Swedes and Spring


Written by Emma

13 Apr 2018

Vår – the Swedish word for spring. It is also the Norwegian word for spring, too! 

I was talking to one of my best friends, Thames, who moved from London to Montreal last year. Of the approaching springtime there, she said: “People are shaking off the dust and rubbing their eyes like they’ve forgotten what sunshine looks like. It’s beautiful. Cafes and bars have started unfolding themselves out of basements and setting up on the street. I never thought id be so happy to see ankles and shoulders.”

In terms of winter climates, the two cities have similarly protracted (but glorious…but long….but glorious) winters. So now that spring is coming in Sweden, what will you notice on the streets, in nature, where you study and about Swedes in the springtime? My colleague Ivanna has written a wonderful piece on how spring is showing itself in southern Sweden – so what about in more central/northern Sweden where the snow is a bit more stubborn to leave: how is it showing itself here?

New places to study

It’s true: when daylight savings changes, when sunlight is bountiful and the temperatures are rising in Sweden, everyone is clambering to be outside all of the time. When you have a book to read that’s okay, as you can pop outside and sit on a bench in the sunshine to do that. If it’s assignment writing which binds you to your power cable…outside is less of an option. People start actively scouting out the places to sit with the most sun. For example, I’ve taken to sitting at this spot on the top floor of my department’s building – look at these huge windows! Ample sun all around for when you have to stay inside.

study spot
Photo: Uppsala study spot, photo credit Emma

Everyone is outside

But really….everyone. People are finding every corner to sit in where there is sun. Even just sat outside my apartment building by the main road – not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing of spots – people are camped out, faces towards the sun, worshipping it.

friends on a bench in the sun
Photo: Emma and Rose in Stockholm, photo credit Karolina Z

Everyone is back on their bikes again

Which means I have to go and retrieve mine from the Law Faculty as it has been sat there frozen for the past 2 months… But really, now that the roads aren’t icy everyone is back on them again with their bikes. To be honest though, the Swedes never stopped cycling. In the depths of winter, at midnight, I saw a Swedish man with a DOUBLE BASS on his back, cycling in the snow and the ice. Swedes really do know how to adapt to the winter. But now, everyone is back on the saddle.

If you’re moving to Sweden soon that is something you need to know: Swedes will bike in all weathers as they are very, very skilled at it. If you are like me (not skilled at cycling OR dealing with adverse weather), just walk, it’s not worth it (i.e you WILL cycle over the ice and you WILL come off of it and hit your head and have to get rescued by two Swedish dads walking past…)

Parts of the city which have been masked by the snow come out again…

Did I notice that by the river Fyris in Uppsala there are lovely wooden jetties to sit on, and watch the world go by? No! The snow completely engulfed them for a good few months, so it was a very welcome surprise not only to see people sat by the river, but people sat without the worry of getting a wet bottom from sitting directly on the grass.

Amazing architecture

Look at this picture of Uppsala domkyrka (cathedral)! Look how glorious it is! Swedish architecture, the lovely oranges and reds and yellows are beautiful every day, but when set against a sharp blue background, it looks even more majestic.

Uppsala cathedral
Photo: Uppsala cathedral, photo credit Emma

Swede’s ankles

Walking around Uppsala in November when I was still trying to get away with cuffed jeans when it was 2 degrees…every Swede I walked past could probably tell I was a foreigner. Now it’s a *ripe* 8 degrees in Uppsala, Swedes are getting their ankles out again too. I also noticed that these statues which have been handily kept warm for the winter probably don’t need their socks and mittens anymore!

Statue with socks and mittens on
Photo: Statue with socks and hats on in a park in Uppsala, photo credit Emma

Massive piles of ice

There is the massive pile of ice and snow in the parking lot by my building. Honestly it’s probably 10ft tall, 15ft maybe. I feel like I should name it because it’s such a fixture of my daily life now, walking past it, making eye contact with it. When there is so much snow from winter, the ploughs have to collect it all together somewhere right? It might look like an ugly eyesore…but I prefer to think of it as a grateful reminder that we have said a big hej då to winter.

Bubbling/foaming rivers

I’m trying to be an amateur geographer here and am googling if this is just a spring phenomenon or year-round (if anyone is coming here to study Earth Sciences/Geology etc, let me know!) BUT now that the rivers have unfrozen and they’re flowing along again, I’m noticing them foaming and bubbling, like someone put a bath bomb in them. On sunny spring days it’s a beautiful (and confusing) sight.

river bubbling
Photo: River Fyris in Uppsala, photo credit Emma

Boundless possibility…

Swedish winter is lovely. It’s cosy and snug and feels genuinely homely with all of the small celebrations and traditions that punctuate the calendar. But it is dark, and it does feel like it goes on for a while. So now that spring is here….it just feels like we can do anything!

Marit looking out into Swedish spring
Photo: Marit looking out into Swedish spring, photo credit Emma
Emma promoting Study in Sweden on the streets of Stockholm!
Photo: Emma promoting Study in Sweden on the streets of Stockholm!, photo credit Rose

What are you most looking forward to about Swedish spring? Leave a comment below!


Written by Emma

13 Apr 2018