Kulturhuset, a creative bridge to find friends in Sweden

So, I’ve landed in Sweden for studies, but I feel like I crave a student life that is so much more beyond lectures and assignments. I want to be a part of the culture. I want to know what’s buzzing within the local community, to engage with people and know more about Jönköping –the city I live in. And that led me to Kulturhuset!

Kulturhuset means cultural centre. You can think of Kulturhuset as a clubhouse buzzing with creativity, a place where art and friendships collide. If you have a passion, then this is your place to share it!

Kulturhuset in Jönköping
There are two Kulturhuset in Jönköping. One is a grassroot cultural centre in the ‘old town’ area near the Matchstick Museum. The other one is Kulturhuset Spira, a big venue and a hub for professional performing arts (theatre, ballet, musical shows) in Jönköping County.

Here we are talking about the grassroot Kulturhuset, a non-profit membership association. They really have a punk spirit, a collective sense of movement and underground feel. Everything belongs to the members, and the members have the freedom to start events, create new clubs or movements, any idea is encouraged! 

Spread over 2500 sqm there are several different stages, rehearsal rooms, open workshops, a recording studio, an independent cinema, a freeshop, a social bookstore, a member-run café, and a variety of facilities for dance, theatre, concerts, stand-up, lectures, meetings and much more.

The image showcases a woodworking workshop on the left, with workbenches and tools neatly organized. On the right, there’s a door leading to a painting workshop, vividly decorated with colorful artwork.
Woodworking and painting are some of the workshops available there. //Photo: Nana

What can we do there?
Inside Kulturhuset, it’s a whirlwind of creative vibes. Everyday there is always something going on. Many events, local bazaars, and also workshops that you can join –from woodworking, painting, dancing, to ceramics. To be a member you need to pay 100 SEK, and another 100 SEK to each of the workshops that you want to join.

As members, we have the freedom to start or create anything. Once, me and my friends created our own workshop event. We made a Christmas candle-painting workshop in the cafe, and prepared everything ourselves.

But, even if you’re not a member, you can join the magical soup kitchen every Tuesday evening! It’s became a routine for me, I almost never skip it. Not just about the soup, it’s about the warm conversations. Also, they change the soup every week and you can have a say what kind of soup you want for next week!

And then there’s my favourite movie spot in the city, Folketsbio. It’s very small and cute, not your average cinema. The movies they screen there are usually more independent movies, art-house, festivals, and documentaries –different from what you usually see in box office cinemas.

A collage featuring diverse activities and events hosted at Kulturhuset in Jönköping, such as a candle painting event. An image of a cafe is also described as 'the heart of our Kulturhuset'.
This Nyfiket cafe is run by members, we can create events here! //Photo: Nana

Activities and friends
The real wonder? It’s the people you meet. I meet so many wonderful souls here, locals who make you feel like you’ve lived here forever, even though I don’t speak much Swedish. They share all these cool things about Sweden, tell hilarious stories, and before you know it, you’re part of the gang.

I also volunteer in the soup kitchen with my international friends from the university. I could wash the dishes, be the sound and lighting ‘engineer’ for the café stage, or just stay in the kitchen and help with anything they need. I get a lot of free food while doing this haha!

Other days I visit to watch movies in Folketsbio or just to see if there is any event. One day I just joined the board game event, another day me and my friends just sat in the social book cafe and read a book about anarchy while discussing the current state of the world. It’s a surprise every time, you’d never know what you’d find in Kulturhuset.

A collage of international students volunteering as sound managers at Kulturhuset.
Looking like I know what to do lol!! //Photo: Eric Wagman

Kulturhuset is a whole experience. It’s like they want everyone to have a spot where they can hang out, explore their creative side, and find a place where they belong. I discovered that the real lessons often happen outside the classroom—sometimes over a bubbling pot of hot soup. 

If you also want to make friends outside of class and engage with the local community, you can check if there is a kulturhuset near where you live. They typically exist in many Swedish towns and cities, but they are generally independent and operate differently, so you should find out how they work and how to join the events. So, that’s it! Let’s thrive in life while studying in Sweden!


Written by Nana

29 Dec 2023