From Singapore to Sweden by the force of love

Photo: Melody Tan (@meowiie2) on Instagram

4.5 years.

That’s how long Singaporean creative consultant and content strategist Melody Tan (@meowiie2 on Instagram) and her Swedish boyfriend Johan were in a long-distance relationship, before Melody took a leap of faith and moved to Sweden.

They met when Johan went to Singapore because of an exchange programme in 2017. After 4 months, Johan had to return to his Scandinavian roots, but that didn’t stop them from being in contact. FaceTime brought them a long way, and due to Melody’s remote job, she was able to go and visit him every three months. This continued for three years.

And then the pandemic hit.

When distance makes the love grow fonder

Whilst Singapore was closed down, Sweden had a no-lockdown strategy, meaning Johan could enjoy his summer as ‘usual’, while Melody had to stay at home for most of the time.

“The circumstances fuelled by the pandemic made it difficult to see a way forward. Things between us were not great during this time,” Melody expressed in an interview.

But that didn’t stop the Singaporean – instead, she trusted her feelings and applied for a visa to move to Sweden. A year later, she got the residence permit to move as a partner – which wasn’t an easy project.

First meeting with Swedish authorities – and it’s a long one…

“The process involved a very thorough application form requiring some personal details about us and I was called in for an interview at the Swedish consulate in Singapore. During the interview, I had to answer questions from behind a glass panel to prove that our relationship was genuine. It was the most intrusive 45 minutes of my life but I like to think that I was well-prepared, mentally and emotionally,” Melody explains.

However, everything went through and Melody officially moved to Sweden in August 2021.

Photo: @meowiie2 on Instagram

Given that she has been traveling to the country over the span of almost 5 years, she was already familiar with Stockholm, the city where her boyfriend was located. The language barrier wasn’t a big problem, as she discovered that Swedes generally speak a high level of English. What she did struggle with, on the other hand, was the Scandinavians social parades:

Swedish social standards

“I’ve come to find our interactions more meaningful here. But Swedish people tend to keep a lot to themselves, even with their friend groups. And even though they are a friendly and warm bunch, it’s difficult to really ‘get in’. But it’s worth it because once you are, you are in for life.”

Weekends are therefore mostly spent with friends, and Melody experiences that Swedes like to start off their weekends with friends who all meet for drinks after work, or dinner parties at home. Perhaps this is connected to the Swedish concept of “lagom,” which preaches moderation, she believes.

And dinner parties have been a good way for Melody to express her Singaporean culture – through food, and teaching her new friends ‘Singlish.’ All which her friends have seemed to be very fond of.

Photo: @meowiie2 on Instagram

Home is far, but it is always there

Despite the downsides there may be to Sweden, such as the weather and long dark months during winter, and occasionally feeling lonely being so far away from home, she feels happy with the decision.

And no matter what, her home country isn’t going anywhere, should she need it.

“I know I can always go home to Singapore anytime. It will always be there, waiting for me,” Melody elaborates.

But until then, Melody is slowly finding more and more space in her heart for the new residence. In an Instagram post, she expresses immense gratitude for her new friends and everyone who has welcomed her.

“But this is a place that will grow on you. (As long as you out of here in January and February) I hope Stockholm will become ‘home’ home in the time to come. I just need more time,” she ends the post.

Source: Her World

About Sofie Rønnelund

Sofie Roennelund is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Sofie Rønnelund

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