Panion Blog

Learning the unique social codes of a new country can be a challenge for any newbie. For Yoanne, not only has she done it in many different countries but she has now decided to help others do the same. Yoanne Clovis is the founder of Serene Expat, a service dedicated to helping people enjoy all the thrills of starting a new and exciting life without the stress and anxiety. We sat down with her to discuss making friends, going for coffee, and dealing with expat loneliness.

Panion: Tell us a little about yourself.

Yoanne: I’m from an island in the French Caribbean and I currently live in the

You walk into a room full of strangers and it's like you're back at a junior school disco. The nearest group has been talking about a show you've never heard of for the last five minutes. You've missed your chance to jump in. You curse yourself for not being an extrovert. Will it ever get easier?
Meeting new people in Sweden can be a daunting experience, especially when you are not sure of the local social codes — those which influence when and how is it acceptable to approach someone, what questions are off-limits and at what pace friendships progress.
Being an adult kinda sucks. Work, bills, taxes... with all the responsibilities that come with being an adult, it can be difficult to find time to maintain the relationships that are most important to you. While bills, work and other obligations may feel like chores, friendship shouldn't. Check out our simple tips to learn how to maintain happy and healthy friendships.
Surprisingly my 3 years, 9 months and 8 days in Sweden have resulted in 2 Swedish friends. If my math is right, and it might very well not be, I have added one Swedish friend to my circle of friends every 686.5 days. Outside of my two Swedish friends, I have 3 Russian, 3 German, 2 Portuguese, 2 Turkish and 1 Jordanian friend. Looking at it this way, having 2 Swedish friends doesn’t seem odd, but considering that Sweden is still predominantly populated by Swedes, the likelihood of me having more Swedish friends should have been higher (sorry, I can’t do the math on this one).
Making friends can be tough. But what's life like for someone who's completely new to Sweden? We spoke to Olga to find out: "For the most part people’s friends are from their childhood or maybe university. Social interaction is based on planning, it’s not very spontaneous. It’s really tough to get yourself into someone’s schedule."
What do you look for in a friend? Is it someone with whom you share a common interest or someone who gets you completely? We can’t be summed up by a single interest or personality trait, and things we think of as integral to our existence may be completely irrelevant in another context. Humans are defined as much by our contradictions as anything else. It’s this complexity that makes making connections with others even more complicated.
Everyone has their own stories of disconnect, whether that’s feeling lost in a new city, missing home or simply feeling like you don’t quite fit in. We also know that sharing these stories can help us feel more connected and in touch with the world. Malmö is one of the friendliest, most welcoming places in Sweden, so why can it be so difficult to make friends? We sat down with Emma to find out.
Over the 10 years that I have lived abroad, I have heard a variation of this phrase a number of times. Sometimes it was “I” instead of “we”; sometimes a specific country or town was mentioned. It always bugged me, because while friends and acquaintances decided to consolidate their lives and relationships, my own social circle was getting fragmented through their departures. While the formulation varied, the one thing that never changed was the underlying condition: friends, family and home are all considered to be in the same place. For me — and for a number of people who often move between

Food is one of the most powerful connective tools we have. We build our bonds with friends and family over dinners, we go to restaurants on dates, we prepare food for others and with others. Even when we’re cooking and eating alone, food still connects us to the world. Whether it’s a particular meal that reminds us of home comforts, or simply sustenance to get us through the day, food is never meaningless.

Like music or literature, food is a shared cultural product, even if it’s often overlooked as such. The liking (or loathing) of a certain dish is shaped by our early experiences and the