Interview with Saskia, a Dutch physiotherapist who’s relocated to Sweden
Saskia is a physiotherapist from the Netherlands who relocated to Sweden almost four years ago together with her husband Rolf and their two kids. This, after she was offered a job in a primary care center through MediCarrera. We talked to Saskia and Rolf about their experience as a family with the recruitment process, the language course, and the new life in Sweden. Last but not least, Rolf explained how he managed to open his own Bed and Breakfast.
Today, Saskia and Rolf live with their two kids, two adopted dogs, and a cat in a house outside Mariestad in Västra Götaland, Sweden.
Both Saskia and Rolf have great experience regarding the recruitment process. They think everything went well and that MediCarrera helped them a lot. According to them, it would have been very hard to do this whole thing without the help from MediCarrera and they say that they would have needed a lot of luck to succeed on their own.
“I think they helped us very much with the relocation,” says Saskia.
When relocating with MediCarrera, the candidate always gets the chance to visit the new workplace during a so-called study tour. Saskia got invited to do an interview with the primary care center in Sweden and went there together with Rolf. They remember the visit as very well arranged and good.
Saskia and her family participated in the Swedish language course in Calafell from September to December 2018. Both Saskia and Rolf were satisfied with the language course and think it was really good and that the teachers were nice. The goal of the course is not only to be a preparation when it comes to the language but also a preparation for life in Sweden in general. Except for the Swedish language, Saskia also learned about Swedish culture and history.
“I learned a lot so it was good. It was intense and a lot of work but a good preparation before moving to Sweden. I can say that it was almost the best time of my life. It was really nice”, says Saskia.
The family’s two sons also participated in Swedish language courses. The older one struggled a little bit. He didn’t want to move and therefore, wasn’t very interested in learning a new language which resulted in him, not doing his best. During the language course, the kids improved their English a lot and today they are among the best in their classes. Once the family arrived in Sweden, the kids learned Swedish very fast as well and today they speak Swedish very well.
“One of the reasons why they can speak so well today is because they have learned the grammar rules before they learned the language itself. The classmates in Sweden, already speak Swedish but they don’t know why they speak as they do”, says Saskia.
Today, the family speaks Dutch at home but when the kids have friends over they speak Swedish. They mix the languages and sometimes when Saskia speaks to her sons in Swedish, they laugh at her and say that she can speak to them in Dutch instead. Knowing many languages is good for the brain so Saskia and Rolf only see it as something positive that the family has learned a new language.
“It’s good for the future. I’ve also heard that when you learn another language, you’re less likely to get Alzheimer’s or dementia” says Rolf.
Working as a physiotherapist in Sweden
According to Saskia, it is really nice to work as a physiotherapist in Sweden and if she compares the work with how it is in the Netherlands, she likes it way more in Sweden. Saskia explains that in the Netherlands, there are lots of insurance companies that decide how you can work, which is not the case in Sweden. The Swedish system is different and you work in another way. There, Saskia thinks that you are not so dependent on what the insurance companies decide. She also mentions that there are a lot of possibilities to participate in courses to learn new things and develop and that you can easily get help from colleagues.
“I really like working as a physiotherapist in Sweden. If I would move back to the Netherlands, which we’re not going to do, I would never work as a physiotherapist again because I like it much more here in Sweden. You don’t depend on the insurance companies and you can decide a little bit more yourself how you want to treat your patients” says Saskia.
The downside of the work as a physiotherapist in Sweden, in Saskia’s case, is that she works together with a smaller group of people which means that she must be able to do everything. She has to be able to help every patient, something that can be a little difficult sometimes. But you can always get help when it’s needed.
The new life in Sweden
The family and their two cats first arrived in Sweden in December 2018 after finishing the language course in Calafell. Leaving Spain for a wintry Sweden was something different. Saskia and Rolf’s first impressions of their new home country were, therefore, cold and dark. Luckily the family got a nice welcome from the previous owner of the Bed and Breakfast. Once they arrived he had prepared hot glögg for them, something that the family really appreciated.
Saskia and Rolf mention some differences between living in the Netherlands and living in Sweden. They both agree on the fact that it’s not that crowded in Sweden, which they like and think is positive. In the Netherlands, you live closer to each other. They also think that people are more friendly and really nice in Sweden. The people want to help each other and if you meet out on the street you can talk for hours with everybody which Saskia and Rolf like a lot.
“I think people are more friendly here in Sweden. Especially in the village where we live. Everybody says “Hi, how are you?” which is really nice,” says Saskia.
Rolf says that they use to make jokes saying that the place where they live now is like a camping because everybody knows each other. The fact that he also has a Bed and Breakfast with lots of guests coming makes it even easier for people to recognize the family. He means that there’s nobody in the village who doesn’t know the family.
The couple likes Swedish culture. They think that in the Netherlands, people are edgier, something that they don’t like about the Netherlands anymore. If you accidentally bump into somebody in Sweden and say sorry, the other person always answers in a nice way. But if the same thing happens in the Netherlands, within a second the other person is offended.
Saskia and Rolf also think that Sweden is safer. Rolf mentions that once when the family went to a trampoline park, he could leave his cell phone and his money on a table, and when he came back everything was still there. This is something that he really likes about Sweden. He says it might have something to do with the family living in a small village.
If there’s something that Saskia and Rolf can miss with the Netherlands, it is the way of hanging out with other people. In Sweden, the family knows a lot of people, but it’s not very often that they go to friends’ houses to spend time together. Rolf experiences it as many Swedes already have their groups of friends consisting of people who have known each other since they were kids. He says it’s a bit difficult to become a part of a friend group like that. Instead, Saskia and Rolf meet more people from other countries, such as the Netherlands or Lebanon.
The family made a lot of friends during the language course in Spain. Today, four years later, they still have contact with many of them. Some of them have even visited Saskia and Rolf and stayed a night at the Bed and Breakfast. Rolf laughs and says it’s because they are the ones with the most rooms and he’s probably right about that.
Moving with kids
When we asked Saskia and Rolf how their kids experienced the relocation, they explained that the oldest one had a tough time in the beginning. For a few years, he didn’t like it at all and wanted to go back to the Netherlands. Something that was really hard for Saskia and Rolf as parents. Luckily, it went better for the younger son. He did very well from the beginning. Today, Saskia and Rolf can look back at it and say that they think they moved a little too late.
“If we look at the children’s age, we think it was a little bit late to move. Our children were, at that time, 9 and 11 years old. For the younger one it was a little bit easier than for the older one” says Rolf.
At some point, the family even thought that they might have to go back to the Netherlands because the older son didn’t like the new life in Sweden. Today, the situation is different. Today it goes very well and the son has more friends.
The Swedish school system
Something that Saskia and Rolf value a lot about Sweden is the school system.
“The best thing about Sweden is the school system for the kids,” says Saskia.
They think that the Swedish school system is better than the one in the Netherlands. Rolf gives one example when it comes to the utvecklingssamtal (development conversations) with the teacher. In the Netherlands, the meeting takes just a few minutes and the children are not participating. In Sweden, however, the meetings are longer and the children are present. They have prepared presentations to explain what they have learned, what they want to learn, and their goals, among many things.
“This is a big difference if you compare it with the Netherlands. In Sweden, children can be more children. In the Netherlands, children get “stamped” when they are really young. Like you’re smart, you’re stupid, etc..” says Rolf.
If there’s a lack of something in the Swedish school system, according to Rolf, it is consequences. If the kids misbehave or don’t do their homework in Sweden, nothing really happens. The school is just accepting it and moving on.
Rolfs Bed and Breakfast
When Saskia and Rolf went to Sweden for Saskia’s interview, Rolf took the chance to speak with all her soon-to-be colleagues. They were curious and asked him questions about his work plans when moving to Sweden. He told them that he could work in a supermarket, cut grass, or wash cars – it didn’t really matter, he just wanted to move to Sweden. He also mentioned that in a couple of years he would like to have his own little camping, a hostel, or a Bed and Breakfast or something related to this field.
After the interview, Saskia and Rolf went back to the Netherlands. After a few weeks, one of Saskia’s new colleagues called her to ask if her husband was still interested in running a Bed and Breakfast, which of course he was. The colleague then explained that one of her friends, Johan, had a Bed and Breakfast for sale and said that Rolf and this friend should talk to each other. The next day, Johan called Rolf and it turned out that Johan already knew everything about his situation, that he was moving to Sweden with his wife and his children.
“He knew everything before I even spoke to him” It was really funny, says Rolf.
When the family arrived in Sweden again they decided to have a look at the Bed and Breakfast. They were driving on the land belonging to it and Rolf felt immediately that he wanted to buy it.
“I said to my wife “I want to buy it”. I didn’t even have to see the inside first,” says Rolf, and both he and Saskia laughed.
After the visit, Rolf and Johan agreed on a price, and later Saskia and Rolf managed everything with the bank, the insurance, and with booking.com.
Later, the family moved directly to the Bed and Breakfast. As they found their house themselves, they didn’t need any further help from MediCarrera with finding a home. Saskia and Rolf recently bought a new house, but until now they have been living at the Bed and Breakfast for 3,5 years. When the family first came to the Bed and Breakfast, the plan was to stay there only for a year or so, but then the pandemic came and they ended up staying a little longer.
Before moving to Sweden, Rolf had no previous experience working with something similar. However, he had worked with people and in the tourism field. He used to work in a supermarket for 11 years. A workplace that also happened to be the place where he and Saskia met for the first time ca: 20 years ago when they were colleagues. Besides that, Rolf also had experience in catering and organizing trips for bigger groups of people.
With help from the previous owner, Johan, everything went well. Today, Rolf has his own Bed and Breakfast with 10 bedrooms, two kitchens, a living room, and a dining area with a television to offer the guests. And the business is going very well.
We want to thank Saskia and Rolf for taking their time and sharing their experience with us about relocating as a family to Sweden with help from MediCarrera. We wish them all the best in the future and good luck at both the primary care center and the Bed and Breakfast.