Nervous about moving halfway across the world to a country where you don’t know anyone, to start a tough new degree programme with total strangers? Don’t be! Once, the Study in Sweden Digital Ambassadors and the Study in Sweden team were all in your shoes. Here, we’re sharing our best advice to help you have a great start to your studies in Sweden. We’ve also included loads of extra reading from the ambassadors on everything from exams to buying groceries. Get ready to be the most well-prepared person on your programme!
#1 Don’t miss the intro week!
“Immerse yourself fully in all the drinking, sporting, travelling and fika-ing that the first days have to offer. You’ll emerge with a ton of friends and memories.” – Marta
#2 Meet new people and start friendships.
“Use the first couple of weeks to socialise, socialise, socialise. Don’t be afraid of talking to strangers: the people you meet now can become your friends for life.” – Raghuraman
#3 Learn some Swedish.
“If you can prata in svenska, du can make många friends!” – Redwan
#4 Mistakes are good.
“I’m a perfectionist, so I struggled to accept that mistakes could be good… But now I know that each mistake is a lesson learned and a concept solidified.” – Mohamed
#5 Be 15 minutes late.
“Or not, depending on where you’re studying. Several (but not all) universities in Sweden follow the akademisk kvart tradition, where classes start 15 minutes later than indicated on the schedule. Find out what applies at your university to make sure you’re not showing up early every week!” – Dena
#6 Forget that fear of missing out.
“You don’t need to be at every single party to feel like you’re living the ‘studying abroad’ experience.” – Ayman
#7 Inhale like a Swede.
“I thought my tutor had asthma or a lung condition, but it turns out she was just saying ‘yes’ to my questions. In Sweden, many people inhale sharply when they agree or acknowledge something you say.” – Francesca
#8 Don’t take studying too seriously at first.
“Give yourself some time to get accustomed to your new uni and meet people from all over the globe.” – Dena
#9 Relax and enjoy the view.
“Sweden is easily one of the most scenic countries in the world. Even if you’ve never considered yourself a nature lover, Sweden has the potential to make one out of you, if you just slow down and let it all soak in. Don’t become so entrenched in studying and urban get-togethers that you don’t get to experience this country’s boundless natural beauty.” – Mohamed
#10 Get a bicycle.
“Cycling saves you a lot of money in the long term and keeps you fit. Bicycle lanes are pretty good in Sweden and well-maintained in the winter.” – Francesca
#11 Enjoy the sun while it lasts!
“Winters in Sweden are long and can be hard. Don’t be annoyed with the simultaneous ‘bombardment’ of snow and rain. You will get used to it!” – Redwan
#12 Visit secondhand stores.
“Sweden has a very well-stocked secondhand market for clothes and furniture. Stadsmissionen and Myrorna are two examples of splendid secondhand stores in Sweden. Most of the clothes that are sold are in very good condition. You can find great designer shirts, trousers, scarves, ties, shoes, winter clothing, books and even ice skates (!) in these stores at a reasonable price.” – Angelina and Raghuraman
#13 Skinny jeans keep you warmer.
“To understand why skinny jeans keep you warmer, compare jeans-and-legs to an insulated thermos bottle. Having a tight layer of air around a bottle keeps the beverage warm for longer; similarly, tight jeans sandwich a thin layer of air between your jeans and your legs. Th result: warmer legs!” – Gimmy
#14 Fika all day, every day
“Learn to love coffee and baked goods, because the Swedes sure do. The so-called fika break, which is when you drink coffee and eat some cake or a bun, is basically a cornerstone of Swedish society.” – Rachel, Study in Sweden team
#15 The forest is your friend
“In summer and autumn, you’ll find loads of edible mushrooms and berries just waiting to be picked in the Swedish forests. Here’s a guide to finding chanterelles. Remember that some mushrooms and berries are poisonous, so always bring a guide to make sure you know what you’re picking.” – Rachel, Study in Sweden team
#16 Have fun!
“This is your life and your big chance to experience another country first hand. You’ll look back on these days as the best of your life and I bet you’ll wish you could go back. Studying abroad is not always going to be easy and maybe you’ll even want to go home at some point. But remember why you’re here and what you’re doing this for. Sweden has so much to offer! I promise that, in time, you won’t have a single regret.” – Francesca
Even more advice
Follow the Study in Sweden Digital Ambassadors for even more advice on having the time of your life in Sweden. Here are some top reads:
Budget, finances and practicalities
- Marta on sorting out your finances and travel plans
- Angelina on student discounts
- Gimmy’s guide to shipping your stuff
- …and Angelina’s guide to shipping your stuff
- Mohamed on part-time student jobs
- Raghuraman on surviving in Stockholm on a tight budget
- Redwan’s guide to exams in Sweden
- Mohamed’s advice on tackling a tough subject
- Gimmy on the differences between studying in Canada and Sweden
- Emma on how to make the most of your university library