Sweden: 7 Things To Know Before You Go

1) Save up: Seriously, save up as much money as you can muster. Although education is free and the housing is relatively cheap, everything else is not. A cinema ticket can cost up to 135kr (almost £11) and beers can be £5 plus. However, there is the possibility to live cheaply in Sweden, shop wisely and make use of the student nation bars!

2) Look for housing NOW: I don’t know about anywhere else in Sweden, but the housing in Stockholm and Uppsala is scarce. Many Swedish students sit in queues of almost up to 5 years long to get an apartment so you can imagine how difficult it is to find somewhere to live. Many students may go abroad for a year for an internship or exchange so in that case they will sub-let their rooms. This is the best option for international students since time is evidentially not on their side. Don’t worry, I am yet to meet someone who didn’t get housing in at the last minute, no one is homeless! It is INCREDIBLY important that you find somewhere nice to live, if you end up in an ant infested tower block with unsociable flatmates, it will rot away at your soul! You’re going to need somewhere nice and cosy to head back after a long day at the library.


3) Buy warm clothes: This one is obvious since Sweden lies pretty north of the equator. The clue is to buy layers so that you’re not sweating in the blistering warmth of indoor heating once you’ve waddled inside dressed like a marshmallow. The good thing about being inland is that the wind is rarely an issue so the cold isn’t THAT brutal. I come from a seaside town where it’s always windy so maybe I have low standards. Oh and one word, snow boots.


4) Study your chosen course guide: This one must also be obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people didn’t, i.e. me. I enjoy my course now but prior to Christmas I was struggling to enjoy the topics only to later realise that the content of my course was not as fun as I’d expected. Swedish masters run in a sense that you complete four 15 credit modules at a time. As the first one ends, you’ll start a new one and study that in detail for 2 months until an exam and you’re ready to start the next. Since these courses are taught intensively, it is important to stay interested so that you can keep up with all of the new information buzzing around your head. I’m glad I took my course now as it pushed me to study topics I hadn’t necessarily covered in my undergraduate degree, but my, wasn’t it stressful!


5) Start learning Swedish: It really helps to know a few words before you’ve made your way out here. Although swedes speak the best English out of all of their European counterparts, it’s nice to understand what you’re buying in the supermarket or what the lady at the checkout says when she asks you if you want a bag. Uppsala University offer free courses to students so that they can brush up their Swedish, but practicing is a must. Watch Swedish Netflix or read the paper, it’s nice to say you can speak Swedish! Oh and get used to people inhaling sharply when they agree or acknowledge something you say. I thought my tutor had asthma or a lung condition, but it turns out she was just saying ‘yes’ to my questions.

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6) Go in with no expectations: The way the rest of the world view Sweden is obviously very different from how it actually is. Not everyone is blonde and I’ve rarely heard ABBA on the radio since I got here. The idea that I had in my head when I moved here would be that I’d cut my hair, pierce my face and call myself Lisbeth, but it turns out that no one really dresses that quirky. There may be some, but swedes love to dress in basics. My, they’re fashionable, but there’s nothing outlandish about their dress sense. I also came out here expecting it to be snowing pretty much all year round ha! But the summers are incredibly hot and each season is very beautiful. Autumn is orange and winter is white. When it snows, it snows, none of this half-hearted slush that melts the next day. I also had the impression that a lot of crime occurred due to so many Scandinavian dramas being shown back home. Truth is, it’s incredibly safe, I wouldn’t dream of getting a train at 1am back at home, but here? You just feel safe.


7) Have fun: This is your life and your big chance to experience another country first hand. You’ll look back on these days like they were the best of your life and I bet you’ll wish you could go back. It’s not always going to be easy and maybe you’ll even want to go home at some point, but you have to remember why you’re here and what you’re doing it for. Sweden has so much to offer and I promise that in time, you won’t have a single regret.

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 Totally random picture here  but here’s a white hot chocolate that I made: sitting, drinking and just watching the snow.

Francesca

An English student studying biology at Uppsala University. Francesca finished her studies in Sweden in June 2015.
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