Hey! I'm a computer science major from Portland, Oregon, and I justfinished my second year studying at Northeastern.

I'm currently living in Stockholm, Sweden, where I'm a softwaredeveloper for Skira, an agricultural tech startup. Skira provides adigital grain trading platform to farmers, providing an alternative tothe status quo of phone calls and in-person meetings to facilitate moreefficient farm-related transactions.

Though this is my first formal co-op, I spent the summer interningremotely for a large tech company, and prior to this have had two othersoftware development internship experiences.


Finding the Position

Mrs. Kent-Yates, my advisor, helped me find the job. I'd mentioned on myco-op paperwork that I would be interested in living in Scandinavia, andshe had had a prior student who had interned at Skira the previous year.I was offered an interview in January and I decided to accept theposition in early February.

Finding Housing

Finding housing was a bit challenging for me; it's difficult to findhousing in Stockholm proper, even for people currently living in Sweden.I decided to book an AirBnB for a week to buy some time for looking atlonger term accomodations in person. I posted an advertisement onBlocket (a service a bit like Craigslist, but much safer) to findhousing and received some responses, but after seeing some apartmentsthrough this service I ended up deciding to sublet from a friend of myAirBnB host long-term. It took me longer than expected, but my host wasnice enough to allow me to stay for longer than a week's time.


The visa process was a bit confusing due to COVID, but would have gonesmoothly otherwise. I applied for and received my worker's permit inearly March, before Scandinavia and the US started to deal with thecoronavirus, but it was unclear what would happen after COVID. ThroughJune, I thought I would be working from home for the rest of the year,but in July Sweden decided to lift restrictions for travelers visitingfrom the US who had work permits. I then applied for my residence permitwith help from an organization called the Swedish-American Chamber ofCommerce and was granted the permit about two weeks before I left theUS. It was difficult to convince the airline that I was legally able totravel to Sweden, but the customs process itself went very smoothly.


I am definitely not making as much at this job as I did at previouspositions I've had, but I'm still making more money than I'm spendingduring my time here. I'm making about 18 US dollars an hour, basicliving expenses are much cheaper here than in Boston, even in the city.Eating out is much more expensive than the US, but if you cook most ofyour meals you won't have a problem with budgeting here.

Meeting Others

I've only been here for about a month so far but I've been able to meeta few people during my time here. The company I work for has been greatabout making time for social events during the work week. There are twoother Northeastern students here – one who connected Skira withNortheastern and is now working full-time, and another co-op – so Ispend time with them outside of work. I also have relatives in the area,so I hang out with my cousin, and I've met a few international studentsstudying in the city to spend time with. I still do a lot on my own, butI think that's something you'll have to be comfortable with when movinganywhere new as you acclimate to the new space.

Cultural Barriers

I honestly haven't had any issues with language or cultural barriers.Though everyone speaks Swedish by default here, English is just asimportant as Swedish, math or science in Swedish school – my cousin'sreading the same English books I did when I was in high school. It'stotally possible to live here without speaking any Swedish.


I've really enjoyed the workplace. Though much of the business is stilldone in Swedish, our workplace has been very accomodating of the USemployees; all meetings and presentations are held in English bydefault. The occupation helps as well – something we don't really thinkabout in the US is that almost all code written worldwide is developedin English, so English is the de-facto language for talking aboutprogramming as well. This isn't unique to software development, though;one of my dad's coworkers here has lived here for eight years withoutlearning any Swedish, and I've met British people working at cafes doingtheir work entirely in English. We've laughed at lunch about someSwedish idioms that don't translate well to English, but I've had zeroreal problems with communication.

I'm a big fan of the Swedish custom of 'fika' – at about 3:00 PM,everyone in Sweden takes a 15-30 minute break from work to spend timewith their coworkers, hanging out over coffee and cinnamon buns. Betweenthis and our much longer lunches (an hour to an hour and a half), I'veenjoyed the ability to get to take multiple breaks throughout the workdaya nad bond with my coworkers.


Day to day at my job, I help develop Skira's web platform. We'recurrently transitioning from a product that has a stable viable productto one that has lots of features to help farmers, so I've been able toplay a role in ideating, designing and developing lots of new featuresfor the platform. From a technical standpoint, the code I've beenwriting has been similar to most other web development jobs(React-Redux, Express, GraphQL, Postgres stack for the computer sciencestudents listening), but the ability to be one of just five engineersand play a large part in the development of the product has been reallyenjoyable for me. The other developers are all very skilled, and we havea high bar for code quality, so I've been able to learn quite a bit fromdiscussing best practices with my team.


It's much cheaper to go to the grocery store here than in America, butgoing out to eat is more expensive; the government subsidizes basicgoods and taxes restaurants to make sure everyone can afford food. Assuch, there are fewer fast food restaurants and more nice venues. Thereare also many more vegan options than in the US – every restaurant andgrocery store has vegan alternatives for most of their products. Ifyou're vegan and/or enjoy cooking you'll have a great time here; if youeat out frequently, your wallet will start hurting.

What I would Do Better

If I were to travel abroad again (and I'm definitely planning on it),I'd spend more time figuring out what sights I'd like to see and thingsI'd like to do before visiting. With COVID, I wasn't expecting to beable to travel to Sweden at all so I didn't really prepare, but it wouldhave been nice to learn a bit of Swedish as well – again, it's not aproblem to only speak English here, but I feel that speaking the nativelanguage is still a part of the international experience and I didn'tspend enough time learning prior to travelling here.


My top piece of advice is to put yourself out there and experiment! Ididn't know that I'd enjoy living and working here as much as I do.Don't be afraid to try things out. Co-ops and internships are theperfect time determine not only what you want to do, but what type ofperson you want to be. I hadn't ever seriously thought about working ata startup or living abroad before this job, but in this past month I'velearned a lot about myself from this adventure – and I'm sure I'llcontinue to do so.


To speak a bit about my summer internship, I had a bit of a uniquesituation – though I worked remotely from my family home in Portland,Oregon, I live fairly close to the company's office, so I was able tospend some time with coworkers as restrictions loosened in the city overthe summer.


I can't stress enough how important communication is for workingremotely, especially for engineering-oriented jobs where checkins withcoworkers and bosses are infrequent; it's so easy to become stuck onthings that could be easily resolved with a quick conversation. Don't beafraid to message others with quick questions, email them or set upmeetings; I was on an R&D team developing an experimental product, so Ihad a lot of issues with new and fragile technology that would have beenquickly resolved had I reached out sooner. I think the biggest issuewith working from home in an engineering discipline is the inability tochat with a coworker in the hallway or see if a mentor is available, soit's super important to continue to reach out online to bridge thatcommunication gap.


Feel free to reach out to me overemail if you have any questions orif you'd just like to talk about Scandinavia, startups and technology!