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8 ways studying in Sweden has changed my life! (and it might just change yours too)

It’s been two months now since I moved to Sweden, and I have to say that it has had quite an impact on me. Let me tell you about a few things that have changed in my every day life!

1. Being on time – Punctuality is one of the greatest qualities of the Swedish life. In some universities there is such a thing as the ‘akademisk kvart’ (ak), the 15 minutes of extra time you get to come in time at class. So when your class would start at 9h00, you’re still perfectly on time when walking in at 9h13. This however doesn’t go for Stockholm University. I’m not even surprised when I walk in at 8h58 and my class from 9 o’clock has already started. This is a complete disaster for people like  me who are always late, to anything. As a consequence, I have learned to be a little bit more on time. Read: less late than my usual late. I will still always be late.

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2. Sports – There is no way I can go more than a few days without stretching my legs. Swedish people work out like crazy. Rain, hail or shine, the streets are filled with runners, skaters, roller skiers (do google this), cyclists, you name it. Forget about good old Sunday strolls, there is no such thing like a walk in Sweden. Only power walks. With skin tight leggings, running shoes, and preferably a baby in a buggy. (Or at least a dog.) It has had quite an impact on me, my neighbour and I have been killing the kilometers all around our house. Our fashionable, professional runners outfits do need some work though.

3. Smartphones are true best friends –  If you didn’t know what a headset was you would believe all Swedes to be schizophrenic. They walk and talk and talk and walk. In the rare event of not doing this, staring at the tiny blue screen is the next best occupation, especially on the subway. If this was not already my immediate reaction when being alone not having anything to do, it has only increased since coming here. When nothing else works out, I can always stick around for opening a phone rehab, I’m convinced I moved to the biggest market for it. You’ll hear from me soon.. (Or at least see a pop up on your screen)

fika

4. Craving for coffee breaks – And I don’t even drink coffee! In Sweden the coffee break is a basic human right. 10 minutes after the class has started you can hear all the Swedes starting to shuffle around on their chairs. Coffee-free minutes make them very nervous. 15 minutes in and the teacher will ask how everybody is doing and if they need a coffee break in a few. I swear this is not an understatement, and it is so contagious! … So, I have become addicted to tea & fika (what the rest of the world calls cookies and pastry)! Don’t worry if you don’t like cinnamon rolls at first, you will learn to love them, it’s a matter of survival.

5. Fashionability – There are two rules to being fashionable in Stockholm:
1. Black is the new black.
2. Make sure you’re ready to work out. Any time.
It’s actually pretty handy, because anything goes with black. It might be for the contrast with blond hair, but there is something really simple and stylish about it when Swedes wear black. If you want to mix it up, you could go for grey, white or beige. Maybe even some kaki. Now this is one of the few places where people really only mind their own business and if you do it a little different, no one will care. But I guess I like to blend in a little bit, because all the black in my wardrobe has noticeably moved to the top of the pile. There are however still those crazy days where I choose not to care and put my red sneakers back on. So ballsy, I know..
You should also make sure you’re looking sporty. This means sport shoes (not the american big foot kind, some slim, black Nikes will do a lot better) and leggings (I think the debate on whether or not this counts as pants has been closed officially in favour of the flesh eating ghouls).

food

6. New food – One of the best things about coming to a new place to me is the food. I became a vegetarian on the day I came here. Not that Sweden forced me to stop eating meat or anything (although you never know…), but I have to say that Sweden has made it a lot easier than I thought it would be. There are so many vegetarian restaurants, as well as other vegetarians! I have learned alternatives to all sorts of animal products and I have not yet turned into a bunny! Those raw food balls *YUM*, chia pudding, spinach lasagna, banana bread, … you name it and someone here is making it.

7. Structure – This might also have to do with the fact that I’m coming from social sciences and made a huge shift to a natural science department. I am used to having almost all of my days to myself to structure, which is the same as saying there never was any structure. I now find myself more in class than out of it, having meals at regular times, waking up at 8 o’clock always (no matter how short the night before was sadly), looking forward to Friday evenings as if midlife crisis hit me. My parents would be so proud, if only they could see!

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8. W*nt*r –  Don’t even say it. The last season of the year has got everyone terrified. I am preparing for the depression of a lifetime. Or that’s what it seems I should do. It’s the talk of the day, every day and it’s coming faster than you can imagine. Disguised in a coat of darkness and cold, sweeping the colourful leaves off the streets whilst leaving soggy traces of black snow from it’s passing.. Vitamin pills, light cures, gym memberships, jackets as curvy as jumping castles, anything goes as long as you are doing something to be prepared for winter. (O no, did I just dare to use the W-word?)

To be continued when the next portion of Swedishness hits me!

Vi ses,

Elke

 

Elke avatar

68 Comments

  • Soumyaranjan • 14 Jun 2016 at 7.08 pm Reply

    Hej!
    Hallo Elke!
    It was undoubtedly an amazing post.
    Things will be rwally different for me especially the winters as i come from India where summers are like 48 degrees hot and dry.
    Anyways, I will be hitting sweden this august!
    Fingers crossed!

    And keep those useful tips and experiences pouring..!

    • Elke
      Elke • 12 Jul 2016 at 5.28 pm Reply

      Hey,
      So great to hear you are coming to Sweden!
      I can undoubtedly agree things will be very very different, as I just came back from a trip to India myself and almost melted in the burning sun 🙂 But how beautiful your country is!
      Hope you will enjoy your studies!
      Elke

  • shuvo • 14 Jun 2016 at 4.56 pm Reply

    hi Elke. I feel interest at ur post. thanks for give us usefull post as well as refreshing post.
    Aren’t swedish eat rice and fish? . r they eat only bread and pestry, roll?
    wish u best.

    • Elke
      Elke • 12 Jul 2016 at 5.25 pm Reply

      Hej Shuvo,
      from time to time they also have a piece of fish next to their cinnamon buns. Just kidding, of course they eat other stuff! :p But the truth is, I have not seen this many buns in my entire life as here in Stockholm!
      Come and taste 🙂
      Elke

  • nabilatonni • 14 Jun 2016 at 4.33 pm Reply

    Hey,I like ur post.I am interested to study sweden. will u provide me information how can I appy?I m post graduated in English literature. I speak & write English. Without IELTS how can I apply? Please give me some useful information.

    • Elke
      Elke • 12 Jul 2016 at 5.23 pm Reply

      Check out this link to the page that tells you whether you are exempted from the English proficiency test and how you can prove it.
      Best of luck!

  • John • 26 Apr 2016 at 9.47 am Reply

    Great post, good job:-)! Best regards!

    • Elke
      Elke • 26 Apr 2016 at 1.02 pm Reply

      Thank you!

      • Thierrynduzidjogona • 15 Jun 2016 at 8.17 pm Reply

        Hi! I’am from drcongo! I also interesing to studying to sweden! Hope you are be able top accept me!

        • Elke
          Elke • 12 Jul 2016 at 6.07 pm Reply

          Hey Thierry,
          You can check out this link to see what programs there are and what the requirements are!
          Good luck,
          Elke

  • Akram • 24 Feb 2016 at 11.15 pm Reply

    Hello Guys ,I’m from Libya ,looking for postgraduate study in Ophthalmology ,, thank you

  • Am • 22 Nov 2015 at 8.46 am Reply

    Hi Chris ,
    Hope to apply for nxt year MBA in sweden .me and my husbnd will come with me as my dependant.as he can work full time do you think we can find out a at least domestic job i n sweden to cover up our expenses..
    Thnx..

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 10.44 am Reply

      Dear Am,
      from the experience of my classmates I can tell that there are classmates with families that have one earner, so it’s definitely possible.
      I would however make sure you’ve found a job before you move to Sweden, as life definitely isn’t cheap!

  • izimba juma • 19 Nov 2015 at 10.46 pm Reply

    Your comment …hi am izimba from uganda interested in joining your university but on scholarship basis to pursue amasters degree in public health but how can i get it please?

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 10.51 am Reply

      Dear Izimba,
      You should definitely check out the program in public health of Karolinska institutet here in Stockholm!
      For scholarships however, you have to do a good search.
      Start here: https://studyinsweden.se/scholarships/
      Good luck!

  • Johan • 19 Nov 2015 at 4.53 pm Reply

    Hej Elke!

    I really enjoyed reading about these experiences that you’ve had over here. I can relate and understand what it means to migrate to another country and to be all new to it – people, food, society, language and more. It was a very interesting and fun read for me as a swede and Stockholm-born-and-raised-guy 🙂

    All the best wishes!
    // Johan

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 10.48 am Reply

      Hej hej Johan,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the read!
      If a ‘real Stockholmer’ approves, it cant’t be too far off reality 🙂
      Hejdå!

  • sabin • 16 Nov 2015 at 8.29 pm Reply

    I prepare my doctorate in agronomy specialty food science technology, I would spend 3 months of internship in your university upsala to perform some analysis and research to complete my Ph.D. how can I register and have a welcome letter that I saw foreign am

    • Elke
      Elke • 3 Dec 2015 at 12.02 am Reply

      Dear Sabin, on this topic I must admit I am a bit clueless. You should get in touch with Upsala University directly, I’m studying at Stockholm University so I’m afraid I can’t be of any help with that! Good luck though!

  • Birgit Nilsson • 7 Nov 2015 at 2.56 pm Reply

    Välkomna till Sverige!
    Hej!
    I have had Lisa living in my (Swedish) home her first two months in Sweden. Now she has found her own place more close to the University in Gothenburg. Lisa comes from Kenya and first I thought it was her story I was reading.
    My wish is that all of you will be invited to a Swedish family and discover a lot more of all strange habits we swedes have! Go for it and ask somebody of your neighbors for example.
    /Birgit

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 10.09 am Reply

      Dear Birgit, how lovely you welcomed someone into your home!
      The hospitable reputation of Swedes is definitely true.
      I am definitely trying to experience all the little quirks of Swedish culture as much as possible, and so far, I’m loving every bit of it!

  • Issa Djuma • 5 Nov 2015 at 2.58 pm Reply

    Hey Elke,
    I’m applying for admission to studyinsweden.se but I submitted my electronic application without finding where to put my motivation letter and C.V! can you please help me to know where to add motivation letter and C.V or tell me on how to send them separately if possible? you can even use my E-mail if you don’t mind

    • Elke
      Elke • 6 Nov 2015 at 10.29 am Reply

      Dear Isa, you should just check your university admissions account. There you have four tabs: application, messages, documents, profile. Under documents you should upload them and choose as a category ‘other documents’. But only if your university requires you to do it this way!! In my case, I had to send my motivation letter straight to the staff of my program, and not to university admissions. Maybe that is the case for you as well? Check the instructions carefully, because sometimes a CV and motivation letter are not even required. Hope this helps!

      • Issa Djuma • 9 Nov 2015 at 11.29 am Reply

        Thank you Elke, I salute your effort and explanations given here above. Let check again on requirements before I send them.
        Hope to meet next year in Stockholm
        Thx again dear

  • George Joseph • 5 Nov 2015 at 8.27 am Reply

    I was in Sweden for three weeks. The stay turned me in to a fan of Sweden for life.

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 10.02 am Reply

      We’re on the same team, George! 🙂

  • Ola • 4 Nov 2015 at 6.39 pm Reply

    Hello Elke,
    How are you?
    Glad I came across your article. I’m from Nigeria and been to Stockholm once for a convention. Resided in the hostel for a couple of days and loved every bit of my stay. Sweden is cool, calm amd collected. My experience got me hoping I could get a scholarship to study for an Msc in digital marketing. My fear, however, is that I might not be well informed or that the course does not have a scholarship to it.
    What should I know about the process and all that info?
    Thanks lots Elke.

    Olaolu.

    • Elke
      Elke • 6 Nov 2015 at 10.38 am Reply

      Dear Olaolu, when looking for scholarships, this is a good place to start: https://studyinsweden.se/scholarships/ I don’t think you should expect to find a scholarship for this specific programme. There are a lot of general scholarships for students from abroad, look for those! For Nigeria specifically for example, there seem to be a lot more options, for example: http://www.studyandscholarships.com/2012/09/list-of-undergraduate-scholarships-for-nigerians.html But this comes straight from google and goes way beyond my knowledge, so I suggest you try to check out your options in the same manner and maybe contact one of your local universities to talk about scholarship options. They probably have a lot more knowledge on this. Good luck!

  • MD ATIQUR RAHMAN • 4 Nov 2015 at 6.09 pm Reply

    it’s amazing how much you have changed yourself. I would love to come Sweden as soon as possible. I have a plan for it good luck.

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 11.00 am Reply

      Sounds like a great plan! Good luck!

  • Vanessa • 4 Nov 2015 at 3.34 pm Reply

    Haha! I am Swedish but I totally agree with all of this. You nailed it 🙂

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 11.01 am Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the read!

  • Dirk • 4 Nov 2015 at 1.24 pm Reply

    Cool stuff! Thanks for the glimpses into Swedish life and your replies to the comments, Elke! Really helpful! Hopefully I can get to know this country in person next year! *holding thumbs* 😉

    • Janet Chotoosingh • 4 Nov 2015 at 7.22 pm Reply

      Love reading your blog. Very educational.keep them coming.

      • Elke
        Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 11.07 am Reply

        Thanks so much Janet! There’s been a few new posts in the meantime, feel free to snoop around 🙂

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 11.05 am Reply

      I hope you made it in Dirk! *fingers crossed* Happy you enjoyed the post, and thanks for the lovely message 🙂

  • Javier • 4 Nov 2015 at 12.02 pm Reply

    Hej Elke!!
    I’m glad your doing so fine in Stockholm. I love reading your thoughts about Sweden because are so similar to the ones I had when I was there. Hope you have a great time.
    Take care

    Javi

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 11.11 am Reply

      Hey Javi,
      Where in Sweden did you go to actually?
      I’m curious to what you’ve done here!
      Elky

  • Chris • 4 Nov 2015 at 10.16 am Reply

    I am living and studying in Sweden since 3 months and I totally agree with you! Everything is great here and the winter will not stop me! 🙂

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 11.09 am Reply

      Hey Chris, hope you made it through the winter! 😀
      All this spring sunshine definitely made it worth it right?!
      Thanks for reading!

  • Khalid Majoka • 4 Nov 2015 at 7.53 am Reply

    I am from Pakistan,and want to get Admission in Sweden for bachelor degree.IELTS is must for this? If yes,then how much bands are required?

  • Heangsreymom • 4 Nov 2015 at 5.40 am Reply

    Many Thanks, It really great.

    • Elke
      Elke • 11 Apr 2016 at 9.56 am Reply

      Thanks a lot 🙂

  • HASBAIA Omira • 3 Nov 2015 at 9.54 pm Reply

    Thank you for this excellent blog, i enjoyed reading so much !
    i have been to Sweden and i spent 3 week in Stockholm, if i want to write about my trip, i would just put a link to this blog, thank you again.
    and i wish you good luck Elke!

    • Elke
      Elke • 3 Nov 2015 at 11.54 pm Reply

      Thank you very much, that’s a great honour 🙂

  • solomon • 3 Nov 2015 at 9.45 pm Reply

    i like very much.but how can i get the to learn swedin and change my life .please email me!

  • Morgane • 3 Nov 2015 at 9.19 pm Reply

    Hej Elke!! I just wanted to let you know that i loved you article !! I’ll be in Sweden for the second semester and I CAN’T WAIT !! I’m really excited about discovering this country that I don’t know and reading your article made me wish I could already be there 🙂 I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay there!!

    • Elke
      Elke • 3 Nov 2015 at 11.57 pm Reply

      Hej Morgane, thank you very much! You’re absolutely in your right, I haven’t met a single case with the disliking-sweden syndrome, you are for sure going to love it here! 😀 Vi ses!

  • Akgari • 3 Nov 2015 at 9.00 pm Reply

    Your comment …I like your way of expression of Sweden study, activities and everyday life in this country. I am so happy to join and so welcomed if I get an scholarship to study in this attractive environment. I have graduated Anesthesia, but currently I need to upgrade my career in related field of studies.

    • Elke
      Elke • 4 Nov 2015 at 12.04 am Reply

      Hej Akgari, thanks for the nice words. A good starting point for checking out your options concerning scholarships is the following link: https://studyinsweden.se/scholarships/ Good luck!

  • Karen • 3 Nov 2015 at 9.00 pm Reply

    Love how you describe everything quite to perfection!! I’ve had the same experience as I have been studying in uppsala for two months now. Please keep the posts coming!

    • Elke
      Elke • 4 Nov 2015 at 12.03 am Reply

      Tack så mycket neighbour! I will do for sure 😀

  • aburayhan • 3 Nov 2015 at 8.15 pm Reply

    I COMPLETED DOCTOR OF VETERINARY MEDICINE FROM BANGLADESH.HOW CAN I MS PROGRAM ADMIT IN SWEDEN

  • Blanca • 3 Nov 2015 at 7.18 pm Reply

    This is so true! I’ve already been three months in Sweden and I can say I am completely addicted to Fika and coffee breaks… Good job Elki, looking forward the following posts! 😛

    • Elke
      Elke • 4 Nov 2015 at 12.00 am Reply

      Muchísimas gracias Blanquita! Abrazo con mucho cariñooooo 😀

  • mercy Amai • 3 Nov 2015 at 7.09 pm Reply

    Good Article

    • Elke
      Elke • 4 Nov 2015 at 12.01 am Reply

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Juanita • 3 Nov 2015 at 4.56 am Reply

    (could-not find your email!)
    Dear Elke

    I am so glad I found your blog! at University Admissions. I was wondering if you had some tips about the motivation letter. I have found myself doubting because I have applied several times in the last two years and have not got in in the Programs I like… I would like to know your insight about changing from Social Sciences to Natural Sciences.. How did you do that? Why? I want to pursue a career in Literature but my background has nothing to do with that…

    If you could give me some tips!!! I really would appreciate them!

    Best!

    • Elke
      Elke • 3 Nov 2015 at 5.02 pm Reply

      Hej Juanita! First of all thank you for reading, always good to know someone is on the other side of the screen :). About my personal experience, I felt like I needed a bit more specialisation to add to my degree (political science) and am very interested in social-ecological relations. The program I’m in is interdisciplinary, so people with all sorts of backgrounds are actually wanted. That of course is where you should start, if the program is somewhat open to a bit of a different background. Sometimes they just aren’t, no matter how much they are missing out on having you on the program 🙂
      But if you see a possibility, getting through the application process most of the time is a matter of understanding the guidelines for the application very well. These tell you what they want to hear. Read them carefully and apply it to your personal experience, not all your qualifications necessarily need to be academic. Maybe you have been involved in a project that relates to topics of the program you’re trying to get in? Don’t put yourself in a box defined by your degree, but show those assets of all your personal experience that are relevant to the program, put them in your CV, your motivational letter, whatever is required, and make sure they spark the eye.
      This is what has worked for me at least, I hope it helps you somewhat and do let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck!

      • Qasim • 10 Nov 2015 at 9.53 am Reply

        hey i need help……i am suppose to applying for student visa in Sweden and i am bit confuse help me out can we do part time job and suggest me some low fee universities for Social Sciences

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