lucky?
I was not alone for my first year in Sweden. I lived with a wonderful French family, who was some years experiencing Sweden all together. I did not know them personally when I moved with my backpacks but very quick I found in them trust, love, safety, humor, smartness and a lots of wonderful qualities. They took me in their family as if I was one of them and only God if he exists knows how much I needed just right that at this moment of my life. I moved with them to help them but in the end, I think I received much more than I gave. And the beautify part is that it’s not finished! They are still around, even if they live now on the other side of the world. They inspire me, both parents and kids and I am really happy to have them in my life. Thank you E, M, C, R and M to be around!
The question people ask me the most often is following: why did you come to Sweden? My answer is simple, and classical: four letters called Love. The first time I saw M in Germany, ages ago, my schizophrenia half of me told me: He is the right! And the other schizophrenia half of me replied: Don’t dream, you will never get him. Then, time passed, things happened bla bla bla and I was at this point of my life when I needed to go away for many reasons. To come to Sweden, no matter how, was an evidence. So I came to Sweden for love. I received a lots of love in this family but the love from M faded away for a while with the time (oh not from my side!) but things happened bla bla bla and I had to live by myself in Sweden.
People never ask me why I staid. No, because they assume that Love is eternal. Oh it is, don’t misunderstand me, M and I are living happily together since a couple of years and it’s made to hold centuries! I staid in Sweden for another reason. I promised myself 2007 that I would give back, in form of results at work and paid taxes, the help I received from different sources. Plus that they believed in me at my work, and plus that living in another country, learning another language, another culture is really exciting. I bathed in a bad of new things every day during a long period of time, difficult to say how many years but a lot. And I still learn, even if I broke the most obvious codes.
After five years spent in Sweden, I applied for the Swedish citizenship. And they said yes! I did this application because I came farther in my reflexion. I’ve been paying taxes for five years at this point, giving back with a lots of work, understanding the rules of the society better but still unable to make my voice heard through a democratic way for national matters. With the Swedish nationality, I was finally able to vote for the parliament and to express myself. This was very important to me. Another important part is that I could keep my French nationality as well, this is who I am deep in my heart and the only thing with my name that gives me a direct link to this country I was born and raised in. Of course, my family and friends are there too, but hundred years after my death, it may be the only administrative proof. And not being French would be denying my roots and I just can’t do that. Another reason, which is maybe more from the fantasy world but not for everyone though is that an EU migrant may only stay three months in another EU country if you have no way to finance your life. At the extreme, if I would be unemployed or sick a long period of time, where would I go?
Sometimes, I feel bored in Sweden. This is the price to pay for living a stable life in a stable country. I am thankful for this but I even miss myself as younger lady, when I was joking and making fun of everything. Ten years living of trying to fit in in a foreign country, where you have to fit in to feel normal, did destroy a lots of my original crazy me. This is not Swedens fault, there are a lots of funny people around, but I really had to adapt hard, because nothing is more wrong than when you make a cultural failure. Nobody dies, but you feel ashamed for days, months and sometimes years. Irony with a broken Swedish is a good way to destruct your credibility when you want to fit in. But I should work harder on it, I should relearn myself to laugh every day of everything and not to take things too seriously. Slappna av as they say. It’s all up to me!
Sometimes I feel happy in Sweden. It may be because I meet a new person, had a talk with someone, inspired someone else. I feel like Sweden is an arena when I can give experiences and insight back. I even could help people. The sensitive part is to help without to intrude. I should look for any action on this side: can I help someone through an organization somehow? And I promise to keep on to help others, every time I can, even for small matters!
Sometimes, I feel lonely in Sweden. Then, I call M and talk to him and often, he understands and trusts me. When he doesn’t, I think of my friend F, a French lady, who has been living here since the 60′ and tell me: if F did it, you can too! Sometimes, I surprise myself by dreaming of living somewhere else but most of the time, it’s because the weather is horrible and I need some sun. After the next sun rays that hit my face, it’s all ok again. Sweden is an incredibly good country to live in, with pros and cons like every other country on the planet but here you can: think free, live decently, have peace around you. And at the end of the day, what’s important is not where you live your life but who you have around you.
I have no idea where I will be in ten years. If I would guess from my heart, I would say still in our apartment in Uppsala (the one we haven’t moved in yet!), maybe we work one of us in Stockholm and one of us in Uppsala and maybe we are not only two in our flat. Maybe we borrow a room to a lonely student, maybe we have two dogs, or maybe some human beings growing up. Who knows? If we are not living there, then we may have won to the lottery and bought a castle and a lots of horses, or may have taken a interesting professional opportunity or who knows what can fly in our minds? Ten years is a long period of time, it can happen a lot! I am really thankful of these ten first years here, I learnt so much and received so much! Thank you everyone that took part in this journey of mine to be a good human being on earth! Let’s live the 10 next years even better!
Don’t be afraid, I haven’t written this during my work time. I had more than a month of reflexion to write this and rewrite. And I preinstalled the time for publishing.