Sweden and Me: 3 Years Here

It is my three year Swede-aversary!

It is hard to believe, but I have been living in Sweden for three years now. Time really flies by.

When Nick and I first set out to move to Sweden, we knew we wanted to be here for at least two years. We felt that one year wouldn’t been enough to get truly settled in and wanted to have some time to explore Sweden and Europe.

And while we have been able to explore so much of Sweden (see all of the posts about Swedish travel here), we haven’t been able to see Europe as much as we had hoped. Hopefully our third year of living in Sweden will bring that for us. Finger crossed!

So while living in Sweden in many ways hasn’t been the experience I was expecting it to be (primarily because of the job search struggle), in many ways it has been so much better. We have developed great friendships, seen so much of this beautiful country, enjoyed a lot of fika, and taken advantage of many social benefits, like 5+ weeks of vacation, a free Master’s education, and other mental health services. But with everything we have done, seen, experienced, and learned in the last three years, one thing really stands out. In fact, it is the single biggest lesson I have learned in the three years I have lived in Sweden.

Enjoy the simple things

As a whole, Swedes are not a fancy or pretentious bunch. Sure, they enjoy great interior design, but they don’t dive into excess often. In my view, Swedes have made an art of enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

A weekend adventure might be as simple as a hike. A summer afternoon is spent picnicking or out in nature gathering berries or mushrooms. There is no need for a car when a bike will do the trick. Fall is a time to get mysigt at home and light some candles. A Saturday treat is some candy or licorice. Work hard, but not too much. And vacation isn’t spent traveling all around the world, but instead at a summer cabin reading, resting, and bonding with your family.

All-in-all, I believe Swedes have really mastered the art of simple pleasures and during my time here, I’ve tried to move in that direction, too.

As an American, I find that my cultural upbringing was so much about more, more, more, go, go, go, and do, do, do. Swedes are much better at just being – enjoy the moment by finding pleasure in the everyday, simple things. I’ve tried to encapsulate this mentality too by slowing down where I can. Taking a walk so I can enjoy the changing colors of the fall leaves, meeting with a colleague for a fika in the afternoon as a break from screens, and savoring the taste of my morning coffee.

I still want to go places, do things, and experience more — and spending four weeks at a summer cabin isn’t my ideal summer vacation just yet — but I have found that living in Sweden has fostered a greater sense of internal peace and contentment to live each day at a time. And I am learning to derive gratitude, contentment, or fulfillment from everyday things, so I too can do as the Swedes do and master the art of the simple pleasures.

Fun Facts:

  • Nick and I moved to Sweden on October 5th, 2018.

Tess’ Tips:

  • Spend some thing thinking about the everyday, simple pleasures that bring you joy. Maybe it is a fabulous sheet set, a mid-day cinnamon bun, or a morning walk. Maybe it is being fully present with your children as they play or baking a pie with the apples you picked last weekend. Fill-up on gratitude for these everyday things.

Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!

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