Last time we talked about Swedish emigration to the US, but what about foreign immigration to Sweden? This is a subject that everybody has an opinion about and when discussing those opinions, tempers can run high, even among normally very reserved Swedes.
I don’t know if as an immigrant myself, I should be even discussing this subject at all. After all, my take on the issue will be vastly different from what a true Svensson might say.
And some people won’t even consider me a “real” immigrant, because as much as I love this country, I do not plan on staying in Sweden for the rest of my life, or becoming en svensk medborgare (a Swedish citizen). Personally, I believe that acquiring foreign citizenship is one issue that should not be taken lightly. Because along with the privileges of a new citizenship also come serious responsibilities, and you can’t have one without the other.
So, what is it like to be an immigrant in Sweden? Impossible to describe it in just one word, so let’s use two: not bad. It’s not entirely good either, because it’s never easy to uproot oneself and settle in a different country.
But compared to many other developed nations, Sweden takes care of its immigrants. It’s a progressive, tolerant country with a live and let-live attitude. It provides services and support to new arrivals that are hard to find in other lands. The ubiquitous SFI (svenska för invandrare) program is but one example (and one that deserves a blog post of its own).
As much as the country has to offer, it is not the land of milk and honey, or cradle to grave welfare, that many misguided new (or potential) arrivals think it to be. You have to work for that welfare, and sometimes finding work can be problematic.
Here’s an interesting article on the subject from The Local. (Yes, I know, I know… but until a new English-speaking media outlet emerges in Sweden, we are stuck with The Local. At least that way I can be sure that even those of you who are not yet fluent in Swedish can understand what is being said.)
And here are a few useful words when talking about immigration:
- medborgare (def. medborgaren, pl. medborgare, def.pl. medborgarna) – person som hör till ett land och har vissa rättigheter och skyldigheter där (en svensk medborgare) – citizen
- medborgarskap (def. medborgarskapet, pl. medborgarskap, def.pl. medborgarskapen) – det att vara medborgare i ett land. (De har ansökt om svenskt medborgarskap.) – citizenship
Obs! Be careful! “Medborgare” is an “en” noun, but “medborgarskap” is an “ett” noun.
- invandrare (def. invandraren, pl. invandrare, def.pl. invandrarna) – person som bor i ett annat land än det där hon/ han är född – immigrant
- flykting (def. flyktingen, pl. flyktingar, def.pl. flyktingarna) – person som har flytt från t.ex. ett krig (till ett annat land) – refugee