Jis, I got so many questions on the ask-me-anything blogpost the other day, that I started to think that I actually am someone! There were many different questions but most of them of course considered my relation to Russia and why I’ve chosen to live here, so that’s what I’m going to try to answer here today.
How did you end up in Moscow and when?
I moved here in 2013 since I got a job offer at H&M, they were looking for a person who knew both Swedish and Russian and understood both cultures. When I got the offer I was 28 and felt quite unhappy with the way my career path had developed and decided to leave my life in Sweden and move to Russia where I didn’t know anyone. People usually think I moved here because my husband got a jobb here, but we actually met for the first time here in Moscow (three’s a blog post about how we met which you can read here)
Biggest change with moving to Moscow?
Well, there’s a lot of things that felt like a big change, but for me personally it was the fact that people can seem to be quite unfriendly here. Others may not find this as a problem, but for me, being a highly sensitive person that I am, I felt quite overwhelmed by it. In the beginning my whole day could be ruined because the lady in the metro cashier didn’t smile back at me when I thanked her for the help, or when the taxi driver was in the middle of a road rage psychosis, screaming at everyone in front of the car. I first started to handle the situation by lowering my expectations on people (like a lot) and being angry back, which ended up in me becoming a generally angry person. It went so far that I didn’t recognise my old self, just being angry at people all the time and so I started to work on my own perceptions and reactions instead. But the funny thing is that since we had Theo people became much more friendly and started to randomly smile at us, haha
Do you have relatives in Russia?
Nopes, no relatives that I know of. My grandparents are partially from Russia so I probably have some long gone relatives here, but it’s no one my own family has any contact with (WW2 and some other things came in the way). The only person I knew when I moved here was a acquaintance from university, that later became a good friend of mine, and now I have my own little family here!
Do you speak Russian fluently?
Yes, my parents were very tough on me speaking Russian at home, even tough we lived in Sweden. When I moved to Moscow my Russian level was that of a five-year-old, except for the fact that I had a perfect pronunciation, so people who didn’t know my background would think I’m a bit weird. But six years later and two jobs where I’ve been working almost exclusively with Russians, my knowledge has improved a lot and now I’m seen just like any Russian woman.
How often do you go to Sweden?
On average 5-8 times per year. Almost all of my friends lives in Stockholm and so does my in laws, so I go there maybe 3-4 times per year. My own family lives in Malmoe, so I have to visit them too approximately 3-4 times per year. My dad lives in Latvia btw, so I have to go there to every now and then… In other words – there’s lots of flights across the Baltic Sea.
What do you miss the most with Sweden?
Well the people I mentioned in the previous question I miss the most, but then it’s the nice and smiley atmosphere and the fact that people share my values and thoughts.
What do you prefer – Sweden or Russia?
I would say my preference is somewhere in the middle and then it can tip on either side depending on my mood. In the beginning, I was so in love with Moscow and the decadent lifestyle here. I had many (Swedish) friends with whom the whole experience was so much nicer. But as Putin started to initiate one political reform after another, companies stopped hiring foreigners which resulted in less Swedes coming here. I’ve even started to count how many of what became very close friends of mine have left Russia, right now it’s 10 people. One good thing about it is that I’ve started to hang out with friends from other countries, expanding my views a bit. I do have a couple of close Russian friends here too, but I have for some reason found it quite hard to become friends with Russian women. But aside the friend-thing (which I obviously find important) I think Moscow is such a cool city to live in and like it very much too. Besides, Sweden is only a 2 hours flight away, so if I miss home to much it’s not a big deal to go and visit.
Are you every going to move back to Sweden?
I think we have planned this “move” for the last five years, haha. Each time we say “Ok, so two more years and then we move back to Sweden!” but new jobs, the infertility journey and general comfiness has kept us here. Now that we have a baby I think we will be here for a while, using the fact that you can hire a nanny etc.
Best and worst with Russia?
Reading my answers above makes it seem like there’s nothing good about Russia, haha, so I guess the worst would be what I wrote above. The best thing with Moscow is that it’s a real metropolis with so many cool things to do – great restaurants, museums, theatres, shopping and high quality people watching. As you’ve probably noticed, Russia is mentioned in the news around the world every day. A lot of it isn’t exactly positive, but living in Moscow at the center of it all is in a strange way quite exciting, like I’m witnessing history in the making. I’ll definitely have one or two things to share with my grandchildren when I’m old.