|Everyone made it safe and sound.|
Has it really been nearly 3 months since I moved? I apologize to those looking for updates, and I will do my best to be more diligent in posting. So what have I learned in my first months of being an immigrant? A lot.
1. Be prepared for the language barriers.
If you haven't already, make sure you have a good app to help you translate what you don't know. This is important for things that you wouldn't think about until it's too late - like going to the store and realizing that you don't know what things are in Swedish. It can make a simple trip to the store completely terrifying, especially if you do not have a working phone yet. Sure, there are people all around you that speak English, but they don't always know the English equivalent to what you are looking for (i.e. cilantro = koriander and cereal = flingor). I personally use google translate (great, but not always entirely accurate), bab.la EN-SV, and I have made it a point to try and translate my shopping list prior to my trip.
2. Find the offices you need to get your life started.
The first office you need to find is the Migrationsverket, which I have mentioned in past posts. This is where you will get your fingerprinting done, and they will take your picture for your residency card. The next is the Skatteverket, where you will apply for your person number, and your Swedish ID. I highly recommend visiting these two offices on the same day. Since your ID requires you to have a person number, you will have to visit this office twice, but I just ask about that when you are there. Finally, once you have received the letter with your person number, you will need to go to Arbetsförmedlingen to sign up for SFI. This office is also the unemployment office, so you will go here to help find a job once you have learned Swedish. Swedish for Immigrants is not actually through Arbetsförmedlingen, but through a department connected to them. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the department, and I was unable to find much information online, but you can find out from your local Arbetsförmedlingen.
3. Substitute, substitute, substitute.
Luckily, you will never be the only person in Sweden who has tried to use an old American recipe, and realized that a key ingredient cannot be found here. There are many message boards dedicated to cooking substitutions, and these will be very helpful to newbies. Some of your ingredients will be nearly impossible to find, or very expensive when you do. For example, there is a local Asian store in town that sells Siracha, but it's a bit pricey (49 SEK = $7 USD). Baking soda is impossible to find on it's own, and there isn't any Crisco. These are things that you may want to consider bringing from home if you can, until you are comfortable with a substitution.
4. You are an immigrant.
I think this is the most important thing to remember. You are new here. You will make mistakes. People will forgive you. So don't be too hard on yourself, and remember to let people know right away that you don't speak Swedish, and may need some help. You will be surprised at how helpful people can be. One way I always make sure people know that I am an English speaker is to say "Nice to meet you." whenever I am introduced. It's an easy way to let people know that I don't understand Swedish, and give them a quick transition if we speak again later. I have often been told that it takes a minute to think about switching languages at first, but it gets easier.
This is a very short list right now, and I will write more soon (I promise).
I hope you are all enjoying your summer!