All posts by Kylie

He’s On His Way!

It’s happening!  It’s here!  Johan arrives in Oz about 21 hours!  We’ve had what will probably be our last Skype call in a very, very long time.  He got to the airport safe and sound and on time,  and last messaged after his first of three flights, and before his phone died, in Frankfurt.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing up at work tomorrow, the cat is getting her last injection on Monday, and Mum’s had a 7.30pm alarm go off every day this week (for that’s the time Johan’s plane is due to arrive in Brisbane).  It took half hour for me to get to sleep last night, and I laid awake for a further hour and a half at 5am, having over-excited myself.

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View from my desk at work.

As a birthday treat, Mum shouted me a trip to Sydney last weekend (our final weekend alone together before Johan’s arrival) for the last night of the Vivid Festival.  Vivid is the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas.  We walked a tiring 21.7km around the city on Saturday until our feet were in agony, and then half that again on the Sunday!

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Vivid Festival lights up the Sydney Opera House.

It’s a pretty city with its harbour and ferries, if a bit of a mess with roadworks as they build the new light rail.  There’s roadworks everywhere around here, too, and will be one of the first things Johan gets to experience on our trip back from the airport with all the changed traffic limits.  It was nevertheless a nice way to spend the weekend, and the week before that I got to see all my family for my 25th.  My little niece made me a lovely (difficult) heart puzzle!

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My niece’s artistic work.

It feels strange to know that I now have less than 50 days before I get back on a plane myself, to finally move out of home, and out of this country.  It’s a huge, scary and exciting step in my life, and now that it’s fast approaching I think I’m trying not to think about it!  But first, there’s my boyfriend to see, and 6 more crazy, action-packed weeks to live through (don’t worry Johan, it wont be quite as crazy an itinerary as Lapland was).  Bring it!

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Oh May, Where Did You Go?

The days are going so fast now! Didn’t we only just book flights?  24 days.  24 days until we see each other again, or 3 weeks and 1 day until he boards his plane.  There are just three weekends to go, or 18 work days!  Or in the case of Johan, only 14 school days!  And then, 71 days until I make the move.  It still doesn’t feel real.

We’ve both been keeping busy, and haven’t had a lot of time to dwell on it or really get too excited I don’t think.  Johan’s been so busy trying to finish off music assignments and projects and practise work that he’s barely thought about it I don’t think – and I’m sure he’s going to love it over here with all of our sun and no snow.  Ha, we’re starting to enter winter over here as Sweden heads towards summer, and still the daytime temperatures Haparanda is getting are about what you would expect of our nighttime temperatures in midwinter,  or less!

He’s also managed to do a test packing of all of his belongings for coming out here, and his luggage weight came in at 10.1kg out of the 10kg I had estimated for him, so I was very pleased about that!  It seems my planning and OCD and frantic organising has been right on target to meet our 74kg allowance and 20kg posted.  The only thing I’ve got to worry about now is finding the right postage box that’s big enough for what I need it for without exceeding the 140cm girth limit!

My cat, Shadow, has had her two vaccination shots and is booked with JetPets to come out and see her and drop off her travel crate just after Johan arrives.  To my surprise, she seems perfectly comfortable in the cat harness I got for her (yellow for Hufflepuff!) though I think it’ll be a different story when she’s hiding in boxes and amongst furniture after a long flight.  I’ve told her it’s nothing to be scared of, but I’m not sure she’ll listen to me when the time comes, so I’ve just had to promise lots of cuddles and treats instead!

The big thing I’ve been trying to focus on lately is trying to finish off last minute crafts for our Etsy store that I’d already half started, sell everything that remains in our store, and all the other bits and pieces of books and things I don’t want.  Feel free to check out and share our Etsy store, we’d love the support!

The other thing is simply trying to decide what to show and do with Johan in the 6 weeks that he’s here, and hoping that all of our packing works out perfectly!  So very very close now.  And then we’ll both get to worry about job searching and house/apartment hunting again!  We found a house we really loved the other day, but alas, I think that dream may have to wait.  Johan’s Dad and step-mum have kindly allowed us to stay with them for the short-term, and it’ll be great to see them and Johan’s younger half sisters again, but I can’t wait to have our own space either with our hobby rooms and collections on display.  Oh, and my Swedish is coming along well!   Sort of.  Well, the written a lot more than the spoken or listening, but it’s a start, as long as I don’t get tooo embarrassed or self conscious to speak it! XD

I expect you’ll hear from us again very soon!

And so the Countdown Begins

Wow, it has been busy!

Between travel agents and computer technicians and vets and Easter… feels like I haven’t had a moment’s breath!  However, I can happily say that our flights are now all booked in.  To our family and friends, this is old news as we’ve been a bit slow getting it onto the blog,  but we’re all organised now, or at least, the technical side of things.  Johan arrives in Brisbane on the night of June 23 – just over two months away!  With any luck, the jet lag will be less bad for him as he will be able to sleep it off straight away… but I know it doesn’t work like that.  Even a week or two weeks into my last two trips, I could not stop myself from falling asleep the moment things got quiet.  But that could also have been because we filled our itineraries to bursting point.  In any case, he will have six weeks to recover before we fly back to Stockholm, together at last, on August 9.  Hopefully, with a cat.

I’m still in a bit of denial, I think.  I can’t believe it’s really finally happening.  I packed my first box last weekend, only a small 15x15x15cm box which was the perfect fit for a fragile item, and I dusted down all of my shelves and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m TOO organised.  I mean I’ve been thinking about this for over six months.  I feel I can’t pack because if I do, I’ll have it all done in a week, tops.  And I’m now not moving for another 3 and a half months so I’m telling myself to wait another 2 if I don’t want an empty unwelcoming room to live in.  I basically know what I’m doing with all my stuff, it’s just all matter of packing it into the right boxes, and jigsawing all my items into the suitcases.  I know the weight isn’t a problem, it’s just the volume they will take up and how to sandwich it altogether to meet those weight requirements.

So I’m back on focusing on my other commitments.  Finishing up all my craft projects, selling off the things I don’t want, and trying to learn Swedish.  Johan is back at school next week, and these next two months are surely going to fly before he’s finishing up, packing up his own apartment, and getting himself over to me.  64 days really isn’t that long at all.  It’s very, very close.  And we can’t wait.

One Week On

One week after celebrating that exciting night, I have received my decision in writing.  It’s really happening.  Have I started packing like I said I would?  I’ve done a bit of cleaning, but no, not really.  Instead, I have been going mad with notes and figures from travel agents and vets and computer repair companies.  Yep, that same day my PC decided to conk it, decided it didn’t want to wait three months until after I left, meaning this year I have so far broken my phone,  iPad, and computer.  And I need it now more than ever to organise our Etsy store, Gumtree listings, scan all my important documents into electronic form, and back up my files.  Oh, my harddrive and files are perfectly safe, but I’ve been told the rest of it is too old and dying and it’s not worth repairing that I’m better off getting a new one.  For three months.  Needless to say,  I’ve barely had a chance to be able to consider this.  It’s been a very stressful week with a lot of late nights.

Every night I have been looking up flight comparison websites trying to find cheapest days and best deals for a return flight for Johan to come out to Australia, and a matching one way flight for me.  All Sunday I spent the day at four different travel agents explaining our situation, Johan has looked at his end and I’m about to spend another two and about half hours looking at travel agents in the city this morning.  The hope is that I will have flights locked in this afternoon, and booked and paid for by the weekend.  And a vet appointment and cat’s flights booked next week.  I am totalling fearing the flights will increase over the Easter long weekend if we don’t, and there’s already some flights were looking at that are saying there’s few seats left.  Hence the rush to get it all booked as soon as possible.

Part of me wonders why I’m delaying so much in booking.  But now more than ever we need to get the best possible deal, especially if I’m up for another $500 for a new computer.  Problem is, I know the flights we want with Singapore Airlines.  But no travel agent (in Brisbane or Stockholm) seems to be able to book the return flight for Johan for the prices that are showing online ($1200- $1400).  They can book my one-way flight ($989!) but not his.  So if we want to fly together, the next cheapest we’ve been given is $2775 for both of us with Emirates (my one way flight being $200 more and his flight $200-400).  And the Emirates flights are not as nicely timed arriving in Stockholm as the Singapore Airlines flights (midnight and midday vs. 8.30am) to meet my cat’s arrival at 7am.  And all of this doesnt even include the travel insurance yet!  So a lot of worry, and lot of stress.  I’m feeling more stressed than I can ever remember being.  Not the least of which because I’ve never made so many phone calls in my life!  AND, my work contract is due to finish on April 28, and like my last job it seems they are leaving it to the last minute to tell us whether the contract will extend or not.

The tragedy in Stockholm last week hit us hard, but all of Johan’s friends and family are safe.  My eyes have watered more than once reading the articles on The Local about Swedes (natives and foreigners) coming together and holding signs about love, not fear.  Over 20,000 people, including Johan, turned up in the city to honour the victims and emergency service workers that stepped up to the event immediately.  I was impressed too, that they had a crisis management plan implemented within 8 minutes of the attack.  But it was the regular citizens too, offering hugs and opening their homes up to strangers who couldn’t make it home on public transport.  This is the country I want to live in, that I will – very soon – live in.

Kylie’s Top 11 LDR Songs

Looking for songs to entertain you while you wait, separated and apart from your long distance partner?  I’m sharing a few of my favourites below, or you can find them in our Spotify playlist.

11.  Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

The song opens with this tell-tale line:  “Oceans apart, day after day…” and “If I see you next to never, how can we say forever?” And a lot of us have those uncertainties at the beginning.  You can never really be sure if a long distance relationship will work out, or for how long.  It depends on whether you met them before or after becoming long distance, how often you see each other and how well you click when you’re in person, along with a whole hoard of other factors that close distance relationships may resolve earlier on.  But song goes on to say it doesn’t matter, no matter what happens, no matter how long it takes, I won’t give up on us.  I won’t give up on you.  I  will always be here for you.  And it’s beautiful and sincere.

10.  Wintersong – Sarah McLachlan

It’s late and morning’s in no hurry
But sleep won’t set me free
I lie awake and try to recall
How your body felt beside me

If you’re not interested in sad songs, you can completely skip over this one.  But sometimes the distance gets you so down, that sad songs are all you feel like listening to.  This is also a Christmas song, so I would listen to it a lot when I was missing Johan around the holiday, to strangely make me feel a bit calmer and a bit better.  It has a very soothing sort of affect with the piano and it got me through a few hard nights.

9.  A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton

And I need you
And I miss you
And now I wonder

How many times have we said to our partner, “I want to get on a plane already!!”?  For some of us, walking a thousand miles is literally impossible because we have oceans dividing our paths, but without being too literal, the desire is still there – no matter the distance, no matter how long it takes, you just want to do anything in order to see your loved one again.  It doesn’t matter how crazy it sounds, because the distance is driving you crazier and you miss them so much that a thousand miles won’t stand in your way.

 8.  Vanilla Twilight – Owl City

The silence isn’t so bad
‘Til I look at my hands and feel sad
‘Cause the spaces between my fingers
Are right where yours fit perfectly

Owl City’s electronica “Vanilla Twilight” has a very mystical daydream quality about it.  Once again, it focuses on the thoughts of missing someone, and those little things that aren’t the same without that person.  Thinking about that person helps the feeling of loneliness to subside, but it can never truly go away.  This is most evident in the silence of the evening, trying to sleep but the thoughts keep rushing through, and we’ve all been there at some point.

7.  Christmas With You – Jason Chen feat. Joseph Vincent

I don’t want to wait another day
You’re way to far away
I’m gonna pack my bags and fly to you
There’s no place too far to keep me from my boo
I’m on my way, see you in a few
All I want to do is spend my Christmas with you

This is another festive song, that starts off sort of slow and sad, but then gets motivating and happier.  Because they decide instead of sitting around they’re going to do something about it.  And we can’t all make that decision whenever we want, but the lingering thought is always there.  And who am I kidding myself?  I can’t wait to be able to sing “I’m gonna pack my bags and fly to you” and actually mean it!

6.  Jet Lag – Simple Plan feat. Natasha Bedingfield

You say good morning
When it’s midnight
Going out of my head
Alone in this bed
I wake up to your sunset
It’s drivin’ me mad
I miss you so bad

To break from those sadder, slower songs, we have a much more fast-paced, upbeat one.  This song talks mostly about the struggles of timezone differences and trying to coordinate calls and things when you are at opposite ends of the day and night, and it messes with your body clock and drives us all crazy at times!  It’s worth a listen to, though the song can get repetitive at times, sometimes our lives feel like that too – an endless cycle of “good mornings” and “goodnights” because with different timezones and work hours, sometimes that’s all there’s time for.

5.  Shanghai Breezes – John Denver

I can’t remember when I felt so close to you
It’s almost more than I can bear
And though I seem a half a million miles from you
You’re in my heart and living there

At risk to completely embarrassing myself here with my Mum’s music, comes this song from 1982.  But the imagery in this song makes it gold – “And the moon and the stars are the same ones you see”; “There are lovers who lie unafraid of the dark”; “And your face in my dreams is like heaven to me”; “Shanghai breezes soft and gentle remind me of your tenderness”.  It is so easy for me to imagine pictures that go with these lyrics and, naturally, to relate to the distance.  It’s a very heartfelt song that talks about the loneliness of a long distance relationship in a very positive and warming way.

4.  I Will Always Return – Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron OST – Bryan Adams

I can’t stand the distance
I can’t dream alone
I can’t wait to see you
Yes, I’m on my way home

This is more of a childhood favourite that I rediscovered when looking for songs about LDRs, and yes, the movie is depicting two horses but the song has no mention of horses whatsoever.  And at its core, it’s about having to be separated and that journey to get  back to the one you love because you’ll keep coming back to that love, to that person, because that’s where you belong.  For a song about being apart from one another, it’s very uplifting – it’s a song of determination and loyalty.

3.  The Dancing and the Dreaming – How To Train Your Dragon 2 OST – John Powell

I have no use for rings of gold
I care not for your poetry
I only want your hand to hold
I only want you near me

Okay, maybe a little cheesy, but I’m not sorry.  I absolutely fell in love with this song when I first heard it in the movie.  And there have been some amazing, delicate covers of it too – take a listen to Erutan Music and Peter Hollens.  However, personally, the original is still my favourite.  It starts off slow and sad and beautiful, but then it just becomes fun and funny and tremendously happy and joyful.  For those who haven’t seen the movie, viking chief Stoick is seeing his wife, Valka, for the first time in years and they are both very hesitant to interact with each other because it’s been so long and there’s mixed emotions going on, but Stoick begins singing her this obvious pasttime favourite song and dance, and through this they are able to rekindle their love as Valka joins in with the song and so it becomes this burst of laughter and joy as they as they become used to one another again.  Stoick sings of travelling the seas to be with her, he would do anything for her, but actually Valka doesn’t care for the additions he offers her, she just wants to be with him and be near him and hold him in her arms again and isn’t that what we’re all wishing for when we’re apart from our significant other?

2.  Bring Me The Night – Sam Tsui and Kina Grannis

But when I close my eyes
The miles melt away
Like your here in my arms
At the end of the day

This lovely song is all about that longing feeling we all have in LDRs.  The constant dreaming of being with one another which is sometimes the only thing keeping you sane, knowing that in time, that dream will come true.  But before that can happen you have to wait it out and for the time being, the dreams you have while you’re sleeping have to make-do, because that is sadly the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re with them for some time.  And so we yearn for the day to end so we can sleep for a chance of getting that physical feeling that we long for again, and this song discusses that passionately.

1.  Even The Winter – Audrey Assad

What if we find ourselves beneath the snow?
Our warmest words are frozen in our throats
And all we feel is left out in the cold
You and I

My top pick may be a little biased on my part, what with my love of winter and snow and all.  And strictly speaking, this isn’t necessarily a song about LDRs at all, but when I first heard it after visiting Johan for the first time and after playing in all that snow I wasn’t used to, I came home and I was like omg this is our song, this is so us, and you’ll notice I used it in our first meeting video.  We had just said our goodbyes and it did feel cold and alone once more.  The song uses all of these beautiful metaphors about how tough situations can get and it’s full of all of this uncertainty and it constantly asks “what if…?” but in the chorus it says, well, even if this happens, nothing’s going to change our love for each other, it’s only going to grow and grow and that bond with strengthen and we will become stronger because of it.

Even the winter won’t last forever
We’ll see the morning, we’ll feel the sun
We’ll wake up in April, ready and able
Holding the seeds in the soil

Even the darkness cannot disarm us
We’ll see the morning, we’ll feel the sun
We’ll break up the earth because we know that it’s worth it
Sowing the seeds in the soil of our love


After more LDR songs?  Check out these others that didn’t make the list!  They’re not all 100% about LDRs, but hold many relevant themes.

Internet Age – Jason Munday and Alex Carpenter
Long Distance – Bruno Mars
I Will Wait For You – Mumford and Sons
Never Met You – Tom Law
Life After You – Chris Daughtry
On My Way – Phil Collins
Red Lights – Tiesto

It’s Been A Year

One year ago today, we submitted our application for my Swedish residence permit, a little earlier than expected, and so began this emotional journey.  Thinking back now, I’m glad we didn’t delay the process any further because here we are, 12 months later, still waiting and worrying and hoping.  But the decision has to be close now, any day.  We’re now in the estimated decision time frame, which is so exciting and terrifying.  Although most rejected applications hear back in a much shorter time frame,  you still can’t help wondering, “what if…?” And as much as we really want that decision so we can start making solid plans and book our flights before they get even more expensive than they already are, I’m also glad we haven’t received it sooner.

Once we have a decision, I am allowed six months to move over.  Of course, one can apply for an extension on that, but it would probably look better if you moved over as soon as reasonably possible. And as we’re still hoping for a July moving date after Johan finishes his course in June, this is still 4 out of those 6 months into the future.  In fact, I even mentioned this in our application, so the fact we haven’t received a decision yet isn’t worrying me as such, but it has started to get more nerve wracking and stressful these past couple of weeks, knowing that we will soon have that answer.  Another Brisbaner received their decision just this week, and they applied just after us and received their interview invitation at the embassy a day after us.  So it’s all very exciting!

Meanwhile on top of stressing about the decision, packing, the cat, where we’ll be living, where we’ll get jobs, when we’ll get jobs… I’m also stressing about how much I’m trying to get done before the move, and preferably,  before the decision.  Because I feel as soon as we get a decision, everything else will be blown from my mind and I’ll be in moving-prep mode.  But that also includes finishing half-started projects for our Etsy store, getting rid of as much stock as we can, deciding what I can and can’t live without and practising as much Swedish as I can, because it turns out SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) can sometimes take up to several months to get into.  There is so much to keep me busy and yet there are still days I just feel miserable with stress and longing.

Johan on the other hand is heading to Stockholm today to spend four weeks with his Mum while he attends practise work.  Next time he heads to Stockholm it’ll be to get on  a plane to see me.  We’ve never been so close to a visit without a known date. 😦 But hopefully soon, that will change.

House Hunting (Just to Occupy the Time)

For what seems like the longest time now (well, probably since I got back from my first visit and started having the urge to live in my boyfriend’s country…) one of my cures for boredom has been to hunt for houses in Sweden, just to occupy the time.  I began on svenskfast.se before discovering hemnet.se which seemed to list all the houses from multiple real estate companies.  I would put in my search terms:  Villa, min 5 rooms, max 2,000,000 kronor, location Östergötland.  I wasn’t finding much.  But when I took away the location, and searched the whole of Sweden… houses galore!  Well, I suppose that’s understandable, but now I was getting a whole page of new listings every day.  So, those listings could be a bit further out of the way to where we may or may not end up wanting to live close to Johan’s family – and currently with Johan in the north, our future residence could really be anywhere and depends on where there’s work!  But even if I don’t know the location of where to search – even though I could be looking at a house in the very south of Sweden one minute and the very north the next (and honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to the location maps!) it is enjoyable and feels meaningful.

If you have never tried this with your partner, I suggest you put it on your to do list.  It can be so much fun, and so informative.  In the beginning we would look at houses together, and still do sometimes, although nowadays our days get busier and I just tend to link the best ones worth looking at.  The point is, we would look at the house together and all of the photos (I came to recognise the ALLA BILDER button on every external site and now I’m learning to read all the captions!) and discuss everything we did and didn’t like about the house and the style and design choices people had used in their homes.  It is a great way to connect with your partner and learn how your tastes are both similar and different, and helps you to think about the type of house you may want to share with them in the future, however far off that might be.

For instance, I love wooden kitchens.  Johan likes them too, but he doesn’t like whole houses filled with too much wooden decor.  He’d also like a kitchen with all the big appliances fully built in, where as I don’t mind so much because I’m used to microwaves and fridges having large gaps around them – which was one thing that did surprise me a little, it’s like they have no room to breathe at the sides in a lot of Swedish homes!  Which is another thing – a lot of the time renting, and even buying in Sweden – your main appliances are included – including the fridge, drier and washing machine!  He’d like a  sauna; I’d like a nice big patio to have an evening’s hot chocolate on.  The list continues, but for the most part, we have similar tastes in home designs, it’s the furnishings that will likely cause us some trouble when we can’t decide on things and will need to make compromises!  I’m sure that when the time comes, it’ll be an absolute nightmare, but I think we’re pretty well prepared to tackle that, partly because we already know each others likes and dislikes and have talked through them.

As for the Swedish housing market and my 2,000,000 kronor limit, with plenty being under that (as of now, that’s approximately $294,000 AUD, although it was $305,000 when I first started looking, and $335,000 when the Aussie dollar was really low a year and a half ago! *fingers crossed the Swedish SEK stays low for a few more months*), what have I found we can get for that much?  Some very beautiful homes!  You have to remember that Sweden is a very old country (think Viking ages!) and so admittedly there are a lot of older homes (and even the odd school!) on the market, many in the 1950-1970s.  I’ve even seen some from the 1910s – homes with a hundred year old history!  But once you put that aside (this coming from an Australian where in Australia we have new housing estates are popping up everywhere, and everyone in my immediate family seems to be living in a house that’s under 10 years old, or building brand new ones … our house is just over that at 15 years old and even our previous house is only as old as me), you realise that most of what looks a little old and aged on the outside, is not a horrible retro 70s style on the inside (though I’ve seen a few of those, too!) So, so many of these houses have had renovations to make them look brand new on the inside, and I’ve been caught out more than once by surprise – it’s truly a don’t judge a book by it’s cover example.  A lot will also have antique old stoves and fireplaces that have remained in the redesign of a new kitchen or living room, giving off a continued remembrance to historic days.  What’s even more fun is watching the house photos change throughout the year with spring, summer, autumn, and winter photos – “well, I know that this house has got a lot of snow – that’s a good sign!”

For two years now I’ve been dreaming of a stereotypical, red wooden house somewhere in Sweden which we will call our own.  I mean, we’ve even gone as far as imagining ourselves in daggy yard clothes, repainting the house red.  Imagined ourselves fighting over the colours to paint our walls indoors – Big White, Snowy White or Crisp White.  Imagined ourselves trying to straighten up picture frames.  Imagined ourselves eating pizza on the first night in our own home surrounded by boxes and sleeping on the couch.  And it’s a beautiful thing to imagine, to dream and to know that it’s all worth waiting for. ❤