I want to move to Sweden: will I find a job?

I get this question every week, sometimes 2-3 times a week. And I thought it would be a whole lot easier to write in a post here than copy/pasting my answers.

Let’s say you visit Sweden on a vacation. You fall in love with the country. You decide you want to move to Sweden.

You google a bunch of stuff on making a Swedish friendly CV, wondering about the hiring process, and planning your move across the world to the north pole.

And then you email me a bunch of questions (great questions) about finding jobs, interviewing, and moving to Sweden.

This is when life becomes difficult. I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm, but there are few MAJOR things you need to consider before derailing your life for Scandinavia.

1. You don’t need to worry about the CV structure as much as you need to worry about *what* you will put in the CV. How will you stand out from the rest of the pack?

2. As a foreigner to Sweden (especially non-EU), a Swedish company will wonder the following when they read your CV:
– Why is this person better than a Swede with the same qualifications?
– What is this person bringing to the table that we must go through the long and expensive process of visas?
– How many languages does this person speak? Are they already speaking Swedish?

3. Do you have the chops to survive a long, cold winter. It is fucking cold and if you have lived in a snowy environment, then ignore this question. If all you have done in life is experience a cold front of 50F (10C), then you are in for a ride my friend.

4. Are you in a unique industry? Computer science, engineering, mobile, and high-end banking will put you to the front of the pack. Sweden is desperate to fill these positions and you have a *slightly* better chance than someone looking for a construction job.

Honestly, forget how different the hiring process will be from your native country. You need to show that you’re actually *worth* hiring over a Swede. You need to have job skills that are so unique that a Swede cannot possibly fill this role (and this is the law – companies cannot hire foreigners unless that job cannot be completed by a Swede. plus, the company must make every effort to hire a Swede first).

This may sound and mean, but you need to position yourself that you are so amazing that a regular Sweden can’t compete with you.

For example, do you have any of the following skills:
1. Speak more than 3 languages including English?
2. Have masters degree or higher?
3. Experience in management for several years?
4. Experience in the most common programming languages AND some unusual ones?
5. Have the ability to work in the fields as a fruit or vegetable picker on a temporary basis only?

If you cannot say yes to at least one of the above, then you need to reconsider spending time applying for jobs in Sweden.

Good luck!

Fika Runt Stockholm – A Map!

You probably already know that Swedes loves their coffee. And they love to fika.

Which got me thinking that, there should be a map to all the popular, or in some cases only, cafes in Stockholm.

I took the SL’s tunnelbanan’s karta (metro map), removed all the stations, and inserted cafes. Surprisingly, it was a lot harder than I expected. There were tons of cafes in innerstaden (central city), but once you hit the förort (suburb), it becomes a coffee desert.

What I would love to do is have your input for coffee shops at the missing stations. I will be taking comments here until March 15th. Then I will update the map and repost it.

BTW, right-click on the map to open it as a full image.
fika runt stockholm

And yes, it means I’m alive!

xoxo

National Anti-Bullying Month – My Story

October is national anti-bullying month in the US. But as most of you know, bullying isn’t restricted by borders, or languages, or culture, or even religions. Bullying is a nasty part of childhood, that for many, persists until adulthood. Swedes, Americans, whatever, bullying is everywhere.
Mobbing
I was bullied in school. A lot. I moved a few times before college, and those were not easy moves. As a result, I often spent my time being the new, different kid in school.

Before I get to the bullying part, let me tell you about my teenage self. I was an over-achiever who enjoyed the attention of teachers. I had to work hard for my grades, they never came easy to me. I participated in several extracurricular activities, none of which were sports. I was short, wasn’t skinny, and wore clothes from middle class stores. My family was educated middle class and worked hard to pay the bills, take vacations, and be awesome parents.

I’m sure people would have considered me precocious, a know it all, and a dork (nerd and geek wasn’t often used at my schools…go figure).

And I was the new kid on the block, literally.

There was one year I spent being the kick bag of the entire class. Even the teacher gave up; or at least didn’t do much to stop it.

It was my year of hell.

I had only two friends in that school during that year. The remaining friends were from outside clubs and groups I was in, and luckily I had some friends.

But going to school that year? It was awful. There’s no one place to start with how or why the bullying began. But I did know it was because of my circumstances in life. I wasn’t rich, I wasn’t Christian or Jewish, I wasn’t tall and skinny, and I most certainly wasn’t white.

All things I could never control about myself, but so easy to weaponize against someone.

When that class started at the beginning of the school year, I though I would make lots of new friends. I was switching classes from the previous year, and as a result, none of my friends would be in this new class. Side note, my school would try to keep each class together in every grade so students would mostly know each other.

So many new faces! And a new teacher to boot! It was going to be an exciting year!

After a few weeks, I realized that the students in this class had been together since kindergarden. Many of them knew each other because their families were already friends too. They took trips together, went to church together, their parents played golf together, the list rambles on.

I didn’t do any of those things with my classmates and their families. My parents were outsiders as well, and they remained so that whole year.

And there weren’t any Invisibility Cloaks in the world to keep me hidden. I had to face it all every day.

I was invited to one birthday party that year. When classmates would discuss their weekend, especially if there was a birthday party, they would make sure to talk around me so I could hear about their fantastic parties.

When I invited my classmates for my birthday, only two showed up, out of a class of 35.

Lists were really popular then. The best singers list, the best movies list, and all that innocuous good stuff. But teenagers, they’re smart, cunning, and evil. Instead of those top 10s, they made the prettiest girls in the school list, the ugliest girl in the school list, the most likely to date, the most unlikely to date, and probably many more.

I remember one afternoon at recess, everyone was gathered around one of the guys in class. They were scheming a list up. It was the “Most Unpretty List.” The list was hand-copied and so passed around like wildfire in the entire school.

I was voted the #2 “ugliest girl.” I was also voted “least likely to date.”

When I found out, I was devastated. I cried the entire night at home. My parents were heartbroken. They spoke to the teacher and the principle the next day. Both the teacher and the principle were appalled and would put an end to this behavior immediately.

Whatever my teacher said to those students, was the wrong thing. Everything backfired. For the next couple days, classmates were “nice” to me, it soon became aware that it was my parents who complained about them.

Retribution was swift. The teasing, the active ignoring, the talking behind my back quadrupled. I was teased about where my clothes came from, why my parents didn’t own a Mercedes like the rest of everyone, why I was fat, why I worshipped “stupid” looking gods, and so much more. I don’t remember most of what they said, but I know the dictionary was their limit.

Soon the teacher told me to essentially stop being a wuss and grow up. That those students were teasing me because they liked me. That everything would be fine.

That teacher? She behaved like an asshole and the queen of bullies. She allowed and tolerated all that under the auspices of her roof. She protected the bullies when I (or others) complained. She encouraged them to talk about their birthday parties, knowing full well I wasn’t invited. She favored others and gave them awards, when I knew I deserved them.

I was, all but abandoned.

When that year ended, I was elated but terrified. The next year I would be changing schools again, and who knows what that would hold in stock for me.

As it turned out, the following year wasn’t so bad. And it got better year by year until I was in high school and learned to fight back.

The Lesson

But the over arching lesson here is that bullying takes a toll on your well-being, mentally and physically. It takes a toll on every one of us. As friends, as parents, as victims, bullies take the best parts of a person and crush them into nothingness.

Bullies take away hope.

Bullies take away the security of being a child.

It’s no wonder that in a social and online media driven world today, that bullying has crossed boundaries that literally destroys lives. From the young teens who commit suicide, to the children who take weapons to school, the execution of bullying has become more and more nefarious and destructive.

I wish I had answers on how to combat bullying. I don’t. I don’t know what my parents could have done differently. I don’t know what I could have done differently. But when the students and the teacher become the bullies, there are few options left.

What I can say though, is hang in there. Hang in there because life will get better. Hang in there because these asshole turds rely on bullying to be “better”. You, dear victim, have so much more going; maybe you’re smart, maybe you’re great at music, maybe you love to write, maybe, you are just you.

But hang in there. Share your story as an adult to your children and nieces and nephews. Teach that goodness is better than bullying. Trust that no one can take your self worth, no matter how much people devalue you.

And love; we are all equal.

The United States is Closed

If you are currently visiting the United States on vacation and are hoping to see the Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Memorial, or even Alcatraz, well, sad news, they are all closed.
US goverment shutdown closed

US goverment shutdown - Lincoln memorial
That’s because of the clusterfuckery of House Republications holding the budget hostage so they can “negotiate” with the Senate to delay the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, by one year.

Does it makes sense now? No? Me either. Honestly, it’s just a bunch fucktards in the right of right of right Republican party that are making everyone facepalm. Of course, the tea party is jumping for joy that we can eliminate the evils of healthcare for all.

After all, “Americans don’t want Obamacare.”

I can’t facepalm myself enough times. Let’s ask Jon Stewart and see what he thinks of the government shutdown.

You can watch the rest of the videos on The Daily Show’s website.

If you want to know who’s causing this clusterfuck of stupidity, Gawker put together a list of crazy Republications. I mean, these are bat-shit-fucking crazy people. They’re not normal Republicans. Normal Republicans are hiding in the closet and thinking, “oh fuck! why did we ever accept these people into our party. Now we’re going to become obsolete.”

These 10 men-devils, Michelle Bachmann is not human so I don’t count her as female, are holding the entire country hostage. For them, it’s the happiest day of their lives. For the rest of us, we think they are idiots.
10 worst republicans government shutdown

And let’s not forget about the douchiest tea-bagger of all: Rep. Randy Neugebauer. He made a Park Ranger apologize for the closing of the Veterans Memorial. If you’d like to tell him he’s an idiot, here are his contact details: 611 University Ave. Suite #220, Lubbock, TX 79401, Phone: (806) 763-1611, Fax: (806) 767-9168

In any event, for those of you wondering when this will end, I have no idea. I really have no good idea when the House will come to its senses, or the rest of the Republican party kick the crazies out. This is the showdown the Tea Party has been waiting for. They’re probably drunk on power, singing and dancing on top of the dead bodies of the United States federal employees.

Because, you know they care for the American people.

10 Offbeat Spots to Visit in Stockholm

I received an email from one of our readers about hitting up off the beaten path spots in the city. Of course I would love to share a few of my personal favorite spots, but it won’t be so private anymore!

DSC_0120
The best part about Stockholm is that it is a walking city. Truly. The actually city can be walked in a day. Yes, a whole day. Of course, if you go out to the suburbs and the islands, then you may need more time.

My top offbeat places in Stockholm, in no particular order.

Drop Coffee
This is a real hipster coffee shop. Now while most of you know my opinion of hipsters, I give this coffee shop a break. They have fantastic coffee (no Gevalia crap, as hot as the spokesdude is) and very good paninis and soup. It’s located right next to the Mariatorget side of Mariatorget station in Södermalm. Be sure to fika here!

Myrorna/Stockholm Stadsmission
These are two secondhand shops are popular, and have several locations in the city. Frankly, they beat out any Goodwill or standard secondhand store in the US. You can find anything from boots to Swedish porcelain. Take a look around and you can even find touristy stuff too. All at a discount.

Info:
http://myrorna.se/
http://www.stadsmissionen.se/

Skeppsholmen
This is that dangling island in the middle of Stockholm. Location between Gamla Stan and Djurgården, Skeppsholmen has the Moderna Museet and the Arkitekmuseet. It’s a fantastic place to walk around and throw yourself a picnic. By foot, walk to the island from National Museet, near the Grand Hotel.

You should also pop by Kastellholmen where the old castle, Kastellet, is located.

View from Södermalm
I’ve probably mentioned this place before. If you walk from Bellmansgatan, yes the location for Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, there is a little hiking walkway. It’s not a long walk, perhaps 5-10 minutes, but once the trees are out of the way, you will have a fantastic view to the southern side of Kungsholmen.

SoFo {South of Folkungagatan}
For random, cute shops and hipster teasing, or admiring, head to SoFo. It’s the darling, miniature equivalent of New York City’s SoHo.

Vasa Museet
The famous ship that sank in the 1600s because the king wanted it stuffed with ammo. A real case of brilliant common sense. But, it is an amazing ship. And, the museum houses information on the excavation of the ship, which is just as exciting!

Hornsgatan
Planning on walking Götgatan? You’ll be tired of the tourists real fast. When done with the tourists, walk down Hornsgatan from Slussen to Hornstull. There are lots of cute shops, great ice cream, and the Strand at the end the road. You will even get a glimpse at some of the epic Million Projekt houses built by the government. If they look ugly as fuck, you found them.

But once done with the walk, you can see the new Hornstull and hang out in the park. Just remember, in Stockholm, people smoke everywhere and don’t use trash receptacles. Be careful where you sit! For a beer, head to the bar Stranden.

Drottningholm
Most definitely my favorite castle to visit. It is huge. HUGE! You can hike, walk, jog through the gardens, around the lake, and into the woods. It is the Disneyworld version of Sweden without the annoying people lameness.

You’ll have to take the bus out to Zone 2 in Ekerö so plan to spend a half day visiting the castle and grounds.
DSC_0174

Pelikan Restaurang
For real Swedish food in a historic krog {bar}, head to Pelikan on Södermalm. Their meatballs are to die for. The service isn’t the best because they know they are awesome, but have a few beers and enjoy the scenery.

Info:
http://www.pelikan.se/sidor/eng_index.htm
Call for reservations, drop in is also possible: 08 55 60 90 92

Train Museum {Spårvägsmuseet}
The dorkiness in me is revealed! I love the Train Museum. Loooove it. It is never crowded and there are lots of trains and memorabilia from SL’s early days.

The Toy Museum is a free bonus, and located at the back of the main museum. It’s not comparable to an American hobby museum, so pass quickly and go back to Train side. For the kids, there is a mini train that travels around the museum.

Also, be sure to check the official guide for free museums in the summertime, or my page on it.

Info about the museum:
http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se/in-english/
Opening hours:
Monday-Friday: 10-17
Saturday-Sunday 11-16
Admission:
Adult: 40 SEK, senior citizens: 20 SEK, young people 7-18 years old: 20 SEK, students: 20 SEK. Fred admission for children up till 7 years old.

If you used the list, let us know how you liked the places! And, do you have any offbeat spots you are willing to diverge? :)

A Tight Squeeze – Driving in Stockholm

Sometimes I love Europe. Love it because it is crazy. Although not like craziness is restricted to Europe, America is plenty crazy, we have oodles of craziness.

But when you add together Stockholm and driving, you know it cannot be good.

Like this one lane road in a residential part of Södermalm. It’s a small road, enough to fit a car driving and a car parking.

But sometimes we get this awesomeness.

Swedish Parking Fail

Why use the parking lane when you can park on the road itself! Brilliant!

16 Funny Swedish Insults

Swedes have a colorful way of insulting one another. And most of our insults hail from the pre-industrialization time, when most of the population were farmers or worked outside.

This means, Swedes love insults relating to dumb geese, stupid donkeys, and gossiping sheep. And in a time when cities were distant, and the countryside was full of peasants, you cannot go far from the forest.

I split the list of insults into phrases and words. Next time you want to get angry with a Swede, you are armed with a list!

Insulting Swedish Phrases
Skita i det blå skåpet – To shit in the blue cupboard. It really means to ‘cross the line,’ as in ‘you’ve crossed the line and have pissed people off.’

The phrase originates from the comedy film, Göta Kanal, when the actor Janne Loffe Carlsson says, “Nu har de skitit i det blå skåpet, nu är det krig!” – “You’ve pooped in the blue cupboard, now it’s war!”

Gå och dra något gammalt över dig – Go and hide yourself under something old – Not only you should get lost, but put an old blanket over your head. That way, you can look even more stupid.

Dra åt skogen – Go to the forest – Sweden is full of trees and when you want someone to ‘get lost’ you tell them to ‘go to the forest.’ What a great way to get rid of the annoying hipsters in Söder!

Ditt jävla ålahuvud – You damn eel head – Seriously, that is the literal translation, eel head. Eels are notorious to have, flat, dumb heads?

Släng dig i backen – Throw yourself to the hill – ‘Get lost.’

Goddag yxskaft – Hello axe handle – One of my favorite phrases that I learned in Swedish class, ‘goddag yxskaft’ is a non sequitur. A non sequitur is an illogical statement. This phrase comes from the story of a deaf man who makes ax handles. When a stranger approaches him (most likely to ask the way to the town), he says, “hello”, but the deaf man responds, “axe handle.”

Åsnan mellan två hötappar – An ass between two stacks of hay – Someone who cannot make up their mind, being wishy-washy.

Dum som en gås. – Dumb like a goose – These three insults were common in the olden days. You will probably hear senior citizen say them but not young folks.
Tjock som en gris. – Fat as a pig.
Envis som en åsna. – Stubborn as a donkey.

Inte rent mjöl i påsen – Not clean flour in the bag – To describe someone who is a crook.

Insulting Swedish Words
Snuskhummer – Dirty lobster – Someone who is creepy or a douche bag.

Skitstövel – Poop boot – A bastard.

Dumbom – Stupid road barrier – Thick skulled, stupid.

Sladdertacka – Gossip sheep – Someone who gossips too much.

Mösstock – Cap log – Another way to call someone an idiot.

Supreme Court Stikes Down DOMA, Paves Way for Vows in California

This morning (well Washington DC time), The Supreme Court of the United States announced its deliberation on two of the most explosive issues of the term: gay marriage rights and due process.

Specially, two cases were debated in front of the judges earlier in the year: the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, and Proposition 8.

To backup a bit, the United States is a behind when it comes to gay rights and equality. While in Sweden and most of Western Europe has legalized gay marriage, people in the US are embroiled in a bitter controversy of gay marriage rights between usually, religious conservatives, and liberals.

Yea, we are backwards. But going to the cases, I’ll try to break them down for you to easily understand. One thing that is essential to understand in US is the sovereign rights of states versus those of the federal government. It’s usually a reason why many cases head through the appeals as the states, federal, and the people jockey for rights asserted under the state and federal Constitutions.

First, it is uncommon for the Supreme Court to bundle cases together but they did so for this hearing. The cases were not directly about gay marriage rights, or what we would consider rights under the first amendment. The first case was about due process, while the Prop 8 case related to state’s ability to defend a case.

In the majority ruling for the DOMA case, SCOTUS ruled that the federal law violated due process in the Fifth Amendment. Most of us know that the Fifth Amendment protects us against double jeopardy but it also protects against unfair due process, specifically, “…nor shall any person…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. In it, he said,

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

It’s in the due process statement that SCOTUS felt the federal law took liberties away by separating the population (those who are homosexual) and applied a different process to them.

In the end, married gay and lesbian couples are now granted the same federal rights as heterosexual couples. That includes more than 1,100 legal benefits, like passing of wills, tax exemption, health care and more, for such couples.

Justice Scalia, known for his wild banters, dissented on the DOMA case and his remarks were nothing short of amusing. Calling the majority view as demonizing the DOMA supporters, “I imagine that this is because it is harder to maintain the illusion of the Act’s supporters as unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob when one first describes their views as they see them.”

The Proposition 8 case was a bit more interesting from a legal standpoint. The case reached the Supreme Court by ways of proponents of the proposition who were unsatisfied with the lower court decisions.

To clarify how this case made its way up the ranks, here’s a timeline of Prop 8.

The interesting part is that the Supreme Court ruled on a technicality. Chief Justice John Roberts said,

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.”

In all, Proposition 8 is struck down by ways of the District Court. Attorney General Jerry Brown just announced that marriage licenses should be handed out as soon as possible in all the counties.

Timeline of California Proposition 8 – Ban on Gay Marriage

The Proposition 8 lawsuit is an interesting case. The case reached the Supreme Court by ways of proponents of the proposition who were unsatisfied with the lower courts decision.

To clarify how this case made its way up the ranks, here’s a quick timeline of Prop 8.

November, 2008 – Proposition 8 passes on a statewide ballot measure in California. It immediately bars gays and lesbians from marrying in the state.

Immediately after – Hollingsworth v. Perry case filed. Perry was one of the lesbian couples refused a marriage certificate in Alameda County. They served as the plaintiffs in the case.

The state of California, under the auspices of Attorney General Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger decided the state would not defend the proposition. This essentially created a peculiar situation, the government abandoned its own law based on the predisposition that it itself is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In this void, private citizens argued, and were accepted by the court, to serve as defendant of the case. ProtectMarriage.com, lead by Dennis Hollingsworth, became the defendants in the case.

… after months of battling…

August 4, 2010 – U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8, stating it is “…unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause because no compelling state interest justifies denying same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.”

Now is when things get interesting. In all this drama, Imperial County in California was arguing to act as a defendant (as it is a government body) for the case. They were denied.

The defendants of the case appealed Judge Walker’s decision and the case move up to federal courts (from the district court).

February 7, 2012 – The Ninth Circuit (aka, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) issued a divided three judge ruling that upheld the decision of the district court. It did so on narrower grounds than the District Court did.

June 5, 2012 – the Ninth Circuit denied a request for a rehearing en banc. En banc is a legal term that means a case that is heard before all judges of the court. In this case, it means all judges that sit on the Ninth Circuit, not just the panel of three judges that hear a case.

July 31, 2012 – Proponents of Proposition 8 appealed the case (now in the current form of Hollingsworth v. Perry) to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What’s important to note here is that anti-prop 8 supporters asked the Supreme Court to not hear the case. Why? Because the Supreme Court would have the power to overturn the ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court and declare the proposition legal.

December 7, 2012 – SCOTUS orders the parties involved to be briefed over additional question of whether supporters of Prop. 8 have standing, that is, a legal right to be involved in the case, under Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

March 13, 2013 – The Supreme Court hears arguments in the case.

June 26, 2013 – The Supreme Court issues a decision, 5-4, that it does not have the right to hear the case based on the technicality that the state has not adequately defended the case. It essentially rules in favor of the lower courts.