Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Sweden and consider myself to be Swedish. My heritage is Swedish/Finish. It might not sound like a big deal, but Finland has only been independent from Sweden since 1917. And it’s still kind of considered a “thing” when you’re both Swedish and Finish, especially when involving ice hockey!
Where are you now?
I’m currently living in Fort Green, Brooklyn, NY. Fort Green is my latest crush. It’s such a diverse and vibrant neighborhood. Tons of great bars and restaurants, want to check it out and eat? Try Miss Ada, one of the best spots around.
What made you stay, or made you move?
Moving to the U.S. was quite spontaneous for me. I was never interested in moving here, to be honest, I had a stroke of anti-capitalism growing up, so when I was convinced by friends to visit LA, it was an unexpected love at first sight.
Then, once the spell was cast, my decision to move to New York was purely based on the fact that it’s about 8-hours less of a flight to Europe from New York, then flying from LA to Europe.
What other places have you called home?
I grew up in a small town in Sweden with 50,000 citizens, basically equaling the number of people on an NYC block. Then I’ve lived in the very south of Sweden, the 3rd largest city which I called my home for three years before heading over to New York.
I have a really special place in my heart for Mexico. Although I never lived there permanently, it’s one of my favorite places on earth. I spent a few weeks traveling in Oaxaca, which is located on the Pacific coast. The food is amazing and the people are warm and grounded. Mexico has such bad reputation, but it’s a really, really beautiful country and Oaxaca is considered to be of the safest states in Mexico, according to the Mexicans themselves.
If you could bring one item from every country you’ve lived, what would it be?
I’m a foodie, so wherever I go I make sure to find the best food options and the delicacies of that country. I recently had “the best burger in New York”, and it was incredible. Probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, so in this case, the best burger name was really accurate. If you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, have a burger at Emily’s. I promise you won’t regret it.
I would definitely bring different foods, a great burger, Swedish candy, Beef barbacoa. I truly believe that living in the moment, and enjoying what’s in front of me, brings so much happiness. This is why food is my first choice.
What has been the hardest thing (ie. food, culture, climate, mannerisms, etc.) to get used to?
The hardest thing has actually been subtle social differences. Coming from a country that’s considered to be a western country, and moving to another western country, I thought that there wouldn’t be too much of a cultural or social difference. I couldn’t have been more wrong. A great example is the meaning of words.
In Sweden, if you meet someone (a distant cousin or your friend’s friend) and you casually say,”Oh, let’s meet up in 2 weeks at that music festival we’re both going to,” a true Swedish person will be waiting for you to show up, because that’s what you talked about and agreed to, 2 weeks ago at that dinner party, which turned late night when your distant cousin all of a sudden decided to chit-chat.
Believe me, the first few months in the States were harsh! Here, as a courtesy phrase, one will say things like,”Yes, let’s meet next week,” or,”Yea, all of you guys can join me at my grandmas house in the Hamptons next summer,” and I truly believed, for a long time, that we were for sure meeting up after meeting people and “making plans”. That has been my American curveball, but I’ve finally learned.
What about your new home do you love most?
For me, a home is made by the people. What I love most about New York is the people.
Not just my loved ones (they play a major part of course) but all the small encounters you I have. From being stuck on the subway and I make eye contact with someone, and you both do that stuck-on-the-subway-hate-the-MTA face.
Is there anything you’ve learned along the way that every future expat in New York should know or wish you had known before coming?
I wish I would have known how the real estate market works here! Haha. The rental market is a jungle in New York, everyone is a broker. I, of course, did not know that unless you have A LOT of free time, you’ll need to use a broker to find a good rental apartment. But now I’m heading the CX department for a company that helps people find sublets and roommates…don’t think that is a coincidence.
Living abroad can be costly, how have you managed to make a living as an expat?
I’m extremely driven and been a hustler from day one. It’s finally paying off. I’m heading customer experience and community for an industry disruptive tech company called Roomi. But before that, I had odd jobs and co-founded a company that did not go anywhere, and I was living off close to nothing. In hindsight, it was a great experience and that struggle helped me get to where I am today and made me very resilient.
My best advice is to get to know people in the industry you’re interested in. Use MeetUp, Facebook groups and force yourself to get out and meet people. You never know, that one connection you make, might change your life. It’s especially relevant if you’re an expat.
Tell us your top 3 places to visit, things to do, restaurants to eat, see in New York?
This is a really tough one! There are so many good spots in New York. There’s an amazing Yoga studio called SkyTing Yoga (China town location is my favorite). One of the best I’ve ever been to. Try to get a spot in one of the classes double led by Krissy and Chloe. Nothing better than a good stretch after a long flight, right?
Another favorite is a restaurant called Spiegel (in the East Village). It’s super casual but the food is absolutely amazing! The best hummus and kale salad you will find.
I love to move, so naturally dancing is a passion of mine. I suggest you try House of Yes in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Great music, an amazing and friendly crowd, and of course, lots of dancing.