What the f***! Was moving to Sweden a mistake?

I clearly remember thinking this to myself on May 13th 1995.  

I was at the airport waiting for a flight to London – my first visit home after moving to Sweden the previous autumn. 
Over the loudspeaker I heard an announcement. My flight was delayed. Due to snow. Yes, snow! Outside the window, snow billowed down on the runway and visibility was limited. In May! ‘What the f***!?’ I recall thinking. ‘Is this what it’s like here? I think I might have made a massive mistake moving here’. Eventually the flight took off and I landed two hours later in the British capital. There, in London, the sun was shining and people were walking around in shorts, t-shirts and shades. This, of course, cemented my concern. 

Now it seems as if history might be repeating itself. Yesterday it snowed in Stockholm. And haled. In May. Ok, not May 13th. But May 9th! Today more snow is forecast. And I am wondering if we’re going to break my 1995 record for the latest snowfall in Stockholm!? (Although the actual record seems to be June 12th in 1982). 

But I have learned something after 20 years in Sweden. If there is one thing we can rely on, it is that the weather does change. Have faith! The claws of winter are soon released and spring will finally and definitively be upon us. 

10 reasons Europe is good for Sweden


Today, May 9th, is Europe Day. This is an annual celebration of peace and unity in Europe. Sweden has been a part of the European continent since continents were first described and a member of the EU since 1995. As a continent, Europe has 50 sovereign states and speaks around 225 languages – diverse to say the least.

High up here in the North, it’s easy to forget the benefits of being on the European continent and what the access to all the diversity has provided Sweden with.

Here is a list of ten reasons why Sweden has benefited from its geographical location as part of Europe.

  1. Pizza. One of Sweden’s most popular cheesy weekend foods would probably not have been on the menu if Sweden and Italy were not part of the same continent.
  2. The Bernadottes. The Swedish Royal family would not have existed if Napoleon and his French army were not available to lend a king to a dying Nordic monarchy.
  3. ABBA. One of the members of ABBA, Anni-Frid, was Norwegian. Without the country of Norway, the megagroup would have been known as ABB.
  4. The Canary Islands. Had Spain not settled the Canaries, Swedes would have had no sunny paradise to travel to in the long, cold winters. Brrrr.
  5. Visby. The medieval town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland would just have been a windy hell hole if it wasn’t for the German Hansa traders who built houses and churches and pretty walls.
  6. The Economy. Sweden exports goods and services of over 50 billion SEK to Europe on a yearly basis. Just that.
  7. The Eurovision Song Contest. Just think how long and boring February, March and May would be if Sweden wasn’t in the Eurovision region. What else would SVT televise if it wasn’t for endless Melodifestival heats and Eurovision semis, and finals and summaries and retrospectives.
  8. Speaking Swedish. If it wasn’t for Germany, France and the UK, people in Sweden wouldn’t have a language. Everybody would walk around in silence. Oh…hang on a minute…
  9. City breaks. Without Europe on the doorstep, people wouldn’t be able to go to Berlin or Barcelona for long weekends or bank holiday breaks. They would have to satisfy themselves with a long weekend in Börås or Flen instead.
  10. Europe. Not the place, the Swedish hard rock band, founded in a suburb outside of Stockholm with vocalist Joey Tempest and hits such as ‘The Final Countdown’. If they hadn’t been inspired by Sweden’s position in Europe, what would they have called themselves? ‘Upplands Väsby’?!

What kind of streets does Sweden want?


Yesterday, hundreds of people gathered for a peaceful manifestation in the centre of Stockholm. They listened to live music and speeches and they sang and danced. The manifestation was being held to shine a light on the rights of unaccompanied refugee children in Sweden.

About 30 people from a right-wing group decided to attack the demonstrators with verbal abuse, threats, kicks and punches. Many of the victims were teenagers who were left shocked, scared and even more isolated from the society that is hosting them.

Is this what we want the streets of Sweden to be like? Groups of thugs attacking peaceful demonstrators and youngsters? In my world, this is totally unacceptable.

Democracy in Sweden is about having the right to express your opinion, whatever the political colour. It is about creating change through dialogue and activism. It is about getting involved and giving your opinion. It is not about employeeing violent methods to subdue and placate contradicting points of view. It is not about threatening and trolling and spewing hate. It is not about spreading fear in others just because I am fearful myself.

As members of an open, democratic country, each and every one of us should verbally and actively condemn what happened yesterday in Stockholm. A few short weeks after the love manifestation that filled the streets of the capital, we should not accept this attempt to drag our democracy into the shadows. This is not what we want on our streets, in our homes or in our society.

Yesterday, after the attack was over, people stayed behind to console and comfort the teenagers who has been brutally attacked. According to a witness, one of the teenagers found a thread of strength from within. He stood up and held a heartfelt, dignified speech – in Swedish. And he finished with a song – ‘Sverige’ (Sweden) by pop group Kent. One of the lines goes something like this:

‘Welcome, welcome here. Whoever you are, wherever you are.’

In that one song, this teenager showed us all what is means to be dignified and strong in the face of adversity. Violence and hate is not welcome here.