Day 18

So, yeah, kind of gap there. Ended my second week of work with sharing my plan for next steps with the job. It is very weird to start a job in the midst of a global pandemic, and the remote-working-ness of everybody makes it hard to get traction fast. But, it’s worth noting that when I took my last role, all of my team was permanently remote from me, and more than half the leadership team I was part of. So, it seems crazy to my colleagues, and it seems kind of normal to me. Which really made me recalibrate what I accept as “normal”.

So, what has happened? I looked at both of the houses. One is a old red brick farmhouse that is made with stone foundation. Super quirky and interesting with a really nice garden and mature fruit trees. Decent main floor. Overall, kind of … well … old. Low ceilings in the basement. Small bathrooms, and only 3 bedrooms. So a little tight for guests. The other house is a modern townhouse that is bigger and way nicer. It’s a little further from school and town, and doesn’t have the garden, but it’s got 4 bedrooms, plus a nice finished basement. Oh, and a fully stocked wine cellar. Given the the owners are moving to France for a few years, I already made a pitch of “why would you move wine TO France?” 😉. So, it’s basically down to “nice house with room for guests” or “nice garden with a cozy house”.

But, we just closed on the condo in St Paul, and still own a house in St Paul. So, we own 2 places in the midst of a global plague and the real estate market is tanking. I don’t really want to be on the hook for 3 houses! So, we’re trying to figure out what to do. Even to the point of, should I try to get back to the US to work from there? These are difficult times to analyze the best course of action!

On a lighter note, I feel a little more settled in, as I have replaced the (quite tattered) Manila envelope that I had all my important papers in with a little document folder thing with stuff in actual categories. It’s a small thing, but it helps me feel a little more in control of something!

One more fun thing. There are animals here that I have read about, but not seen before. Lots of corvids – regular carrion crows, hooded crows, rooks, etc. Also, the doves/pigeons here are really fat. I can see why people eat squab here as these birds are a lot more plump than American pigeons. I also saw a hare near the office the other day. Holy mother of ears! That thing was as big as a fox or raccoon. The pic below does not do it justice.

Day 14 – Tisdag

So, yeah, I forgot to blog yesterday. The problem with remote working is that you work a lot more. Day 14, of course, means that I’ve been in country for 2 weeks. This is Day 7 of working, however. Tomorrow is payday. I get paid once a month, around the 25th, so that there’s time for the money to land before you pay all your monthly bills at the beginning of the next month. Actually, pretty smart. I have direct deposit all set up to my Swedish bank account, where I will be paid in Kronor, and taxed like a Swede (almost). Between my UT card and my personnummer, I’m a fully legit Schengen EU resident. Weird.

Anyway, I went and looked at a house today. Quite a nice place. A little far from town, and a little pricey, but oodles of room for guests. Very modern and a super-nice family that was renting it out. I will go look at the other one on Friday (I think). Hopefully can pick something soon.

Also, for the record, when there’s a package of cheese in Sweden that is labeled “Texmex” don’t believe it. Unless by “Texmex” you mean a mixture of Gouda, Jarlsberg, and other Nordic-y cheeses. Bless their hearts, they have no freakin’ clue.

Day 12 – Söndag

Sunday is laundry day.

After laundry I went for a walk. It’s clear and nice again. Kind of chilly, but a small trade-off for no rain. I snooped around the neighborhoods of houses that I’m interested in renting (house 1 and house 2). Pretty nice.

I also did some grocery shopping at a different store. I have been going to the Coop in Mårtenstorget but this time I tried the Hemköp (pronounced “hem-shurp”) on Södra Vägen. They both are smaller than a full-size American grocery store (a la Safeway, Cub, or Kroger), and more like the size of a Whole Foods or a Lunds, maybe a wee-bit smaller. Coop is more like a Whole Foods. A little higher-end and nicer interior. Hemköp is more like a Cub – a little more no-frills and industrial. Another difference is that the Coop has toilet paper, and Hemköp, well, here’s what that section looked like:

This is the first time I’d seen that here, although, I’ve been shopping at Coop.

Fun aside, the Swedish word köp (again, pronounced “shurp”) has a shared ancestor with the English word “shop”, but means to “purchase” as opposed to “browse”.

Day 11 – Lördag

Nice clear, sunny Saturday today. So I decided to take a little trip out to Lomma. Lomma is a little seaside town about 10 km (6 miles) from Lund. I was going to bike it, and then decided I was lazy, so I took the bus.

But first I had to get to the bus stop, and that took me past Broder Jakob. Oh, darn.

The 139 shuttles between Lund Central and Lomma Central, with some local stops along the way. Total ride was about 15 min on the same Skånetrafiken app-based ticket that I use for the train. The bus was actually quite nice! Dropped me of in the center of Lomma, which is by the Library and the marina.

A short walk takes you past the marina and all the little shops that face it to the beach. Yup – “beach”. White sand that is shallow out for 100s of feet. Cool little breakwater and other stuff. I walked the whole beach north half way to Bjärred, and back. There’s a great little trail that runs along the whole south coast of Sweden, and this is a segment of it. You can also see Malmö from the beach pretty clearly, as well as the Öresund bridge that connects to Denmark. Here’s a small selection of pics.

Yes, I did stick my hand in the water. It was not as cold as I thought it would be, and also was not salty. Like, almost at all. Weird.

After checking out out the beach and watching a small regatta get set up, I got some coffee at this cafe and sat in the sun. Right where the arrow says so. Which was amaze-balls. Just saying. Also, you can sail up to the back of the library. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Bus back to Lund. At the hotel basically by noon, and I tipped over 16k steps. By noon. Now I’m going to sit on my butt and do some work.

Day 10 – Fredag Yo!

Friday! In case that wasn’t clear from the title. Still lots of meetings, which are typically back-to-back. Which I’m used to because that’s how UHG is. But, at IKEA, there was a lot of “guys – take care of yourselves, make the time to breath and walk around outside”. This literally coming from the CEO. I’m still not fully keyed into a company that is genuinely compassionate.

Not too much to share. I activated my MasterCard for my Swedish bank account. Oh, and I got my personnummer today, so I’m officially in the system as a tax-paying resident of Sweden!

And, closing the week with a little fun. Apparently, IKEA people don’t take themselves too seriously. 😉

Day 9

It’s Thursday. Not really much to say except that it was gloriously sunny and (relatively) warm. Work day. I will be basically thru all my critical “intros” by the end of next week. And in a week or so after that, the hammer will come down.

I missed my train for the commute home by a hair – it was pulling away as I ran up. I needed to wait a whole 8 minutes until the next one. Rough. (Kidding!)

I got one of those “we recognize COVID and are monitoring” emails from the relocation firm that is looking for a place for us in Sweden. I sent it to my coordinator person and asked “is this your way of telling me that you’re bailing on this?” Luckily, they confirmed that they were still hard at work, there just isn’t a lot of family-sized rental inventory in the area. :-/ I’ve only been here (looks at the top of the post) 9 days of the 90 days of temporary housing that I get, so I’m not panicking. Yet. 😮

Day 8

Whew – I’m caught up! These will probably drop off from daily after the first week of work is done … We’ll see.

Today was pretty basic work. I went into the office again. It’s dead there, so it’s easy to get and camp out in a conference room. IKEA calls all office buildings “meeting places”, and so I work in the Hubhult meeting place. People don’t have offices – even serious senior execs. They either camp out in a conference room, or float in the workspaces like everybody else. Hubhult is here:

I am in Lund (where we will live, blue dot) and Hubhult is on the south side of Malmö. It may seem like it’s a long ways from Lund (it’s about 20 miles) but the train that goes from Lund station to Hyllie station (which is only a mile from the office) often hits 90+mph. It really takes only a few minutes. There’s also an office meeting place in Helsingborg about 25 miles north of Lund that I’ll probably use as well. The train goes there as well.

Also, I’ve been buying groceries and “cooking” (making sandwiches or mackor) in my hotel room. I was sick of that, and decided to go out. I went to Spisen for a pretty nice dinner. It’s a nice place, and I had it to myself (except for one other group).

Day 7

So, wow, day 2 at work went by fast! Clearly, because I didn’t post Day 7 on Day 7 … What did I get done today …?

I got a Swedish phone number from work (and I’m just fine letting them pay for it). I switched my US number to the T-Mobile Digits “virtual” app. Not quite as free as Google Voice, but I was able to do it in Sweden since I was already on the T-mobile network. Then I just swapped SIM cards and BOOM – Swedish phone number (and, more importantly, full local 4G data plan!).

I also got my Mastercard from the bank, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to activate it. So, I need to go into a branch. Except that they are only open from 10am-1pm, and I have meetings over that slot for the rest of the week! “Bankers hours” for sure!

Day 6 – First Day At Work!

So, I went into the office today, got my badge and orientation video, and then sat in a conference room on the phone with all my colleagues who were working remote. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Of course, all badge photos are bad …

I think fully 2/3 of my colleagues were either sick, or had sick kids. Not all COVID-19, but, Jeebus I’m glad they stayed home!

I did bike in, even though it was raining. It’s not a lot of biking, but I can tell that after 2.5 years of driving to work even a little biking is going to whoop me for a bit while I get my legs back. At least on the trip home it wasn’t raining! I got off the train around 6:30, so I didn’t cook, and just stopped for a quick bite.

When I got to the hotel, I found that my bank card had arrived from my new bank account! And the transfer that I’d done from the US should land tomorrow. That means I can spend SEK instead of spending on USD and having everything cost an extra 10% in fees! Woohoo!