My name is Joan Auger and I was born and raised in England. I have been married for 20 years and have one son called James. I love to travel and have been to many countries in the world, the two most memorable being Jamaica and Cuba. I don’t like going on holiday just to sit around the pool all day – I prefer to embrace the environment, architecture and especially the culture. The school that James attended in Whitby, England, had a music exchange program with a school in Gothenburg, Sweden. The first time he came back from Sweden at 13 years of age he informed me and his dad that he would live there in the future! His enthusiasm for Sweden rubbed off on me and I researched as much as I could about the country. Although the flight from London to Stockholm is only 2 hours I was amazed how little I actually knew about Sweden. I presumed that because it is so cold in winter that the summer would be somewhat mediocre too. This is certainly not the case. The days are hot and long and the sun hardly sets. This can be difficult for our Muslim friends who take part in Ramadan, because of the eating and drinking restrictions. We use the days as social times with friends and family. Barbecues are a big part of Swedish socializing. The moose that were shot last season are often brought out and eaten. Crayfish parties are also part of the culture where drinking songs add to the festivities. The opportunity arose 5 years ago to buy a house in Sweden. Quite naïvely we bought it online without ever seeing it. We were extremely lucky that when we arrived to pick up the keys it was exactly as advertised. The houses in the north of Sweden are so much cheaper than in England so we have a much bigger house with a lot more land. James decided four years ago that he wanted to move to Sweden full time. He met a Swedish girl from a nearby village who he went on to marry and now they have a son, Francis who is 16 months old. This was the turning point in our life for my husband and me. It was very difficult being so far away from our only son and grandson so we took the decision last April to move to Sweden permanently. I was originally appointed by Hjalmar Strömerskolan to cover for James whilst he was on paternity leave, but now I am employed full-time to teach English. The Swedish language is very difficult but I am doing my best to master it. This allows me to empathise with the students from other countries as they not only have to learn English but obviously Swedish as well. Because I am not fluent in Swedish the only language spoken in my classes is English so they are able to learn much quicker. The day to day living is quite expensive here as virtually everything has to be imported. A loaf of bread for example is 2 ½ times the price that it is in England. Petrol is also more expensive and because my daily commute is 160km I use a lot. The roads are much quieter here but we have the added danger of wildlife on the road. 6 weeks ago James was driving home from the mountains when he unfortunately crashed into a moose. These are huge, solid creatures and it came through the windscreen. The car was a complete wreck and James was lucky to get away with 10 stitches in his hand. In our municipality alone, 88 accidents were recorded involving moose, reindeer or deer in December. They are beautiful to see but are a nightmare on the roads.
Our lives have been enriched by moving here. There is a much slower pace of life and there is so much more free time to enjoy with friends and family. We embrace the Swedish culture and lifestyle and have made many friends in the local community. Hopefully, we can live out our lives here but with the worry of Brexit hanging over us, we will have to wait and see what the future holds.