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

Norrland Newbie – Life just keeps rolling

Tisha Cox has figured out the secret of getting the hang of Norrland life. She’s finally learned to accept being a newbie, and all the uncertainty, and joy, that can bring.

With the coming of my second winter in the north, there have also come some big life changes. One of which is starting a new job here in Sweden. Like so many of the newcomers to Skellefteå, I am now working at Northvolt. Since my learning of the Swedish language is taking some time, it’s really nice (and very lucky) to have the opportunity to find work in an environment where my native language is spoken. My commitment to learning Swedish hasn’t wavered though! Happily, I have finally been able to begin my SFI class! I had hoped to get a start a year ago, but I had many scheduling conflicts and I didn’t qualify for the online class. Now that I do qualify for the online class, I’ve been able to make some more progress. I’m finding it especially helpful to hear the pronunciation of words more clearly and take time to try mimicking them myself.

Norrland newbie - life just keeps rolling
Photo by Osman Rana/Unsplash

It will be nice, eventually, to be able to move around in society without constantly using my translate app, or feeling like a deer caught in the headlights if the cashier at a store goes off-script. During those interactions, because everything moves so quickly, it’s hard to make out what’s being said. I’ve faked my way through by listening for key words like, påse and medlem, but sometimes that’s just not enough. Talking with other immigrants (both here and abroad), who’ve had the same experience, has made me feel a little better. At least I know I’m not alone. It’s just part of the process.

Sometimes I wonder how long it will be before life begins to feel fully familiar again, or if it ever will. Moving to a new country was just the beginning in a series of changes and adaptations that, over a year in, seem to have almost no end. And not just for me, for the entire family!

Because next year, my oldest son will start at gymnasium. Another change. Another adaptation. But that’s life, I suppose. No matter where you are in the world, no matter where you come from, life keeps moving and you have to change and adapt with it. I’ve found that living in this state of constant adjustment has had the unexpected side effect of making me more flexible and willing to go with the flow. This is a big deal for someone like me, who at one time was nothing but a ball of anxiety. Going through this move has helped me learn to take life one step at a time, and not spend so much energy worrying in advance. Normally, in my home-country, starting a new job is a big source of stress for me.

About a month in, I finally start to relax a little bit. This time is different though. I’m calm and ready to learn, and I find myself feeling ok with the fact that I’m a newbie -probably because at this point, my entire life has become being a newbie. I think I know the moment this new go-with-the-flow me was born… I was embarking on the journey from the US to Sweden, alone with my children, pets, and nine suitcases. It was overwhelming. At that point I knew I had no choice but to let go and accept whatever happened. I literally could not afford to be stressed anymore, or I would freeze. From that moment, I decided all I could do was roll with the punches. Take them on the chin and then move on. Not that I’ve perfected this approach by any means.

As evidence of this, after my first full week of work, nearly a meter of snow accumulated in my driveway, and I nearly broke down after spending hours and hours of my first day off work shoveling like crazy. I think it may be time to invest in a snowblower.


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