By Morgan McSmith
Reality hit the first morning after arriving, when barefoot locals strolled the aisles of Woolworths. International student Sandra Klingvall certainly wasn’t in Sweden anymore. She unpacked her two large suitcases that held nearly all her clothes and pulled out a trophy won in a big dressage competition, sitting it on her desk. “It reminds me every day that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” she says.
Surrounded by trees sits a big red house. The barn on the left accommodates the horses, cows graze the surrounding fields and dogs run freely. This is Sandra’s childhood home. In comparison, Sandra’s new two-bedroom apartment in Australia had nothing similar to the life she knew in Sweden and she felt perfectly content with that.
Her smile brightens when she reminisces about the days spent with her family hiking through untouched forest and hot chocolate-filled picnics accompanied by her horses. But as Sandra grew up her dreams grew with her, slowly realising Örebro, Sweden was a great place, just not the place for her. Afraid of getting stuck in the typical routine of life; finishing school, buying a big house and starting a family, Sandra made the decision to move across the globe, landing her on the Sunshine Coast.
Playing the black sheep of the family, Sandra knew early on that she wanted more for her future, joking someone might have taken the wrong baby at the hospital. She laughs, describing her dad as someone who will never ask for more than he needs.
“He’s happy with a roof over his head and food on the table,” she says. “My family would never move overseas, they would never even move from the farm, that’s the place they’re going to die at.”
Despite their differences, Sandra’s parents and sister always supported her independent aspirations but others expressed their doubt. A couple of months prior to the big move Sandra’s grandpa became very sick. While this brought her and her sister closer to him, the new-found relationship was filled with disapproval as he felt she would never be capable of living the life she longed for.
“It seems like everyone has over complicated things,” she says. “What if I don’t get friends, what if I don’t pass all the courses but what if I do get friends and I do pass all my courses? Even in high school when teachers would say ‘oh yeah, it’s hard to do something more with your life, it’s hard to start your own company.’ It was never ‘everyone should try to do it, it will be hard work but you can achieve it’, it was like ‘no don’t even bother’. It doesn’t really matter where in the world you live you’re always going to face those people saying you can’t do it.”
Motivated to prove her grandpa wrong, Sandra worked even harder to turn her dreams into a reality. And she did.
Dismissing the uncertainty Sandra managed to move across the world, excel in her studies, work several jobs, fall in love and was recently hand-picked by an American company for an HR position which allows her to work from Australia. Boundaries are not something Sandra takes into consideration in regard to her goals. Eventually she plans on starting a strategy consultant company where she can work with her creative side every day.
“I don’t like having people above me telling me what to do, so it has always been a dream starting something on my own from scratch. I would negotiate with new partners, travel and find inspiration to develop our products. I would also like to help other young entrepreneurs financially and write a biography,” she says.
Envisioning a future as a barefoot local, Sandra loves the idea of a long term Sunny Coast home but her persistent nature has her ready for whatever challenges her next. “Time will tell if home is going to be here in Australia or somewhere else. I have moved once and I’m more than happy to do it again for the right offer,” she says. “It sounds a bit sad but I’m never happy with what I have. I always want more. But that’s also probably what keeps me going as well.”