Tag Archives: swedish

SFI without a personal number!

I decided to study in Sweden for a number of reasons, one being the opportunity to begin to properly learn a language. As a typical Brit, I only speak English…despite having 5 years of French lessons during school.

Since moving to Stockholm I’ve been keen to have lessons and get talking the lingo. My svenska journey started back in September during introduction week when my university offered international students a free 3-day language course. At the end of the course I was super keen to continue to learn and felt the 3-days gave me and excellent basis to build upon. Our teacher explained to us about Swedish for Immigrants (SFI, svenska för invandare) and encouraged us that this was the best way to keep developing our skills.

SFI is the free course for anyone moving to Sweden to live, work or study. It is organised by the city council depending on where you are living, for me this is Stockholms stad. So I started researching how I could sign up…

I found the phrase I feared most:

“In order to study SFI, you must be registered in Stockholm City and you should have received your full national registration number.”

As a student on a 1-year course I don’t qualify for a personal number. The reoccurring theme in Sweden is that your need a personal number for EVERYTHING. I asked a few people about SFI and the personal number, everyone told me you definitely need one.


When you find out you need a personal number to do everything in this country.

I gave up the idea of SFI and went to some informal lessons with Language@KI taught by a medical student for 2 hours a week. Although these were great fun and helpful, I really needed some more hours per week to really get to grips of Swedish. I was also using Duolingo to supplement the lessons.

Anyway, a new year a new beginning. I will do more Swedish in 2016. My housemate also had the same New Years Resolution so we looked into SFI again.

A new phrase had appeared on the website:

“If you are an EU / EEA citizen or citizen of Switzerland you should have a right of residence (for work, studies) and be a resident in Stockholm. Bring your passport (to show citizenship).”

No personal number required!


When you find out you don’t need a personal number for everything in this country.

Whether this is a new exception or the rumours about the personal number and SFI were false for EU citizens, I’m not sure. BUT we visited SFI on Wednesday, passports in hand and registered successfully. CHECK!


  • You don’t need a personal number for SFI
  • If you don’t have a personal number – you need to be an EU citizen
  • A coordination number is also fine for registering
  • Bring your passport!
  • Congrats – can you now learn Swedish.

I start SFI on the 25th January with 3 of my friends doing 9 hours a week. It’s is going to be intense.

ENGLISH SUBTITLES, PLEASE! But the word is “China”

Jönköping Thoughts

I found language barriers within the Swedish industries and observed the trend of increasing Sino-Swedish business relationships.

The Elmia Subcontractor Fair was four days long. The Chalmers Formula Student team stood proudly next to our partner Lesjöfors. The types and sizes of springs Lesjöfors offers amazed me. Yet, just another small Swedish engineering company that packs a big punch in the automotive industry.


I was there for the last day of the marathon. So we walked around talking to suppliers, looking for partnership opportunities. It felt like speed dating. We practiced a procedure of “approaching sponsors”. I’m pretty sure somebody google’ed “how to approach girls”, copied the article and replaced the word “girls” with “companies”…us awkward engineers.

But since it was engineers talking to engineers, conversations went smoothly. People were enthusiasm towards their products and we were curiosity driven.

Except one guy. He talked to my colleague and I in English for a bit. Then all of a sudden, he switched to Swedish. Sh-woosh! Just like that! WahhBamm! And I stood there holding my smile, meanwhile my Swedish colleague continued with this “date”. Awkward… My Swedish colleague later tried to explain to me that some people are just more comfortable talking in their mother tongue. He could have at least said: “oh, my Engilsh bad”. Frankly I was a little annoyed at first. But after all, I’m in his country. I’m sorry for not speaking “Svenska”…


The take-home message here is the confirmation of language barrier that inevitably exists in Sweden. Majority of the people in big cities speak fluent English. But if you go to smaller towns or work in smaller businesses, only speaking English can be an issue.

On a different note, a large percentage of companies we talked to said they do their manufacturing in China. We observed many Sino-Swedish joint ventures at the fair. We also saw many Chinese companies there. I guess it’s also time to pick up some Chinese!


Engineering fair name tags. It just never looks as cool as the lawyers or the economists

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§ A little bit more about the fair:

The subcontractor fair is one of the leading supplier’s fair in Northern Europe, involving engineering and technological businesses all over Sweden.

Some Fast Facts: [Source: official webpage http://www.elmia.se/en/subcontractor]

  • Number of visitors: 14 705 (Chalmers has 10,000 students)
  • Number of exhibitors: 1 171 (that’s a lot of companies)
  • Exhibition area: 18 286 sq m (1 soccer field is 100×64 m2. So aprox. three soccer fields)
  • Participating nations: 31

Chalmers Formula Student team’s goal was:

  • Represent our sponsors: show casing the fruit of collaboration between CFS an our partners.
  • Increase awareness of the Formula Student project
  • Seek for more industry relations: delivering more “Engineers of tomorrow” (that’s our motto)