Having moved to Stockholm from Talin in Estonia two years ago, Alexander Gerhard was determined to learn the Swedish language. Signing up to United Invitations to be both a guest, and to host dinner in his own house, 29-year-old Alexander was also keen to make new friends. While his experiences varied, all were positive, and all have left him with a stronger sense of community, and a new social outlet.
â€œWith the idea of learning Swedish faster, meeting new people and socialising, I went on my first dinner. At first, I was a little bit stressed, but when I saw that they were a young couple, my own age, I soon relaxed. They offered me a drink of wine, and we ate. I asked them why they decided to host the dinner and they said they were very social, and loved meeting new people. It was interesting, and a bit challenging, because my Swedish isn’t perfect,â€ says Alexander.
Soon after he hosted his second United Invitations dinner, welcoming a young Italian man over for dinner. â€œAlberto had been in Sweden for three years, and his Swedish was better than mine. This time, it was even better. He’s my age and after we met that time, we went to a few Salsa dancing events and we went to a bar a few times. A lot of people asked me if I felt comfortable inviting strangers into my house, but it’s not strange for me. I am social and I have no reason to not to think well about anyone. I simply like meeting new people.â€
A lot of people asked me if I felt comfortable inviting strangers into my house, but it’s not strange for me. I am social and I have no reason to not to think well about anyone. I simply like meeting new people.
While he says he’s always a little bit nervous before hosting or attending a dinner, he generally feels comfortable after a few minutes. He also reminds himself that the people he’s meeting are more than likely feeling the same. â€œWhen I was a guest at the second dinner, it was hosted by a family – there were two girls, aged 19 and 22, and their parents. They said it was their first time and they felt a little bit stressed, like they didn’t know where to start. But it was good; we got along and we had a nice dinner. Then I invited them over to mine.â€
Having hosted three United Invitations dinners and attending three, Alexander is keen to do more. â€œIf I could, I would do one every week. It’s lots of funâ€
â€œIf we want them, then we want them to live together with us, not apart. We should live in Sweden together – Russians, Syrians – everyone together without problems.â€
So what has he gained from his experience? â€œI learnt some Swedish and Alberto and I have met a few times and we speak sometimes by telephone; so I’ve made a new friend. I now feel more at home here. The Swedes are very welcoming; they are very good people. I have also learnt more about the Swedish way of life. When I asked the family why they decided to invite me, they said; â€œThere are a lot of immigrants coming to Sweden – we either want them or we don’t. If we want them, then we want them to live together with us, not apart. We should live in Sweden together – Russians, Syrians – everyone together without problems.â€