I moved to Sweden in 1997, to avoid the Spice Girls – and to join my boyfriend. We met at a very boring conference, it turned out we both like motorbikes.

I teach English and I’ve gone back to University. I got made redundant in February, it hasn’t been a great time to find a job.

Swede’s are natural social distancers. With so many land borders we were never going to be able to lockdown in the way that New Zealand has.

Dad always wanted to live in NZ, but his mother-in-law wouldn’t let him. My sister moved to Canterbury about fifteen years ago. Mum and Dad went to visit and loved it so they moved too.

I’d been fed up with the climate over here so we applied. A lot of people don’t realise how hard it is to migrate – it took almost three years. In the meantime the Christchurch earthquakes happened. When we arrived the woman at Customs said, “you’re very welcome, but you must be mad”.

We moved in with my parents for a couple of weeks and stayed 9 months. At one stage I had five part time jobs. I found my way into earthquake recovery communications. It was the perfect mix, Geology was my first degree and my masters was in Science Communication.

My husband was made redundant in Christchurch and got head hunted back to a very cool job at Volvo. He sort of commuted for two and a half years. In the end we couldn’t go on that way and all moved back. It was one of the saddest days of my life.

I feel terrible because I miss my Mum and Dad so much. I just don’t know when I’ll see them again and I don’t want to go through that with my girls.

EstherSwedenFamily

 

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Images supplied by interviewee

This interview and the others in the series are an extension of my new book “This Is Us” it is in all good bookshops in New Zealand and also available in Australia. It will be available elsewhere in the world from August.

Amazon UK here.

Amazon US here

Through the publisher here

This Is Us – the diaspora in lockdown – these interviews are slightly different from the ones in the book as they focus on New Zealanders living abroad in this time of isolation.  Copyright Licensing have awarded me a grant to complete this project and convert these postings into a book.

If you can think of suitable interview subjects please let me know via pete@petecarter.nz – I currently need interviews in the more unusual places around the world.

Exisle have released This Is Us as an e-book you can buy it here.

 

Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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