As some of you might already have seen on Instagram, I recently (on the 28th of december 2019) had my one year anniversary in Sweden!
It was an incredible year. I learned an incredible lot about myself. And while I made immense progress in my cultural understanding, professional self, language skills and social skills in Sweden, I struggled with the public authorities like Skatteverket and my self esteem.
For the first 2 months I didn’t get a personnummer, which is essential for having contracts and insurances in Sweden and it ate away at me to say the least. I didn’t know Swedish at the time, but all letters that I got were written in Swedish and without the personnummer I could neither register my car nor my house on my name, nor was I registered as officially living here. So on paper I was homeless while I failed to understand for the majority of time which documents Skatteverket needed from me. Part of that was caused by workers there that failed to tell me which documents they needed, because they apparently didn’t know themselves. I wrote about the difficulties with that in my earlier post about the personnummer.
I still don’t have Swedish health insurance or recognition for neither my language skills nor my education as speech therapist, but those are on my to-do-list for the upcoming year! 🙂 By now I have learned to see it with more relaxation and to only take one step at a time and this helped me enormously with my mental well-being. This and of course seeing the progress that I have made in just one year.
By the summer I realized that I was doing more harm than good trying to fix everything as fast as possible. I was unhappy about my progress in language (even though I got amazing feedback on that from anyone I talked to, both privately and at work) and I concluded that I should be a bit more easy on myself to make sure I wouldn’t give up at some point. Sometimes I set goals too high for myself and there is no shame in adjusting them to a more realistic and achievable level and be content with any progress that I made, even though it might not have been the amount that I originally expected.
Since then of course I have not stopped working on my language skills, but I have put much more emphasis on keeping up a good morale, motivation and mental self-care again. After all it was a huge step to move to another country all on my own.
And now in december, the most amazing thing has happened! While I worked most of the year as a vikarie (so jumping in when there was too little staff), I finally got a steady job as a teacher starting January 7th! While this will definitely be a challenge for me as I have never worked as a teacher in that context before, I am so happy and excited to start the job and looking forward to all the experiences I will be able to make! 2020 promises to be quite an exciting year as well!
But now to the fun part. I did not only move to Sweden to get to know another country’s authorities or learn another language (though I definitely looked forward to and enjoyed the latter), but most of all because I wanted to live closer to nature and have more calm and quietness around me, right outside the door instead of hours away like in my old home. And of course have more opportunities to live out my creativity through photography in my spare time.
And I got exactly what I wanted. I feel like especially in the last 2 months I made incredible progress in my photography (but then of course in the months before that my focus was on other things that I described above). Here is my year i nature and photos:
January – my first winter month in Sweden! The first thing that I noticed when stepping out of the van and arriving at my new home was all the stars in the sky. I will never forget that feeling, though it took me quite a while to figure out how to take somewhat good pictures of the sky.
February – One month after arriving and what is said to be the coldest month of the year. I visited my wonderful, lovely friend Iza, when she was still living in Boden and got to take some reindeer pictures for the first time! Together we walked through hip-high snow, crossed the polar circle, ate at a restaurant in Jokkmokk and explored the wonderful Storforsen, the place where I fell in love with this country. The very high North of Sweden definitely holds a very special place in my heart and so does Iza ❤
March – this is when I would usually expect spring to start… But that’s not the case in Norrland. It did feel like spring though because of the incredible amount of light starting to shine as the days got longer and longer and so I started to plant the first few seeds. Also I took the first pictures of the nightsky that I was actually happy with. And my mum visited me to be able to spend time with me on my birthday. Plus we saw really strong northern lights – behind the clouds.
April – also known as the beginning of mudseason! Snow started to melt, grey grass reappeared, frost was sitting on leaves and the nights started to fade.
May – Full on mud season. No escape from the brown, wet landscape. At some point I felt like the snow in the trenches would stay all summer long. At some point later on I wish it had, but more on that later. Slowly but steadily, spring began.
June – the landscape exploded in shades of green. Insects everywhere (this was when I started to realize what the snow had formerly protected me from. Everything was blooming, everything was coming alive, The landscape was bright green and the nights were gone. Flowers were on every field and I often didn’t realize it was the middle of the night until 2:00h or 3:00h in the morning.
July – I was working a lot while trying to keep up with both season, gardening and work and was thus not posting a lot. I remember a lot of bad weather unfortunately which lead to me not being outside even half as much as I had wanted. I will do better this year and not let mosquitoes (or the fear of meeting a bear) keep me from being outside!
August – still working, but now the nights were returning. Slowly but steadily stars became more and more visible each night. Berries were ripening in the forest. Mosquitoes became slower (or I became more skilled at catching them before they could sit on me). And a journey of 2 weeks to Germany and back again.
September – back in Sweden with the wonderful company of my friend Maria. And just in time to finally take my beautiful kitten Pixie home and for the hunting season to start. A lot of things happening at once, an exciting time! The time of bright nights was definitely over and nights started to return at a fast rate and signs of the upcoming autumn started to appear here and there.
October – Longer nights returned and so did the frost. Fog accompanied it and turned the early morning light gently into magic. Meanwhile, autumn came sweeping over the landscape and turned everything golden. And I found my first mushrooms!
November – The first frosty days with incredible beauty and then grey weather all the way. What a month! Some started calling it „gråvember“ so „greyvember“ because the weather was so horribly dark, grey and depressing. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t that much better in december either!). Plus Pixie got neutered and all went well!
December – Christmas time, but with frost and rain instead of a thick layer of snow it hardly felt like that. We had continuously grey weather, sometimes plus-, sometimes minusdegrees but always grey and dark. No sunshine, no starlight, no moonlight nothing. Except for maybe 2 or 3 days, all of which I spent outside trying to absorp the little sunlight I could get. Over christmas my Dad was here and we actually did get a white Christmas with new, fresh snow, which sadly has turned to ice by now. The weather can only get better in the new year! 🙂
Plus as you might notice in my photos I am practising a lot to take self portraits.
So. This has been my year 2019. Both personal and in pictures. If you have scrolled this far down please let me know what you think and what your year has been like! 🙂 All the best to you and Happy New Year 2020! ❤