Tag Archives: swedish culture

Icehotel

My Top 8 Swedish Experiences

Study in Sweden brings me so many new experiences, from trying all kinds of weird and amazing Swedish food to the love-hate relationship with Swedish weather and also the quirky Swedish traditions from crayfish party to Easter egg hunting in the woods.

Sometimes, I struggle to do activities that are out of my comfort zone – dipping in ice lake in winter, riding snow mobile, speaking Swedish etc. but then it also comes the satisfaction of conquering it. Finally able to say ‘I did it’ feels simply wonderful!

Here comes my top 8 Swedish experiences

1. Sleeping on ice-bed (without heater)

Traveled from +45°C to -35°C, first timer for a 70°C dip! The thought of sleeping overnight on an ice-bed in Ice Hotel Jukkasjärvi scares me. Thankfully, it’s only 5°C indoors and I was well-equipped with a warm sleeping bag and overalls to stay warm. No sweat.

2. Being chauffeured by 10 sleigh Dogs and a guide

These dogs are incredibly fast and they also fart a lot with the wind blows towards us, what an unforgettable experience. I couldn’t feel my legs after sitting still for over an hour on the sleigh at below -30°C but I will totally do it again.

3. Riding snowmobile in Kiruna, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle

Guaranteed adrenaline rush especially for first-timers but it was so worth it!

4. Meeting drunk moose

When the moose is more drunk than me. Quite puzzling and funny, I found out from my Swedish friend that the moose were drunk from consuming the fallen fermented apples. Both mother moose and baby moose stay put and lay there outside my friend’s house in the countryside for a few days straight in a row, by the apple tree. Such is life!

5. Swedish weather A-Z

Snow storm, hail, rainy, foggy, misty, windy, sunny, dry .. well, I experienced all here but the ones that hit me the hardest are the sunny perfect summer weather which makes me want to be out all the time and the dark, freezing, wet and snowy that sets me in hibernation mood.

6. Midsummer party and sittnings

There are many Swedish traditions but midsummer is my top favorite. Everyone is so happy, drinking and dancing around the maypole. I’m absolutely in love with those handmade floral crowns. Tip: Learn to sing ‘små grodorna‘ and join in the midsummer dance!

If you’re an international student in Sweden, then sittning is a must. It is essentially a theme student dinner party. Honestly, I would say it’s about 20% dinner and 80% party. Make new friends, get to know the Swedes, learn Swedish drinking songs and party.

7. Christmas markets and julbord

This may sound ordinary but coming from the tropics, having a ‘real Christmas’ in winter, going to Christmas markets and indulging in the julbord actually means a lot. I’m tried of fake snow bubbles and sweating over Christmas.

8. Sauna and ice dipping (on repeat)

I had strong doubts at first but once I overcome it, it’s one of the best experiences ever. Of course, my bare feet were almost numb while walking over the snow to the icy lake but the best part comes when I get to defrost in the sauna. Absolutely refreshing!

There are still so many things left to experience …

On my to-do list includes the northern lights (I went up north but sadly didn’t manage to see), tree top hotel, ice-fishing and a lot more. I’m really looking forward to checking off the list. So, what are your top Swedish experiences, do share them!

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Top 5 ‘Good-to-Know’ for First-timers in Sweden

As I reflect upon what it was like when I first moved to Sweden, I made quite a few minor adjustments in adapting to the Swedish society and culture. For first-timers in Sweden, I have compiled the top 5 essentials to help you settle down and kick-start your stay and studies in Sweden. Let’s get started.

1. Addressing by First names

Swedes tend to call people by their first names regardless of their status. For students, this applies to addressing your lecturers, professors, supervisors and/or managers. In fact, this applies to everyone with exceptions to the Royal family and in very formal occasions. Coming from Asia, calling teachers/seniors in their first names would deem disrespectful but it is absolutely a norm here.

2. Remove your Shoes

Be polite to take off your shoes when you enter someone’s home. There are also places like clinics, sports-halls and gyms which require shoes to be removed prior entering, so keep a look out for the signs. Some places also provide disposable shoes wraps for those who want to keep their shoes on.

3. Take a Queue Ticket

Swedes take queuing up seriously. When visiting the banks, pharmacies or collecting your posts/parcels, don’t forget to take a queue ticket. This queue system also applies to the student service center at my university and many other places. Not only is this queue system orderly, it also efficiently eliminates the odds of people cutting queues. Win-win, I like.

4. Sort waste, Recycle garbage and Clear your trays

More than 99% of all household waste in Sweden is being recycled and there are different bins for different waste. Recycling bins are categorized into plastics, coloured glass, non-coloured glass, metals, papers and magazines, cartons and cardboards, batteries, light bulbs, to name a few from the top of my head. Food waste is also placed in compost bins. So, know the bins.

Don’t forget to clear your trays and utensils after eating. Self-service clearing is very common in schools, cafes, even some hotels and restaurants. If you’re unsure, the best thing is to observe around or simply ask the staff where to leave your tray.

5. Know the ‘Weeks’

It is common in schools and at work to use the ‘week system’. As students, you may have to get used to communication in the terms of week.  For instance, ‘submit the thesis topic by week 50’ or ‘registration for the student event take place during week 28’. Since I had no sense of ‘week’ in the beginning, I relied on my phone a lot. Fret not, you will get used to it after awhile.

So now you know, welcome to Sweden!

Image credits: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

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Swedish culture in 5 photos.

1. Fika

I see fika as a statement about the work-life balance here in Sweden, rather than an excuse to consume litres of coffee each day. I also find the concept feeds well into studying by optimising concentration with regular breaks between classes.

Check out the blog from Andaç on fika here.

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2. Generosity

I’ve found Swedes – classmates, friends, strangers and lecturers – all to be extremely helpful and generous. I guess this is also reflected within the Nordic social-political model. The picture below demonstrates the community spirit and generosity in Hornstull (Stockholm) with a free book trade alcove situated under a bridge.

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3. Nature

Compared to other cities I’ve visited, in Stockholm you always have nature just upon your doorstep. In the summer, the water surrounding the city islands is perfect for a quick swim and it only takes a few metro stops to find a secluded park or garden for a walk around the beautiful countryside. Everyone in Sweden really values this space and I’ve certainly started to feel this too.

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4. Ikea

Going to Ikea is actually a thing. Its more than just a brand though, I think the general idea of Ikea – simple and revolutionary flatpack furniture – is a great example of the drive for new solutions and innovations. Everything just seems to work in Sweden.

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5. Art

Art is everywhere – not only in the museums, it’s on the streets, in people’s fashion sense and even in the metro stations.

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