I have a job! I'm to start on 24 April at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. It's for two years, basically (though if it's disastrous it may be only one and if successful quite likely to be extended). And I'll be working on some fairly abstract questions about how the different parts of a cell are coordinated when cells grow. Stuff that might have some relevance to cancer ultimately, but it's a lot more pure intellectual research than what I was doing for my PhD.
I'm keeping this post locked until I'm absolutely sure I have the job, like at the level of a contract in my hand; apparently there are still some formalities to be worked out. But I've been offered the job and have accepted; the fact that I'm old-fashioned enough to be a little nervous about an exchange of emails with nothing in writing is almost certainly just paranoia. Anyway, assume this post is liable to become public, so please don't refer to the details of the job where Google might find it.
Edit: Now public, please be careful.
Thank you to everybody who gave me useful advice when I was considering whether to take this job. I really, really appreciate your support, and you did help clarify my thinking. *hugs all round*
Find somewhere to live in Stockholm.
Maybe the Karolinska accommodation service can help me at least temporarily? Contact estate agents / letting agencies in Sweden? Can I get anything meaningful out of the internet, working in a foreign language? Broadband?!! Realistically probably not sortable til I'm actually on the spot, but it would be much nicer not to have several weeks' disconnection if I can manage it. 22.3.06: In progress, organizing flat through university, Broadband included.
Open a bank account in Sweden.
No idea how this works; who would know?
Sort out my finances generally.
Maybe talk to parents' accountants? Need to consider long term investments eg pension. Also have money in a place that's accessible to cover the move and the first month before I get paid. How many of my current investments can I still keep if I'm living abroad? Is that sensible anyway? Sort out tax for this year. I think the Inland Revenue owe me, but also need to make sure they don't regard me as a UK tax payer next financial year.
Leave my current temp job.
That's easy, will talk to my line manager tomorrow! Or should I wait until I am absolutely truly certain of this job; probably only means working one extra week, and £250 is not to be sniffed at. 10.3.06: done!
Contact the Jewish community in Stockholm.
Seem to have contact details on the internet. Maybe also try R Rose in Edinburgh as he has Swedish contacts. 23.3.06: Partially done. Have emailed community and got auto-repsonse that my message would be passed to appropriate people. Also have names and phone numbers from R Rose
Or at least get to the point where I can pick up more by immersion! Would feel more comfortable with basic phrases at least. That much I can probably teach myself from tourist websites / guidebooks. Maybe get a beginners' language course? Listen to Swedish radio for a bit (or is that too advanced if I'm starting from scratch / vague grasp of a couple of cognate languages?)
Use LJ to get in touch with people who have local knowledge.
Anyone have any Swedish contacts or personal experience of Sweden, who would like to help me out?
Conversely, prune my friendslist to a manageable size.
Considering I shan't be making LJ a priority for the next several months at least. Probably drop the people I don't interact with much anyway, and hopefully that won't cause too much drama. 16.3.05 Partially done. Probably still need to be more rigorous, but some journals removed
Sort out the stuff I have here.
What do I need for basic survival? What should I get shipped out even if it takes a few weeks after I arrive (depends a bit how much room I will have!) Of the rest, what should I throw / give away versus asking my parents to store?
Buy more serious winter clothes.
Or maybe do this in Sweden?
Organize a leaving party.
Practicalities? Invite people here versus go out for a meal? How many to invite? When shall I have it?
Contact my friends WANOLJ and let them know.
Arrange to see people.
Want to meet up individually with as many people as I can manage, as it might be months or years til next time. Finally making it to the Oakdale would be a very sensible plan!
Inform official type people that I'm moving.
Organize reader's access to Cam libraries and make a start on the background reading. 17.3.06: done!
So, what have I left out?
I'm finding it a bit hard to believe that I'm actually going to go through with this!
I suspect that either Karolinska, the Jewish community in Stockholm, or both can help you with the bank account information.
Were it me, I'd get at least a serious winter coat and one pair warm trousers or warm long skirt, plus long underwear, ahead of time--you don't want to freeze on your way to the winter clothing store in Sweden, even assuming they're sane enough to still have what you need in stock by April.
Thank you. Yes, asking locals about a bank account is a given. I'm just writing things down so I don't forget to do them! And this one I think needs at least initiating before I get there.
The suggestions about warm clothes are very helpful. I'd forgotten that it won't be winter any more by the time I actually move there. I was thinking of going to one of those ultra-macho outdoorsy shops, as the best way of finding serious clothes in a temperate country.
I actually don't know how serious warm clothes work. I wouldn't have thought of the underwear, for example, and I bet that makes a lot of difference. What is a serious winter coat like? I know ewtikins (a Canadian expat) reckons a full-length, rather than three-quarter-length coat is a good plan, but what other features should I look for?
You may well want help with accommodation. One short-term option might be a place I stayed for a week when I was on a return visit to SIPRI - it's a sort of hall of residence, right opposite the K, and it's specifically for visiting researchers. I forget the name of the gorram place, but the K would know! Or I could ask the SIPRI people.
Most rental accommodation in Stockholm is "second hand" - that is, you rent from someone who's already a tenant but not living there for whatever reason. The "first hand" rental market tends to be horribly expensive, apparently. SIPRI found a 2nd hand place for me, again this is the sort of thing you might well need help with.
Bank shouldn't be a problem, though you probably have to get your residency number type of thing first. Your employer will see to this.
Learning Swedish - as you are going to be there for over a year, you are entitled to free Swedish classes. I'm told these free classes are of uncertain quality, so you might want something else on top of it, but hey, free. Big problem with learning Swedish is everyone speaks English so well... One help is that Swedish TV has lots of subtitled US programmes, so you can listen in English and read the Swedish.
Clothes in Sweden are pretty darned expensive, and there aren't really charity shops. You may do better to buy winter clothes here, subject to baggage allowances and stuff.
Hopefully the K will help with a lot of the practical stuff, but I could call the SIPRI folk I know if there's specific things you need to find out about.
Thank you for this; it's really good of you to give me the benefit of your detailed knowledge. When were you in Stockholm, as a matter of interest?
It does seem like there is a possibility of getting accommodation (at least short-term, not sure if this is an option for settling permanently) through the Karolinska. A lot of this stuff seems to be linked from their website, and my boss has offered to help with it. So that's encouraging. The idea of second-hand letting (subletting?) scares me a bit, cos I don't want to be in a potentially legally vulnerable situation in a foreign country. But if that's the way people do things, I shall have to go along with local custom. But if I can get help with flat hunting I shall take it up enthusiastically!
Regarding learning Swedish, I do realize that everyone will speak to me in English as soon as I open my mouth. But I would feel a lot more comfortable if I could at least say "hi" and "thanks" and that sort of thing, and understand even if I don't speak much. Free classes are a good thing to know about; I wouldn't have thought to look for them if you hadn't mentioned.
My girlfriend (cassielalone) is Swedish *and* is currently based in Cambridge. Consider yourself introduced (although I'm sure you were both at doseybat's birthday party), and maybe you discuss Sweden over tea with her. I'll be in Cambridge this weekend myself, so possibly we can work something out. I'd certainly want to see you before you go! :)
I have met cassielalone at one of Bat's parties, yes, but only very briefly. I'd really appreciate being introduced properly though! Last time we tried to organize getting together at a weekend, it didn't work very well, and I've left it late on this occasion. But if you're around tomorrow you could call me (Cambridge 844503).
I do want to see everybody before I leave. I plan for the next couple of months to be as much of a wild social whirl as I can manage and leave time for organizing the essential practical stuff.
I think the only thing I can helpfully comment on is the language issue: I don't think it's ever too soon to start listening to and looking at Swedish, to help you get used to the sounds and the appearance of it. This goes especially for the aural part - it will help you in your pronunciation. Maybe have something on in the background, so that your brain picks it up latently. Unfortunately I have no books on Swedish itself here, otherwise I'd have gladly let you have them...do you have an Amazon wish list somewhere?
Thank you. As I said before, I appreciate your input since you've been through the randomly moving to a foreign country adventure.
Getting used to the sound patterns is a very good thought. My experience is that you can learn a lot just by being around the language, and that's at least as helpful as specifically making an effort to memorize vocabulary or whatever. My main problem at the moment is that I'm not quite sure how the letters map onto pronunciation, and I don't want to start learning imagined pronunciations and get wrong ideas into my head! Finding a guide to that is probably my first step.
My list of stuff for basic survival would be something like:
Clothes - variety, smart for work, casual, winter outdoor stuff, one going out outfit, underwear, nightwear. Toiletries - the stuff you use at least once a week and other stuff where you really want a particular British brand/the product doesn't exist out there. Household stuff - sheet, duvet cover, pillow case, sleeping bag, alarm clock, classes case, small radio, kettle, sewing kit, washing powder, possibly toaster. Microwave would be something I'd buy out there, insulated mug, one set of crockery - I'd probably take my unbreakable Guide stuff Food - British stuff I couldn't live without, small quantity of basic cupboard food to last till I found a supermarket. Medicines - Reasonable quantity of painkillers/anti diarrohea stuff/other medicines I might want. First Aid kit. Prescription medicines - couple of months supply Laptop. Stuff for work (lab coat? goggles?)
Stuff I'd probably have shipped over: Proper crockery Saucepans/other kitchen utensils More clothes Some books Other electrical stuff eg. CD player, TV (assuming they work out there + also buy adapters) Duvet + pillows
Thank you, I do appreciate the detailed practical advice. I hope your move is going ok, by the way.
I doubt I'll need smart clothes for work; I'm a scientist, we dress down. I have one suit, which I mainly use for interviews and giving presentations at conferences. But yes, clothes are the obvious thing I'll pack. Toiletries seem a bit pointless to ship; I'll take enough to survive for a week or so, but I'm not fussy about brands. Toothpaste is toothpaste, and not worth the hassle of importing.
I'm not sure it's worth carrying electrical goods with me; if I have to buy an adapter for every item, it will cost little less than buying new, local kettle, toaster, microwave etc, plus saving me the hassle of carrying bulky items. An alarm clock is a must (and the sort of thing I always forget), and mine is a clock + radio anyway. I may end up in a furnished apartment (at least as a stop-gap measure), so bedlinen and absolute basics for the kitchen may not be an issue. But if I need bedlinen I'll take a sleeping bag and ship duvet and sheets later; the latter are really bulky.
Until I find a supermarket really shouldn't be more than a few hours; I can always get a takeaway the day I arrive. I will probably take a good supply of tea; my future boss was complaining that it's hard to get decent tea in Sweden. Medicines are basic for travelling, and I don't take much prescription medicine. I can probably get a year's worth of my asthma stuff over here. But it's worth making the effort to do that, would save a lot of hassle. Thank you for the reminder!
I don't have a laptop. I'm in two minds whether it's worth getting one, having managed without all these years. I'm also thinking seriously of bringing my actual computer with me; just the computer without the peripherals is just about manageable, if slightly mad. But if I have to buy a monitor etc it may end up not much more expensive getting a new computer. That's something I really need to work out.
Books, much as I hate the idea of nothing to read for several weeks, should probably wait until I have somewhere long-term and have had a chance to buy bookcases if applicable. And they're heavy so it does make sense to ship them rather than trying to carry. Kitchen stuff I can probably ship with the books, assuming I have enough for basic survival until that happens.