I can't say that it is at it's most attractive at the beginning of February, cold, dark and full of dead looking trees but without the snow that would make that look kind of pretty. It was pretty clear that I was going to be living in a very different climate the one one I had grown up in. It was not exactly a surprise but not an ideal introduction either.
|This is actually from the end of March, but I think it gets the point across|
Sweden is a relatively easy country to speak only English in, you just have to be happy not being able to read any official documentation. Fortunately they are also pretty keen to have immigrants learn Swedish, they have free Swedish For Immigrants/Svenska För Invandrare (SFI) classes that I have been attending. At this point I can confidently say that I am better at it than I have been at any other non-English language I have studied. Unfortunately I can't say that particular bar was set particularly high.
One of the most interesting things about adapting to a new culture is realising just how many things and practices you thought were normal and relatively common aren't. I wasn't expecting to find Vegemite, Tim Tams and Kangaroo meat in stores here or anything, but by the same token I was expecting to be able to find beef sausages, proper bacon and plain peanuts without difficulty. This has become a new interest of mine when talking to other foreigners, "What did you expect to find in supermarkets that wasn't there?" I feel you can tell a lot about a place from the products you see in its supermarkets.
The distance from family and friends has not been ideal, Skype and Facebook help and we have had people come and visit which has been great, but in the past year there have been births and deaths within my family and it really sucks that I haven't been able to be there for them in the way I would like.
Making friends is not nearly as easy as it was back in Australia. In Australia I had the advantage of growing up there, school and university both were environments where I was constantly mixing with people of a similar age and interests and I don't quite have the same situation here. I really miss the casual social contact I had from weekly gatherings with friends and being able to rustle up some multiplayer gaming when I wanted. Time zones mean that spontaneous multiplayer is much hard harder now and it turns out that the gamers I have met here don't actually play much of the kinds of games I like playing.