"Swedes are very open minded and accepting towards differences"

Describe your role at the company, and briefly your background / experience of living and working in other countries.

– I am a Principal Scientist in the Diabetes research department for AstraZeneca in Gothenburg. I also hold an Adjunct Senior Lecturer position at Gothenburg University. Prior to moving to Sweden, I lived in Boston, USA where I was doing diabetes research in academia. Although originally from France, I am pretty much used to living abroad now, as I left France more than 12 years ago. This is something that I embrace, getting energized from experiencing new things, new places, and meeting people with different cultures.

What expectations did you have before moving to Sweden?

– Sweden was quite intriguing to me actually. You hear a lot about how Sweden is one of the leading countries in the world for innovation, technology, quality of life, gender equality, and overall happiness of its inhabitants, and I was really curious to see if all of this was true. After ten years in the US this was truly an adventure I looked forward to.

How did it turn out?

– After living in Sweden for only a few months, I could already tell that Sweden could hold up to its reputation, especially regarding the quality of life which is off the charts here.  One thing that I learned quite quickly was that one of the most important things to Swedes is having a good work-life balance. For me, that was something I had not really experienced before. Life has often been about working around the clock for me, but the Swedish approach is healthier and I appreciate being able to embrace all aspects of life here. Of course no place is perfect, and some cultural differences can take some time to adjust to, both at work and outside. Before I moved here, I heard a lot about Swedes being very quiet, calm and a bit hard to get close and get to know, which is very different compared to Americans! I think it’s somewhat true: it takes time to gain the confidence of a Swede, but once you do they are very kind, friendly and helpful people.

What is the best thing about living in Sweden?

– I must say the summers. The summers in Sweden are magic. It is a great season to enjoy what the country has to offer since the sun is up until midnight just to be gone a few hours and then rise again. The extra long days are fantastic, sitting by a bonfire next to a quiet lake in the deep woods enjoying the beautiful nature, having a late night picnic by the sea, having a drink outside with friends in the busy city. I also love outdoor activities, especially running, swimming and biking. Coming here I found out that Swedes also are very outdoorsy, and you can find plenty of opportunities to go hiking, running, biking, swimming or kayaking.

Would you recommend others to move here?

– Definitely! It is such a lovely country that has a lot to offer. For me it was important to live in Europe, well connected to all the other European countries. For that – Sweden is perfect. It does not feel as far North as one would think. And for not having English as a first language, Swedes are arguably the best English speakers in the world, which is very helpful when you are new in the country.

What do you think of Sweden in regard to equality and other social aspects?

– That is another thing that Sweden definitely did not disappoint with. It feels like all other countries outside of Scandinavia are many years behind regarding equality and fighting discrimination of all kinds. Sweden is a very modern country and Swedes are very open minded and accepting towards differences, whether it is related to gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability. This mindset is also reflected in Sweden’s welfare, educational and health systems. The benefits of living in Sweden are high, with generous annual and parental leave, free daycare and education, large social benefits and advantages, and very good healthcare to give a few examples.

In your opinion, which is the most beautiful place in Sweden?

– The West coast is my favorite. Rocky islands, fishermen villages with wooden houses painted in bright colours, and delicious seafood. It’s hard to pick just one place on the West coast: I love Smögen, Kungshamn, Fjällbacka, Marstrand and of course the Gothenburg peninsula. It is a beautiful place for relaxing and recreation.

Which is the best Swedish tradition?

– I am not going to be very original here. The midsummer celebration of the longest day of the year is quite unique: lots of nice Swedish traditional food, flower wreaths, singing and dancing around the maypole with friends and family.

Back to EMA to Sweden >

Jeremie Boucher

Principal Scientist in the Diabetes research department for AstraZeneca in Gothenburg