Tag Archives: Africa

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

From North to South we have (Top left to right): Mahmoud Hanafy from Egypt studying Systems, Control and Mechatronics at Chalmers. Tebkew Shibabaw from Ethiopia studying Environmental Science at GU. Sussy from Cameroon studying Social Anthropology at social work and human right at the GU. Ronald Byaruhanga from Uganda studying Social work and human right at GU. Blessing Kabasa from Zimbabwe studying Electric Power Engineering at Chalmers. Nomsa Kgosietsile from Botswana studying Social work and human right at the GU. Thato from South Africa studying Leadership and Management in International Contexts at Linnaeus University

                  Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

Here is the final installment of Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

I’m back with the amazing students from Part II to let you in on what they think. This last one is about the Swedish language and Tips for students from their home countries!

Language

What were your first impressions of the Swedish language?

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Mahmoud: It contains a lot of Ups and downs. (smiley face)

Tebkew: For me it’s a difficult language to understand. The way they pronounce some words is quite hard to mimic.

Sussy: My first impression about the swedish language was funny yet interesting. I also discovered words in French and English having similar meanings in swedish.

Ronald: It a hard and difficult language. I thought I would never speak even a word but now I can try making a few phrases like: Hur mår du? . meaning how are you?. Thanks to SFI (Swedish for Immigrants)

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

Blessing: I thought I would need at least five years to master the language

Nomsa: It sounded so difficult, I wondered if I will ever get to speak Swedish, let alone understand it.

Thato: I started learning to speak Swedish before I left home. It wasn’t extremely difficult, but of course the alphabet system is very different. On a daily basis I have been able to learn some words and expand my vocabulary.

 

Have you learnt or are you learning Swedish?

Mahmoud: Yes I started to learn and follow duolingo.

Tebkew: I am learning it now.

Sussy: I have learnt up to the SAS 3 ( swedish as a second language)

Ronald: Yes, I am learning Swedish at SFI. I have been learning for the last three months.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

Blessing: I am currently taking SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) lessons

source: allacronyms.com

Nomsa: I have on completed the first step in learning Swedish language at university.  I am currently on a break, hopefully I will get the strength to continue the next level soon.

Thato: I am still learning, although it’s great that most people know how to speak English and willingly switch to accommodate you. The town has a large international community, so it’s easy to communicate and navigate around because English is spoken wherever you go.

 

Tips

Do you have any tips for students from your country who would like to study in Sweden?

Mahmoud: I would advise them to: Know exactly what they want from continuing their studies and to be specific, Search for all available scholarships, Be open to all cultures, Prepare themselves for many changes in studying and life systems.

Tebkew: My tip is for future students of my country are to prepare themselves and set their mind for the winter season which I got very challenging.

Sussy: They should be prepare to learn the Swedish language if the must work here especially after their studies.  The cold in Sweden is more than that of the biggest cold store you’ve ever visited. Come with extra money for warm clothes . Make sure you come along with your food stuffs as they are pretty expensive here compared the prices at home

Ronald: I would advise those who wish to come to Sweden to try several scholarships such as SIDA, Swedish Institute Scholarships among others, since is quite expensive to study in Sweden on self-sponsorship.

Blessing: Swedish style of learning exposes you to the real world thereby allowing you to solve real problems. In as much as it is more practical with lots of fun activities, it is so intense that one must be prepared to be pushed to the limit.

Nomsa: Be open minded, be brave enough to take opportunities presented to you, to come and explore, have fun and enjoy the experience of being in a different country. If you are a change agent, then Sweden is the best country to benchmark.

Thato: It’ll be a wonderful adventure, but you must be prepared. Do your research. Read a lot about the university you want to study at and the town you will live in. Secure a scholarship or private funding, tuition and living expenses are high unless of course you can afford it. Get to know the practicalities required to move to Sweden. For instance, opening a bank account, what access your residence permit gives you, whether you have to find accommodation yourself or the university assists you.  Studying in Sweden is likely to be one of the best experiences you’ll have so if you’re thinking about it then pursue it! There are also great traveling opportunities to go around Europe when you have a break from your studies.

For new students coming to Sweden from your country do you have any tips? (what to pack from home, weather advice, fun information and practical tips?)

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

What to pack

Mahmoud: Bring Router, Swedish weather is not as bad as you hear in Egypt, Learn to cook, Study hard in weekdays but have fun in weekends.

Tebkew:  I advise them to bring ‘berbere’ which is prepared from pepper mixed with different spices and ‘Dirkosh’ which is dried form of Injera. 

Ronald: Regarding food, it may not be easy to carry lots of food from home but one can try to pack local spices such as Royco and others as you may not easily get them here and some cosmetics and hair accessories such as reusable wigs and weaves for the women. Do not forget to carry some winter wear! Though I would recommend that you buy your winter outfits here.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

Blessing: If you are coming from Zimbabwe, do not forget to bring your own mealie meal for sadza. A 5Kg packet will do. Temperatures are lower than in Zimbabwe but they are not that bad and all indoor temperatures are controlled.

Nomsa: Don’t carry many clothes, just bring a few warm clothes for the first few days when you are still settling in. Carry African attire, to represent Botswana. For the food, if you are into spices, then carry your favorite spices from home. Hair and skin care products are a must, don’t make a mistake of leaving those.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

Thato: Keep track of all the arrangements when you’re moving your life from South Africa to Sweden. Although it’s very exciting, it’s a big task so keep a journal of everything you do including contact numbers of key persons from the embassy and university. It is advisable to also leave a copy of your passport with a family member should anything happen with your documents.  Of course you’ll protect them with your life! You may also have to bring all the originals of your qualifications from home, so check this with your Swedish university before you leave.

You are likely to get support from the international office at your university, but take ownership of everything you need to do so that you are well-prepared. Oh, and don’t shop for boots and coats at home. Lol! They’re not suitable for Swedish winters, you’ll shop when you get here for the real snow-resilient stuff! It can get quite cold, but you’ll survive it, maybe even enjoy it.  The summers are wonderful, the winters are dark, but fear not because plenty of chocolate and coffee (what the Swedish call fika) will get you through! Do yourself a favor and learn how to ride a bicycle before you leave, chances are that’s going to be your main mode of transport! You don’t want to be a twenty-something-year-old crashing into poles in broad daylight like I did. Enjoy Sweden, study hard and represent our country well!


Take Away

The purpose of the the Coming to Sweden Edition is for the readers to get to understand a little more how it feels to live and study in a country so far away from home. However, it also seeks to be a how to guide of what to pack when coming from home, basic first steps and how to adjust to winter (smiley face)

A big thanks to the six students who allowed me to interview them! Can’t wait to FIKA after the summer break.

Follow Study in Sweden on Snapchat for more updates

From Sweden with Love

NB: Disclaimer: This post is based on perspective and experiences of the students interviewed. It is not meant to generalize all African students in Sweden perspectives.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part III

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

From North to South we have (Top left to right): Mahmoud Hanafy from Egypt studying Systems, Control and Mechatronics at Chalmers. Tebkew Shibabaw from Ethiopia studying Environmental Science at GU. Sussy from Cameroon studying Social Anthropology at social work and human right at the GU. Ronald Byaruhanga from Uganda studying Social work and human right at GU. Blessing Kabasa from Zimbabwe studying Electric Power Engineering at Chalmers. Nomsa Kgosietsile from Botswana studying Social work and human right at the GU. Thato from South Africa studying Leadership and Management in International Contexts at Linnaeus University

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

I’m back with the next installment of Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II.

I interviewed a few friends and colleagues doing their masters from different countries to give you a little taste of how it is to study in Sweden from various countries in Africa.

Here are their thoughts on food and music.

Food

What do you think about Swedish food compared to food from your home country?

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Kalix löjrom toast
Credit: Magnus Skoglöf/imagebank.sweden.se

Mahmoud: Swedish food is fine, I eat here vegetarian food and seafood. The difference is that in Egypt we have many spices that give a special unique taste.

Tebkew: It’s nice and delicious.  It’s a bit different from what we eat back home. In my country, we usually prefer to eat meat and other animal products. But here people mostly follow sustainable way of feeding style. So, people consume more of healthy foods such as vegetables.

Sussy: Swedish food compared to my country food to me is very artificial, have very little taste, or sometimes very salty a good example is the salted pork and boiles potatoes they eat during Christmas .

Ronald: I am not so adventurous when it comes to food but I think Swedish food is so nice, especially vegetarian food. Meat is quite expensive but affordable if you are a meat lover.

Blessing: Swedish food is prepared and served in an art-form with lots of vegetables. The delicious food is usually like a paradise of ingredients replete with tasty seasoning.  

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Swedish Langoustine salad
Source: Jakob Fridholm /imagebank..se

Nomsa: Nothing beats my home flavor for I would say. The food here is actually not bad at all, they love cheese, it’s in almost every food they prepare, and since I don’t take cheese the food does not form part of my “interesting things in Sweden, list” however its manageable.

Thato: South African food is full of flavor, a fusion of spices give texture and personality to the food. I have experienced Swedish food to be quite mild in comparison. It is often modest and unsurprising. The Swedish also have a far healthier and organic outlook on preparing food.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition II

South African food
Source: eatout.co.za

What food do you miss most from your home country?

Mahmoud: I miss Okra casserole with meat slices and a special Egyptians dish called “Hawawshi” which is made of mincemeat in a local bread.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition II

Hawawshi
Source: thefooddictator.com

Tebkew: ‘Injera’- that’s the traditional food of Ethiopia

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Injera
Source: www.mmia.com

Sussy: Kwakoko and mbanga soup( graded cocoyam tied in plantain leaf and palm nut soup).

Kwacoco and Mbaga soup
Source: cameroonkitchen.wordpress.com

Ronald: Honestly, the only thing I miss is so dearly is matooke (banana), but the rest can be found in Sweden. There are several places in Gothenburg where one can get Ugandan/African food. For this, I recommend visiting Indian food stores if you miss something Ugandan.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Matoke
Source: kitchenjs.com

Nomsa: Beef, farmhouse boerewors, Tswana chicken.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Pap and Tswana chicken
Source: http://escapesfromthelittlereddot.com

Thato: I really miss samp! It’s basically chopped dried corn kernels which you prepare as the main starch for a meal. Then you can add beans to it, a light gravy for added moist and some diced beef. I especially love it when my mom adds some powered milk while it boils on the stove.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Samp and Beans with Spinach and Bacon (Umngqusho)
Source: spar.co.za

Music

What do you think of music in Sweden?

Mahmoud: It makes me very happy, I like their music

Ronald: I personally do not enjoy secular music, but I love the fact the fact that I have bumped into African music playing in Swedish Clubs including Ugandan music, especially Jose Chameleon and Eddy Kenzo

Blessing: Swedish music brings with it a beautiful sensation to the ears. I think the Swedish pop genre is one of the best in the world.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition II

Source: giphy.com

Nomsa: I haven’t really listened to Swedish music, but I know we don’t dance to the same tune.

Thato: What they play on the radio is mostly the commercialized pop, hip-hop and rock music you find everywhere. I live in a small town so I can’t say there is a wide variety of music exposure.

Do you know any Swedish artists?

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Of Course! Source: giphy.com

Mahmoud: Zara Larsson of course

Tebkew: Zara Larsson

Blessing: I know quite a number but my favorite group is Bo Kaspers Orkester and I love their song ‘Vi Kommer Aldrig Att Dö ’.

Nomsa: I know Sebastian Stakset, probably because he had a concert at my church, and his story was very inspirational.

Thato: Swedish House Mafia, their music is loved at home and all over the world really. Zara Larsson is also an excellent musical talent from Sweden, I really enjoy her songs.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II

Swedish House Mafia Source: giphy.com

What is your favourite music or song from your home country?

Mahmoud: I like trance and house music in general, also one of my best is this for Amr Diab https://goo.gl/KTdrEt , also, I like classic romantic ones that have deep meanings like this: https://goo.gl/omKLkg

Tebkew: ‘Tikur sew’ by Teddy Afro

Sussy: A good makossa such as son me by the group X- maleya.

Ronald: I can say Valu valu for Dr.Jose Chameleon.

Blessing: Gospel and Dancehall music are my favorite genres. My favorite artists are Oliver Mutukudzi , Jah Prayzah and Winky D.

Nomsa: Believe me when I say I started listening to Botswana music so much when I got to Sweden, on those days that I really miss home. I won’t say it’s the favorite, but the song at the top of my playlist right now is Charma gal- Mmokolodi.

Thato: The genre I enjoy the most is rock music. Artists like The Parlotones, Prime Circle, BlackByrd and Freshly Ground are just a few that I really enjoy. South African house music is also phenomenal! It’ll lift your mood on a bad day and keep you dancing all night on a good day!

Remarks

The interviews show the diverse nature of various foods and music from countries in Africa as well as how students feel about Swedish food and music. Zara Larsson had to feature of course. I hope you enjoyed seeing and hearing different foods and sounds from countries in Africa.

Here is a post I previously wrote about Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part I about all things hair and weather.

Look out for the next blog on the Coming to Sweden: African edition series.

Follow Study in Sweden on Snapchat for more updates

From Sweden with Love

 

NB: Disclaimer: This post is based on perspective and experiences of the students interviewed. It is not meant to generalize all African students in Sweden perspectives.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition

Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part I

I’ve been tackling how to best write about this topic. How it feels to a black African student is Sweden.

I have considered everything from doing a meme collage to a video story. However,to start with I thought it would be nice to share a few reflections and experiences.

I get emails asking me questions on everything from how to survive the weather. How to maintain natural hair. If racism exists in Sweden. Or, what to do when you’re craving food from home. So, this post is for you. As well as those who want to get some insight into being a black African student in Sweden.

Coming to Sweden: The African Edition Part 1

Coming to Sweden: African Edition

source: google.com

Culture

First, let’s just say that I’m realizing that when it comes to Swedish culture, we do things a little ‘say different’. For example saying sorry. Recently, I bumped into a fellow digital ambassador from India and said sorry. I expected a weird response but we both laughed when we realized that we both do it.

Growing up, we were taught that if you bumped into someone, someone dropped something, tripped or fell, you say sorry to kind of convey your empathy. It comes as a gut reaction. I quickly found that in Sweden, people find this odd and keep asking why I say sorry when I didn’t do anything.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition

source: giphy.com

Weather

Second, the weather will always be a topic of discussion until the day that I leave Sweden. No seriously. I once overheard some students on a bus discussing a classmate of theirs from Ghana (I think) and how he would go on and on about how the weather was terrible. They couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t just get over it. One thing I can say is that when you are used to sunshine (sometimes rain) and warmth for almost 365 days of the year it’s hard to (just get over it). Yes, it does get cold back home but not like Swedish ‘cold’ or ‘rain’.

Coming to Sweden: African edition

source: giphy.com

Speaking from experiencing my first Swedish winter and -6˚C, I doubt anyone just gets accustomed to it. Even for the second or the third or even the fourth time round. I’ve met other African students who have been here for years and even Swedes who say sometimes even they find it hard to cope. You get accustomed to it but it never becomes ‘normal’, you sort of just build tolerance. So, my advice for experienced winter students is to offer up some tips on how best to cope i.e. layering, exercise etc. when you find someone struggling.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition

Winter in Gothenburg

Generalizations

Third, I was kind of expecting this one. All the jokes about being asked how you arrived here? Is it your first time in Europe etc. Funny enough I haven’t encountered too many of these. On the odd occasion at afterwork a random girl will ask me what country I’m from and tell me that I’m making Africa proud. It used to get to me when even my lecturers would say ‘in Africa’. In my head I’d think there are 54 countries each with different stories, histories, cultures, geographies etc. so for me that’s like saying ‘in Europe’. But I take it in stride now and mention that it would be nice to know which specific country. I tended to get defensive in the beginning but now I’m quickly learning to:

‘Share our similarities, Celebrate our differences’

M. Scott Peck

Coming to Sweden: African Edition

source: memegenerator.net

Hair

Finally, I knew coming to Sweden meant less flexibility in terms of hair. I knew I would not be able to get the products I needed or it would be too expensive to get it done in a salon. Thus, I decided to learn how to care for my hair courtesy of YouTube. I did crotchet braids knowing they would last a few months before I decided what to do next. From day 1, I got asked whether it was my real hair or how I dry it when I wash it. At first I enjoyed answering all the questions even from random people who would walk up to me and touch my hair. However, encounters including hair sniffing and unwarranted touching quickly made me draw some boundaries. It’s great to be curious but it’s also good to ask before you touch or approach someone especially if its a stranger.

Coming to Sweden: African Edition

source: giphy.com

Take Away and Tips

Take it in stride. Before leaving home,past students from the Swedish Alumni Network in Kenya (SIANK) told us that when we come to Sweden we would not only be representing Kenya but the African continent on the whole. I am beginning to understand that being from a country so far away from Sweden is an opportunity to educate people about a culture, country and continent that is a world away.

The same way I am learning about Sweden and Europe is the same way I’d want Swedes as well as everyone else to know about my home country and Africa.

Here is a post I previously wrote about my study abroad experience coming from Kenya.

Keep reading for Coming to Sweden: African Edition Part II where I will discuss food, music and language.

Follow Study in Sweden on Snapchat for more updates

From Sweden with Love

NB: Disclaimer: This post is based on my perspective and experiences. It is not meant to generalize all African students in Sweden perspectives.