Housing is always one of the first things you need to consider before moving to a new country, especially in Sweden when finding accommodation can be quite challenging at times. As students, most of us live in corridor rooms and share public spaces like the kitchen, bathrooms with other flatmates. The number of flatmates and shared facilities varies a lot depending on the area and the building. Where I stay, there are three students sharing a small flat, in which we share the bathroom and kitchen.
Before moving to Sweden, I had anticipated some degree of inconvenience when living in a student house, but to be honest, I wasn’t expecting the followings.
A buddy from Day 1 to explore everything together
They said in the housing contract that well, I will have my own lovely room. What they didn’t mention was having a chance to meet one of my best friends there as well. Lili is a Chinese girl who comes to Sweden to study Entrepreneurship in a 1-year program. We arrived at around the same time on the same date so I would say that our adventure in Sweden begun together.
“I’m starving. Let’s go to the supermarket to buy food.” Lili said. She was the one who opened up and welcomed me. I was always thankful for that first ice-breaking, as I consider myself being a bit awkward when meeting new people. We were both new to the city, and so eager to explore every corner of it. For me as a person going to a completely new place without friends or family, it was a blessing to have my roommate’s company.
The first Swedish friend – Or all about Uppsala in a nutshell
I have another roommate who is a Swedish student, born and live in Uppsala. He is the first Swedish friend that I made, also totally represents this lovely city and the Swedish spirit. Having a kind Swedish roommate means you will know more about Sweden than you could expect. What could be better than exploring Swedish and Uppsala culture through a Swede who also knows and loves them by the heart! History, culture, music, movies, we are pretty sure we can trust Martin who is part-timing at Uppsala museum.
In that small cozy kitchen, there are so many interesting fika where we share about our own cultures. We love our time cooking together, playing Swedish songs in Martin’s phone from Lili’s bluetooth speaker, which occasionally announces, in loud Chinese, that the battery is weak. So for a Swedish student and a Vietnamese student, the first Chinese sentences we learned are “The battery is weak.” and “Sorry, cannot connect to the phone.”
Having a Swede living in the same flat is also an advantage when you’re looking for advice to shop, or anything related to Swedish society. I always can get the best answer for places to shop, what are the famous Swedish brands, where to hang out in town, and how to make coffee in a Swedish way.
Now we know Swedish, Chinese and Vietnamese food
Another thing I really like about my roommates is that we all enjoy cooking so much, and each brings the beauty of the diversity from our traditional cuisine to our lovely kitchen. Now I know how to make authentic Woton, a Chinese dish I love so much but never succeeded in making before. Lili now uses fish sauce, a Vietnamese ingredient, in her dish as she loved it so much when tasting my Vietnamese dishes. Martin, who is totally an expert in Swedish dish, gives us the chance to try so many Swedish traditional foods, which we fall in love with soon later.
No big corridor parties, but cozy dinners are good enough
There are bigger corridors in Uppsala, such as Flogsta, where many parties are held throughout the year and there are unique traditions like Flogsta scream. However, our small flat still has our own ‘culture’. Sometimes in the semester when the study is not that busy, we often sit together for a multinational dinner. It was one of the most interesting experience for me when I had the chance to eat Swedish sour herrings for the first course then Chinese chicken wings then Vietnamese beef stew for the main course in the same dinner. Eating out is also a pleasure. As my Swedish friends were so eager to see how Asian people react to so-called Asian food, we came to a Thai restaurant in Uppsala.
Sharing means Responsibility. Together we run this lovely house
Sharing bathroom and kitchen can be a burden if members don’t share responsibility in maintaining the tidiness in the public spaces. Luckily, here we do. We have house rule which each of us will take turns to clean all the public space every week, but it will never work out if we don’t keep it clean by our own habit. Cleaning can be tiresome, and we all intimately understand the burden of the weekly cleaning duty. Therefore, we keep our lovely place as clean as possible, as we love it so much.
The flat is also our home in Sweden. So, we pour our efforts into making it as cozy as possible. Candies are always available on the kitchen table, where each of us may stop, have some coffees and sweets, and think about how winter is coming. I bake as often as I can so that we can enjoy cakes together during fika time.
A second family in Sweden
My roommates are among the first friends I made in Sweden, and thanks to them, my Swedish journey and my student life become much more interesting. If I have one advice for students who will live in student corridors next year, I would say, be prepared, be responsible, be open and you will have a great experience.