Swedish stories: Bianca from Italy on food, kollektiv housing and finding a job

Swedish stories: let me introduce you to a new series of interviews with international students from my university. The first person I talked to is Bianca, a 23-year-old girl from Italy, currently studying in Malmö. I will try to find out a little bit more about her life in Sweden.

A: What were your expectations before moving to Sweden? Did you have any concerns or worries about coming to Malmö?

B: Well, I guess I expected a very modern and developed country. You know: innovation, equal rights… I only heard great things about Sweden. My only concerns were that it is going to be very cold and that the food is going to be bad.

A: And were those expectations met?

B: Haha, no! It is not as cold here in the south as I thought it will be. And food it is not worse than in Germany, just more expensive.

A: Ah, Germany. I know it is not your first time studying abroad. You moved from Italy to study for a Bachelor’s degree in Germany. You have been an international student for a while now. How do you think it changed you? Is it an important part of your life?

B: Definiatelly. I love the fact that I am constantly surrounded by people from different cultures, speaking different languages and with different perspectives. It has become such a big part of my everyday life that I couldn’t even imagine right now combing back to a place where everybody is the same nationality, grew up in the same town and went to the same school. International environment became a natural condition for me. It is not just a background to my education. It actually changes the way I learn and deepens the subject of the study itself.

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A: Now you came for the Master’s degree to Sweden. How would you compare the experiences of being an international student in Germany and Sweden?

B: The first thing that comes into my mind is that everyone speaks English here! It is easier to feel integrated because of it. In general, those two are very hard for me to compare. In Germany I was studying in a way smaller university, so it was a different context. You could say that there was less variety there. Here we have much more internationals… my entire class is composed of international students.

A: And what about Italy? I guess there is a lot of cultural differences between Italy and Sweden? Can you name the most prominent ones?

B: When it comes to making friends – in an international environment you have to be very patient with people and always have in mind that the way you perceive specific behaviour might not be the same as the person meant. There is a huge difference between Italians and Swedes in a way they interact with each other and sometimes it can be a bit frustrating, but at the same time it is forcing me to be more open to people. Maybe it is harder to build a relationship with Swedes, but if you manage it is not a superficial one.

A: Ok, enough with comparisons. Tell me more about your life in Sweden. I know that you live in a kollektiv – a shared apartment – how is that working for you?

B: It was clear to me when I arrived here that finding the right people to live with would be my priority when looking for an apartment. Now, after 5 months of living together I really feel like my roommates are like my family. We watch movies together, sometimes we cook together, we share chores… and conversations about life on Sunday mornings. Also weekly arguments we have about keeping the kitchen clean. All these things make me feel rooted in a place that I haven’t have any connection with before.

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A: And how did you find this apartment?

B: Blocket.se is a pretty great platform when you want to avoid waiting lists and fees. I found an ad on blocket from a kollektiv looking for a “cool” person and decided to give it a shot. And the rent is not so much high in comparison to many Italian cities. On the other hand if you find even a part time job, wages are way higher than in Italy, so all in all it is affordable.

A: Oh, so you have managed to found a job?

B: Yeah, I work 8 hours per week as a graphic designer in a multinational engineering company. Luckily, a teacher of ours posted about this open position a few weeks after I started my program. The corporate language is English, so I didn’t need any Swedish. And I actually ended up working together with my classmate who also answered to the ad.

A: We are running out of time – after all, we both have projects to work on. Let me ask the last, maybe the most important question. What is your overall experience of living in Sweden? Are you happy with your decision to apply for a Master’s program here?

B: Absolutely, I am 100% happy with this decision. Literally, there is not one thing that I would like to change in my life at the moment.


If you have any additionals questions to Bianca feel free to post them in the comments!

Agnieszka avatar


  • Raymond • 27 Mar 2017 at 12.15 pm Reply

    I am an indian student planning to pursue master in international logistics and supply chain management in sweden. what are the average salaries and job oppurtunities after the course ?

    • Agnieszka
      Agnieszka • 28 Mar 2017 at 3.01 am Reply

      Hi Raymond! Sorry, but I am unable to answer this question. I don’t study logistics and I have no idea about the field. Try googling or contacting the University helpdesk. Greetings! /Agnieszka

  • Francesco
    Francesco • 22 Feb 2017 at 7.16 pm Reply

    Really nice post, Agnieszka! 🙂

  • Francesco
    Francesco • 22 Feb 2017 at 7.15 pm Reply

    Nice post, Agnieszka! 🙂

  • Teiga • 14 Feb 2017 at 3.20 pm Reply

    Hi! I’m from Spain and I’m an international student who is going to study at Malmö University for the next year. So, I have a lot of doubts about where to live during my stay in Malmö. Some advice and help? Thank you.

  • Petrov • 8 Feb 2017 at 12.07 pm Reply

    Hi!Great interview!
    Pls tell me what do you study at uni?
    Witch company do u work?

    • Agnieszka
      Agnieszka • 14 Feb 2017 at 2.37 am Reply

      Hi Petrov! Bianca studies Interaction Design at Malmö Univeristy. Due to public nature of this post, we would like to keep the name of the company off the record. I am happy you liked the post. Greetings! /Agnieszka

  • Candy • 8 Feb 2017 at 10.07 am Reply

    Thanks for intcudoring a little rationality into this debate.

  • Top Management Consulting Firm • 8 Feb 2017 at 9.36 am Reply

    Such a wonderful post.. As you describe in detail is very impressive.. and its all true.

    • Agnieszka
      Agnieszka • 14 Feb 2017 at 2.35 am Reply

      Thank you! I hope you will like you will like the next interview as well! /Agnieszka

  • david • 6 Feb 2017 at 11.47 am Reply

    i’d like to know if the swedish studying system there are more written or oral exams?
    thank you

    • Agnieszka
      Agnieszka • 7 Feb 2017 at 12.31 pm Reply

      Hi David, that heavily depends on the University and type of the program. Do you have any specific in mind? For example design programmes in Malmo is mainly about making projects, so there is no exams in a typical sense. Instead, we have oral project presentations that work as exams and (less important) written text assigments describing your work. On the other hand if you study something more theorethical e.g. Law or Communication at Lund University, you will have more “typical” exams from theoretical knowledge. It could be for example “written home exam” that is basically you getting a set of questions/essay topic and working on it from home for 2-3 days, writting the answer with the help of books. /Agnieszka

  • Aronrao • 4 Feb 2017 at 11.53 am Reply

    Are there tuition free universities for masters for international students ?

  • KEDAR PAUL • 3 Feb 2017 at 9.20 pm Reply

    What is the hourly wage in Sweden? Does 15-20 hours a week is sufficient to cover expenses in Sweden, like in Gothenburg? Also, could you break down the expenses from a student’s perspective?

    • Agnieszka
      Agnieszka • 7 Feb 2017 at 1.09 pm Reply

      Hey Kedar! The hourly wage depends on the kind of the job – wheather it is a an office job or physical (e.g. working in a restaurant). I don’t know the avarage hourly wage, but for example my friends working on a part time jobs earn 130-150 SEK/h. The wage also varies depending on wheather it is a part-time or a full-time job. Doing a fast math – 20h work per week could be enough to cover your expenses if you don’t spend a lot(find a cheap room, buy at chepaer supermarkets) – but it depends on the city and your lifestyle. However, depending on the programme you choose and the type of the job working 20h a week could be hard. I don’t have any friends who work that much, due to work load at the univeristy people in my class work usually 2 days a week (15-16h). But it is because they have office jobs – they can’t work during the weekend or evenings, so they are able to skip only 2 days of uni per week. So all in all, their work only covers part of the living expenses. On the other hand, a weekend/evening job at a restaurant could be enough to cover the expenses (I just assume but I don’t have any experience with it), but it can be harder to find and Swedish may be compulsory. Thanks for the suggestion, I will try to watch my expenses in March and maybe write a post with the breakdown of expenses. Greeting from Malmo! /Agnieszka

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