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Global Columbus: Anders Gau

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Name: Anders Gau

Place of birth: Södertälje, Sweden

Date of birth: Aug. 6, 1981

Primary language: Swedish

Title: Mechanical engineer in Cummins Inc.’s Engine Business Unit

Education: Bachelors in mechanical engineering from Mälardalen University

Family: Wife, Anna; son, Hjalmar, 3

Hobbies; I like sports, and I play basketball with co-workers. I’m also starting to like football and the Colts. I also like to play guitar and drums, which I played in punk rock and pop rock bands in Sweden. And I like to spend a lot of time with my family.

How did you come to live in Columbus?

I was working for Scania, which has a joint venture at Cummins, and I was offered a job to join Cummins in Columbus, and I jumped at the chance.

What were your first impressions about the U.S. and Columbus?

I came in October 2012 to visit and then moved here in January 2013. I expected it to be warmer, but from what I heard last winter was unusually cold. I also noticed right away that a family needs two adults, because you can’t get anywhere on foot or public transportation. I like Columbus, because whenever things happen, such as the Mill Race Marathon, it seems like almost everybody in the town gets involved either by participating or volunteering. I was really impressed by that. I’m from a town near Stockholm, and whenever something happens there, almost nobody participates, even though it’s a bigger city than Columbus.

What have been the most difficult adjustments you’ve had to make?

The language was challenging. For the first six months, I was really tired after work, because it required a lot of concentration to listen to people. I couldn’t do anything else while listening to someone. That was difficult. And the health care system is very confusing. You need to sign up for insurance, and sign up with doctors before you need to go there. In Sweden, whenever you have an issue, you just go to the doctor, any doctor. You’ve not had to have been there before to register.

What do you miss most about Sweden?

Family and friends. I have two siblings and our son has four cousins. I stay in touch with Skype and phone, and people come to visit, but I still miss them. My wife’s mother is here and she’s staying over Christmas.

How have people in Columbus reacted to you?

People in general have been very kind to me. They usually think I’m German. They understand — or seem to understand — what I say, so that’s good. Cummins as a company does a good job of taking care of people who are not from the U.S. But the company is used to that because it is very diverse. And the company is a big part of the city, and even lots of Americans who live here aren’t from here.

How do you stay connected to Swedish culture and what do you do on American holidays?

We cook Swedish food with whatever ingredients we can find. We’ve gone to Jungle Jim’s in Ohio, but we usually just buy stuff locally. As a fallback, we fix our traditional spaghetti with meat sauce. About every family in Sweden has its own recipe. We’ve also gone to IKEA, so that’s one way to stay connected. We try to follow American traditions, but we were in the Dominican Republic for Thanksgiving and in Sweden over July Fourth. Otherwise we would have gone to the local parade. There are about 10 Swedish families in town, and we usually get together on holidays. We speak Swedish in the home, but English when we’re among other English speakers. We want our son to be fluent, but at home it’s still much easier to speak English, although my wife’s English is very good because she went to high school in Oklahoma.

Q: What advice do you have for international newcomers who are trying to get connected in the community?

A: Get involved with things you like to do. I like playing basketball, so I looked for a team. Try to find people with similar interests. That helps a lot.

Q: What’s your favorite place to visit and why?

Q: I don’t travel much, but I like to go downhill skiing. I’ve done that in Sweden, but not yet in America.

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