An early Spring?

I had been promised a late Winter until mid-April, but for the first time, this year is being different! Have I brought the sunshine from Portugal, as some say? The truth is that the snow is melting away and the temperatures barely reach the -5 ºC, with a lot of days on the plus side already! The worst part is that this makes it a bit dangerous to walk on the streets, without slipping. Since the beginning of February I’ve been having nothing but sunny days, and amazing sunsets! So the odds are high that they might even be better by Summer time!

I made improvements this week, regarding my emmigrant status. I have now a Swedish ID Card, a bank account and the best: I have finally found a nice house (at least for now)! This means my container is already on its way to the North, but unfortunately it is going to take between 2-3 weeks to get here. I have already submitted the documents to register my car in Sweden, and hopefully, the process will be quick and smooth, and by mid-March I’ll be able to drive again, with my Swedish licence plates on!

I have watched my first live ice hockey match – from the first row! Even though the favourites didn’t win (my city’s team), it was still a great match to watch. They were too aggressive but I kind of enjoyed it, much more than I had expected! It’s really different from any other game. I don’t know all the rules yet but I am already a fan! And some of the players are really hot!

Yesterday I have spent the whole day driving Audis! Yes, the work at the company can be quite stressful and tough sometimes… I don’t even know how I can handle it!  And on top of that, they paid me for doing it… Anyway, now I am completely skilled to handle all kinds of Winter conditions on the road (as if there was any doubt left, after driving from Portugal to Sweden, during Wintertime!). The course was really handy, the driving instructor was amazing and I have learnt a lot, regarding braking/stopping distances, cornering and avoiding obstacles! And even though I have become a fan of Audi TT, I wouldn’t change my car for any other!

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A bit more Swede

For 2 reasons:

1. I have already my Swedish ID Card, which means I will be able to finally open my bank account, and then “import” my car! One step further!

2. Yesterday, I went snowmobiling for the first time, which makes me a bit more Swede. It was awesome and I enjoyed even more than I could have ever expected. Although it was the first time for me on top of a motorbike, I managed it quite well, considering it was a trip of about 60 km!

It was a funny (working) day – yes, Swedes organize meetings in the middle of the forest, up in the mountain, so that everyone has to grab a snowmobile and attend the meeting! Even though everyone else was eating reindeer, they even fixed me a great vegetarian lunch! And this “only” to attend the monthly Health and Safety meeting! The only part I have to complain is that I don’t have a single muscle that doesn’t hurt… But, as they say, no pain, no gain! I might as well get addicted to snowmobiling – I won’t forget the amazing feeling of riding above a frozen lake, or the sense of freedom of being on top of a mountain! It was also a great opportunity for better meeting my colleagues 😉 Needless to stay I was the only girl!

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How everything works perfectly in Sweden

My Swedish teacher asked me what I liked least about Sweden. I told her, so far, nothing. And she said I was in love with Sweden, like in a romantic relationship, but that I will start discovering flaws after some months. Of course, I am pretty aware of that. Nothing is perfect!

Starting on the weather and geography, that are really harsh up here. But for now, I intend to keep this romantic relationship on fire!

Sweden is considered one of the most expensive countries to live in (10th place currently), but people earn accordingly, and much interesting, the difference between a cleaning lady or a bank manager is much more subtle here. Even the low skilled immigrants (Sweden was voted as the friendliest country in Europe, towards immigrants) earn enough to live a decent life here. What happens is that they want to send money abroad, so that their families can live better, and they don’t wish to spend so much on themselves, which is pretty much the same that happens everywhere else. Basic services are supposed to be affordable to everyone, wheareas luxurious services are highly taxed. An exception to this is the car/fuel vs. train/bus. In most countries it is much cheaper to travel on public transports, specially with the increasing price on oil (not so much these days…), but here it’s much cheaper to go on our own car, specially for short-medium distances. Of course that is really expensive to eat in a restaurant (but also because there are few restaurants, they always eat fast food…), or go to a massage or to the hairdresser.

So, ir order to make a decent comparison, I have to be specific:

1) Fuel prices here are a bit cheaper than in Portugal (specially bensin);

2) Electricity is cheaper;

3) Groceries cost, generally the same, sometimes less, with exception to highly processed foods, luxurious products (chocolates, alcohol) and vegetables/fruits (mostly imported from Southern Europe);

4) Cigarettes (this one really struck me out!) cost about 4.5€ a pack (almost the same as they cost in Portugal, but here, salaries are much higher!);

5) My car will pay a road tax 20% cheaper than in Portugal;

6) Housing tax on bought property is much lower, and people are exempted for the first 15 years;

7) Most things that in Portugal have VAT 23%, here are 12%, or even 6%! Of course they are happier here, wouldn’t you?

7) I will pay considerably less tax on my salary than I paid back in Portugal. And I will recover the full amount I paid when I retire! Sounds weird, right? We really pay a lot of taxes in Portugal and the worst part, is that we don’t see the return of any of it. And that saddens me the most…

And what do I get more? Roads always cleaned, even after a snowfall, public services like Tax Agency and Transport Agency efficiently managed, respect for people, for the disabled and for nature, thoughtful driving… And moreover, an opportunity to succeed and develop in my career, something that would not happen in my home country. So, that’s what made me come to Sweden!

I might fall out of love with Sweden, but now let me enjoy!