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From Elmira to Stockholm

“Mitt namn är Sarah.”

Eight-year-old Sarah Lucier and her brothers Owen and Evan have spent their summer reading Pippi Longstocking books, eating lingonberry jam and listening to Swedish lessons on their iPods.

The family is moving to Sweden for two years, taking the opportunity offered by Paul Lucier’s job at Research in Motion. He will be RIM’s managing director in Europe and Russia, focused on developing emerging markets in Poland, Russia, Ireland and the Nordics.

Paul and Nancy Lucier and their children Evan, Owen and Sarah leave next week for a two-year stay in Sweden. They’ve been preparing in advance, attempting to get a jump on the transition.
The Luciers leave Aug. 10, so the next few days will be spent packing the last of their things, saying goodbyes and having last dinners with friends and family.

They’ll be living in Bromma, a suburb of Stockholm famous for being the birthplace of NHL star Mats Sundin. That was exciting news for 10-year-old Owen, a hockey player himself. Owen and his younger brother Evan will be playing with Göta Traneberg, one of the biggest clubs in Sweden, on a twin ice pad five minutes from their house.

A week before moving day, the kids were experiencing a bellyful of emotions: scared, excited, sad and nervous.

“I can’t believe I’ll be seven when I get back,” Evan said.

Evan celebrates his birthday just a few days after they arrive in Sweden, and his parents had to reassure him that he would still get a birthday cake.

The Luciers will be back in Canada for Christmas and for a visit next summer, but most of the next two years will be spent overseas. The kids are most worried about missing family and friends, so they’ve handed out cards to each of their classmates with their phone number, address and email address. The family also plans to start a blog, so they can post regular updates about life in Sweden.

They’ve also done some research before arriving in Sweden, looking up their house on Google Maps and searching out pictures of their school and teachers. Owen, Sarah and Evan will be going to an international school where lessons are taught in English and three-quarters of the students are from outside Sweden.
The family’s house is a few minutes from a tram stop, and the kids will be taking the tram and subway to school. Given the excellent public transportation system in Stockholm, the Luciers hope to make do with one car while in Sweden.

One good thing that will help ease the transition is that most Swedes speak excellent English. Students learn English in school and movies and television shows aren’t dubbed into Swedish, so they have very little accent.

“The bad thing is they don’t celebrate Halloween,” said a scandalized Sarah.

But the Luciers will be bringing Halloween with them; they’ve packed all their decorations, and their grandmother has promised to send them bags of candy to hand out to the neighbours.

The whole family is looking forward to the raft of outdoor activities that are popular in Sweden: hiking, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, skating and fishing on Lake Mälaren. Sweden has a tradition of common access – known as allemansrätten – that gives everyone the right to enjoy uncultivated land. That means anyone can hike, camp, use drinking water and pick wildflowers, berries and mushrooms throughout the country, even on private property.

The European lifestyle is one of the big attractions for Paul, but the move will also mean more time at home. He’s been doing a lot of travelling overseas for the past few years and spending as many as 10 days away from home every month. Living in Sweden will make it possible to travel to London or Moscow on business and return the same day.

“This is a chance to spend a little more quality time with family,” he said.

Despite the butterflies as moving day approaches, Paul and Nancy are confident that the next two years will be good ones for the whole family.

“One of the big reasons we want to go is so the kids can experience living in a foreign country,” Paul said.
“They’re going to have lots of opportunities to experience new things.”

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