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GUEST BLOG: Andrea Maasland from Holland

”Hey there, welcome to Lund, we are going to take good care of you and make you feel at home!”…..that is something you would like to hear when you are moving to a new town.

Or even better when you move to a new country. It is such a big step to go from one place to another. Sometimes you move by choice and sometimes simply because of an opportunity that came knocking on your door. Many people I met came to Lund because of work. And then the circus starts. Having an opportunity to go to a new place or country is one thing….but getting there and building up a new life is something different. It’s a little like getting married. First, there is the excitement of the wedding that needs to be planned. Then finally or suddenly the big day has come, except there are a lot of unexpected and mixed emotions of bittersweet joy and sadness from family and friends saying their goodbyes at your farewell party. Yes, then there’s the fun period of the honeymoon. That’s when you arrive in your new country when everything is new and exciting. And as a couple/family it really makes you focus on each other for a little while, which is nice but then your new life starts…..and suddenly you notice that this is it….your life really has taken a new step!
And that is the moment that you might experience a little doubt, the job is not as nice or easy as you thought, you have colleagues that you do not understand or vice versa. There is something called a culture trap. Your spouse is not as happy in the cold and long dark days after the summer. The kids are having a hard time in the new school and maybe you go through a period of ’secret doubt’, did we make the right decision to come to Sweden? It’s like newlyweds getting in their first fight. And then you wish that you knew someone who would say to you, ”Hey there! Welcome to Lund, we are going to take good care of you and your family and make you feel at home!”

Most of us expats, new residents of Lund or even exchange students are very much charmed by the nice sound of the Swedish greeting ”Hej, Hej!” and we love to hear “Välkommen”. For me and my family it was the first Swedish words we learned and practiced with enthusiasm in shops and on each other. But after those words….it gets harder. You wish you could speak with someone else than your partner but in your own language or at least a language that you understand. The first official letters have probably arrived in your mailbox and if you don’t have the luxury of a relocation agent for those practical things, you can feel really lost. Because let’s be honest it is quite hard to learn Swedish and you definitely don’t understand those kind of letters even after having had your first classes of “Svenska”. How wonderful if there was a place where someone could help you feel at home a little faster than the normal road it takes to settle into a new life?

Well if you arrive in Lund as your new destination you have come to the right place! They have created a wonderful place, not only a desk but a really homey house where you can come for help. They understand how it is to move to a place when you don’t understand the language or know how things work. Here you get a warm smile and support on all different levels of life! The International Citizen Hub in Lund is not a virtual desk for newcomers but a real physical place with real people and real connections. Really a wonderful initiative of the municipality of Lund, the local government and various sponsors, as a place to find your “hey there, welcome to Lund let me help you feel at home”. It’s a place to go for practical help. Lisa and her people are sure to give you a feeling of a warm welcome. And no they are not experts in all fields or can solve all your issues and problems, but they know the right people and organisations to turn to. They organise all kinds of inspirational, educational, motivational and most of all informative events where you have a chance to meet all kinds of people, fellow new expats, professionals or a connection with people from the area that would like to help make your stay in Lund/Sweden a great one! They even have mentor events where you can be connected to a person who has lived longer in Lund or Swedish but has a desire to help you get settled both professionally and personally. And that’s why the International Citizen Hub in Lund makes your life sooooo much easier! Really this is the place to find your next step to your exciting new life path that has led you to the best place to live in Sweden.
And that is not a marketing phrase because Lund is on the top list of best places to live in Sweden, especially for young professionals and their families. Does that mean that a more mature single person should not come to live in Lund? No it means that you’ll find a vibrant atmosphere in Lund, a lot of activities and initiatives around you, a lot of parks and simply a wonderful place to walk around and create a new temporary or permanent home for yourself!

And I speak from experience.  Coming from Holland to Sweden on our first expat assignment, I was quite lost at first. So much was new and so much going on in your family at the same time. But what helped me was to go out and meet people! Connect as much as you can with different initiatives and groups! Do not sit at home and watch the sun go down….because let me tell you when autumn comes it goes down early!!! You will be surprised how much you can learn from life experiences of others. And meeting people is easier than you think. The first time we came to Sweden, 10 years ago, it went quite quick because of having kids in school and through those connections. You are all in the same boat so to say….family is far away and you learn to connect and relate to people so much easier. It is fun to meet people from your own country and speak your own language, but it is great to meet people from all over the globe and share your stories and learn how they cope with living in Sweden. And it is really nice when you meet Swedish people that love to speak English and have lived abroad for a while and returned….because they, believe it or not, go through the same process of learning to connect with the country as you! So yes after we left 3 years to go on a new adventure overseas, I was homesick for our time and life in Sweden. So when we had the chance to return to Europe and the luxury to choose the country where to live, we chose Sweden over our home country! Yes….be aware after maybe the initial problems, if you give living in Lund a real chance, almost everybody comes to love Sweden and say that they do not want to leave. So yes, it is hard the go through the long, dark, wet winters, but boy how lucky to get the wonderful chance to experience the freedom children have, the healthy lifestyle and relaxed time along with the beautiful nature in this country! Welcome to Sweden, I’m sure you’ll feel at home very soon….but give it a chance and find people to connect to.

Simply by stepping into Ekska Huset and let them connect you! Välkommen til Lund!

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