Sunday, August 21, 2016

Five years in Sweden.

Five years in Sweden..... A good reason for a celebration and a reflection.
First the celebration part. We figured that, since it would be the exact same weekend (thursday till sunday), we would attend a local hardrock festival; Sabaton Open Air in Falun. Most in the family are fans of Sabaton, some like them and all enjoy a good metalband. We had booked so called early bird tickets last september on the day they were released, so entrance was assured. Incidentally this weekend would also be the last weekend of the kids' summerholiday, so a nice ending to that as well.
Of course life got in the way and messed things up. Schools decided to start 2 days early, meaning the thursday and friday before the usual start. So a no go for the kids on those days. I got a scheduled 24hr shift from friday to saturday, so again a no go. And my wife is one of the cofounders of the official Swedish fanclub The Swedish Caroleans and they were scheduled to introduce themselves to the fans on that festival as well. So a job for her there, too. Anyway, we all attended at some point and when Sabaton played we were all there.....
And what a disappointment! For me that is. While the rest were really enjoying themselves, I was experiencing the unexpected and highly unpleasant effects of very loud music and very bright lights. Not only was the sound quality not the very best to say the least. No I was actually in pain, because of it! The massiv amounts of dB's seriously hurt my ears and I could (should) have used earplugs, but the soundwaves caused by the bassdrums hurt too! And the lights!! Imagine staring in blinking stroboscope lights, while your eyes are adjusted to darkness. As if someone pierced my eyes with knittingpins! I was really experiencing physical discomfort on a high level and it really surprised me! I used to go to festivals and metalconcerts, which I have to admit was more than 25 years ago, but still. Maybe I was so numbed by my upbringing and living conditions in my late teens that I was impervious to those effects back then.... Or I have grow so out of tune with this all, that I have really started living on completely different wavelengths. All I know is that it felt very offensive, very intrusive and violent. Well, I hung in there and made it through the show, because there were a few songs I like and I did not want to spoil the fun, but I could not stand to listen to another band after those 1,5 hrs.

However my wife did enjoy herself those days, our girls had the time of their lives on friday night and saturday and our son did enjoy the concert a lot, but had his fill after that, too.
So on sunday we had our own little afterparty at home. The mrs. had brought home a very special gift... Kids rolled into bed early and we enjoyed the peace and quiet, after a very successful visit to a large barnsale... Yup, we did it again and I will get back to that on a later date.

The reflections....
Five years ago, on august 17th 2011 we came here, to this country, to build a new life, get away from Dutch society which has run wild, to find peace, happiness and purpose. We were next to clueless on what Swedish people and society would be like. We only spoke a handful of Swedish. Literally.... We thought we knew a little about society... but all we really cared about was the way we felt about this country, this region we were moving to. It was home...
But it has been an uphill battle ever since. We had a few breaks and lucky shots, but life in general has not been easy for us. And it shows. We have lost friends and family. We have experienced loneliness and isolation, poverty and uncertainty, desperation and helplessness and it grinds you down. But we also experienced deep gratitude, a feeling of pride and accomplishment, satisfaction and sheer joy. Happiness!!
An emotional and mental rollercoaster, but so far we gave made it. Really made it. We came here with little more possessions than you can cram into a Mercedes van and look at what we have now; a home of our own, a vegetable garden, dogs, bees, chickens. Two cars, which are a necessity under the circumstances, a good deal of essential, non-powered handtools, warm clothes, good food on the table and we are all in good or much better health than before.
In a few months we can and will apply for Swedish citizenship and I do believe that, while we still retain some Dutch characteristics, we have also adapted and have fully integrated.
I am very proud of us and grateful.

We, or I, have not always been equally positive about the country we moved too. We have come to the conclusion that many of our new countrymen show characteristics we find hard to deal with. Characteristics we deam not positiv, that do not enhance the general well being of the community or society. We have found our way into a society, which has a for us highly questionable vision of their own little world and of the great, big world outside their comfort zone. We have also come to realise that we ourselves, or again I, have traits, that can make it hard to deal with me, let alone befriend me. I can be and am very straight forward. I speak my mind without consideration of the receivers alleged status or rank. I have a dark sense or humor and am very good at ridiculing myself. Many do not get that here. Levels of sarcasm are really advanced and I will not shy away from cynicism. I do not care one bit for sports in a country that lives and breathes it. Other places of social interacting are dozens of kilometers away....
Then why the hell did we move here?? I have been asked that many times. My answer: imagine a country, roughly the same size of the province we live in..... then place 17.000.000 people in that, whereas there are roughly 300.000 now. People are shocked and eyes get big when this comparison sinks in. Here you find time and place to live. Here is where heart and mind are at easy, belong.
Then why do you want to stay and even become a Swede? I love the country. Here is where I am truly at home. I do not care much for the average person I have to interact with here, but then again I don't care much for people in general.
Mind you I have generalised a very great deal when talking about Swedes and there are vast numbers of exceptions to the rule. I also realise there is no such thing as 'a Swede''. How can it be in a country that is so outstretched? I can only comment on the people we have met and dealt with so far and if there are general good characteristics to be mentioned, than those have to be politeness,  kindness and a great willingness to help when asked.


  1. I have developed tinnitus (ringing in the ears) from my youth standing in front of the speakers. So when I'm in nature I don't hear the wind in the trees unless it's really strong. Pity.

    Your story is really very inspiring. You should write it into a full length book. People would read it. Yes, inspiring.

  2. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't. You're not the first one to suggest it, but I most likely will not. This is our story. If people want to experience something alike, then they should find the courage and "write" their own. I will not spend money or risk financial issues to become entertainment for others.

  3. That makes sense. I agree completely. As long as you keep blogging I, for one, am fine. I don't think of it as entertainment. I think of it as sharing information and good will which we are in sore need of in this world. I respect your choice. Peace and love, Renee