Friday, 28 November 2014

Fighting the darkness

My first post about my emigration to Sweden was after two weeks of my arrival. Now, I'm a writing a second post having now stayed 2 months here in total.
Some Polish friends have asked me already how it's like to live in Sweden and if I wouldn't like to come back to Poland instead.
Well, there are pros and cons everywhere. No country will be perfect. After living in Sweden for 2 months being employed by a Swedish company, I now more than ever see Poland as an amusement park. So much more fun one can get in Poland than in here! But life is not only fun. Even being a carpe diem guy I need to also think about the future. For example, in Sweden the alcohol is very expensive and liquor shops are closed by 18:00. Great! I've been drinking much less than in Poland and I feel much healthier here. It also prevents people from buying alcohol late at night and getting completely drunk in the streets. I know that doing that looks like fun but in this case it's better to go to Copenhagen! It's just like a house party: it may leave a great mess for you to clean up the next day, so why not making it in your neighbor's house instead of in your own? ;)
The salaries here are much higher than in eastern European countries, especially if working as an IT freelancer. So, as long as current taxpayers won't get a retirement pension in Poland because the country is broken and Polish government has been already stealing money from taxpayer's retirement funds (In Polish: Otwarty Fundusz Emerytalny) to pay country's current debts, why not making some real money here in Scandinavia and then go back to Poland already as a rich man? ;)

Darkness

Many people complain about the darkness here, but they shouldn't. I've been here during summer of 2012 and the sun can also be very generous to Sweden. Even after work, it's possible to go play volleyball outdoors until 21:00. So, there is an overall balance when taking the whole year into consideration. But I like the darkness anyways cuz... I'M METAL!!!! \m/

Integration

Well, I'm still striving to have some more Swedish friends but it is not an easy task. I think in total I have 4 or 5 Swedish friends. The rest of my friends are Palestinian, Danish, Greek, Egyptian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belorussian, Romanian, Yemeni... Then one may ask me: What about people from your work? Well, I have met some very kind Swedish colleagues indeed! But they have wives and kids and it prevents them from joining me, for example, for a concert in Copenhagen or socialize more. I think they can't be more than just good work colleagues since they have other priorities in life.

Bureaucracy

It's been hard with the paperwork here. Sweden apparently makes it easy for the immigrants to come but then it may get complicated too.
In Sweden, in order to do any thing one should have the Swedish person number, which is an unique number for everyone registered in Sweden's population records. Without this number, it is very hard to open a bank account, get paid by a company or even to pay for the parking with the smartphone.
Imagine how life can be unfair: For example, someone coming from China, applied for a working visa in the Swedish embassy in Beijing and came to Sweden. He or she will get the Swedish person number in Sweden upon arrival (max 2 or 3 weeks). 
I could come to Sweden without visa nor work permit, because I'm an European Union permanent resident (but not a citizen), so I applied for Swedish residence card already being in Sweden and by doing this I joined the same queue as hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who also applied from here (and I'm no better then they are), so the estimations are that I will get my Swedish ID by 2016 only.
True fact: For an EU permanent residence card holder it can take much LONGER to get the Swedish ID than for someone who had never been to Europe before.
I keep repeating: I never expected life to be easy! Not even in Sweden. Fortunately, I manage to open a bank account just because the company I work for is one of the most traditional and renowned here in Lund.

Politics and bizarre facts

I was very surprised when I was using my hooded shirt with "SWEDEN" written on it and a Swedish girl who I met during some "language cafe meeting" told me that I shouldn't be wearing it.
The first things that came to my mind were: "Is she anti-Sweden?" and then "Are we not in Sweden?"; but it just turns out that she is a supporter of the feminist political party here in Sweden and, for her and many others in this country, everyone carrying any Swedish flag and/or t-shirts with the name of this country are potentially supporters of the far-right party called "Sweden Democrats". Seriously? Gimme a break! I'm a latino guy and I am an immigrant myself. Why would I be a supporter of a far-right anti-immigration party? She then explained me more that in Sweden it is advised not to carry any Swedish flag on the streets unless you are going, for example, to a football match to support Swedish team when it's playing against another country in any sport.
So, here there is no space for patriots or just fans of Sweden (which is my case). All of these categories are likely to be labelled as Nazi. True story!

Sweden is the most open country to mass immigration in the World. For example, The USA have a yearly diversity immigration program that takes 50.000 people with no selection criteria, just a lottery. Is it a lot? Not really. For a country that has 300 million inhabitants, it is nothing. Sweden takes 200.000 asylum seekers and refugees per year. The country has approx. 9 million inhabitants. So, that is a lot when you compare the percentages.
You can see beggars in the streets, but a bizarre fact is: These beggars are mostly from Europe. Well, I didn't check for their passports but I heard from people here that the asylum seekers and immigrants are actually covered by the social benefits and housing from the government but poor people from other EU countries are not entitled to seek asylum here (which makes sense) so they are the ones begging for money. Refugees enjoying social-welfare while poor Europeans as beggars in the streets. It's not Sweden's fault! Just a bizarre fact. :)

Conclusions

a) Good friends don't need to be Swedish. They can be from any country, as long as they are friendly.

b) Through darkness and evil, we persevere!

c) Polska jest rajem!

d) Carpe diem!