Claire Wharton: I moved to Sweden for love!
Claire Wharton, 32, took a giant leap of faith when she moved from sunny Queensland to Sweden for love in mid 2012.
Pelle and I met in New York in 2008. We were visiting unrelated friends at the time, so were both playing tourist during the day while our friends were at work. As Hollywood romcom as it sounds, we actually met on the Circle Line ferry, and sealed our ‘holiday’ romance with a kiss on top of the Empire State Building.
We then met up a few times over the next four years, both in Australia and abroad, but largely got on with living our lives. All up, we spent one month together over a period of four years and kept in fairly infrequent contact during this time via phone and email. But we couldn’t seem to shake each other and I always wondered ‘what if..?’
The big decision
So, after a visit to his hometown of Stockholm, my decision was made. I moved to Sweden in June 2012, without a job and not knowing a word of the language. Funnily enough, in another romantic twist, I arrived four years to the day after we met in New York.
Up to this point, I had taken a few risks in my life, as I have travelled and lived in a few different cities, including London. I also left a high paying job a few years ago to pursue a similar job in a different company with a much lower salary. In hindsight it may not have been the wisest move, although I learnt a lot. However, no risk I have taken has even come close to this!
I had a few moments of apprehension leading up to my departure, mostly when Pelle came to Australia and met my family and friends. This made our relationship very real. When I found out my visa had been approved, I knew there was no turning back.
Had I been a bit younger, perhaps I wouldn’t have been too concerned, but I was at a point in my career where I was beginning to feel quite comfortable and established, so moving was also a big deal from that perspective. The reaction of my family and friends to meeting Pelle was really encouraging, making the decision so much easier as I trust their judgement. They played a huge part in helping me talk myself into taking this leap of faith.
One family member in particular inspired me to stop second guessing and go with my gut. My mother died some years ago now and I always promised myself after her death that I would never deny myself any opportunity that may make my life happier, because I now know it can all be taken away in the blink of an eye.
Life is going really well since taking the risky move. I’ve managed to secure a good job, which according to locals is pretty rare if you can’t speak the language, so I’m pretty happy about this. I haven’t made that many friends yet, but I’m not in any rush and I know where my best friends are, although it’s a little too far for a coffee.
I’m not going to say my move has been without its trials. I’ve definitely had moments where I have felt down and frustrated, but seeing the challenges in a humorous way helps, as does having a caring person on my team (Pelle).
I think I have a fairly relaxed approach to life and the upsets it can throw into the mix, which helps a lot. The language barrier can prove to be quite frustrating and the weather very depressing if you let it be; it’s just a case of looking at your situation as glass half full rather than half empty. When I first arrived I started taking Swedish classes with a mixed group of people, some of whom are refugees. It was a very humbling experience, and helped put things into perspective. I took a risk because I could; they have little choice.