Tag Archives: gothenburg

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 international 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 international 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.

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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.

 

5 tips to live cheap in Sweden

Here are my 5 tips to live cheap in Sweden. Being a student isn’t the cheapest profession on the planet. Especially not in Sweden. However, we still have to eat, live in accommodation, watch a movie and attend the occasional party and afterwork. That being said, I thought I would share some insider information for how to navigate expenses.

As a student at the University of Gothenburg I have had to learn tips and tricks of how to live cheap and keep on budget.

Top 5 tips to live cheap in Sweden

5 tips to live cheap

For a rough student budget here’s a post by ABC on the Cost of Living in Sweden in 2017. (Mostly Stockholm and Uppsala).

If you’re coming to Sweden, NB: the biggest expense for students is accommodation. It ranges from SEK 2500 – SEK 6000 and depends on the size of your room, if its shared and if you have your own bathroom, kitchen etc.

So, after paying accommodation these 5 tips should help you survive on a budget in Sweden!

Useful links:

Signing up to experiments at Gothenburg University: GU Handels experiments

Student discounts: Mecenat

Tips on how to navigate 2nd hand shopping: Second hand shopping guide in Sweden

For ideas on what to cook for the week: Meal prep ideas

NB: At the time of posting this blog the information was up to date. I will also seek to update it with new information.

Keep it tuned for more tips for students living in Sweden.

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From Sweden with Love!

Min första snon (My first snow)

I will never forget my first encounter with snow on the 9th of February 2017. It finally snowed in Gothenburg and it stuck to the ground to carpet the city in tufts of white snow. It had snowed earlier on the year when I wasn’t around to see but this time around I was lucky to experience the full-on beauty of the winter snow.

As soon as it started snowing, I checked the weather forecast on my phone and when it said heavy snowfall due to a storm, I was hopeful that this time it meant that the snow would stick and carpet the ground. I waited about two hours to be sure before getting my hopes up and boy, did I get a surprise!

My first snow

Source: giphy.com

I put on my boots and donned my winter jacket and gloves as well as this cute fuzzy hat my mum had gotten me and told me to wear when winter hit me hard. Until now it had sat at the back of my wardrobe as Gothenburg was never cold enough to wear it. Armed ready to take the selfies of a lifetime and some videos, I left the house full of anticipation.

My first instinct was to touch and feel the snow to know it’s real. It was so fluffy and cold. I had seen so many pictures of Sweden in the snow and it looked so beautiful which made me jealous of my friends in other cities such as Stockholm and Jönköping who had already experienced the full effects of the winter snow.

Today it was my turn!

My first snow

Walking out into the snow was nothing like I could have ever imagined. Everything was covered in a blanket of serene white with the only contrast being the bricked buildings and people going about their daily lives in cars, buses and on bicycles.

It was better than I could have ever imagined. Now I know why Bing Crosby dreams of a white Christmas. It makes everything seem so peaceful and serene.

Min Forsta snon

It felt just like this quote:

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” – Lewis Carroll

My first snow will be an experience I will never forget. Sweden clearly has a lot more firsts in store for me and I’m looking forward to everyone one of them!

My first snow

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From Sweden with Love!

Master in Communication Series Part 3: What am I actually studying?

Months go by, and my Swedish academic adventure continues non stop. This time, I’d like you to find out more about another course I’ve been attending since January. First of all, do I really have to remind you once again what I’m actually studying?

via GIPHY

Seriously? Okay… just for this time, I promise myself that’s the last!

I’m joking of course. Here we are: I’m studying a Master’s Programme in Communication at the University of Gothenburg.

The course I’m gonna talk about is called ‘Communication among professionals’. The focus is obviously on the term ‘profession’ and ‘professional’, keeping always in mind the fundamental role that communication plays within the field of the organizational domain. When I say organizational, I mean that we should consider everything that happens within the borders of any sort of organization, company or whatever: a cluster of people working together and, presumably, belonging to different positions. These positions entail a diverse knowledge owned by specific people at various levels of the organization; of course, who is entitled of the highest positions owns more power and different knowledge than whom has a lower position in the organizational hierarchy.

As it is assumed, communication has carried out through different channels, such as written forms, oral ones, non-verbal, visual or digital too. When communication occurs within a workplace context, most probably is framed in a metaphorical container that is known as ‘discourse’. Almost every kind of professional domains has its own discourse: for instance, medical discourse, scientific discourse, legal discourse, and the list goes on. If you happen to be in an hospital, perhaps you’ll listen to workers conversations, while queueing or waiting in the hallway or whatsoever situation; well, in this case, medical discourse don’t always occur: it may be normal listen briefly to two nurses talking about their family or their friends’ issues; as well, it may be normal listen to the same two nurses talking about patients’ conditions or medical treatments: in that case, we can claim that we’re in front of the so called medical discourse.

Some days ago, our class, divided into small groups, had to make a ‘professional’ presentation of a case study, pretending to be consultants: the aim of this activity saw each group presenting a case of boat rocking to the ‘top management’ (our professor and the rest of the classmates, N.d.R). What is boat rocking, are you wondering? No problem, just read this definition: “the boat-rocker is one who express dissent – in a direct, straightforward manner – within the boundaries of an organization” (Redding, 1985, p.246). The case was about a conflict that was rising between a frontline worker and her middle-managers within a healthcare provider of in-home services. I personally found this task being really interesting, and this will surely lead me to deepen the topic concerning boat rocking, as well as the one known as whistleblowing: the case of Edward Snowden reminds you anything, doesn’t it?

Waiting for new tasks and assignments, and new stories regarding my Master’s Programme to tell you!

 


 

Featured image: http://thebusinesstherapist.com/2011/10/corporate-communication-skills/

Picture 1: https://news.clearancejobs.com/2013/03/07/mastering-professional-communication-in-a-defense-industry-office/

Picture 2: http://www.tomppro.com/course-cat/people/communication/

 

Master in Communication Series Part 2: What am I actually studying?

Hej! How are you doing? Hopefully fine. If you try to ask me the same question, I’d say I’m fine too, and that I’m glad to be back to Gothenburg after spending holidays in Italy. Anyway… I’d say also that I’m excited to start a new semester. Remember what I’m studying, right? For those of you do not recall it, have a quick look at here or let me spoil it instead: I’ve been studying a Master’s Programme in Communication at the University of Gothenburg.

Few days ago a new course has started – it seems is gonna be really interesting, and I would add very intense as well. What am I talking about? Exactly about that: Multimodal Communication.

foto1

Source: http://praacticalaac.blogspot.se/2012/09/speak-up.html

What is Multimodal Communication? Bearing in mind the definition of Communication that I’ve already given (don’t let me spoil something again!), I think it’s useful to know also that when we interact with other people, we basically want to reach a goal – as well as the others communicating with us. There can be some means and processes involved in this activity: means going on within the interaction itself and also within ourselves. Means like turn management, feedbacks or sequencing along with the capability to process in our mind what and how to communicate, and to change/shape our thoughts, when needed.

foto2

Source: http://research.uiowa.edu/communicating-ideas-workshop

If we shrink our attention to the interaction between humans, and especially regarding face-to-face communication, we can claim that we’re coping with… multimodal communication. Two or more than two modalities are used when we talk face-to-face. Modalwhat?

Let’s put it in this way: we have sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Right? All of these are modalities, or it’s better to say sensory modalities: when I speak, the receiver is using and/or combining two or more sensory modalities in order to process and interpret my message. The other way around, when I speak I also can use two or more modalities, in this case we consider them production modalities: I use my voice, I can use gestures, I can touch, and so on.

The effects of the multimodality can vary and depend on the interactions: the message can be reinforced and the overall comprehension improved; the message can be considered more dynamic; relations can be strengthened and conversations regulated. However, it may happen to make the message unclear as well, or even confusing and disturbing.

foto3

Source: https://www.trainerbubble.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Communicating-Difficult-Messages_web-680×255.jpg

Headache? Naah, come on! Of course there would be a lot to mention, but you’re lucky: I can’t say more for the moment, as my course has just begun…


Featured image: https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/bigstock_Focus_On_Communication_mangolanguages.jpg

48 hrs Gothenburg on a budget

Gothenburg is the best city in Sweden. I am completely bias in saying this. But hey I love this city! The aim of this blog-post is to guide you on a tour of Gothenburg on a student budget.

First, you need to:

  • Purchase a Gothenburg City Card that for approx. SEK 335 during low season (October – April). OR to be super budget friendly buy a 3-day unlimited tram/bus card from Vasstrafik for approx. SEK 170
Gothenburg City Card

Credit: Ivanna Read

  • Download the Vasstrafik app available for android and iPhone
  • Wear some comfortable sneakers, a backpack and carry a selfie stick/tripod at your discretion
  • Carry a bottle of water

KeyBold and Italic represents those who have a Gothenburg City Card

Gothenburg Tour – Day 1

8:00 a.m.

You’ve probably arrived at Goteborg Central Station.

First agenda should be a selfie at the central station and a short walk around the buildings that surround it.

Gothenburg Central Station

8:15 a.m.

Walk to Nordstan Shopping mall which is located 5 minutes from the Station. Visit the Tourist Information Center and get a free map of the city and a Vasstrafik map which will come in handy. If you haven’t bought your Vasstrafik or Goteborg City card, you can purchase them at the Vasstrafik shop also located within the mall. Alternatively you can walk if your in for some extreme exercise.

8:30 a.m.

Start with a short walk to the Alfie Atkins Cultural center at Slussgatan 1, it’s great if you have children.

Walk to the statue of Gustav Adolf II at Gustav Adolfs torg. This is a statue that is central to Gothenburg and depicts Gustav II Adolf saying here is where Gothenburg shall be built.

Gustav Adolf

9:00 a.m.

Stroll down Avenyn which is the main street of Gothenburg. If you begin at Gustav Adolf torg and work your way up, you shall pass Stora Teatern and several other wonderful buildings. Hop onto the Paddan boat tour at Kungsportsplatsen. It takes about 50 minutes. You may also choose to use the hop off and hop on bus also located at Kungsportsplatsen that takes you to several places on this post.

Credit: Göran Assner/imagebank.sweden.se

At the end of Avenyn is the Poseidon Statue. Pop into the Gothenburg Museum of Art at Götaplatsen.

Gothenburg tour

10:30 a.m.

Take a bus 52 to Korsvägen. There you will see the Gothia Towers, Liseberg and the Universeum which all present great photo ops. If you’re lucky you may be allowed to go to the top of Gothia Towers. The view from Gothenburg is amazing from up there. Visit Liseberg Amusement park (Liseberg gardens during summer) and Universeum.

liseberg

universeum

2:00 p.m.

Grab some lunch at Universeum/Liseberg or walk to Burger King and grab something to go at Örgrytevägen 5.

3:00 p.m.

Take the Ringlinien train back to Brunnsparken from the Liseberg stop. Hop onto tram 2 or 4 and head to Brunnsparken. Head over to the Goteborg City museum located at Norra Hamngatan 12. You can also head to the museum and take some great pictures.

5:00 p.m.

Take tram 3,7 or 5 at Brunnsparken and drop off at Valand. Walk down the street and see the main administration block of Gothenburg University. As the campuses are spread across the city, this building acts as a main focal point for the University.

Gothenburg University

Walk over to Yaki-Da on Storgatan 47 for their after-work special which includes bottomless pizza with your first drink purchase until 10:00 p.m. Other places that offer after-work include King’s head. Various cafes and restaurants across the city also offer after-work specials.

yaki dah

Gothenburg Tour – Day 2

9:00 a.m.

I bet you had a great night at Yaki-da. So we start at 9:00 a.m. Take a bus/tram from your location to Lilla Bomen. Take the ferry called “Älvsnabben” that runs between Lilla Bommen and Lindholmspiren which is the Chalmers University stop at Lindholmen Science Park. Walk around campus and see buildings such as the ‘green’ Kuggen (Swedish for cogwheel) building which is quite beautiful.

Ferry

chalmers

10:30 a.m.

Take the”Älvsnabben” ferry back to Lilla Bomen

11:00 a.m.

Take bus 25 from Lilla Bomen to Pilgatan. Walk through Haga district. View art installations, beautiful wooden houses and stop by the numerous cafes for some lunch or a quick bite. Haga in known as the hippie district in Gothenburg and it does not disappoint. Pass by Feskekôrka.

haga

2:00 p.m.

Walk to Järntorget (iron square) and take the tram 1 to Botaniska Trädgården. Admission is free to the Botanical Gardens but they charge SEK 20 for admission to the greenhouses.

4:00 p.m.

Take tram 1 or 2 to Linnéplatsen. Visit the Slottsskogen Garden if you still have some extra time. Admission is free. Head back to Centralstation on a Blå bus or tram 1 or 2.

bus

5:00 p.m.

Goodbye! You’ll be heading back to your city from here. I hope you enjoyed Gothenburg!

cover

From Sweden with Love

NB:*At the time of publication of this blog, I had only visited 4 cities in Sweden”

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Featured image: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se