Things I wish I had known before arriving Sweden: Part 1

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The news of my admission to study at LiU was greeted with so much excitement.  I had finally gotten the opportunity to pursue a masters degree at the prestigious Linköping University. I made all the necessary accommodation and travel arrangements. Preparation and packing were in top gear. I even went as far as reading up about Linköping to get a feel of what to anticipate upon my arrival.

Then was the anticlimax of my travel date. I arrived Linköping prepared for the next two years of my life. I brought with me, two boxes completely stuffed with all sorts of items. I was allowed to carry that much only after doling out money grudgingly for excess luggage at the airline check-in counter. I had covered every angle of preparation possible, or so I thought. It’s been a few months now, since I arrived in August and there are a couple things I wish had known before moving to Sweden.

Welcome to Linköping City!                                                                                                  Photo Credit: www.dutyfreeinformation.com

Select intended contents of your luggage carefully

This particularly applies to people who are moving from far away. You won’t have the luxury of returning home often so make a list of the most important things you will need and pack them based on a scale of preference as well as cost of replacing. You don’t want to fill your luggage with stuff you can afford to easily buy when you get to Sweden and leave out things that will cost an arm and a leg to replace. Then again there are basic things you must have with you regardless of the price. For example, you must pack your personal grooming items and a some underwear.
Also, if you’re someone who has a unique past time which is peculiar to where you come from, be sure to pack items you’ll need. You may not find them outside your country. Before packing anything be sure to check with the airline if it’s permitted to travel with that item. That way your item won’t be confiscated at the airport and you won’t get into trouble.
Don’t fill your box with too many formal clothes. In Sweden, dress code to class is informal. A T-shirt and faded jeans trouser will make you blend in just fine. Same thing applies to dress code for work. You could pack one or two formal attires for the occasional fancy dinner or party. Filling up your box and paying for excess luggage like me doesn’t necessarily translate to being prepared. So, don’t make that mistake.

 

Come early to avoid queues

Several services are easier and faster to access during the summer break. Getting a Swedish ID is a vital step for anyone who wants to access any service in Sweden. Opening a bank account, easily accessing health care and virtually every service requires a Swedish Tax ID. Before you can apply for a Swedish Tax ID, you must register at the Swedish tax agency and be assigned a Personnummer (personal identity number). The processing times are dependent on the volume of applications. So, it’s best to apply before the surge at the beginning of the new semester. Arriving early will also help you avoid long queues for student registration and give you time to find accommodation before the rush starts.

Long queues could be frustrating.                                          Photocredit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

Try to find accommodation before your arrival

As soon as you get admitted to study in Sweden. You should register with companies that provide housing in Sweden. Trust me, you’ll need the points. Accommodation may sometimes be difficult to find and is usually dependent on queue points. So, the sooner you join the queues the more likely it is that you will be able to find accommodation directly on time. If you can afford and prefer to stay in expensive hotels, then this information is not for you. The international office at LiU usually reserves accommodation for interested first year fee paying masters students. It is best to accept if you are offered accommodation by the international office. It could be very difficult and expensive to find accommodation on your own at short notice.  For detailed information about accommodation for LiU students please use this link: https://liu.se/en/article/accommodation

That’s all for now. I’ll be sharing with you, more things to note before moving to Sweden very soon.

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Fika, Lagom and my first week in Sweden

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“Fika” “Largom” and my first week in Sweden

 

It was a cool Wednesday morning in August. I was sitting in room C1 at the valla campus listening to one of the welcome lectures whilst trying to catch my breath from running to avoid arriving late on my first day at the university. I woke up jet lagged that morning and checked the time with my sleepy eyes. I had arrived the previous evening after spending a whole day in transit from Nigeria; a story I’ll share with you some other time. It was a few minutes past 9am and the lecture was to begin at 10 o clock. That was just the stimulant I needed as I jumped out of bed. About 15 minutes later I was all dressed and hurriedly left for the university. Luckily room C1 wasn’t too difficult to find in the C building. It was just as described on the map.

Fika, a Swedish tradition that is taken seriously.

Description of events for the welcome program as well as a map had been given to me upon my arrival at the international office. The information day started as I expected with different speakers coming to give us information about life in Sweden and a list of things to do to help us settle in quickly and we all listened with rapt attention as we sat in the room which had a theatre sitting arrangement.
One speech that really struck me was the one about “Lagom”. Don’t bother checking an English dictionary because you won’t find it in there. It’s a Swedish word that means “just the right amount”. You see, we were told that Swedes like everything to be Lagom and that hit me. I was curious and eager to see to what extent that statement is true.

Next, we were told that Swedes like to “Fika”. Fika means to meet up for a drink, usually coffee and a pastry. But then like most non-Swedes would, I dismissed that as something that was found everywhere. It seemed to be a Swedish translation of popular culture. The meeting ended, and we were ushered to a room where drinks and snacks were provided. That was my second experience of Fika. I had enjoyed a Fika at the international office the previous day upon my arrival.

Fika with friends

I had arrived from the train station dragging my luggage with exhaustion written all over me. A few minutes later I was snacking away and the experience of a stressful journey to Sweden seemed to be a distant memory. At least at that moment.

The next day was the roll call in Papaver at the campus US. We were introduced to the master’s program and once again there was Fika. Later in the day we had a mini tour of the city Centre. By the time the tour was over, and we stopped to have Fika at a local restaurant, I was beginning to have second thoughts about my impression of Fika.

The days rolled by and I had made several friends and had several Fika. It was a Sunday afternoon. My first in Sweden. I had found a nearby Pentecostal church to attend as I’m a Christian. The service was about to end and as is the practice in most churches we said the grace. I was getting up to leave when I heard what had become an all too familiar announcement. one I had heard so many times in the past few days: “there is Fika available so please stay back and let’s Fika together”. At that moment, any lingering doubt about the peculiarity of Fika had been discarded. I had indeed accepted Fika as a unique Swedish tradition. A tradition I was beginning to pleasantly get accustomed to.

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