Scandinavia is a bit complicated. What you know about Norway and Finland cannot be applied to Sweden. We usually introduce Norway as a younger brother who still plays with toy cars in his 30s and Finland as that clumsy uncle who stands quietly in the corner at a birthday party. Trust us, we love them both but we wouldn’t introduce either of them on a first date.
Joking aside, there are quite big differences between the Scandinavian countries. Sweden has always been more open to international influences and immigration which nowadays is reflected in how much we export in the form of music, technology and innovation. If you read The European Commission’s European Innovation Scoreboard* they put Sweden as number one as an ‘Innovation Leader’ with innovation performance well above that of the EU average.
A vital part of the wonder of Sweden is the Örebro region. Located in the middle of the country, we have always been a hub for trade and knowledge transfer. Our history of heavy industry mixed with processing, development and trade has led to a region that today is at the forefront of technology and innovation. We are one of Sweden’s AI hubs, we have one of the country’s most modern universities and we are always in need of people with skills.
But we were smart even before artificial intelligence was invented. In 1974, Sweden was the first country in the world to replace gender-specific maternity leave with parental leave. As parents, we now have 480 days paid parental leave to share. This, combined with tax-financed healthcare, paid holidays and social security is smart for real.
Regarding Norway and Finland, you don’t have to worry. Norway has oil and Finland is the land of a thousand lakes.
Why are some people so good at what they do? Leaving aside good luck and circumstances, there are probably just two explanations: talent and effort. Stefanie is the perfect example. She’s a creative award-winning copywriter who changed country and career and found her own paradise.
For love, she left a successful career as a creative/copywriter at some of Germany’s best advertising agencies and moved to a city she knew nothing about. Here she started from scratch, changed her pen for a camera and today she’s an award-winning photographer whose photos can be seen in the largest fashion magazines all over the world. “I worked hard for many years, worked around the clock with some of the world’s biggest brands, won advertising awards but almost worked myself to death on the way. Now I’m in a good place. I feel that I’ve reached something that I would call perfect.”
Stefanie lives in a house with a big garden on the outskirts of Örebro with her husband and two dogs. Close to the Swedish nature, something she has learned to love. “In Hamburg, where I grew up, there wasn’t nature in the same way. Wherever you looked, there was always a bus stop or the sound of a highway. Here you can get lost in nature. It’s almost like I’ve developed an addiction to it – the rustling sounds of wind in the trees, the scents and the sight of sun penetrating the tree branches.”
“Actually, living in the countryside has made me a much better beauty and fashion photographer. I love having nature just around the corner, being able to find inspiration in my own backyard. It has elevated my creativity to a completely new level.”
“I live in a city that’s a paradise compared to bigger cities like Stockholm and Hamburg. In larger cities there is often a complacent attitude – here it is more laid back. Most of the beauty and fashion scene is located in Stockholm but that’s not a problem. There is one train per hour between Stockholm and Örebro. It’s so damn smooth. Instead of me going to Stockholm, the models, makeup artists and stylists come to shoot with me in my studio or on location in Örebro. Most of them love the chill attitude they meet here.”