Lost in Daylight Saving Time

Weeks 30-31

Please welcome my favourite time of the year once again: the clock changing circus. The last time we went through this in March-April was a total disaster. Therefore, I’m now prepared with double and triple checks on all of my students’ time zones to make sure that I know what’s going on. Also, I’ve got some exciting news about the new work I accepted last week.

First let us review the facts. At the end of March, Europe changed its time from winter time (standard time) to summer time (Daylight Saving Time, DST) by setting the clocks one hour forward. On October the 25th they will change it back to the standard time. As we are located in the Southern Hemisphere and the seasons are all upside-down here in Australia, we set our clocks one hour backwards earlier this year. Now, we set the clocks forward to have the standard time again. This means that during the European spring and summer, Australian Autumn and Winter, the time difference between Finland and Eastern Australia is 7 hours and the rest of the year it’s 9h. Pretty simple, eh?

What I didn’t realise, however, was the fact that countries all around the world have different dates for changing the time. Not to mention that more than half of the countries do not observe DST, including some countries’ independent states like Queensland here in Australia. And this means that between those clock-setting dates the time difference between Finland and Victoria goes first to 8 hours for a couple of weeks and then to 7 or 9 hours depending on the time of the year.

Last March-April I wasn’t aware of the different dates when the time difference to Melbourne changed so I managed to mess up my whole schedule for a couple of weeks. The weekly lessons booked from different time zones which either changed or didn’t change the time, overlapped and I had to reschedule almost everything. 

This time I prepared myself both manually and digitally by listing all my students, their time zones, and the time changing policies of their countries and making sure Google Calendar gives me the right times based on the DST changes. After all this maths my brain hurts, however I am happy because once again it is a new task that I can do as a private online teacher.

Oh yes, the new job! I signed my very first employment contract with an Australian employer and I’ll start working next week. So excited! More on this coming up so stay tuned.

Luckily, Google Calendar knows the time zones so I can just set the lessons to the student’s own time zone and it will be automatically converted to my time.

Mid-term assessment

Weeks 24-26

“Hey you were in Opettaja-lehti”, my dad writes on WhatsApp being “surprised” and sends me a link to an article in the newest Teachers’ magazine. Of course, I told him about the interview right away when Anna-Sofia Nieminen first contacted me in February this year. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty awesome to see my story printed in the magazine that I’ve seen in my family’s mailbox since I was a little kid. The article reinforced my decision to do something different and continue on my journey, despite all the doubts I had on the way.

So what did exactly happen when the COVID-19 pandemic started in February? 

I had decided to apply for the first year working holiday visa in Australia to see if it was possible to work as a classroom teacher. I had heard both good and bad about the process of getting the teaching license in Victoria: some said it was easy as long as you had all the required documents, some said it could take months to complete the application. I decided to try as I was keen to work with kids again and learn about the Australian curriculum.

As you know already, things didn’t go as planned. The first problem before the coronavirus finally forced all the schools to go online was to pass the language test with the required mark. I chose to do an ISLPR test which was similar to the better-known IELTS tests but customised to your profession and, unlike in IELTS, it was possible to retake particular parts of the test without doing the whole test all over again. ISLPR stands for International Second Language Proficiency Ratings. It had two parts: written and spoken, which included reading and listening. For the teacher registration in Victoria, they require level 4 out of 5 which is described as “vocational proficiency”.

“Able to perform very effectively in almost all situations pertinent to social and community life and everyday commerce and recreation, and generally in almost all situations pertinent to own ‘vocational’ fields.”

I took the exam twice. First, all four skills and then only writing and speaking. In the written test you have to complete two assignments in one hour and you can’t go over or under 10% of the total 400 words. The first time, I panicked in the written part and ran out of time. This has happened to me many times before in exams with strict time limits so I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get a 4/5. I got a 3+/5. 

Strange enough, I got the same mark on the second try even though I didn’t run out of time nor made any spelling mistakes (rare for me when writing a foreign language by hand). This time I had 7 mistakes in total, and apparently, you are only allowed to have 2-4. The fatal mistakes that gave me a 3+ were:

  • Saying “I think that was…” (mixing tenses)
  • Using the phrasal verb “to give up” (being too informal)
  • Saying “having the honour of…” (being too formal)

Fair enough, these are quite embarrassing mistakes when you want to work as a casual relief primary school teacher. But sarcasm aside, I wanted to know more about the grading scale because I just couldn’t understand the logic. I knew I made spelling mistakes in the first one, and I didn’t even finish it so how could the assessment still be the same 3+/5? In the feedback session, they told me that this second 3+ was closer to 4 than the first one. I wonder if there are more invisible steps on this scale that can only be found out by trying again.

Even more confusing was the spoken test in which I also got 3+/5 twice. In the spoken test they interview you about your plans in Australia and your career as a teacher. I had the same tester twice and because she already knew me, she just asked how I was doing. My mistakes, or “highlights” as the testers ironically call them, were:

  • Talking too fast
  • “Finglish”, meaning that I mixed Finnish and English (when I asked for examples, they didn’t mention any specific “Finglish” words or structures because generally, it was the way I spoke that sounded Finnish)
  • Pronouncing the word “schedule” as [skɛdʒuːl] (like the Americans do)
  • Pronouncing th, for example “that”, as dh (It was funny that before she started the feedback sessions, she asked me if I were Irish because I “had the Irish th”. Wait, didn’t the Irish people also speak native English?)

I was supposed to go and do the test one more time just for the sake of all the money spent on the registration process and maybe for the sake of my dignity, just a little bit. You can still see the lack of teachers in the job market here, however, there aren’t many opportunities for casual relief teachers. So, I thought I could still apply for jobs as a teacher assistant to somehow help in this crisis. But, once again the red tape got me. Having the “wrong” degree and wrong visa didn’t get me any further with that plan either. You should have a Certificate III (a specific Teacher Aide degree) from TAFE (Technical and Further Education) to be qualified as a teacher aide. Eventually, I didn’t see the point of putting more effort into the process during these times but to focus on my own business.

Despite the obvious disappointment, I have been very happy with the experience I’ve got here in Australia so far. The challenges only made me think out of the box and come up with a plan that was even better than the original. Going through the process as far as I did, also gave me a new perspective to look at life as an immigrant again and think about the language assessment as a national institution. What do we want to achieve with language assessment in general? What means fluency and native-like skills? 

Through my own business, I still get to teach students of all ages, work in English, and even learn about the Australian education system.

You can read Anna-Sofia Nieminen and Päivi Arvonen’s article about different ways to be a teacher in Opettaja-lehti (in Finnish).



Weeks 1-2

Back to writing in English as it’s time to start a new chapter in EduExploring. I returned to Melbourne after a short trip to Vietnam. Some might also call that as “doing a visa run” as I came back with the working holiday visa (WHV) in my pocket. I got to change the backpacking mode to job-seeking mode and once again, migrate to a new country. This time to Australia, making a long-term dream to come true. Let’s restart the “mamu” (immigrant in Finnish) and dive into a new education system, shall we? 

After all, applying for the 12 months’ WHV and settling in Australia wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I had already thought about working here several times before but always ended up moving to Sweden instead. My WHV was granted in less than an hour once I sent the application from Vietnam. Next step was to figure out, what i could do as a qualified teacher in Australia.

Before returning to Melbourne, I had contacted an agency who connects teachers and schools in order to arrange casual relief teaching and short-term substitutions. With their guidance, I learned that if I wanted to work as a teacher in Australia, the way to get there wouldn’t be the easiest. Firstly, I need to take care of all the basic immigration documents such as the tax file number (TFN) and medicare. Secondly, I need to registrate with the Victorian institute of teaching (VIT) in order to be qualify for any teacher positions.

Starting with easy ones, I managed to get both TFN and medicare during the first week. Also, the working with children check (WWCC), which is needed for the teacher registration, was pretty easy to apply. The only thing you have to do, is to pay the bill and go to a post office to get your picture taken for the WWCC card. The WWCC authorities will scan through your criminal history and provide the necessary authorisation. After getting the TFN, I was finally able to apply for an Australian bank account. See, how smoothly the way takes me step by step through the Australian red tape jungle? No, still not done here. After filling in the application for the bank account, I need to go back to the post office to show my face again and prove that I’m a real person.

And what about the teaching registration then? What I can tell you so far, is that we are going to get even deeper to the jungle. As a qualified primary school teacher with a Master’s degree in Education from Finland you would proudly think that it’s easy to get a teaching job wherever. Nope, doesn’t guarantee that! After filling in, once again, another application, I received an email with a long list of required documents that should first, be translated and then, certified by the Victorian authorities. Additionally, I was asked to complete a language test with good marks to show that I am able to teach in English. And finally, they needed to receive my criminal history from both Finland and Sweden. But wait, didn’t WWCC already do that for me? Yes, but that’s not enough. Why not to do the same thing twice and make people pay extra for that…

When I was looking for the VIT documents through my files, I started counting the total bill of the migration process for a non-native English speaking teacher. Luckily, when I went to the VIT office in Melbourne to ask about translation and certification, they accepted my Master’s and Bachelor’s transcripts and identification documents straight away. Therefore, neither translating nor certifying is needed so far which cut down the bill a little bit. This is how it looks at the moment:

  • Working Holiday Visa 485 AUD
  • Medicare (we shall see)
  • Tax File Number 0 AUD (at least paying taxes is something you can do for free…)
  • Working With Children Check 126.50 AUD
  • Language test 395 AUD (I chose a test called ISLPR “International Second Language Proficiency Rating)
  • Nationally coordinated Criminal History (NCCH) form Finland 12€
  • Nationally coordinated Criminal History from Sweden 225kr
  • International Driving Licence 42€

So yeah, you might consider moving to Australia to be more like an expense rather than a way to become rich.

While I’m still waiting for the criminal history checks from both Finland and Sweden to reach Victorian authorities, I’m looking for an education-related job where you don’t need the VIT registration, like for instance, teaching assistant or school administration officer jobs. Unfortunately, almost every open position I’ve found so far seems to require a specified degree (well, just like in Finland…). Nevertheless, the teaching agency offered me a job that didn’t require the VIT registration. The job title was called “School Crossing Supervisor”, aka meaning someone who walks school kids across a street before and after school. Mmm… Yeah… That’s exactly what I thought I could do with my Master’s degree in Education in Australia. Cheers mate!

Above all, when moving to another country, prepare yourself to explain who you are and what you are qualified for. The fact that you’ve got a degree in higher education doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically be recognized and accredited in the new country. I do understand, however, that it’s important to make sure that the teachers trained overseas can do the same as their local colleagues. But then again, all the teachers in Finland are required to have a Master’s degree in Education (M.Ed.) whereas in Australia, most of the teachers only have a Bachelor’s degree. To become a teacher in Australia, you can either do a four years’ B.Ed. or a three years B.Ed. and one year M.Ed. That is to say, Finnish teachers are generally over-qualified here. Fingers crossed that it’ll help me to get a job soon!

Taking my shoes off now to make a proper stop and look for new adventures in Melbourne.


Ensimmäiset askeleet Länsirannan kouluarkeen

Sadat oppilaat kiiruhtavat koulun pihalle kellon ollessa jo 7.35. He järjestäytyvät luokka-asteittain pitkiin jonoihin valmiina yhteiseen aamunavaukseen. Kun jonot ovat koossa ja kurissa, aloitetaan armeijahenkisellä jumppatuokiolla, jossa venytellään käsiä megafoniin kailottavan opetttajan johdolla: ylös, eteen, sivuille, alas. Palestiinan lippu nostetaan salkoon partiolaisten voimin ja kansallislaulu kajahtaa tarmokkaana soimaan kaijuttimista merkkinä yhteislaululle.

Sain reissuvuoteni alkajaisiksi kunnian lähteä Opettajat ilman rajoja (OIR) -verkoston kautta  Kirkon Ulkomaanavun (KUA) järjestämälle vapaaehtoisjaksolle Länsirannalle, Israelin miehittämälle palestiinalaisalueelle. Aloitin hakuprosessin jo vuosi sitten täyttäessäni vihdoin OIR:n yleiset vaatimukset iän, koulutuksen ja työkokemuksen suhteen. Hyväksyntä hakemukselleni Education advisorin rooliin (tähän asti muuten hienoin saamani titteli) tuli iloisena yllätyksenä. Tämä oli mahdollisuus, jonka luulin avautuvan vasta vuosia pitkän työuran jälkeen. Ei siis muuta kuin haaste reippaana vastaan ja lähtövalmistelut käyntiin!

Kohdemaan varmistuessa lopullisesti huhtikuussa aloitin tutustumisen Israelin ja Palestiinan historiaan, politiikkaan sekä konfliktitilanteeseen. Lisäksi yritin töiden ohessa harjoitella itsenäisesti arabian kielen alkeita kuitenkaan pääsemättä siinä kovinkaan pitkälle. Niin erilaisessa maailmassa oli jo kyllikseen uutta opittavaa ja omaksuttavaa ennen lähtöä, etteivät uudet aakkoset jääneet millään mieleen. OIR:n lähtökoulus, KUA:n syvempi maakohtainen perehdytys sekä alueella aiemmin olleet vapaaehtoiset tarjosivat runsaasti materiaalia kontekstin tutkimiseen.

Oppilaat kerääntyvät omiin kotiluokkiinsa, joissa saattaa olla samanaikaisesti jopa 45 lasta yhtä aikuista kohden. Tunnelma on pienessä luokkahuoneessa tiivis, mutta ulkomaalaiselle vierailijallekin löytyy paikka takarivin pulpettien välistä. Luokassa meneillään ollut innokas vilske ja hulina loppuu opettajan saapuessa huoneeseen. Oppilaat haluavat eloisasta uteliaisuudestaan huolimatta näyttää parastaan vierailijalle ja alkavat viittailla ja hihkua “miss, miss” vastatakseen opettajan esittämiin kysymyksiin. Opettaja saa paljon innostuneita vapaaehtoisia kysyessään, kuka haluaa kirjoittaa englanninkielisiä sanoja taululle. 

OIR-hankkeen vapaaehtoiset vaikuttavat Israelin miehittämällä palestiinalaisalueella pääosin Ramallahissa palestiinalaishallinnon alaisissa julkisissa kouluissa. Hanke on mukana toimeenpanemassa paikallisen opetusministeriön uusimpaa koulutuksen kehittämissuunnitelmaa, joka pyrkii vastaamaan 2000-luvun koulutuksellisiin tarpeisiin miehitystilanteen alla. Tänä syksynä mukaan otettiin kaksi uutta koulua: poikakoulu luokille 1-9 ja yhteiskoulu, jossa luokka-asteet 1-4 olivat sekä tytöille että pojille ja 5-9 pelkästään tytöille. 

Tehtävänämme oli suunnitella ja toteuttaa täydennyskoulutuksia koulujen opettajille esiin nousevista tarpeista. Yleisesti OIR:n tavoitteena on kohteissaan lisätä opetuksen oppijakeskeisyyttä, inklusiivisuutta sekä laaja-alaista osaamista teacher to teacher -periaatteella. Näiden lisäksi jaksollamme keskeisiksi teemoiksi nousivat havaintojen ja haastatteluiden perusteella opettajan työhyvinvointi sekä positiivinen psykologia.

Koulupäivä hurjastellaan läpi melkoisella vauhdilla. 40 minuutin oppitunteja seuraavat 5 minuutin siirtymät, jotka oppilaat viettävät samassa luokkatilassa pitäen lyhyen mölinäbreikin, ennen kuin seuraavan tunnin opettaja astuu ovesta sisään. Päivän puolivälissä on puolen tunnin lounasvälitunti, jolloin oppilaat ehtivät ulos ja voivat käydä ostamassa pientä purtavaa koulun pihalla olevasta kioskista. Tässä kohdassa tulemme luokista ryntäävien tyttöjen saartamaksi. “How are you? What’s your name? Where are you from? Do you like K-pop?”

Olin alkuun hämmentynyt kaikesta. Luettuani koko kesän masentavista konfliktiin ajaneista käänteistä, koston kierteestä ja vainoamisesta en osannut kuvitella, miltä todellinen arki Ramallahissa näyttäisi. Koulupihan nuorten meininki on kuitenkin samanlaista kuin missä tahansa muuallakin: seurataan kansainvälisiä trendejä, vaikutetaan somessa, ihaillaan julkkiksia ja haaveillaan menestyksekkäästä urasta. Oppilaat osallistuvat päällisin puolin aktiivisesti oppitunneilla ja moni on aidosti motivoitunut oppimaan uutta. He näyttävät viihtyvän koulussa ja kehuvat hyvää yhteishenkeä.

Pintaa syvempi tarkastelu oli paikallaan kokonaistilanteen vaikutusten hahmottamiseksi. Pintaa sai kuitenkin raaputtaa kerros kerrokselta, ennen kuin asian ytimeen pääsi ulkopuolisena vierailijana käsiksi. Pohdin, mikä antaa voimaa miehitetyn palestiinalaisalueen nuorille ja heidän opettajilleen. Miten vuosikymmeniä kestänyt miehitystilanne ja jatkuva epävarmuus naapurin toimista vaikuttaa koulutukseen? Mikä merkitys sillä on opettajan rooliin yhteiskunnassa?

Ramallah, Länsiranta


Kohti uusia näkökulmia

Aurinko paahtaa ja turistit kuhisevat ympärilläni, kun kävelen vanhankaupungin kapeiden basaarikujien läpi lokakuisessa Jerusalemissa. Olen vasta reissuni alussa, mutta jo ensimmäinen kohde tempaisi niin voimakkaasti mukaansa historian syviin pyörteisiin, että seuraavaa lentoa oli pakko siirtää. Nyt viisumiajan lähentyessä loppuaan ihmettelen, miten vähän oikeastaan tiesinkään tästä alueesta ja sen tilanteesta, näistä kulttuureista, uskonnoista ja ihmisistä. Matkustaminen todistaa hyvin sen, ettei tunnollisinkaan oppikirjasta pänttääjä tavoita tasoa, johon vasta oman kokemuksen ja tunteiden kautta voi päästä sukeltamaan.

Matkani aikana haluan erityisesti sukeltaa syvemmälle työmahdollisuuksiin, joita minulla suomalaisena opettajana voisi ulkomailla olla. Koin opiskeluaikana, että erilaisista mahdollisuuksista tutustua muihin koulutusjärjestelmiin ja hankkia kansainvälistä työkokemusta koulutussektorilta oli haastavaa löytää tietoa. On erikoista, ettei opettajaopiskelijoille muihin tiedekuntiin verrattuna juurikaan järjestetä tilaisuuksia kartoittaa kansainvälisiä uramahdollisuuksia, vaikka esimerkiksi suomalaista koulutusvientiä on yritetty saada suurempaan nosteeseen. Kannustaminen kansainväliseen koulutusyhteistyöhön sekä perehdyttäminen erilaisiin koulutussektorin toimijoihin jo opiskeluaikana lisäisi varmasti kiinnostusta monipuolisen uran ja laaja-alaisen osaamisen kehittämiseen. Omalla kohdallani kokemukset Unkarissa ja Ruotsissa eivät pelkästään antaneet minulle mahdollisuutta tutustua muiden kulttuurien koulutusjärjestelmiin ja oppimiskäsityksiin vaan myös avasivat uuden näkökulman tarkastella suomalaista koulutusjärjestelmää ja sen kehittämistä.

Tiedon lisäksi tarvitaan joustavuutta tarttua mahdollisuuteen. Maailmalle lähtemisen aikatauluttaminen opintojen puitteissa oli opettajankoulutuksessa yllättävän hankalaa. Harvoin järjestettävät ja paljon läsnäoloa vaativat kasvatustieteen ja monialaisten kurssit sitovat opeopiskelijat paikoilleen, jolloin monelle avautuu tilaisuus kansainväliselle harjoittelulle vasta maisterivaiheessa. Puolen vuoden Erasmus-vaihto saattaa viivästyttää opintoja jopa vuodella, jos vaihdossa suoritettuja kursseja ei voi suoraan lukea hyväksi tutkintoon vaan ne paisuttavat opintosuunnitelmaa ylimääräisinä opintopisteinä. Työelämässä joustavuuden esteenä taas saattaa olla viran sitovuus. Toistaiseksi näin pätkätyöläisenä mietin, tulisiko myöhemmin valita joko erilaiset työtehtävät ja reissailu vai virka. Vai voisiko niitä jotenkin yhdistää?

Ajatus välivuodesta jo heti ensimmäisen työpaikan jälkeen jännitti ja jännittää edelleen, sillä se aiheuttaa fomoa – pelkoa kaikesta siitä, mistä luulee jäävänsä paitsi. Putoanko täysin kärryiltä siitä, mistä (etenkin Suomen) työmarkkinoilla puhutaan ja minkälaista osaamista haetaan? Entä miten esimiestasolla suhtaudutaan aukkoon cv:ssä, jos syynä on ollut “vain reppureissailu”? En ole vielä keksinyt parempaa vastausta kuin että pohdin näitä sitten jälkikäteen.

Juuri nyt keskityn kartoittamaan uusia mahdollisuuksia: mitä oikeastaan suomalaisella opettajankoulutuksella voisi tehdä Suomen ulkopuolella. Yksi tapa pitää kiinni siteestä suomalaiseen koulumaailmaan on reflektoida kokemaani muualla suhteessa Suomen kontekstiin, joten yritän kuljettaa tätä mukanani matkan punaisena lankana. Katsotaan miten käy! 

Ensimmäinen pysäkki: Lähi-Itä.

Reppureissailun vai reppustressailun ensimmäinen pysäkki




This week it was time to thank my students for our first semester together and celebrate my first semester as a classroom teacher! It has been an amazing journey so far and I’m very lucky to continue with the same group to the next grade in Autumn. In this, the last post of the semester, I will reflect on my adventure in Sweden so far; why it was a good decision for me to take this job and stay in Stockholm, and how I did as a teacher according to my pupils.

Since I got to assess such a talented class, I thought it would be fair if the students also gave me an assessment. Last Friday one task was to have a feedback meeting (luokkapalaveri) where the pupils would assess their work as a team and my work as their teacher. We gathered in a circle to discuss the funniest things that happened during the semester (the red square), where the students succeeded together (the blue cloud), which 5 exercises they thought were the best (the flower), what the teacher has learned during the semester (green text) and what she should still practise (pink text) and what their team goal will be for the next semester (the flag). Last but not least, they gave a general assessment of my work. I can happily announce that even the teacher passed all subjects with hög grad (check out Assessment) and gets to continue to the next grade!


The assessment form for the feedback meeting with the class.

We had the last day of school on Tuesday. In our school, the skolavslutning is more like a graduation ceremony for the ninth grade rather than Finnish kevätjuhla (“spring festival”) where all the classes perform something to the parents. After the ceremony, we had our own gathering in the classroom. I was extremely nervous the day before when I realised that I was not only expected to give a speech to the students but also to their parents! My first speech in Swedish! Everything went fine though, and the parents were happy as well. How you manage your job as a teacher has a surprising amount to do with maintaining a successful collaboration with the parents, especially when you’re a novice.

In Sweden, the teachers keep on working on so-called “in-service” days after the students are gone. Yes, I will work until midsummer unlike my colleagues in Finland who take off immediately after the traditional spring psalm Suvivirsi has been sung. I guess that makes up for those many holidays we had during the spring semester, haha! I must say that I found these first three in-service days to be pretty calming though. You have time to clean and organise the classroom and your desk. Time to reset and look back on the eventful semester.

So why was it a good decision to stay in Sweden? Firstly, signing my first employment contract as a teacher felt very important as it currently doesn’t seem that easy in Finland. There are many newly graduated teachers looking for their first job with no luck. This, dear Sweden, could be one way to fix the big lack of qualified teachers here. Some Swedish school headteachers have also realised there is a resource of well-educated teachers in Finland. They have organised recruitment events where they try to tempt graduating teacher students, who can speak Swedish, to come and work in Sweden. If you’re ready to go, you may have a chance to negotiate close to a doctor’s salary for yourself. Secondly, it seems more likely to get a permanent teacher’s position in Sweden which is a huge benefit compared to Finland where young teachers nowadays go from one temporary contract to another.

Nonetheless, I can’t emphasise enough how much of a huge challenge it is to start working in another country with different school laws and a different curriculum, where the work is at least partly in a foreign language. I wouldn’t recommend doing this as a first teaching job. There are so many practical things to learn after graduating so it’s good to do at least some longer substitute work in Finland before considering working in Sweden. Otherwise, I can highly recommend doing it! I think it’s eye-opening to see different education systems and learn from them.

The main thing that makes me want to stay in Sweden for another semester, perhaps even a full academic year, is the social integration which in my case was successful. Knowing the language at least a little bit gives you a good start. For Finns, it’s just about daring to speak aloud the Swedish which we have learned in school and forgetting about our thick accent! (You probably guess what the thing I still have to practice next semester is, haha…) Social networking, traditionally or via social media, is said to be hard in Sweden, especially in Stockholm, but once you’re active and open-minded, you’ll find hospitable locals and other like-minded foreigners.