Hi, I'm Abilene and come from Firenze, Tuscany. Firenze is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world with art, food, nightlife and a lot of nice stuff but because I lived there almost all my life I decided to try something different and moved to the quiet, sleepy, nordic capital of Sweden.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I’m a bit of a gypsy. I can’t spend too much time in the same place. I’ve chosen Sweden because life is easier and more relaxed than in Italy. The job conditions are much better here than in my country. I could afford one month holiday and I’m more respected as a woman. At the moment i’m happy here with this life. Next year.. I don’t know yet.
2. How do you make a living?
When I first arrived here in 2006 I could only find part-time jobs or café-work without a contract so I had to move to Ireland and work there for some time because I was out of money.
Last year I decided to come back to Sweden and study linguistics at the university in Uppsala. After the first semester I found a job in Stockholm and I moved here. Now I work as customer support in a nice, but boring office in the city center.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I chat with my parents and best friends almost everyday and sometimes my parents call me on my mobile. Italy is not that far and thanks to cheap flights I can go back home quite often – 3-4 times a year.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Stockholm?
I like nature and I like living in a big city. Stockholm has both. I walk 5 minutes from the place where I live and I'm in the forest with blueberries, mushrooms and the lake with the ducks. Summer is beautiful here. There are many places where people can swim and it's never crowded.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Stockholm?
The queuing system in order to rent an apartment. It's a system that is created for those who have been living here all their life and it's so unfair. If you're an expat there's no way you can get an apartment in town with first hand contract unless you're a millionaire. According to the queuing times i'll be able to get an apartment on my own at the age of 55.
6. What do you miss most?
I miss the flea markets and the local fairs in the small towns near Florence. I also miss family trips around Tuscany. And fresh fish. Oh, yes, everytime I buy fresh fish at the supermarket here I risk food poisoning.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I didn't integrate really. I met some friends while I was studying at the university in Uppsala and some others at a heavy metal pub here in Stockholm. I also keep in touch with friends from the language course I had in 2006.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Just before Christmas, all the companies have a Christmas dinner for all the employees at one of the restaurants in town. During the dinner everybody gets drunk, sings drinking songs and play stupid games. Next day at work nobody talks to you, as usual. Next December I will tell them I'm sick and decline the invitation. Too embarrassing.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That Swedish girls are easy. Julian Assange thought so too and now he's regretting it.
10. What advice would you give other expats?
They have to be patient with the Swedes. It's not easy to make friends and very hard to find a job BUT it's not impossible. I'd suggest anybody who wants to move here to take an intensive Swedish course for a month or two first and see if they like it here. A language course is also a good way to meet other expats and make friends.
11. When and why did you start your blog?
I started last year a few months after I found this job. I like to write and I thought some information about this country could be useful to other Italians who are planning to move here. Other Italian expats I met here tend to be arrogant with the newcomers and say things like that there’s no job that you’ll never integrate and so on. It’s all bullshit.
12. How has the blog been beneficial?
It’s beneficial to me. At work sometimes it gets really boring and in my blog I can write articles about things i like and things I don’t like about Stockholm and its inhabitants. This way I keep myself busy and share impressions and thoughts with other expats.
Abilene's blog, Don't Look Now
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