Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Gott Nytt År!!!

Wow, the time has flown by way to fast. It makes me a little sad as I know there are things that I did not get to experience last year. However I will not look back with regret at the things that I did not do, but look at all of the things I did do. It has been a while since I wrote to everyone and I just want to say that we are all doing well. The Queens and I are making our mark on this country and we are starting to fit in a little more every day. I would give everyone a total recap of the last few months, but that would take FOREVER as so much has been happening. Moving forward to 2014 though there will be more updates, and more information about what life here is really like. I have realized that there are always excuses for not doing the things we want to do. And that leads me to MY resolutions.

Excuses. Stop making them. Its as simple as that.

Love. I am going to love with more heart and passion than ever before. People can disappear from our lives pretty quick, and I want to make sure that all those people in my life receive all of my love.

Learn. We can all learn a little something everyday, however excuses usually prevent us from that. I am in a situation where there is so much newness around me to learn and I am going to learn it.

Live. I do not want to miss anything that life has to offer.

Find my passion. I am going to try some different things that I think sound interesting and see if they are for me.

Gott Nytt År!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Do you believe in magic?

It finally arrived. My personnummer is the key to everything for my moving forward with my life in Sweden. It holds no magical capabilities, however it is the master key to open all of my doors of hope.

I can now enroll in SFI ( Swedish For Immigrants) so that I will be given the opportunity to learn the Swedish language. This is a free program provided by the government, and funded by taxes to teach all non Swedish speaking immigrants the basics and fundamentals of Swedish. How cool is that? I have even heard that if you complete the course within a certain time frame (I think one year) and have a passing grade the government will pay you around 12000kr (roughly $1500) as motivation for you to learn the language quicker. I will find out more of the details tomorrow after I go register. I am very excited to get moving with this whole thing. I have spent nearly two months doing nothing so just being able to have something structured to do for four hours a day is exciting. Also, I really want to get a job. I oddly enough miss working terribly, and without knowing much Swedish the jobs are harder to come by. 

The personnummer is also necessary to work in Sweden. Now that I have one I am allowed to work. I wish that it was that simple though. The job market is pretty tight here, and as I already said knowing at least conversational Swedish is required for a majority of jobs. There are plenty of jobs I have found where the working language is English, but Swedish is still necessary. I am going to go and register at Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish labor office) also. This is where everyone goes for unemployment benefits and help finding a job. I am not eligible for benefits, however I will take all the help I can get with finding a job.

Along with those two big things my personnummer allows me, it also allows a host of other benefits. I can now get an id kort (id card), and I can open a bank account. I can now be a real person! This one little number will allow me to do everything. It has been a long and tedious wait for it to show up. It almost seems to have these magical powers, and maybe it actually does because it gives hope and possibilities. Both of those things are a little magical aren't they?

Now the real work begins. Vacation is over, and it is time to achieve or at least try to achieve all of the things we set out to with this move. We came to Sweden with the goal of having a better family life, and so far we have been doing that. I want to put these final pieces in to place, and get on with the business of LIVING! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Long time no write

It is amazing how even the tiniest bit of good news can change your mind set!

I have not posted in awhile. I just did not feel like sharing my black hole with anyone. Truth be told it has been a very difficult few weeks. There were some good things mixed in, and I will for sure do some updates on those good things now that I am in a better place.

I knew when we decided to move from the US to Sweden that it was going to be difficult, however there is really no way to completely prepare yourself for how difficult it will be. I was letting it get the best of me. I see all of our expenses and see that I have no way to bring an income right now to fix the problem. I spend all of my days listening to people speak and I understand so little of it that I get frustrated and stop paying attention. This just causes me to retreat further in to my black hole. Once in that hole the only things I can think about are how bleak I perceive the immediate future to be. 

Well it is not that bleak!

There is a cycle that needs to be broken. I need to start looking at some of the positives. One of the issues is that Sweden has been my home for less than two months, but it feels like it has been far longer than that. It is that feeling of being here for so long that draws me to the negative thinking. 

My wife has been stuck with a zombie for a while now and I realized today the affect that it has on her as well. She called Skatteverket today to find out when they anticipated that I would receive my personnummer. The personnummer is the most vital thing in Sweden. Without it you cannot do anything, and I need mine so that I can enroll in language school and get a job. When she got to speak with them they informed her that I had been "written in Sweden" since July 18th and was already granted my personnummer. Apparently it was lost in the mail!! They are going to send me the information again so that I may get an ID card and register for SFI. 

The news today does not magically fix everything, it is however just the ray of light that I needed to guide me out off that damned black hole. I only needed a little good news and I felt a million times better. I am not expecting everything to be rainbows and unicorns going forward. But I now realize how bad my mind set had actually gotten. It was taking me away from the exciting new world I am in, and I was not enjoying life the way I should.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

You "C" there is a fine line between coffee and pocket

I feel as though the Swedish language is going to kill me before I figure out how to speak it. I try to listen to conversations and am feeling like I recognize more words everyday. My family and friends here in Sweden are always urging me to try and use what Swedish I do know. My wife tells me that she thinks I have a good vocabulary so far, but that she thinks I should not be so shy about speaking. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am never one to shy away from speaking and that is what makes this so frustrating to me. I hear people speaking and it sounds so graceful and even beautiful at times. When I try however it sounds like a coughing donkey. I will say things that I practice a thousand times and my wife or any other Swedish person will look at me, cock their head to the side like a confused dog does and with a pleading look in their eyes ( as to say please god do not make that awful noise again ) they will say. "What"?

So I decided that I would work on writing things instead. Problem with writing things is that a lot of  Swedish words sound very similar with the only differences being long or short vowels. Plus the lovely Swedes felt the need to add in three extra letters to the alphabet (ö,ä,å) that I still have not quite figured out their sound, or the sounds for any of the other vowels for that matter. Anyway we (my wife, sister in law, daughter and myself) went downtown one day to participate in my sister in laws favorite sport (shopping). As the time was creeping up to around mid morning it was approaching coffee time. The Swedes are very passionate about their coffee breaks, which works well for me because I LOVE coffee. As we settled at a nice cafe in the heart of downtown Stockholm with our kaffe (coffee) and chokladboll (extremely wonderful chocolate balls) I decided to take to Facebook to inform the world what I was doing. Now before I get get carried away the "world" is actually only a couple hundred people of which maybe 10 can actually understand Swedish. I logged onto Facebook, checked in at the cafe and then with the confidence that all of my Swedes have instilled in me I typed "Ficka", and proceeded to enjoy my coffee and chocolate ball.

When we went shopping in the next store I saw a set of coffee cups that spelled out "FIKA" (the Swedish term for coffee break) and the panic and embarrassment hit me like sledge hammer to my stomach. 

"What in the hell had I just put on Facebook?"

I found my wife and asked. 
"Hey babe what does f-i-c-k-a mean"? I nervously waited for her reply.
"Pocket" she said without hesitation.
"Dang" I exclaimed.

My wife gave me a questioning look and I explained to her what had just happened. Her and her sister both tell me not to worry about it, but for the rest of the day I felt like everyone in Stockholm was staring at me whispering "pocket" under their breath.

I am sure that I am going to encounter many more language slip ups along the way. My Swedes all keep encouraging me to try no matter how bad I murder their language and for that I am thankful. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Paperwork

I have now been in Sweden for almost two weeks. The time has absolutely flown by and to be honest, I don't have a real good time awareness right now. I am not really aware of the day of the week, or the time of the day for that matter. I really at this point have nothing I have to do, or to much that I can do until my paperwork is all completed.

Last week we went to the two offices that I need to register with. One is the tax office called Skatteverket, and the other is the migration office called Migrationsverket. Migrationsverket is where I had to go to get my green card. I had an appointment for 13:45 last Tuesday to go in and get my fingerprints and photograph taken for my green card. Not really knowing what to expect we arrived about an hour early and began waiting. Migrationsverket was the office that I had had so much difficulty with approving my green card to come here, so I was expecting the absolute worst from this experience. After waiting for 20 minutes there were no other people in line and I was up. I began speaking with the lady and she asked if I had an appointment. I told her that indeed I did have an appointment for 13:45. She looked at her clock, and then told me that I would have to wait because my appointment was not for another 30 minutes. This confused and upset me, because there were no other people in line. Defeated and frustrated I decided to go find the restroom. I was only gone for one or two minutes and when I returned my wife and daughter were in the cubicle getting my green card started and all I had to do was give my fingerprints, take a picture, and sign my name. This turned out to be one of the easiest things I have done for quite some time. My green card will be ready for me to go pick up this Thursday, and then I can go back to Skatteverket to finish applying for my person number.

The person number is by far the most important piece of paper in Sweden. Without a person number you basically do not exist. You cannot get a job, a bank account, utilities at your house, you cannot even rent a movie. I was told that my person number will take about four weeks for me to receive, so I am on a four week forced "vacation". Once I receive my person number I can enroll in my SFI classes to better learn the language, and also register at the labor office to get help finding a job.

So for the next four weeks I will continue to explore the area and work on my Swedish. I just hope that the time passes as fast as this first two weeks has.

Friday, July 19, 2013

First Day


Today was our first full day in Sweden and we took a bit of the afternoon to go and explore a section of our neighborhood. I can say that the weather today was far different than what we were used to in Arizona. Not really being accustomed to the Swedish Summer, my daughter and I did not dress for the storm that was coming in. The lesson that I learned here was that when it is windy in Sweden, it is going to be a little chilly as well. 

We wandered around a place called Globen City, which is a shopping area, a Hockey arena, and the brand new soccer stadium that opens this weekend. It is all a bit of a mess right now with the construction going on, but when it is finished it seems as though it will be a very nice area for us to be part of.


Before we went on our walk today we unloaded the boxes that we had shipped here from the U.S. It appears that everything made it, and only a couple of things were broken. I am not entirely sure what these boxes went through to get here, but I think that rolling down a few flights of stairs and maybe being dragged behind a vehicle may have been involved. These things looked rough, and for some very strange reason a couple of them were filled with sand?! Like I said though only a couple of things were broken so all in all it was okay. Tomorrow we are going to go do some shopping and get a few things for our apartment. Thanks to Mor Mor and Mor Far (my wife's parents) the things that we thought we were going to need is GREATLY reduced. They really took care of us and set us up with a lot of the things that we were going to need. This made it so we could stay in our apartment on our first night, and also makes it so we only need to get a few things tomorrow. This made the transition on the first day so much nicer. All in all I gotta say it was a good first day.
 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Bike


For the last two years this has been my daughter's bike. Over that time she went from wobbly and scared to a parents heart attack inducing dare devil. When I walked outside today and saw my daughters bike all alone in the middle of my parents yard, it became so much more.

It became a catalyst for an outpouring of emotion that I have been bottling up since arriving in Colorado. This little bike brought me to tears. I looked at it and no longer saw a bike, but a piece of my daughters life. She overcame some of her biggest fears on this bike. She learned that pain goes away on this bike. She got her first taste of independence on this bike. She also became more responsible on this bike.

When I looked at this bike today, all I could think about is how much my life is changing right now. I have made a serious effort to not have any emotions showing for the last two weeks. I do not want anyone to misinterpret my emotions. I do not want my daughter to see daddy crying and scared about moving to Sweden because I am trying very hard to instill confidence in her. I cannot tell her that everything will be okay while I am crying and scared. So the choice I made was to bottle it up. Apparently my bottle was full and that damn bike was the last drop.

This bike saved us all today. There had been such a tension in the air today. Nobody was talking or enjoying each others company, everyone seemed to be subconsciously avoiding the elephant in the room. Once my emotional dam broke it liberated is all. It was like a cleansing heavy rain had fell and cleaned the air. This bike allowed me and my family to enjoy our last night together.

We will be leaving this bike behind but because of what it brought my daughter and now me, I will never forget this bike.