Tag Archives: long distance

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.

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!

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!

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!


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

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. ❤

Tech Time #2: Capturing Skype History

Wow, it’s been a while since our first Tech Time … oops?  I guess technology is everywhere around us now, and a lot of long distance relationships rely so heavily on technology, that, well, it’s all second nature to us.  But one of the troubles we knew we’d have to face eventually with Migrationsverket was how to prove that relationship and document our online history which was harder than one would expect.  We were asked in July to provide evidence of flight stubs and photos and phone calls but we’d been looking into how to extract our Skype history for quite a while before we received that email (preparation is key).

Hopefully this will help some of you going through the same process of proving your relationship and your history with your partner.  In the end, none of these options worked 100% for us, but that was probably due to the extent of our history.  We eventually came to an almost-complete history with which we would have to make-do, but that was after quite a bit of trial and error!  Just because something didn’t work for us, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, particularly if you have less of a Skype history than we do … at the time of running these applications, we had been using Skype daily for 3.5 years and had retained the complete history.

Tip About Using Skype

First things first, if you use Skype on a daily basis like we do, you’ve probably built up quite the chat/call history, particularly if you look under Tools > Options > Privacy > Advanced Settings > Keep History for … Mine has always been set to “Forever”.  Even when I reinstalled Windows and Skype, I made sure to back up our chat history, instructions for which can be found here.  This means I have our entire (very extensive) chat and call history since we first started talking in October 2012.  If you have reinstalled the app at any point without backing up those files, or if your chat history is set to something other than “Forever”, unfortunately you won’t be able to retrieve any of that older history so that’s something to look out for.  Also, as far as what we sort of looked into it, we couldn’t find a proper way of extracting any of the Skype call history from our phones or tablets easily (which would differ from those made on the PC – notice how when you answer a call on one device it will hang it up on the other, so that call time will only be recorded on the one device) so that’s another thing to consider if you do rely heavily on phone or tablets for calls, you may end up tearing your hair our trying to take screenshots of everything.  In the end, we omitted these calls from our evidence, but we felt we had enough else to make up for it.

Below is a list of our recommended software. And remember, just because we didn’t succeed with a particular one, doesn’t mean that it won’t fit your needs better or that you won’t have luck using it. Try them all!

4.  Skype


For most of us, the first place we search when trying to pull up a history will be the original source – aka Skype.  Wrong.  I guarantee for most of you trying to obtain a call log, Skype will not be your answer.  This is because they will only offer up a call log for those using the paid service.  So by all means, scroll up through your conversation, screenshot every call you make… or, you can copy and paste your entire conversation, trying to copy and paste each call entry which will look like this:

[9:09:47 PM] *** Call from Johan ***
[9:37:51 PM] *** Call ended, duration 25:37 ***

But there are better ways to go about it.  Read on.

3.  Skype Log View


This is a nifty little program which creates a log of all your calls and messages and uses the help of command-line prompts to organise the search results by a range of dates, or contacts, or whatever the case may be.  This list can then be saved as a HTML or XML file.  And I’m sure people have had success with it, but it wasn’t for us.  From memory, it took around six or more hours to run the export, and by the time it finished and I looked at the log, it was all over the place.

Over 3.5 years of chat history and calls, it showed half a dozen (maybe a dozen at most, but that’s being overly flexible) calls, the rest was simply our message history, and I ran it several times changing the commands and removing them, and I just could not get it to work.  For whatever reason, it was just skipping over whole sections of months and years of our calls because it might have one in 2016, and 5 in 2012 or something crazily disproportionate.  It would probably be a good program if you wanted a condensed scale of messages (as it shortens them to one-liners) but it just did not work as a call log for us, and honestly, after the hours I bothered with it I decided screenshots from Skype would’ve been easier and a more trusted source for the migration board.

2.  Skype Export

Screenshots_0002_Skype Export.jpg

This one is a little more complicated, as unlike Skype Log View, there is no graphical interface, and you use it solely through the command prompt in Windows or Mac Terminal, which might discourage more casual computer users.  But don’t worry, there is good documentation on the above-linked GitHub page. That said, if you’re unfamiliar with the Windows command prompt (or Mac Terminal) you might want to read some basic guides.

This was probably one of the fastest exports we tried, however, it was once again more of a full export … which is great if you wanted a log of every message you’ve ever sent and every call you’ve ever made (twice – once for receiving and once for ending).  But once again, too long for our needs.  It was basically like copying and pasting our entire Skype history into a HTML file instead of a Skype window.  It was a little neater, but still just as long and unnecessary.

1.  Skype Exporter


Skype Exporter ended up the winner, in our case, although it still wasn’t as perfect as we would’ve liked, but close enough to it.  Very easy to use, at the click of a button this program took around 1.5-2 hours to run an export, and I ran it several times because I found a problem with the export freezing on the same date in late-April 2016 (it was July).  It would come up with a pop-up error which unfortunately prevented me from saving the log, because I couldn’t click out of the pop-up error without it forcing the program to close.  In the end, we decided to work around this error, because despite this, it was exactly what we wanted.  A full and complete Skype log, detailing our call date and time with each other, omitting all our millions of chat messages for just a straight out call log.  In an ideal world, the export would finish successfully and you’d be able to save it as some sort of text file, however because of the error we ended up screenshotting the lot, because the one thing we were still able to do was scroll through the log.

We ended with 108 screenshots, which we cropped and downsized 4-to-a-page, across 27 pages and saved into a single PDF.  And that’s how we condensed 42 months or 3.5 years of our communication.  Or, part of it, as mentioned at the start of this post, this only detailed the calls made and received on my PC, not those on the phone/tablet as well.  The one thing with this program is there is no way to search through just one contact’s history, however as Johan is the only one I have any major contact with on Skype, this wasn’t a big deal for us.   Indeed if you successfully obtain a text log, other contacts could also be easily omitted, or crossed out in a paper print out. We decided against screenshotting any of our Skype message history, because with that amount of calls, you could imagine the accompanying message list.  We did, however, take some photos of our other communications – text messages, handwritten letters, etc.

Capturing Other Applications

As we were missing the last 3 months of our most recent call list from the Skype log, we turned to screen capturing the other applications we used to make calls – FaceTime, and Facebook Messenger.  Both of these have an easy option for viewing your call log, however again no way to extract them from the phone or tablet without taking individual screenshots.  I am also fairly sure both of these had a cut-off point, because they rely on “recent” call lists and “recent” will only go back so far.  As we only needed the last three months worth, this worked out okay for us, but for anyone else that uses them as a more regular means of communication, you may run into troubles later down the track.

As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t provide a Skype message history, because there was just too much and where do you begin with that?  What we did do, however, was take one screenshot of our Facebook Messenger chat history – but this method no longer works! 😥 But it was such a great method because you could go into the full-page conversation history on a PC, and if you scrolled up, it will say “Loading Older Messages …” with a number.  Ours was 43138.  Highlighted that number for their reference.  Obviously, it would be insane to provide them that chat history, but one screenshot would tell it all.

In addition to this, we also provided screenshots of the folder properties of our shared Dropbox and Google Drive folders, showing the amount of files and folders shared between us – which we thought was an excellent indication of the way we share photos and documents.  We also took screenshots of other couple apps we used to share photos and drawings; screenshots of our shared Etsy store; our blog; and my progress in Swedish-learning programs.  We captioned everything with short explanations, and all in all, we’re confident we’d given them enough evidence to work with.  Then it was back to the waiting game…

Why Would I Possibly Want to Move to Sweden?

When we first started dating and considering how this long distance would pan out in the end, I would never have expected to be the one to WANT to move.  We were at opposite ends of the globe, and couldn’t get too much further apart if we tried.  Johan had said he would like to move to an English-speaking country, and his family was more spread out over the country than mine was, so I’d always just expected for him to make the move, otherwise I wasn’t sure how long our relationship was going to last.  At least, that was my thinking for the first year of our relationship.

Then we had our first meeting, and it was love at first sight with that country (and the boyfriend, of course).  I could no longer imagine us living in Australia.  Which is a bit crazy, considering the number of things I consider the negative effects on the “Things to Know Before Moving to Sweden” lists.  Here’s why:

Title 1

No, don’t shoot me down for this one! Fika is Swedish for a coffee break that’s more about socialising than drinking coffee.  It is more than just a coffee break – it’s a lifelong tradition and social phenomenon – but that first part still makes me hesitate.  Coffee break.  I don’t drink coffee.  Or tea, for that matter.  I’m much more a water & occasional soft drinks (soda) kind of girl, with the odd hot chocolate maybe three times a year.  I fear turning down the cups of coffee that the Swedes may offer me, to the point where maybe I will start drinking this hot beverage to avoid the awkwardness.  Who knows, maybe I’ll start liking it?  But for now, I’ll stick with my coffee-free lifestyle.  Besides, there’s the other half of fika – all the sweets and cakes and buns and cookies and delicious sugary goodness to look forward to.  Mm-mmm!

Title 2

I am not a seafood person.  I do not like the smell; I do not like the taste, especially not REAL seafood – like caught from the ocean, shells, eyes and bones kind of thing.  I have no problem eating baby prawns (frozen & prepacked), smoked oysters/mussels (in an aluminum can) or seafood extender (the red stuff, also bought frozen).  I’ll also eat crumbed calamari rings, and fish fingers – only if they don’t taste too fishy.  But proper fish?  I steer well clear.  And Sweden is like the fish capital.  They have it on their National Day, Midsummer Day, Easter, Christmas… And they have the real stuff.  Salmon, pickled herring, crayfish (boiled alive) and of course, surströmming *shudders*.  They even have fish CAKES.  CAKES.  For birthdays.  Not sweet, fattening sponge cakes and cheesecakes and chocolate cakes, but FISH CAKES (which actually, if I’m perfectly honest, doesn’t look too bad.  Something I would eat.  Much less horrifying than the thought of trying to pull apart a crayfish).  I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle so much seafood.  But it will be a learning curve.  After all, Kalles kaviar wasn’t so bad.

Title 3

For my whole life, my Mum has told me to stay single and free and travel the world, because she didn’t.  For my whole life (…before I met Johan) I told her I didn’t care about travel.  And I didn’t.  I cared about going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Studio Tour, but apart from that… no interest.  Then I went to Sweden.  Not for the travel, but for my boyfriend (okay, okay, and the snow).  And I loved every minute of it.  Finding out about the history of his hometown, the history of the capital city, the Vikings.  Australia seemed so new and has so much to learn, and yet here, this place had a history hundreds of years old, and buildings made before Australia was even put on the map.  It was fascinating.  And suddenly, my interest in travel peaked just a little.  I wanted to explore the rest of his country, up and down the entire stretch of land.  Then you start thinking, well, it’s so close to so many other countries and it’s so cheap to visit.  And Australia is so isolated and takes a small fortune to get outside of those boundaries and further than just interstate.  You know what?  I might have to bite my tongue and take back my word.  Maybe I DO want to travel.

Oh, and then there’s the things other people consider the negative effects, that I consider positive:

Title 4

Ever since I’ve started saying I want to make the move, my Nan has said that the  novelty of the cold air and snow as far as the eye can see will wear off.  I don’t believe that.  I’m a child at heart – always have been, always will be.  I’ll make snowmen and snow angels every year, enjoy the late morning sunrises and rugging up in about a dozen layers before stepping outside.  And when it seems dark, I’ll have someone to keep me company; a fireplace to tend to and fleece blankets all over the house.  I’ll get to the point where I’ll consider a Swedish summer hot and an Aussie summer hell (because of course an Australian winter only gets as cold as a Swedish summer).  I’m more worried about the midnight sun!  My Mum is absolutely right when she says Australia is the same all year round, at least in Brisbane where there is no snow.  No autumn leaves and trees losing their leaves, only to sprout fresh new ones in the spring, splashing the world in an abundance of colour once more.  The yard looks the same today, as it will next season, and the season after that and the season after that.  I mean, where’s the inspiration in that?  The excitement of the first snowflake, jumping in a pile of crunchy, autumn leaves… yep, I’ll have some of that please.

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One of the things I’ve always admired about Johan is how fluent he is in English.  I didn’t have to teach him a thing (well, except for the Aussie slang).  That said, I also enjoy listening to him speak Swedish with his family even if I can barely understand a word.  The Swedish language sounds so pleasant to the ear, especially when softly-spoken.  Even before I wanted to move to Sweden, I wanted to at least learn the language to better communicate with his family – who for the most part speak fairly good English anyway, apart from his youngest sisters who will eventually learn it in school.  How hard could it be?  I mean, when I learnt Indonesian in school I was pretty good… not that I remember any of it now… Whilst I am learning bits and pieces of Swedish, it is harder than I perhaps expected, but I hope to one day be as fluent in Swedish as Johan is in English, and be able to sing the beautiful national anthem, loud and proud.

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Almost all the articles rattle off quotes about how Sweden is a very expensive country to live, particularly in Stockholm.  I mean, of course it’s going to be expensive in Stockholm, it’s the city!  Every city center is expensive.  Now if these articles are all being written by Americans who pay $10 for three course meals, then I understand.  But when comparing prices with Australia, it really wasn’t that much more expensive.  In fact, in some instances, Sweden was cheaper!  I regularly look at Swedish real estate sites with prices of approx. 1200000 – 2000000 kr ($183000 – $304000) – up and down the whole country mind, so some of those houses might be in the middle of nowhere, I haven’t worked out the geography of it all yet – but there’s some beautiful old homes that are drool-worthy.  Whilst many have been built  in the mid-1900s – some earlier, some later –  so many have had renovations inside to make the house modern, refreshing and new.  There are fewer new houses and housing estates being built, meaning more countryside.  Not to mention a much better (and cheaper) public transport system, meaning fewer cars on the road (and more expensive fuel), but more bicycles.  It may or may not have been my imagination, but the air smelt so crisp and clean outside.  Of course, then there’s avgift which confuses me beyond belief, but…

Overall, I think the biggest worry will be maintaining employment (specifically for a non-Swede) to be able to keep up with the cost of living.  I really want us to be able to move into a home sooner rather than later, but from what I’ve heard it can be harder to get loans over there – although there’s not supposed to be any restrictions for expats – but then, it’s also very hard to get into the renting market, at least in the city areas, unless you’ve been on a wait-list for years.  Hence we’re trying to save every cent and kronor we can now.  As long as I can job search before moving over there, and work on learning the language – the unemployment rates can’t be that bad.  I mean, it can’t be that different from Australia, and I was unemployed for almost two years, hunting down that first job.  I’ve been down that road, conquered it, and I’ll conquer it again.

Regardless, it makes more sense for me to move to him (we won’t even mention the ludicrous cost difference for a Swedish Residence Permit – which can be obtained without being married aka “sambo” – vs. an Australian Partner Visa).  His family is younger; he has younger siblings closer to my age who are yet to marry.  My family is older and slightly better off money-wise if ever they want to come for visits (and will surely love the novelty of snow as much as I do).  I want our kids to grow up in a multilingual country where education is free (and gender equality great) and they can speak with both our families from the time they can talk.  I want to change my lifestyle to a happier, healthier one, which I want to do outside of my home country and my creature comforts, in one of the greenest nations on Earth.

I have always hated and feared big changes in my life.  Now, I couldn’t be more excited to try, with the one I love to help me through it. ♥♥♥

Johan’s First Day in London

In Sweden we have a saying. “Det är lätt att vara efterklok”. It’s easy to be wise after the fact. To have hindsight. And I realized, as I sat on the bus to the airport that maybe, I should have taken the earlier bus.

But how could I have known that I’d end up in a traffic jam? That I’d sit there, stuck on an unmoving bus, checking the time on my phone frantically, watching it slowly tick closer to the departure time of my flight?

I wrote several messages to Kylie, but she was out on an adventure with her mum, going around on a bus, seeing the countryside outside London, and couldn’t talk much, so I was mostly on my own in my panic.

I got lucky though, and eventually, the traffic let up and I got to Luleå just before the connecting bus to the airport left. Which I of course missed, so I had to, again slightly in panic, figure out when the next left and from where. But thanks to modern technology, I managed to get to the airport in time.

As it was my first time flying, it all felt a little intimidating at first, but it passed pretty quickly. I got through security and then waited twenty minutes for boarding, which seemed like forever at the time, and probably another hour on the plane itself before we took off. After that, it was mostly smooth sailing. Or flying, as it were. I think I slept most of the journey actually, but it was dark outside, so there wasn’t much to miss in terms of scenery.

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I think you can sum up my first experience flying with one word. Uneventful. Which is probably a good thing. You don’t want much drama when you’re that high up in the air.

When I arrived is a different story though. First of all, it was a long walk to baggage claim. I was messaging with Kylie as I was waiting for my baggage, and she was waiting for me in the lobby. And when I finally got there, well, let’s say that my heart was in my throat.

The first thing I noticed as I walked through the doors was her mother standing to my right with a video camera. I looked around awkwardly for Kylie but couldn’t see her until she appeared from behind a pillar in front of me.

The second thing I noticed was that, as shewas running towards me, she was limping. She had told me about her accident of course, but I had too much in my brain at the time to think about it.

She had started running towards me, and I didn’t know if I should run toward her, with all my bags and stuff, if I should just drop everything and run to her like in the movies, or if I should just keep walking, and before I could make up my mind, she was already upon me and we were hugging. And we were falling against the railing between us and her mum. It felt really good. But also kind of awkward. I can’t tell you why. Maybe because of the shyness because you haven’t seen each other in so long and you’re not entirely sure of how to act, and maybe because her mother was there. Maybe because we were being filmed. I don’t know, but it passed pretty quickly. Then we looked each other in the eyes, smiled, and with the acute knowledge that her mother were watching, I kissed her. A quick, light kiss, but it was a kiss.

Then I said hello to her mum, whom I had only talked to on Skype previously.

It turned out then, that she hadn’t started filming. So we had none of our first meeting on camera. Which was just typical. This was the second visit, and the second time we failed to get first hug on video. So we had to stage it to the camera, which for some reason felt even more awkward. Though I did like to have another reason just to hug her.

I like hugging her.

After that, we got to the London underground. I got myself a an Oyster card and we were off on my first London adventure.

There are many things you can say about London, both good and bad, but I think I’m gonna keep it pretty neutral. I don’t usually get very attached to places and if I do, it’s usually more to do with a person than the place itself.

I like exploring new places though, and London is a really nice city. Lots of old iconic buildings and nice architecture, which I’m a fan of. Got a few nice photos of Big Ben and the river Thames.

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The first thing Kylie had in store for me was something she had teased me about for a while. A secret surprise. Shrek’s Adventure!

Now honestly, Kylie is definitely more the Shrek fan in this relationship, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was clearly designed for kids but it was definitely fun for all ages! Even for me. There was adventure, a 4D movie section (my first ever) and the guides and actors went a long way toward making it a fun experience all around!  At the end, we got to walk through and get photo opportunities with other Dreamworks characters.

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It was very similar to the London Dungeon, which we visited afterwards, and they obviously borrowed some of their stuff, like the confusing mirror corridor and the benches that felt like they had creepy crawlies inside them which made us squirm in our seats!

The London Dungeon was a very different experience though. It had the same guided nature, but instead of an epic adventure, we got to walk through the dark and disturbing history of London, but it was done in a humorous way. If you appreciate dark humor, that is. It felt really authentic at times as well. Including the horrid smell! I got picked out a few times from the audience during the interactive portions of Shrek’s Adventure, but both Kylie and I took care to stay unnoticed in the back of the London Dungeon.

After we got back out outside, we turned our eyes to the sky above us. We were already on the South Bank, so why not take a ride on the London Eye?

But first we took a walk along the water and we saw a street performer, Tom, riding a tall unicycle among other things.

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We waited ’til just before it got dark before we headed to the London Eye. First we did the 4D experience, which was not nearly as good as the Shrek one, and then we got into our pod. It was just getting dark as we rose up, and by the time we got to the ground, it was night. On our way around, we took a lot of pictures and videos.  It had started to spit towards the end, but thankfully we got to enjoy the sights before that!

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Afterwards, we met up with Kylie’s friend Hayley and her partner Dom. We had a three-course dinner in a cosy little West End Spanish restaurant called Andalucia. We both had the potatoes with homemade garlic for starters and the custard with caramel cover for dessert, and I had pork tenderloin for main course while she had chicken. It was all really good. Very recommended.

On our way home after dinner we passed the Platform 9 and 3/4 shop at King’s Cross. Kylie had told me about how they were expanding the store, and she was surprised to see that they had already finished the expansion by then, which means that within the space of a week she got to see the store both before and after expansion! We got lucky, because we arrived shortly before closing time, but we did have time to buy a Platform 9 and 3/4 t-shirt and Ravenclaw, notebook for me, a key ring and Hogwarts Express ticket and lanyard for her. Then we of course had to take our obligatory trolley photo!

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After a fun and eventful first day in London, it was very nice to finally come home to the apartment we were staying. Kylie and I slept in the double bed in the bedroom, and her mother took the bedsofa in the livingroom. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t great to finally spend a night with Kylie again. There’s nothing better than falling asleep next to someone you love, and I’m sure most of you will agree… Even if her hair gets in my face and it tended to get really hot under the blankets with two people sharing the space. I can’t wait to get to do that for the rest of my life.

Homesick For The Wrong Country

Since coming home to Australia, I’ve been, well, homesick.  For Sweden.  I swear, it’s not just missing Johan, but everything else that came along with his country.  I found the same sort of feeling when I came back from my first visit, and I can’t remember how long it took for it to go away.  Of course, it never went away entirely, but it did eventually numb.

Did I get homesick while I was away?  Nope, not really.  Okay, maybe a few times for the cats.  And the Christmas carols on Christmas day.  But apart from that… I was soaking up as much of Sweden that I had been missing for the last two years.  All of the goodies I could eat!  Pepperkåkor (gingerbread), kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), godis (candy… at every supermarket), and of course, all of the round bread from the Polarbröd company!  And it wasn’t just all the candy, because I come home thinking that everything that I normally love tastes different.  From the cereal I have for breakfast, to the milk, right down to the water… it’s been two weeks, and it still all tastes different.  It all tasted better in Sweden.

Of course, there’s more to Sweden than just the food – and don’t get me started on the weather (ohhh but the crunch of snow beneath your boots)!  There’s their public transport system.  The buses and trains and railway stations are all so clean and graffiti-free, with graffiti being cleaned up within a matter of days.  Not to mention the ease of being able to get monthly passes.  Did I say that dogs are allowed on public transport?  We sat on a two hour bus from Haparanda to Rovaniemi with a gorgeous fluffy white dog a few seats ahead of us who only barked once!  As a public-transport regular, I can say Brisbane has a lot to catch up on.

I’m sorrrry!  I can’t pass up mentioning the snow.  Again.  Especially after the day of 94% humidity we just had.  Even just the cold, which I’m learning isn’t nearly as fun without the snow, but it actually makes it feel like winter when it’s 0°!  Must be something about snuggling into a winter jacket, as opposed to just one-jumper-layer in Brisbane at 17°.  We must seem like such winter-wusses.  I haven’t experienced the drastic changing of the four seasons yet, but I do request the photos from Johan every season and the change amazes me and I miss it, even though I haven’t experienced it.

Then there’s the people.  The people of Scandinavia who can for the most part speak multiple languages, and are all so patient with the non-Swedish-etc speaker.  I miss the accent in their voices and the laughter when Mum and I would say we love all the cold and winter and snow and they look at us like, ‘yeah, you’re crazy.  Trying living in it’.  Naturally, I also miss Johan’s parents and siblings, so kind and welcoming, who have already become like a second family to me.  And Johan, my lover.  My best friend.

I guess the saying is true.  Home is where the heart is… and right now, my heart’s in Sweden.

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