Tisha Cox column byline photograph - Norrland Newbie
Tisha Cox column byline photograph - Norrland Newbie

Norrland Newbie – Too many crazy bills

Our newbie, Tisha Cox, is amazed at how well her children have settled in to a new country, but is still counting the cost of a very expensive winter.

Before we moved to Sweden, my biggest concern was about how the move would affect our kids. I knew we were asking a lot of them. They would be leaving familiarity, family, and friends behind, and then integrating into a new culture, a new neighborhood, and a new school. Not to mention speaking a new language.

School was my number one concern for them. Before we arrived here, I thought that if our children weren’t happy in their new school that would make me want to move back home. I could only imagine how difficult it would be to go to a school with a different culture and to simultaneously learn a new language. I feel so grateful that so many Swedes speak English; it has made the transition much easier in our case.

Norrland Newbie - Too many crazy billsHappily, the transition for kids has been smoother than I could have hoped for. I don’t think it could have been smoother. I’m most thankful for how kind and accepting the other students have been. It also seems that the teachers work hard to include everyone. I think this is something Sweden does so much better than the US.

Another pleasant surprise is how much our kids’ Swedish skills have improved already. I really feel amazed when I hear them speak Swedish with their friends and teachers. I’ve never witnessed anyone learning language through immersion before. It’s pretty fascinating. I’m asking them how to say things in Swedish all the time now. My youngest son helps me practice every day after school, when we talk about how his day went using only Swedish. Now that they’ve almost finished their first year of school here in Sweden, my fears have been put to rest and I know they’re in a good place. And I don’t take that for granted as my friends back home, sadly, worry about their children going to school every day, because of gun violence.

With the kids settled in well, my concerns of late have mostly revolved around several unexpected expenses that hit us over the winter. We had a few months of astronomical heating bills during the coldest months, a car breakdown, an unexpected trip back to the US, and, as I mentioned in the previous issue, more roof problems. We were also supposed to take a trip to Stockholm to renew a passport for one of our sons, but the trip was canceled at the last minute due to snow. Another unexpected and wasted expense, which we will be repeating soon to finally get the passport taken care of.

Ugh. Not fun stuff. It’s a bummer when one of those things happens in a year, much less all of them happening in our first year here. Moving overseas is an expensive undertaking (at least, it was for us), even without this kind of added craziness. I’ve noticed myself feeling more anxious now than when we first arrived. So, I’m hoping for no more unexpected issues for a while, and no last minute cancellations from the US embassy when we’re in Stockholm.

We’ve made it through the first year, and I fully expected it to be much more difficult. But now, we have to keep going and figure out how to overcome these obstacles that have sprung up along the way.

On the (literal) bright side, I should have plenty of time for figuring things out over the next few months, because the sun is waking me up between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning on a regular basis now. How crazy is the sun cycle here?! It feels like the change happens so quickly! I’m actually excited about it though. I thoroughly enjoyed the Swedish summer last year and now we know our way around a bit better, that should surely equal more summer fun!


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