Mother of four lovely children, medical doctor and the better half of Icelandic Handball-Pro Robert Gunnarsson since 14 years. Within this time the 36-year old Svala Sigurdardottir has been moving cities over and over again. Currently she is living in France. For QueensUnited she betrays secrets and tells us how to combine your own dreams with the Gipsy-Lifestyle of a professional athlete.
QU: Svala, dear, you are a mother of four lovely children, you have a degree in medicine, currently you are even studying psychology above all. Besides this you had to move at least 4 times during the past time. Would you describe yourself as the „MASTER OF ORGANISATION“?
Hahah funny you ask – I never saw myself as an organized person, since at home I never know where my keys, mobile phone, wallet etc are…. BUT as I’ve been going through a lot of “self examination” via my positive psychology course, I have to admit, yes I am organized, I guess I always have been. It comes naturally to me. As a child my mother never had to tell me to do my homework, I just did it as soon as I got home, to finish it before my piano or gymnastics classes. So maybe I learned it right from the beginning, because I had so many things on my agenda, starting from the age of 6.
QU: How do you manage to find a balance between family, partnership, job and your own well being? Any insider tip for all of us, who struggle with the mean words „organisation“ and „energy“?
It is not easy I tell you, but I always try do things that I think are FUN. I try to meet people and have meaningful relationships. And I always go to the gym, at least three times a week! I do a lot of knitting, and I usually do it while watching the TV, and I regularly sit myself down by my sewing machines and make clothes for the kids:) I love it, it gives me such joy to finish my projects:). So you see I find time to have fun, which is very important to me. I have a lot of fun with the kids at home too – playing “Just Dance” on playstation and watching a good movie every now and then. I also take them to museums and exhibitions, parcs or concerts – they love it.
QU: It’s not all about managing life it’s also about LOVE – your husband Róbert Gunnarsson is currently playing at Paris Saint-Germain HB and has already successfully played 246 times in the nationalteam for Iceland. How did you meet? Was it head over heals?
hahahah no it wasn’t head over heels! To tell you the truth, I was out with my friends, lost them all somewhere on the dancefloor and went to look for them… saw this guy, I thought I knew, walked to him, but as I approached, I realised this was not the guy I thought I knew, but he was cute, so I just said :”….uhhh cool leather jacket” and started talking with him:).
Since we are so few people in Iceland it was easy for me to figure out why I thought I knew him and if he was an “OK” guy whom I could date. I found out soon after the night we met, that I actually HAD seen him before, because my friend had made me watch a handball match the week before, to show me some guy on Roberts team she loved. And when he asked me out, I just called my brother (who had played with Robert on the national team U18 in football) to hear if Robert was worth dating or not, and he gave me his blessing, said they’d played many matches together (my brother in defence and Robert as a goalkeeper) and that he was rock solid, and he was right. And poor Robert, at the age of 19, he was suddenly becoming a stepfather since I already had my oldest, Hulda. But it was no problem for him, I didn’t introduce them until I was sure he was the one (at least some months later) and he just seemed born to be a father, so loving but firm in his raising up.
QU: And you proved right “He was the one”. You are currently about fourteen years a couple, going through long distance living due to three moving issues. How did this happen? Please tell us a little bit more!
Our first long distance relationship was in January 2002 when we had been together for less than 2 years. I got in to medical school in Denmark and Robert had to finish his gymnasium and find a team. So I moved to Denmark, told him I must follow my heart but that I hoped he would be able to come and join me as soon as possible. hahaha cold hearted, but detriment I guess:) He came and joined me in June 2002, and got a contract (Aarhus GF – editor´s note). We also did another year in a long distance relationship in 2005/2006, when he moved to Germany (Robert played from 2005 – 2010 in Gummersbach – editor´s note), but I had to finish more of my medical studies before I could move to Germany and try to do an Erasmus semester. The third long distance living was in 2010/2011 when I moved back to island with child 1-3 to gain the international certificate of medical practice.
QU: So you did your medical studies mainly in Denmark while you already had your first daughter. Then you moved to Germany although you weren’t finished yet with everything. How did you manage doing your studies in Denmark and having a family in Germany? I think children 2 and 3 were also born in Germany then?
When I had finished four and a half years of medical school in Aarhus Denmark, I moved to Germany and had my second daughter Birta there. I did the last three semesters of my studies while living in Cologne, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as I was only allowed to do two months as an ERASMUS student in Germany. It is not common to do medicine in “fernstudium” so I already knew it would be almost impossible, but I just set my mind on finishing the task, not on how difficult it would be. So these last three semesters I took over three years including maternal leave for two kids, since I had my third one, Gunnar, in 2008. My passion for medicine is probably a big factor here, I loved studying medicine, it was easier for me to keep up since all subjects of medicine fascinate me. As I mentioned, it was hard, and would have been impossible if I hadn’t hired an au pair to live with us and a cleaning lady:)
In 2010, I finished my medical studies/cand med., and to gain the international certificate of medical practice, I had to work for one year as a doctor. I decided to do it in Iceland, since the system in Germany is quite different than in Denmark and Iceland (they don’t do this practical year anymore). It wasn’t easy, mainly because I had little help, I didn’t find any au pair girl until I’d worked for 8 months and was 5 months pregnant at the time (Child 4 – editor´s note). I guess nobody wanted to come to Iceland during the economic crisis and while Eyjafjallajökull was erupting:).
QU: It sounds that Robert and you are simply made for each other. Tell us what makes him so special. How can he handle you and all your energy…:-)
My god, the poor man, he is much calmer than me, it runs in his family to do things at a totally different pace than in my family;). But that probably makes us the perfect match. He is a good friend, a wonderful person and the best father I could imagine for my kids. Such a funny guy and a clever man, never says anything without thinking first and yes, he is also really creative. We have that in common, creating things together, gives us much joy. He has a really good eye for beauty and has mastered silk screen printing by himself. I sew and knit and we used to sell t-shirts with Roberts prints on them, we’ve also created some very cool Christmas gifts for family and friends. Are planning to do more of that in the future.
QU: Paris- we have heard from a „French source“ that you are an absolute Paris-Lover. And although you have been there only for two years now it seems as if you know Paris much better than the Parisians themselves? 🙂
Yes I love Paris, I felt like home here from day one, it is as energetic as me;). I love this city, and its energetic vibes, you can do so much here, the museums are endless, the concerts and jazz bars, restaurants… I could go on and on! My blog is already a mini “trip advisor Paris”.
Have a look at Svalas hot spots exclusively for QU-Members: “Be Inspired: Paris with Svala – hot spots from a Paris addict!”
QU: Sorry to say that, but to me you have always been a little scary. Are you „SUPERWOMAN“ – please tell me there is stuff you cannot do? 😉
Hahaha, no just a woman with super energy:) I must tell you that all I am and all I do is inspired by my mother, who is such a good role model. Seeing her get sick and almost die when I was 15, taught me to appreciate life and all the good things it has to offer. My mom is very energetic, even when she got paralysed after a stroke when she was 41, she didn’t let it stop her, she also got burned, had a kidney transplantation and many more health issues. But still, she is always positive, encouraging and even finished her third university degree, a master in health science, few years ago. I think I can learn to do everything, I think everyone can do everything, if they set their mind to it. But seriously, I can not play the guitar, and I write like a doctor 😉
QU: What are your plans for the next months/years?
I am going to finish this diploma of positive psychology at the university of Iceland, next spring, and I might add a masters degree here in Paris to that, we’ll see. I work as a doctor in Iceland during summer vacations and christmas, and I will continue to do that. My goal is to become a specialist in general medicine, to work as a family doctor, and use my positive psychology education there and maybe elsewhere, we’ll see
QU: Where are you in ten years? What do you hope?
I hope me and my family are still happy and healthy and that I am spreading my energy and helping people somewhere in the world. I hope I’ll be able to do some charity work sometime in the future, the time will tell, where and when:)
QU: Thank you so much Svala for your time and words, even if we had much more preferred to meet you in person as we did so many times before. But we hope this will happen soon again. All our best to you and your family!
Fotos: privat/Svala Sigurdardottir, cover picture: @paldis