Swedish Expat Living in Ireland - Interview With Sofia

Published: 27 Nov at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Ireland
Sofia moved to Dublin, Ireland 6 years ago when she was in her early twenties. She moved because her boyfriend, at the time, was Irish, and she was up for an adventure. When they broke up two years later she didn’t even consider moving back to Sweden as she had a job she was happy with and had made great friends. Six years on, Sofia is in her last year of a nursing degree, living with her boyfriend of three years and have no immediate plans of moving. Sofia has had a passion for baking since her late teens and as an outlet for this, and a purpose to all her baking she started a blog (see listing here) in April 2012 where she writes about her adventures covered in butter, sugar and flour.

The Naked Baker

Here's the interview with Sofia...

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from Sweden, with a Swedish father and American mother.

In which country and city are you living now?
Dublin, Ireland.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived in Dublin since September 2006 and have no idea how long I’ll stay. My experience is that plans made too far ahead always change and you never know what life will throw at you. I’m very happy here at the moment but it’s difficult to be optimistic when thinking of a future in Ireland with the way things are going in the country in general. That being said I feel very at home here and the thought of moving doesn’t quite sit right.

The Naked BakerWhy did you move and what do you do?
I moved to Ireland because I had an Irish boyfriend at the time and was at an age where I was very open to travelling and living in different countries. At the time I had no idea what I wanted to do in life (still the case to a certain degree) and had done a couple of shorter university courses, different jobs and travelled a lot. I worked at a couple of different jobs before I decided to become a nurse. I am now in my final year of the nursing degree programme.

Did you bring family with you?
I moved over on my own and actually moved in with my boyfriend and his family. This seems strange now, even to me, but actually worked out really well. I now live with my boyfriend of three years in an adorable, rented, one-bedroom apartment in south central Dublin.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
For me, the difficult part was staying true to myself while trying to fit into a new culture. I found it difficult socially at times, as the people I was forced together with, through work and my then boyfriend, were very different than me. It took a good while to find my feet, make friends by choice and feel more relaxed, happy and confident.

The Naked BakerWhat are the best things to do in the area? anything to recommend to future expats?
Go for a drive through the Dublin mountains and Wicklow. This is one of my favourite things to do with my boyfriend when we have a weekend off and the weather is nice. Of course, being the cake lover I am, we always stop at one of the Avoca cafes to have cake!
A great way to learn a little bit about Irish history is to take a free walking tour of Dublin. We did this recently and I wish I had done it years ago. One of the companies that do this is Sandemans.
There are also plenty of food and farmer’s markets around Dublin on different days of the week. We especially love going to the one in the people’s park in Dun Laoghaire (south Dublin) on a Sunday.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the way Irish people view life and how they prioritize their goals. Life here really is for living and people will fit fun in wherever they can. Life isn’t taken too seriously and as long as you have your health, family and friends you’re happy.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
I would say that on the whole it is pretty much equal. Certain things are a bit more expensive here and vice versa. Once you have a family though, this changes as childcare and education here is expensive while it is basically free in Sweden.

The Naked BakerWhat negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The biggest negative today is of course the job insecurity and the lack of employment. As a newly qualified nurse I will have huge difficulty finding a job next year. In my dreams this is when I’ll take the leap and start my own baking business in some way!
The social security system is also lacking, especially in regards to childcare and healthcare.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Never say no to a pint. Going to the pub is central to socializing here and is a great way to meet new people, make new friendships and deepen existing ones. This should be easy and fun advice to follow!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I can’t say that it has been very hard. I was in my early twenties when I moved here and life in general wasn’t that difficult. Time was on my side and Ireland was still prospering.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I don’t know if I ever will return home and if I do I think I’ll just have to take it as it comes. Hopefully very close friends and family should make the transition easier and my boyfriend and I will always have each other. That sounds so corny but it’s true. We’ll be able to complain or rejoice about how different things are together.

The Naked BakerWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Never say no to social occasions.
  2. Be patient with the system. The bureaucracy here sometimes makes you want to rip your hair out (and the person’s across the counter).
  3. Discover the country. The good thing about Ireland being such a small island is that nowhere takes more than 4-5 hours to drive to. Rent/buy a car and get out there and explore.
  4. Don’t walk around inner-city areas you don’t know at night. It is not always safe and it takes a while to get to know where is and where isn’t. If it feels dodgy (shady, not right) it probably is.
  5. As it stands today, don’t quit your job to come over here as you might find it very hard to get one once you’re here.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is about my biggest passion, baking. I eat, live and breathe baking and in the blog I share my recipes along with some personal thoughts on life or events that have taken place.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Check out my blog, follow the links to Twitter and Facebook, leave a comment or find my email under “contact”.

Sofia blogs at http://thenakedbaker.ie/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. The Naked Baker has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Sofia, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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