"As time passed I felt more and more at a loss"

Nicola Foleher, an expat in Skellefteå, shares her experience: initial dream vs. reality, challenges faced, and an unexpected turn that reignited hope.

After a dark period, Nicola Foleher has once again found light in her life.

After a dark period, Nicola Foleher has once again found light in her life.

Foto: Donna Richmond

Engelska2024-03-25 09:00
Det här är en krönika. Åsikterna i texten är skribentens egna.

If you are reading this there is a good chance that you are an international living in Skellefteå. 

Perhaps you moved here because you found work in the huge green industry initiative that is currently ongoing in the area. Perhaps you came here to teach at the international school or maybe like me, you came here in pursuit of your dreams to live in a beautiful, safer, cleaner, friendlier place that opens up new possibilities to you and your family.

Some of you will be thriving. Your work life will be fulfilling, and you will be spending your free time enjoying all that this glorious place has to offer. But some of you may be struggling a bit. 

I wanted to write this article for those of you who are perhaps feeling a little bit dispirited or despondent with what life is offering you just now.

My family and I have lived here for a little over three years now. I had envisaged that by now I would be speaking Swedish. I also thought that I would be spending all my days at home, surrounded by beautiful countryside, creating art and writing, with perhaps a little part-time job in a nearby shop or café. Our daughters would attend the schools nearby with only a short journey to school

So how has it panned out? 

Well, our daughters actually attend a school that is a 50-minute commute away. I do not spend my days at home, though we are fortunate enough to live in the countryside. I do not speak Swedish very well and cannot find a part-time job for love nor money. 

I have applied for many jobs (more than I have told people about because the rejections get less fun to share each time). From cleaning jobs, to admin jobs, from small local businesses to great big ones, and I’ve had no luck. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

The feeling of failure has been ever present. 

It is fair to say that for the majority of the last 18 months, I have felt pretty stressed. 

I have explored many avenues, I have a job based in the UK that brings me some income, but it can be ad hoc. My creative work is wonderful, but it is also limited and slowly, over time, without really realising it, I have felt more and more at a loss. My self-confidence has deflated and desperation was starting to kick in.

Until, that is, in January when I reached out one more time. Unsure where to turn I sent a message to a lady who was a fellow holistic therapist to ask her about the bureaucracy around setting up as a therapist here. 

From that simple question arose a new and wonderful opportunity that has propelled my self-worth skywards. It has changed my whole trajectory and I can now proudly say that I am a business owner in Skellefteå! How about that?

It is very early days; as I write this I am only 4 days into my new venture. I know it is going to take a lot of work, dedication and resilience, but hey, I realise that to get through those toughest days I must have those qualities in bucket-loads!

Suddenly I have a sense of purpose again. I have a dream and I have hope. 

So if you too are in the midst of despair, please keep going. Just keep reaching out because one day that person you talk to could very well change your path, too. 

This column was originally published att norran.se/english, the English part of norran.se.