Moving to a new country is exciting, and we’ve seen the highlight reels. Exploring new places, meeting new people, being bold and trying something you’ve never done before… all seems fun and hassle-free.
But of course, it’s not always smooth-sailing.
A few days ago, I went to the tax office to apply for an ID card. When the officer said I couldn’t apply until my attestor (in this case, H) had his, I just lost it. To my embarrassment, my eyes started to well up, and I had to look away before they could see me cry. I walked away from the counter, leaving H to deal with his application. While he had his photograph taken, I waited on the seat, my head bowed so nobody could see the tears that were flowing down my cheeks.
I certainly didn’t expect to feel this low after moving to Sweden, nor did I expect to lose it at the tax office on a busy Thursday afternoon.
It all seems a bit ridiculous, if not dramatic. But at that moment, I suddenly felt so very tired. I was so excited to learn Swedish and do a language course. I applied for it and got rejected on the grounds that I was deemed not eligible (I actually am, so I filed an appeal and it’s now sorted out). My personal number application took a long time to process, which really limited my access to even the most basic and essential things here. I can’t open a bank account until I have this personal number and ID card. I have to call my sister every time I need to top up my phone credit, because my UK bank card doesn’t work for online transactions like this.
I was ready to deal with all the challenges of moving to a new country — it’s not easy and I know it. I was ready to hit the ground running, but I didn’t expect this many hurdles to jump through. In the past 3 months, while waiting for all of this to be sorted out, worries are constantly looming over me.
And that’s the thing about moving to a new country that I find hard to deal with: insecurities.
While I’m still trying to find my feet, navigating life and learning how things work here, I sometimes need an assurance that it’s gonna be okay. That I’m welcome and I will make it here. I don’t always feel like that, and most of the time I can brush it off, focusing on things that I need to do. I bounce back and move on when things don’t work out as I expected, but there are days when a small setback can really upset me.
And that day, hearing that I couldn’t apply for an ID card was a bit too much.
A few minutes after that, H called me and I walked back to the counter, surreptitiously wiping away my tears. The officer then told me that it was a mistake and apparently I could apply for an ID card. Her expression changed from serious to pity when she saw my glassy eyes and red nose. I had my photograph taken and scribbled my signature, before exiting the building as soon as possible.
According to the officer, my ID card will arrive in 2 weeks. My photograph will probably show me with smudged mascara and tear-streaked cheeks, and it will be one of those ID photos that makes me cringe. But whenever I look at that, I’ll remember this day and remind myself that moving here is not only about sunshine, bright walls, and swimming in the lake. It’s also about dealing with paperwork, frustration, and disappointments. Building a new life in a new country is hard, but it also teaches me to work harder and be more patient.
I have my personal number now, I’m back in the queue for a placement in the language course, and my ID card application is in process. I’m feeling a lot better, and I’m bouncing back.
Sometimes, all you need is a little cry and a few deep breaths, and you’re ready to take the bull by the horns again.