Living in a new country is an ever-changing experience, where every day brings new discoveries: culture, people, places, food as well as language. The first weeks can be fascinating but it always takes some more time in order to get used to your new environment. That’s why we decided to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to live in Sweden and learn Swedish through the eyes of our course participants!
At the second interview of our series “Expat Stories”, please meet Pamela. Pamela comes from Chile, she is an agile coach and she is learning Swedish with Swedish for Professionals.
What was your first impression of the Swedish culture and people?
That they were quite cold and kept distance. Also that this is very much a “do it yourself” culture.
Do you have any fun or interesting experiences of culture clashes that you would like to share with our readers?
The garbage recycling! We didn’t do much recycling in Chile and I was shocked that you need to clean, for example, the plastic containers and bottles before throwing them for recycling.
What is your favorite thing about combing work with language learning?
That I can pretty much use immediately what I have learned and practice with my colleagues. I also really like that we can adjust the lesson to topics that are useful for my job.
How much do you feel that knowing Swedish has helped you to better integrate into society?
It has definitely made my daily life easier. Even though most of the people speak English it is a lot easier, for example, to book an appointment over the phone in Swedish. Also, since I am working as an agile coach and I am constantly working with the teams to propose improvements, it is easier for them if they can express in their native language and I experience that people open up more.
What has been your main challenge with learning the language?
Dare to speak! I can be quite critical with myself and I don’t like talking if I feel I am not doing a good job.
Share a tip for everyone who is learning Swedish.
Just speak as much as you can! I experience it’s easier to talk to kids and strangers. They don’t judge, they don’t expect you to be perfect and they do their best to understand what you say. Also listen as much as you can: TV and radio news, find some Swedish music you like, watch Swedish series and movies (TV4 play often has subtitles so this makes it easier). You can also go to the library and borrow books or audio books in Swedish.
Share one of your favorite Swedish for Professionals moment.
My coach is super enthusiastic and creative! I love to play “med andra ord” where I am forced to squeeze my brain in order to explain a Swedish word, using only Swedish vocabulary. And I also enjoyed the Swedish for Professionals mingle last year (unfortunately I missed this year’s).