Ska vi fika?

Ruby (2018-2019 Sweden)

Q: Where do you come from?
A: Hong Kong.

Q: When did you go on your working holiday?
A: 2018-2019.

Q: Where did you go for your working holiday and why?
A: Sweden! Compared to other working holiday destinations, there is not so much information about Sweden. So I would like to see for myself. I love to challenge myself, so I couldn't say no to the opportunity to experience Swedish culture. I also went to Lund University as an exchange student in 2017, which was one of the most wonderful memories in my life! That's why I decided to go to Sweden again as a working holidaymaker in 2018. I would like to experience more than just the student life in Sweden and know more about the working culture and environment as well (p.s. it was worth it!).

Q: What kinds of jobs did you do, and what kinds of courses did you take during your working holiday?
A: I worked in marketing at start-up companies in Stockholm and Lund, where I met so many different people from all around the world. I was responsible for the digital marketing and public relations (PR) areas in both companies, such as social media management, influencer outreach, marketing plan, product development and search engine optimisation (SEO).

Swedish culture values equality and human rights. That's why we treat everyone the same and with respect. Although Swedes are often described as shy or even unfriendly, my colleagues treated me as their friends instead of just their employees or co-workers. This friendly work environment and employer-employee relationship differ greatly from that of an Asian workplace. For example, my boss gave me a ride on a small electric scooter. He even brought his dog to work nearly every day! Besides, all of us would enjoy free lunch or breakfast provided by our company together every Monday and Friday, which gave us a chance to socialise and communicate with everyone.

I must admit that it would be hard to find an office job if you don't have relevant experience, especially in Skåne (the Southern area). I would recommend bigger cities like Stockholm & Göteborg for those who are aiming for office jobs.
I found my jobs through LinkedIn (career-oriented networking platform). I would also recommend other career websites like Indeed, The Hub and Glassdoor.

During my working holiday in Sweden, I also took a SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) course so that I could communicate better with my Swedish friends and colleagues. Although everyone speaks English here, I think it is a respectful act to learn the local language.

Q: Tell us one of your most unforgettable memories in your working holiday.
A: Celebrating Midsommar (Midsummer festival)! Midsummer is one of the most important Swedish festivals and it is also the longest day of the year (sunset is as late as 11 pm)! I got invited to a house party in the suburb. In the afternoon, we played around on the grass and enjoyed delicious meals. At night, we sat around a campfire, listened to music and enjoyed some nice drinks. Everyone experienced the sunlight to the fullest.

Q: What is the greatest reward you have got from your working holiday?
A: Friendship and memories! Without the people I got to know in Sweden, I could never become the person I am today. I also learnt how to be "lagom" (a common phrase in Swedish, which means "just enough") and relax. Hong Kong is a very rushing and exciting city, whereas Sweden is very calm and slow. The working holiday experience also taught me how to open myself up, and never be afraid to tell people what I want.

Q: Can you give 3 tips for young people who wish to visit the working holiday destination of your choice?
Open up yourself. Don't be afraid of talking. Your friends and co-workers WILL listen as long as you try.
If you are aiming for an office job, try to gain some relevant experiences before you come to Sweden. Experience means everything here!
Learn some basic Swedish. Everyone speaks English there but knowing Swedish will be your biggest selling point!

Q: Is there any extra thing you would like to tell us?
A: Sweden is cold and dark, prepare yourself (both mentally and physically)! Also, Swedish people love "Fika" (coffee and dessert time). They love to take breaks between works. That's totally normal so just enjoy yourself if they ask for a Fika break during work hours!

Note: The views and comments expressed in individual sharings are the authors' own and do not reflect the views of the Labour Department. Working holidaymakers are advised to research thoroughly and check up for updated and verified information before departure.