Author: Jamie Gibson
If you love nature, scenery and fika’s (coffee break in Swedish), then moving to Sweden, and studying at Stockholm University is your best option. Quickly, I have learnt a lot which may help other potential students settle in quicker. When first applying to Stockholm University it is useful to know the logistics of studying abroad and what studying in Sweden entails. It may be useful to know that taking over two large suitcases, a backpack and a travel sized suitcase was enough to move most of the contents of my life for the next year.
Sweden use the Swedish Krona– which is roughly 12 SEK for every one pound. This can sometimes be difficult calculating what the prices of things are, but as a rough guide, it is handy to sometimes divide things by ten. A useful app in this situation is an XE calculator app. Stockholm is trying to become a cashless city, so the best method of spending is through debit cards. Revolut and Monzo are online only debit cards which unlike many UK banks, do not charge a transaction fee for using foreign currency. Often these banks come with some sort of monetary bonus for signing up, and it is usually very easy as it is all done online! Regarding mobile phones often companies in the UK, and from personal experience Vodafone, do not charge extra for EU destinations and using mobile data for the year. Thankfully, this is one aspect where not much needs to be done for your preparation of your year abroad.
The transport system used “SL” which there is an app for. You can buy discounted tickets for students which cost around 31 SEK (£2.50) for 75 minutes unlimited transport using the metros, buses, trains and boats around Stockholm. However, the most cost effective method is buying monthly passes at discounted student prices which costs 590 SEK (£48), but you must wait until you receive your student card from Stockholm to show that you are in a full time Swedish education program. If your accommodation is in “Lappis”, after being dropped off at the University from the free bus from the airport during induction weekend, buying a ticket for the number 50 bus (using the SL app) to the stop Professorsslingan is useful as walking with luggage up hills can be a nightmare (or should I say was a nightmare)!
Integrating and making new friends can also be daunting but finding out who is going from Glasgow is a great place to start! Alternatively, bus trips from the University to your accommodation means you can make great friends on the 40 minute journey from the airport. Joining the Students Union, the Law Student Union and the Erasmus Student Network Stockholm (ESN Stockholm) may be the best way to meet new people. Often it can be difficult in accommodations such as Lappis to find friends as they are often mixed with different universities who may not be on similar schedules to you. However, these student unions often put on social events such as speed friending, welcome talks, and an IKEA trip – which ironically, I found to be the most valuable place to meet new people. Often settling in and unpacking etc. can get in the way of attending these events, but going to them as regularly as possible is enough to guarantee you the hope of some lifelong friends!
Signing up to the Law Student Union is beneficial as other than social events, for the cost of £30, you get a gift card with around £120 to spend in the campus bookshop.
Additionally, a useful tip for students, the Systembolaget are Government run shops ran throughout all of Sweden. This is the only places you can buy alcohol over 3.5% and are time restricted – on Sundays they are actually closed. You must also be over the age of 20 to buy alcohol in these shops, and often many clubs are around this age to get into.
Stockholm is a beautiful place, made up of 14 islands, with plenty to do and see. Places I have loved are museums such as ABBA (a must do when in Sweden) and the Fotografiska (Photography museum). A particular highlight of Stockholm which I cannot recommend enough is to just either walk or scoot around the city to get your bearings. This is by far the best way to see the city and its beautiful architecture, in particular the Old Town, Gamla Stan. Scooting around the city on electric scooters is not only fun but is a great method of getting around efficiently. The cheapest scooters to use seems to be the TIER scooter app. Other recommendations include visiting a viewpoint which overlooks the city named Skinnarviksberget or visiting the Swedish alternative to Paesano, Meno Male. Taking advantage of the warmer weather in the first month is also good for visiting outdoor clubs such a Trädgården or swimming in Stockholms many water ways. Otherwise in the winter months, Kungsträgården opens up an ice rink where ice skates can be rented relatively cheaply.
The Culture and Travelling
If you want to immerse yourself into the culture, races including the Park Run are held every Saturday in Haga Park, which is a nice way to see more of Stockholm and interact with locals – it is also free. A 15km run is held every September known as Lidingoloppet which has beautiful scenery. Travelling around Sweden and to other countries is also encouraged! Uppsala in particular is cheap to get to from Stockholm and Gothenburg is a really relaxing and picturesque city to see. The Erasmus Student Network also organise trips to the Norweigian Fiords, St Petersburg in Russia and cruises to Estonia and Helsinki. Often at the end of October, depending on exam times there is a week’s gap between starting the second period, which is a good time to take advantage of the beautiful country your living in.
It has been relatively seamless moving to Sweden despite not knowing Swedish. Many Swedish people are so well taught they often interchange between English and Swedish in conversations. This has been useful in shops where most can speak the English language fluently. If you want to learn a new language, Swedish for beginners is offered for free within the University which consists of two, one and a half hour lectures per week. This does have an exam and you also gain extra credits. Being here for only three months has already taught me so much in relation to Sweden in general and I am picking up odd words as I go. One to bear in mind, is “Tack” which means thank you.
If you are contemplating on a year abroad, especially at Stockholm University, I could not encourage it more. This “Venice of the North” has so much to offer and explore!