Observing Sweden – Immigration In Borlänge

Subjects controversial . . . perhaps best left alone. To stay politically correct, expressing no opinion. None the less, I am expressing mine, as a observer, non-Swede’s point of view. A petri dish of Swedish immigration. I’ve been thinking, might be interesting to keep a sort of journal, goings on, as thing progress.
I am an immigrant myself, although an odd one, coming from America to Sweden. I will not return, the same as most of those now coming here. No going back. A loss of homeland . . . native tongue. I share this loss and the attendant feelings, plus a few more, but I came to Sweden with Swedish wife, a car, a house and dog and cat. Not a part of the European migrant problem.

“It will all work out. We’ll come to an agreeable and mutual decision.” The prevailing Swedish point of view for all political decision making. You can have a say, even if you know nothing at all about what is being decided. Swedes have a lots of patience. It took the Swedish police fifteen years to decide upon a more modern caliber of ammunition for their weapons. When the decision was made a new debate began, to decide on what kind of guns to buy. The problems posed by immigration problems will take time to solve, and in the mean time, things will not get better. There are incidents, cars burned, and attempted arson by two Swedes–amazing. It’s expensive, stressful. Not the sort of thing we long for.

There’s a fairly nice hotel/motel a block away from where I live. A large, two floor, frame building with a patio and dining area. About a hundred rooms. The government bought the building and turned it into one of many places housing refugees. Big impact on a small, upscale community with parks with Swedish miles of asphalt paths, and trees, and streams, and the Dalälven river. I cannot imagine better places for an immigrant to land, or better deals. Free rent, about a hundred bucks a month to spend, not much, but just enough, I think . . . more for each kid . . . more than the home grown Swedish parents get.
There is a tree bound, grass green soccer field, with a soft slope for game watchers – five minute walk from the motel/hotel.

The Syrians and Somalis love it. Soccer’s been a quite successful immigration tool here ─ the most international of sports, with common understanding of the rules. I was taking a walk on one of the local paths and stopped to watch some fifteen minutes of a game. At least three different races on the field. People enjoying themselves. It felt good to be there. That next day I heard of a complaint by someone living near the field. “Too much noise.” At the same time women in our neighborhood are gathering clothes, and shoes, and food to help.

It’s interesting passing new arrivals on the sidewalks, there’s a moment’s, apprehension. I can feel them thinking, Should I brace myself? I smile say, Hi, and it’s okay. They smile back. I suspect both of us do a mental sigh of relief as we pass. That went okay.
Tomorrow might not be the same. Two Swedes broke into the hotel/motel with cans of gasoline, late night, a couple days ago. One of the new arrivals was awake. You get that kind of heightened awareness when you’re packed in with a thousand others for a few months . . . wise to keep an eye on things. They caught the guys. Papers and TV news inform us, “They were drunk.” I wonder how drunk would you have to be to set fire to a wooden building with a hundred people sleeping in it, late at night? I suspect a bit of spin here. “No sane Swede would do this, unless hopelessly drunk.” It’s possible, but more than alcohol’s involved. It could have been a great disaster. We were lucky, but how must it feel to have somebody try burn your house down while you’re sleeping.

I was passing by the motel/hotel yesterday and stopped to take the photo you will see below. There were a few guys near the entrance to the place, just hanging out, sitting and milling around. Their eyes l0cked onto me before I’d gotten close. That uncomfortable, anticipatory feeling again. Paranoia – a heightened state of awareness. I was wondering if the camera made them nervous and if I should go ahead and take the shot. Somebody called my name.

“Bruuzz, Bruuzz!” It was a guy from a ‘Swedish For Immigrants’ language class I took earlier this year. We’re kind of friends, although we’ve never really talked ─ my thing with Swedish, his with both English and Swedish. He taught me some Arab swearwords, and we kind of hit it off. He comes up, hugs, and kisses me on the cheek. I’m so surprised. I ask him if he lives at the motel/hotel, and learn he’s visiting a friend. We make some simple conversation. I remember he was trying for a drivers’ license, my last days of school. He’d passed the written test but failed the road test . . . something with roundabouts. I ask him if he ever passed. “Yes, yes.” He grins and points apply at a red car, Toyota. Not a new one, but it’s passed the Swedish vehicle inspection. You can bet the ride’s reliable.

I’m proud of him. Impressed. I am still practicing to take the test myself, and fear it. And to buy a car, with the attendant Swedish bureaucratic paperwork and laws. I know how complicated all this is. Not easy. Students in my language classes were all hard workers, and I’ll bet Abdul speaks nearly fluent Swedish now, but I’m still struggling with the language. We don’t talk long. He repeats the dirty words he taught me to make sure I still remember, and walks back to where he was, with friends – med kompis. So, I took the photo. See below – man in green T-shirt, right of center, Abdul waving.

Motel 1
Here today, in Borlänge, was a welcome thing held downtown, Centrum. A modest crowd listened to two or three short speeches I could not began to understand, only the names of nations, Syria, Somalia, Eritrea.

Crowd Scene Fixed (2)In back of crowd, just right of center, statue of Borlänge’s famous, home grown opera singer, Jussi.

Banner 2Banner held by neighbors asked for help for new arrivals A woman sang, in Arabic – quite nice.

Jussi Statue 1.jpg


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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14 Responses to Observing Sweden – Immigration In Borlänge

  1. Journal sounds like a good idea for an observer of humankind.
    Love the photos. Beautiful, clean town.

  2. tubularsock says:

    BLD, great post. Very interesting “living” perspective. The driving segment reminded Tubularsock when he had to rent a car in Paris just to experience attempting to drive in and around the Arc de Triomphe. Made it several times. The trick, enter at 90 degrees and turn right!

    Thanks for your report.

  3. Wonderful piece Bruce… utterly absorbing, such humanity and so many nuances… more please

    • Thanks Valerie,
      I’ve been a bit timid about getting into this one, but feels like I have to go on with it.

      • Yes, don’t have any reservations, it was beautifully done, and I’m looking forward to the next posts… go well…

      • Thanks for your support. It’s a little bit scary. I got into some trouble on Facebook once. Some radio station, Canadian, I think, posted a photo of a child’s grave made up with a full sized marble sandbox, with real sand, over the plot. The mother said she often took her surviving child to play there. The Facebook post asked readers what they thought about this grave. As luck would have it, I was the first to answer and I sent, without a second thought, one word: Weird. That’s all I said, Just, weird. Weird – not a bad thing, but unusual, perhaps surprising. I describe my cat as weird, my wife sometimes. My life.
        I got hate mail, sometimes three or four a day. Sometimes I felt like I was getting beat up by an organized group. I learned some understanding, how it is with teenagers and cyber bullies. It’s a hard thing to defend against. Hard not to feel at least a bit of intended hurt. This went on every day for three months, and from there it only tapered off. The last one came a year after I made that fatal answer. The post, or blog or whatever it was, seemed to travel the universe, appearing again and again, bouncing around in some kind of cyber orbit, with new people getting pissed off every day. Very few made comments that were negative. There was a list of comments, hundreds of them. One writer wrote he hoped they didn’t let the surviving child play with a shovel. Maybe he got hate mail too. Don’t ever mess with mothers with dead babies. They’re a very angry group. It was a weird experience.

      • Bruce , this sounds dreadful experience… what a fearful thing the internet is in the wrong hands… I can see why you would tread warily… but I think you can trust your loyal band of admiring readers !!!!
        How extraordinary the way it went on bouncing around… the internet is a strange, inscrutable and unpredicable animal…

      • It can be tricky to get the words just right on this topic. I enjoy reading about your observations.

      • @ Bruce. Yes indeed, very tricky. This has kept me from writing about this subject. Until today. I’ve only been taking notes on things I’ve seen and read. Now I am trying sort my way through a morass of accumulated information.

  4. archecotech says:

    Wow, your last comment was crazy. Guess it’s really important not to piss off people on Facebook. I try it all the time and absolutely nobody listens, personally think Facebook is useless. Oh well.

  5. Great insight here Bruce. PC is a scourge on society and something I don’t have much time for at all. People can live together in peace it’s just a matter of breaking down the hate and mistrust. There’s a lot of it around these days too. Yeah, don’t upset the young mums. I have to wonder why people leave toys at places where children have died. I could be strange, I don’t know.

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