Madeleina Kay

Skylar (Sweden)

Skylar moved to Sweden in 2019.

Interview:
1) How did you feel on 24t h June when you heard about the UK’s vote to leave the EU?

I was incredibly upset, I remember calling my mum as soon as the BBC called the result at 5.30 in the morning and worried about the opportunities that would be stripped from myself as well as others. The EU is something I’ve known about since I visited the Czech Republic back in December 2003 when they were months from joining and what it meant to them transforming from a puppet state of the Soviet Union to fully fledged, pro-European democracy in just over a decade. I also got my second year university results back on that day, they kinda sucked…

 

2) What were the key driving factors that made you decide to leave the UK?

The opportunities that were made available for working over as a teacher here were far more favourable than anything I got in the UK. The culture of learning over here is much more enjoyable, we have an immense number of teachers from around the world and our school culture is a lovely mix of Swedish and British values. Many of our students are Swedish so teaching them about British (Specifically, Geordie) culture is a joy on top of all the Maths I do primarily. Did I mention the free buffet lunch we get every day on the job? Some days it’s Kebab or Tacos!!!

 

3) How/why did you choose your current country of residence?

I did an Erasmus year at Stockholm University in 2016/17 and in that time, I went to plenty of events (Concerts, Sports Events, Comic Cons, etc.) and got a lovely friend base across the country from it. I ended up visiting every Christmas and Summer since I finished my year before getting a job offer in May 2019 and moving in the July of that year!

Also, being Non-Binary comes with many challenges and a big one is acceptance but this is a country where gender doesn’e really matter and you can be who you want to be. I have loads of friends here who are Non-Binary/Trans who also happen to be massive gamers/nerds just like me and having that

sense of belonging really means a lot. We also have an LGBT+ board game night every other Friday too! Coffee and biscuits only cost 85p on the night too!

 

4) Do you have citizenship for your current country? Do you still have EU citizenship? If no, are you hoping to obtain it?

I don’t, however as soon as July 2024 comes around, I’ll be applying for it the day I’m eligible to do so! Thankfully my current burgundy EU British passport doesn’t expire until July 2025 so I can remain forever burgundy! 😛

 

5) Do you plan to return to the UK or hope to move to another country in the future?

I wouldn’t dream of it, I’ve got such good friends over here that I consider family and my job is pretty stable too with plenty of other sectors which I have an interest in (Game Design) also being a big thing here then this really is a place I can call home. I’ve never felt homesick when I’ve felt down over here as I have lots of good people by my side to act as a shoulder to cry on.

 

6) What was the most difficult aspect/greatest challenge you faced in moving?

My parents drove my stuff over from Newcastle to Stockholm and usually the housing situation is tricky though the school got me fixed up with that so that wasn’t an issue I faced (Many others moving to Stockholm, however, do face that problem!)

 

7) What do you miss most about the UK?

It has to be the food, I miss my trips to the local Indian and the Fish & Chips too. The swedes are big into sausages but there’s nothing near a Cumberland or Lincolnshire round here unless you fork out a ton!

 

8) What do you love most about your current country of residence?

We embrace what every season has to offer right from the cute Christmases we have right through to Midsommar, it means there’s always something to enjoy! 😀

 

9) Do you consider yourself to have a “European identity” and what that does that mean to you?

Absolutely, especially given my constant battle going through school to do Modern Foreign Languages despite French being the only option. I even had to move school for my A-Levels as my previous school would’ve had just myself (Out of a Sixth Form of nearly 500) doing *any* MFL (French was all they offered)

I taught myself German during the summer holidays when I visited Germany/Switzerland/Austria too as we never had these extra opportunities, something which the EU27 embrace much more and what I feel like is a major shortcoming of what I feel is a very insular UK school curriculum.

 

10) Do you still consider yourself to have a “British identity” and how do you feel about it?

To an extent, I do still feel British being an expat and my “posh” northern accent too (Which the kids *love* to try and imitate!) though this is the lowest it’s ever been in my life. Although I don’t have the passport and I’m still working on the language, I feel like I can call myself Swedish above being British in a couple years time.

 

Additional Questions (relating to Corona Virus)

11) How has the Covid19 pandemic affected your life?

My work has been pretty intense, our school is still “open” but we’re only having 1 or 2 year groups in a day with everyone else doing distance learning online. It’s my first year on the job (Or any job for that matter!) and I’ve wanted to set a really good impression straight out of university. The kids are coping rather well and the feedback I’ve got has been overall pretty positive.

That being said, there’s been a ton of events cancelled which keep me going socially and a support group that only had one meeting has been postponed indefinitely. This has led to my anxiety being rather intense where I had chest pains for about 4 days straight which have thankfully calmed down now and I passed out one Sunday so I had to have 2 days off.

I’ve not seen my friends in 3 weeks now though I’m trying my best to cope, we’re chatting on Discord a lot, playing Animal Crossing and watching terrible Disney bootleg movies on YouTube together!

 

12) How do you feel about your country’s response to the Covid19 pandemic compared to the UK government & media?
It goes without saying it raises a few eyebrows in the UK as it’s been shown around the world to be radically different. Thankfully, having effectively lived here for 2 years, you can see the rationale behind it.

This is a country where trust is king, the University libraries have no entry barrier, the books aren’t security tagged like a pack of Mince at the local Tesco Express. The high level of government support here in our apolitical agencies means their recommendations tend to get seen as law by many. You see businesses even embracing it by offering insane discounts for takeaway, as much as 50% in some cases!

Also, Sweden has the highest single person households than any country in Europe, we don’t have many households where multiple generations live in the same place so we’re effectively doing social distancing most of the time. You notice on buses and any kind of transport, we like our own personal space so staying apart is pretty much built into our mentality.

Many workplaces already have robust technology in places where video conferencing is the norm, this is a country which is twice the size of the UK so it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare to get this sorted. This means working at home for many isn’t that much of a big deal so a lot of workers have

decided to do this. Cash doesn’t really exist here either, I honestly cannot remember a time I had more than the equivalent of 2 quid in cash in my wallet.

The UK media likes to highlight the times people break the rules and it turns out the police have sometimes misinterpreted the law. There’s certainly many instances where they certainly are doing the right thing though it’s those seen in London where it seems people are breaking it inadvertently.

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1 Comment

  1. david maslin April 11, 2020

    An interesting interview; told me a lot about Swedish life. Maddie has adopted an distinctive new painting style which I admire for fluency and fearless (!) use of colours and shapes, dvd

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