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Anyone in Sweden? I need friends!

(29 Posts)
Unhappyexpat Thu 04-Feb-16 18:40:57

Is there anyone in Sweden? I'm struggling with language and integration and I'm very unhappy. I find swedes so cold and my efforts to make friends are going nowhere. I don't seem to understand the unwritten social rules and my many faux pas are making me so anxious I'm avoiding people.
How have you managed to fit in? Am I doomed to be an outsider forever? I'm honestly not a weirdo or unpleasant, I promise!

purpleapple1234 Fri 05-Feb-16 11:46:47

Ah, that's a shame. Where are you? Swedish people are actually very nice and once you get to know them they will be friends for life. Are you working? Going to SFI? If you are an expat without kids or able to get a babysitter the local irish pub can be good place to start getting to know people. If you are in stockholm they have a big language exchange in gamla stan that is good for meeting people.

Unhappyexpat Fri 05-Feb-16 12:36:09

Everyone says that but how can I find out if the buggers won't talk to me! smile

I'm on mat leave right now but previously was working , long unpredictable hours so I couldn't get to sfi classes. I've been looking for some sort of study method I can do as and when I have time, but haven't found one.

I'm not in Stockholm. My closest city is Uppsala although I don't live in the city itself. Public transport here isn't suitable for buggies so I'm pretty isolated.

It's all a bit rubbish to be honest. Hey ho.

hedgehogsdontbite Fri 05-Feb-16 18:54:41

I'm in Sweden. How long have you been here?

Unhappyexpat Fri 05-Feb-16 21:42:06

2.5 years...

hedgehogsdontbite Sat 06-Feb-16 09:44:53

Have you tried joining any of the official social/hobby clubs? It's how Swedes socialise and make new friends.

Unhappyexpat Sat 06-Feb-16 10:34:18

No... What kind of thing are they? Bear in mind I have a four month old so that limits me.
Back home I was involved in running, rock climbing etc but with a young baby it's hard. I'm not able to get out in the evenings (and I'm under strict instructions not to do anything High impact after a grim pregnancy.)

I've tried a couple of baby groups but everyone is in little clusters and seems to know each other. No one talked to me... My neighbors have little kids but again, they have no interest in getting to know me.

I feel really sad. I've been going weeks without speaking to anyone sad

sayatidaknama Sat 06-Feb-16 13:38:03

I "spoke" to you on your other thread. I really feel for you because I know what it's like. Is there any chance you can move to a town or city? I'm not in Sweden but another European country. I spent 2.5 years in the countryside here and it was just awful. I actually feel quite ill when I think about how it was there. So lonely! I got to know no-one in that time. The DC were bored and friendless too. We moved in August to our nearest city and it has transformed all our lives for the better.

hedgehogsdontbite Sat 06-Feb-16 13:59:22

You need to get hold of your kommun's 'Föreningsregister'. It'll be on their website or in the kommun guide or you may be able to pick up a copy in your library. Basically people with a common interest get together set up a club then register it and get funding from the kommun to run it. Other people use the register to then connect with them if they have the same interest. What's available in your area depends entirely on what locals have set up. You're not tied just to your kommun. You can look at the register for other areas and join theirs if you'd rather.

My DH is a member of the local dog club who meet up on a Sunday afternoon for walks through the forest. He's also a member of a radio amateurs club in the neighbouring kommun to us, as they have better equipment, which he goes to as and when he's free.

I'm in a small 'English speaking kids' group a couple of kommuns over from me. We meet up at soft play type places when we can to chat and allow our kids to play with others who understand them. I recently join our local Save The Children group but I haven't been to any meetings yet.

My DD is in a women's choir, which has a massive social life side, a computer gaming group and a roleplay group.

There's usually loads of sports groups, craft groups eg quilting and beekeeping are very popular and music groups.

Have a look and see if anything takes your fancy.

victoriansquaIor Sat 06-Feb-16 17:47:36

Hi there.
Whereabouts in Sweden are you? I know you said Uppsala is the closest city but it's possible somewhere in your municipality is a bit 'busier' than your area yet closer than Uppsala.
In all honesty my best advice would be to learn the language - ASAP. 2.5 years in a country just getting by without being able to properly converse will make you feel lonely whatever else you're going through! Sfi is, ime, pretty flexible - they are used to working around people's jobs and families.

You don't mention a partner so I'm assuming there isn't one? If there is are they having the same problems? What about work - did you not take fika with colleagues and meet anyone that way?

WRT neighbours/the women at the baby group how much effort have you put in? Swedes have a common level of general politeness so might think you're just adhering to that and not realise you're actually trying to make friends!

Failing that, put the baby in a sling or a fold up buggy (the buses in my kommun are fine for buggies) and go to as many things as you can.

Finally, this might be of some help for English speaking friends at least but remember learning the language is PARAMOUNT to integration - whatever anybody says! www.facebook.com/groups/5782772003/?fref=ts

Unhappyexpat Sat 06-Feb-16 19:07:44

I am trying with the language. I know it's essential (and I feel really bad at how little I know.) I haven't found sfi flexible at all - their classes here are 5.45 pm a couple of days a week or in the daytime. No childcare. It's assumed that you're either unemployed or finish by 5pm. What I need is something that I can pick up and put down when I have spare moments.
At work I was responsible for all the time zones from the uk to Australia so I often worked very long hours.
My colleagues are nice people, but I barely got a chance to leave my desk, never mind go for Fika everyday. Its an American company - they frown on European working practices, let's put it that way (total slavedrivers, I was working on Xmas day for them!) It's a small office. I do pop in if I'm in town and they are lovely but I don't want to disturb them with the baby in tow.

So maybe I didn't try correctly with the neighbours? I didn't want to intrude.. I say hi when we pass and I've explained I'm new and don't know anyone. At baby group my approach was similar - attempts at small talk and mentioning I was looking for things to do with the baby/other activities etc. I just got blanked, to be honest. It wasn't a very nice experience.

The buses are regional ones. Only about one in four is low floor - I was pretty surprised at that to be honest, given how inclusive they are here. Buses in town (green ones) are all low floor, but we are outside the city limit. I am hopeful this will change as they are building a lot near us - I think they'll eventually route a green bus here. Slings are out for the moment - I want to be able to use one but my hips won't take it (bad spd.) again, hopefully that'll change as time passes. I'm having physio and improving slowly.

I've lived all over the uk and in a few different countries - never had any issues moving, being flexible, integrating or building up a little social circle at all. Obviously it's hard when you first move somewhere but after a while it clicks. Except it hasn't here. I've gone from being very enthusiastic and trying really hard to frankly becoming a bit of an anxious hermit. Hey ho.

EvaSthlm Sun 07-Feb-16 07:11:49

I only joined here so I could post here on this one thread.... I think you should to the SFI could add taking a look at the very good advice "LingoSteve" shares on his YouTube channel, where he explains how he learned Swedish through listening to audiobooks and reading. Go to YouTube and check out LingoSteve's (Steve Kaufmann) channel and look for the video "How I went about learning Swedish". (His Swedish is nearly flawless btw.) I know the method works because I've used it myself for learning Dutch and French. If that precise method is too difficult (he explains how he used thick history books...) you could instead start off by choosing something easier like "Pettson och Findus Pannkakstårtan" which you can find as a book & as a CD, and also on YouTube as a video. Easy readers might be another thing to look at, as well as the daily newspaper "8 sidor" (8 pages) by LL-förlaget publishers. You could also start to hang out and read and post on the Swedish equivalent of mumsnet, I think, which is called "Familjeliv". (You could start off by using Google Translate to help you out). Also, hang around and watch TV regularly on SVTplay (equivalent of BBC) and "Öppet arkiv" (open archive, a site with older TV shows). Find something you like, and watch it multiple times.

"How have you managed to fit in?" I must admit it's a bit difficult, and then I'm not even an expat because Swedish is my first language, I've lived here all my life, all my relatives are Swedish... All I can say is that if you're stuck with a group of people who have too many weird unwritten social rules, then you should simply move on and look for another group, because there are many sorts of people in this world and they're not all the same. I learned English as a second language, and brushed it up mainly through e-mailing with basically three penpals out of the UK; one from Blackpool, one from Wallington, and one out of Newcastle/South Shields I believe it was, I don't really quite remember. Plus nowadays I hang around and read a favourite English newspaper basically every day and sometimes listen in on "Today in Parliament" from BBC 4 just for the fun of it, and to get some listening practice.

If you're into climbing you could for example try considering joining a sportsclub like "Uppsala klätterklubb" (ukk.nu) a climbing sports club, you could be a passive member for starters. "Friluftsfrämjandet" could be another place to look, as well as "Friskis & Svettis". The choir thing that someone posted about could also be something to look at and if you're stuck at a real final outpost of civilization, maybe there's a "hembygdsförening" or similar to look into (local history society). Also check out the Red Cross for local activites, as well as the local church and even if you're not religious yourself, you could considering joining if they have some social gathering just for the practice of it, to get to talk to other people; check "uppsala stift" and navigate from there.

Good luck!

MrsMills Fri 12-Feb-16 09:15:13

There ARE folk around you in a similar position you just need to find them. Have you joined the 'English Speaking Mums in Sweden' on Facebook yet? That is the most helpful place imaginable for you right now. Although it's quite Stockholm centred there are people from all over the country and many around Uppsala. Can you give me a better idea of where you are? I'm just north of Stockholm, around an hour away from Uppsala centre.
Please have a look at that group as a starting point. And yes, most of us have felt the same way at some point here. It's not the Utopia we're led to believe, but I really do love it here, it's just taken me a long time.

jezzaah Sat 13-Feb-16 11:04:24

Just to repeat what you have been told a million times:
Language is key - and Swedish isn't that hard. No grammar, and clear pronunciation (unlike Danish!)
Clubs - it might seem boring but it's the way things work
People - can be difficult to get to know but mostly due to shyness and not unfriendliness.

And wait for spring, when everything will seem much happier!!

jamenhej Sat 13-Feb-16 19:55:23

Hej! Join 'International Parents Group of Uppsala', we're very friendly and there are currently some plans afoot for some meetups soon. How old is your little one? Could a sling be a good option for on the bus? I learned most of my Swedish by going to open preschool, it is hard when people aren't forthcoming with chat but I found that having a few key baby related questions ready helped open up conversation! if the SFI times don't work for you, have you considered learning by 'distans'? Or does one of your local libraries have a medspråk session (conversation group)? Lycka till!

jamenhej Sat 13-Feb-16 19:57:47

Intetnational group is on FB, I should have said!

MoominPie22 Tue 16-Feb-16 11:04:42

Hi there, not sure if you´re still reading your thread but thought I´d come on over ( possibly cos I´m having a bit of a wobble myself just now and thought of you blush ) and pay you a visit to see how you´re doing...smile

Have you had any progress or are things tough still? Think you said you were on Maternity Leave just now?? Anyways, I´m not in Sweden, as you know but I think we get the Expat Wobbles wherever we are from time to time and for all different reasons....

I´m fortunate that I´ve got language classes once/wk but I just have zero enthusiasm for it tbh. It´s like a right chore and I´m just not digging it sad I suspect it´s cos I´d go back to the UK tomorrow if I could, where I had a life previously!, but my OH won´t move, he wants to stay here. Maybe I should start my own thread....hmm

Anyways, just stopping by to pay you a visit and hope you´re doing OK. smile

Zaurak Sun 22-May-16 07:03:52

Well, I joined the Facebook groups. I've tried to arrange to meet people. So far I've had one coffee date but nothing more.
I can't use a sling - I need the pushchair if we are out.
Ds still isn't sleeping well - he needs resettling every 20 mins so I'm tired, which isn't helping. So tired - I'm barely functioning. We did actually go out yesterday (some of dhs friends had a BBQ) and I felt I had nothing of interest to say to anyone. I feel so boring - why would anyone want to talk to me?

I think I need to go and see the doctor because I'm not feeling at all good 😕

tribpot Sun 22-May-16 07:15:31

Trying to do that kind of socialising when you're impossibly tired is really upsetting (not suggesting that you shouldn't go to the doctor, I think you should). How is your DH helping you get more sleep so you can function better?

surroundedbyblondes Sun 22-May-16 07:17:35

Saw your update on here and wanted to add something that helped us. DH took out parental leave days now and then despite me being at home. I just took that day as unpaid.
I wasn't working when we moved here, otherwise we would have split parental leave even more. But as it was, just having the breathing space to do something without two kids in tow was a life-saver!!!
With the kids, we went to öppna förskola and had some good, some less good sessions.
As others have said the language was absolutely key for me, reinforcing that this is home. My local SFI had evening classes which got me started...

Zaurak Sun 22-May-16 08:32:46

Dh is very good. He gets up at 5 with him so I can get some sleep. He works long hours (as did I) so he's out most of the day and I'm up with ds most of the night.

I'm just so tired. I don't know what my block with the language is... Anyway, baby is screaming, again, so better go deal with that. I feel incredibly worn down and to be honest, the last thing I want to do on less than an hours sleep for months is socialise. I just want to crawl into bed and die

tribpot Sun 22-May-16 11:16:29

I think he needs to take some time off to help. I also don't think these long hours are helping in general - in my experience Swedish people have a strong sense of work-life balance and (particularly as we come into the summer months) will not be working in the late afternoon/early evening. You're missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with the community by not sharing the rhythm of their lives - accepting at the mo you're too knackered anyway, but DH could take the baby out and meet people in the park or whatever.

Having a four-month-old is lonely and isolating anyway in my experience, so some of what you're feeling might not relate to being in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't help, though. Is there someone like a health visitor that might be able to help?

Ancienchateau Sun 22-May-16 14:20:53

Ah you poor thing. I think you need to sort out a few problems closer to home before you worry about friends. Agree with pp that this age can be isolating anywhere. My HV organised a post-natal group when my first DC was 4 months. It was a life saver. Can you speak to yours? If they have such things in Sweden? Also do see your GP. Don't struggle like I and so others did for ages. Get some help. You're not a machine. Tiredness is a killer. I pretty much shut down on all levels for a long time post babies. Have your iron levels checked. Get your DH to take some holiday. He needs to be there for you. This is not your home. It's not a normal situation. Normal is hard enough with babies and you don't have your usual network around you. Look after yourself.

Zaurak Mon 23-May-16 10:08:10

We don't have health visitors. You take the baby to the nurse and they weigh and measure
My iron levels are high (too high) so I'm not anaemic. I've mentioned at every baby check that I'm not sleeping, I'm exhausted and down and they just say 'uhu.' That's literally all I get. It's like banging my head against a rock wall.
We don't have a choice about the long hours. Sweden does have good work life balance but only if you work for a Swedish company. We work for multinationals so the expectations are that you work all hours. Those nice news stories about six hour days and long summer vacations aren't how it really is.
Dh is taking some holiday in a few weeks and I might come back to the uk for a week or two.
It's my own fault. I need to work on language more. It's just hard when you can barely stand up with tiredness

jamenhej Mon 23-May-16 20:03:47

Hej OP, sorry to hear you are still going through such a tough time. Your BVC / MVC ought to be able to provide you with some support in the form of counselling if you feel like it would help you - the one I am at (in Uppsala) has a specialist midwife counsellor. Feel free to PM me if you want further info. flowers

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