Six Months in Sweden!

I was at a party recently where a friend of mine mentioned how much she loved my blog. This really surprised me- I’d all but forgotten my blog once the realities of life and work set in.

A freezing morning outside Centralen. My office is the black building to the right of the tree.

Combined with finishing my first six months living in Sweden I thought this was a great time to revisit my goals I laid out in May. Seems like so long ago, already!

It feels like my life has changed and clarified in a load of ways since then.

Short Term – 1 Month

  • Walk the city. Get a feel for neighbourhoods, who shops where, when people stay out until etc. – Done! Running a load of the city helped too.
  • Find a coffee shop with
    • Great coffee
    • Good wifi
    • Late opening hours (lots of places here shut at 4pm!) – Done! Shout out to my local, Wayne’s Coffee Vastra Hamnen. I’ve also tried to cultivate an at-home coffee ritual that feels just as satisfying to slim down my coffee budget, helped by a velvet sofa and some great Braithwaites coffee imported from Dundee.
  • Make a good impression at work and learn as much as I can about the company. Done! I think. I didn’t fail my probation anyway, and people seem to like me well enough. Baking a lot really helps.
  • Find and successfully rent an apartment. Ideally
    • Unfurnished
    • Small (studio or 1-bed max)
    • Balcony-having (a girl can dream…) Done! Come February 15th 2017, I’ll be moving into a first-hand, small, balcony-having, Swedish modernist apartment round the corner from my favourite coffee shop and opposite Malmo’s best skate park. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.
  • Get my personnummer, bank account etc. sorted. Done! 
  • Begin Swedish lessons. Done! Min svenska ar inte bra.
  • Find out how to type the ö in Malmö reliably on my keyboard. Solution- use a Mac. I might be a convert…

Medium term – 3 to 6 Months

  • Settle in at work. Work to a standard where I feel like I’m contributing to the team and project(s). Working on this every day :)
    • Look into doing additional training, possibly a General Assembly online course or HBS CoreX. Need to do, probably not General Assembly though.
  • Set up a liveable, stick-to-able budget. Yep! Been tracking every purchase with YNAB since I moved. It’s been eye opening, to say the least. I’m managing to save about 40% of my after-tax salary per month now, which feels really good. Some sense of security for the first time since I left home. 
  • Work on publishing my dissertation as a paper. Life has gotten in the way a bit… I’ll have to come back to this in 2017.
  • Outfit my flat with the basics, and persuade friends to come visit! I have a vacuum cleaner now! I’m basically an adult. And my parents, Liene and Callum have all come to visit which is super cool!
  • Get my Swedish to the standard where I can at least order a coffee and possibly be understood. Nope, but I’m trying. At least I know my numbers to 39 now.
  • Get to know the company, expat and game dev communities in Malmo. Done. Outside of our company, they don’t really exist. Gotta work on that.
  • Explore the different Malmo and Copenhagen Meetup groups.Tried a few, need to try more! Copenhagen is strangely far away for being so close.
  • Pick back up my disparate, MPDG-like hobbies
    • Ukulele Yep! I’ve even embarrassed myself greatly in front of my coworkers by playing in front of them.
    • Rock climbing Nope, the climbing wall is too out of the way. I’m aiming to have an excursion there with work soon, though!
    • Jogging (holla c25k!) Yep, completed C25K for the second time in October, now working on improving my 5k times about 3 times a week. 
    • Life drawing (possibly help run a class?) Yep, we have a class at work on Tuesdays with the most AMAZING model I’ve ever worked with. A tutor and an inspiration- really privileged to have this class so close at hand.
    • Choral singing

Long term – 1 year+

  • Advance my UX skills to mid-level.
  • Visit new parts of Sweden and northern Europe.
  • Speak at a conference, either about my King work or my dissertation.
  • Settle into living in Sweden.

These are all in progress.

Strangely enough, a big part of my mental shift in the last six months has been moving away from obsessive, list-based thinking towards a more relaxed way of planning that allows for the shifts in direction that life gives us. I’m a lot more relaxed and easy-going than I was six months ago, helped in no small part by having a Forever Home (not knowing I’ll have to move and change every six months to a year, as I’ve done since I was 18) and by practicing mindfulness. Mind is a great app for this, which combined with (surprise surprise) yoga and running has done really great things for my mental and physical health.

I feel so lucky to have landed in a company with such welcoming coworkers, and into a culture that fits what I believe about the world. Next month I’m going to look at these goals and recalibrate some goals for 2017- if possibly in a less rigid format :)


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