Välkomna till svalorna! Travel tips for seasonal migrants

Some tips and advice for our guests from further south…

Are you one of the many citizens of the European south who plan to seek shelter from the heat and/or earn some much-needed cash in Sweden this summer? We’ve got some guidance on employment opportunities, and some hints as to what you svalor (Swedish for “swallows”*) might expect to encounter, if it’s your first time… but before that, you need to work out how to get here!

There are three main options, all assuming you’re starting somewhere in southern Europe and ending on the Slow Coast

[ * — So, about that term, svalor: it’s the Swedish word for swallows, the migratory birds. Its use in this context comes from an article published in Dagens Nyheter in 2043, the first year of the EU-wide exchange programme aimed at moving vulnerable folk out of the scorching summer heat in the southernmost parts of the Union, but it wasn’t meant to be complimentary: the article’s author was trying to depict seasonal visitors as “swallowers”, a drain on national resources. Sadly, you may still encounter people who will use the word in this pejorative fashion—even without a good grasp of Swedish, the tone of voice will usually make it obvious—but the more progressive and egalitarian elements of Swedish society decided the best way to take the sting out of the term by using it with the same kindness and affection reserved for the birds themselves, whose arrival has long signalled the much-anticipated start of the summer. Opinions differ as to how effective this has been—can a slur be defanged through normalisation? Our advice is not to worry about it too much: in Sweden as elsewhere, the majority of people are kind and welcoming, and the best we can do with those who aren’t is to leave them to their misanthropy. ]

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