“What do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods” – George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones.
No, winter in Sweden is not that scary! And I can assure you that there is no white walker walking around! But it can be daunting for international students who first experience winter in Sweden as you can only see sunlight for a couple hours, and then here comes the darkness.
Even though I have been prepared for winter since August when every Swede I met told me to enjoy sunshine before it’s gone, I was still a bit shocked when winter has officially come to Sweden. I started searching ways to overcome this cold, dark and intimidated weather. And surprisingly this survival kit for Swedish winter can be very handy as below.
Vitamin D, yes, vitamin D
Coming from a tropical country where the sun is sometimes too strong and I have to hide away from it, it never occurred to me that I would have to take vitamin D supplement someday. But here I am, taking vitamin D supplement every day.
As days are getting shorter and shorter, the amount of sunlight you can get per day can decrease to none. Thus, vitamin D is essential for health and mind. Taking advice from my Swedish friends, I started taking vitamin D from November. Some of my international friends even started earlier in October to get their body familiarise.
I bought my vitamin D tablets from supermarket chains such as ICA or Willys, or from Apotek – Swedish pharma store. You can also take multivitamin which contains vitamin D and other types of vitamin instead of only vitamin D concentrated tablets.
Note: You should ask your local pharmacists for detailed dosage, and also potential allergy.
Uhm, what is that?! The first time I received a reflector from Lund Kommuns volunteer, I did not know what this glass circle thing is for.
As darkness is coming, walking in the dark would be sometimes dangerous especially when you have to share walking path with cycling path. Traffic accidents can happen if you are not visible in traffic. Thus, reflectors, which can be in different shapes and colours (mostly white or bright yellow), would ensure your visibility and safety in traffic during winter.
You can attach a reflector to your bag or bike to be visible in the traffic. I usually attach my reflector to my back bag. Reflectors can be easily obtained for free from local government or university. Actually, I got both of my reflectors from Lund Kommuns volunteers when walking on the street. You can also buy reflectors from local supermarket or accessory stores.
Candles, or even better scented candles
As daylight decreases, candle light is one-of-a-kind substitute and may make your life brighter and warmer. Scented candles can also help release stress and create cosy atmosphere. Candles or scented candles are easily bought from super markets or stores.
What’s better than a relaxing weekend staying in your room, having hot chocolate under warm candle light and mellow scent? You may find winter enjoyable than expected.
Note: Please be aware of fire hazards when lighting candles. Remember to blow it off when sleeping or leaving your room.
So, I hope my little experience in the first month of winter in Sweden would somehow help you to overcome the upcoming months. Winter in Sweden sounds pretty scary at first, but you can make it less terrified with just these small little things.
If you have other tips, please share with me by commenting below. 🙂