Swedish life – First snow & beginning of (true) cold

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My alley under the snow.

 

When I studied in Uppsala three years ago, it only started to snow around the end of December. At that time I was back in France for Christmas and could only start enjoying the snow in January when I came back to Sweden after New Year’s Eve.

This year, everything is different. It has started to snow maybe two weeks ago. However, it suddenly stopped because it became too cold. The temperatures dropped to -13 degrees celsius and instead of snow, we had frost. I must admit it was kind of disappointing. But the landscapes were still covered in white, and were glowing under the winter (autumn?) sun. I took many pictures to immortalize sunsets.

 

 

Right now, snow is back (see picture on top of the article). I love this weather: (very) cold and sunny. However, at first, I did not think it would be that cold in November. So, I kept biking, wearing my cotton gloves. Until one time, I could not feel my fingers anymore. Then I started using what I call my “Lapland gloves” (because I bought them in 2016 to go to Lapland). They are supposed to keep your hands warm until -30 degrees celsius – let’s say that it works pretty well.

Right now, I don’t feel like biking anymore. I am going to start using buses I think. Or walk. I will let you know another time about transportation in Linköping!

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On Campus – Global Weeks in LiU: learning about sustainability

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From 12th to 23th November, LiU was hosting the “Global Weeks”. During two weeks, topics revolving around Sustainability and Environment were tackled in different lectures, workshops and other events.

 Lunch lectures

In collaboration with SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Linköping’s municipality, many student organizations held “lunch lectures” – between 12.15pm and 1pm – dealing with one of several Sustainability goals set by the United Nations, such as gender equality or sustainable energy. Some of them were in Swedish, but the majority were in English.

I attended five of them:

  • “Saving lives with science” about how research could save lives by providing medicines and vaccines in developing countries
  • “Defending Human Rights” held by Civil Rights Defenders, an NGO which provide help and funding for Human rights activists all around the world
  • “How Sweden works with global sustainable development”
  • “What effects do our food choices have on the environment?” held by the Swedish NGO Medveten Konsumtion (Conscious Consumption)
  • “Lunchlecture with Bureau against discrimination”

A slide during the lunch lecture by Medveten Konsumtion, ““What effects do our food choices have on the environment?”.

My favorite lecture, by far, was “What effects do our food choices have on the environment?”. Indeed, being a vegetarian myself I already knew a lot of what was stated by the lecturer, but I learned a lot about our consumer choices’ consequences’ scope by reading unbelievable numbers – see picture. I also liked attending the lecture about Human Rights, because a lot of the stories told were related to LGBTQ+ rights and feminism, which are the topics I am mostly interested in due to my master.

Sometimes, lunch was provided for the first students to show up to the lecture. Thanks to this, I got one or two free falafels sandwiches to eat while listening to the lecturers.

 

Clothes Swapping

Another exciting event was the “Clothes swapping”. The idea of this event organized by ESN, the student organization destined to Erasmus and international students, was to promote second-hand consumption. I was really interested in this event because for almost a year now, I have decided not to buy anymore standardized new clothes from famous brands in order to reduce my ecological footprint.

During the “Clothes swapping” event, everyone was welcome to bring up to 5 pieces of clothes, and to take up as many pieces of clothes as they brought. For instance, I brought one jacket and was able to take one white jumper home. I regret not bringing more pieces, because some of the clothes looked very nice!

Other events were organized such as a workshop about “sustainable living”. One of my friend went there, and learned how to handle stress and anxiety with meditation, for instance. These two weeks were really exciting and inspiring!

 

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On Campus – Swedish university system: what does it look like?

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As a French student, I was surprised the first time I came to Sweden to discover a totally different university system. First, it’s not unusual for Swedes to take a gap year after gymnasiet (high-school). Hence, most of them are more than 20 years old when they start studying their Bachelor.

During my Erasmus year in Uppsala, I was only 19 and ending my Bachelor while some of my classmates were, sometimes, until 26 and just starting their studies! Today I am 22 years old and just began my second master, while Swedes from my age are mostly in their Bachelor. I think this difference stems from a chiller way to perceive studies and their outcome.

 

I think the Swedish university system is built to make you responsible for your own studies. Photo: Unsplash/Mikael Kristenson.

 

One course at a time

In Sweden, as most European countries I think, a school year is divided in two semesters. Each semester is then divided into several “periods” – from two to four. One course fits in one period. That means that in one semester you can have from two courses to four courses, one after the other and not at the same time.

For instance, I am now studying my third period’s course entitled “Analytical Tools”. It started on 12th November and will be ending in January. Before I got one course in September, “Introduction to intersectionality”, and one in October, “Exploring Intersectionality”.

This is way different than France where I could have more than five courses to study at the same time during the whole semester. Here in Sweden, I can focus on one course at a time, which allows me to better understand and acquire the knowledge necessary to succeed in my exams and my studies.

 

You cannot fail

The Swedish system is built as to make you feel like you can’t fail. Indeed, it is possible for you to take the same exam indefinitely, until you succeed. Thus, exams have usually two dates and essays two deadlines, in case you don’t feel like taking it the first time – because you did not study enough for example – or if you are sick.

In France, if you are not showing up at an exam you need to get a really good reason, otherwise it’s written that you failed and you have to register to a re-take exam, which is not seen as a good thing on your grade transcript. In Sweden, it does not matter as long as you pass the exam. I think this way is really encouraging and makes you more relax about your exams.

In general, I think the Swedish university system makes you more autonomous and responsible for your own decisions: if you decide not to study, you don’t have any sanctions but you can only blame yourself for your lack of studying.

 

 

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Travelling – Norrköping: Hello little sister!

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Norrköping is a former industrial city built around water.

 

A lot of cities are worth visiting around Linköping. Among them is definitely Norrköping, where LiU has a campus. I went there a month ago, when the weather was still sunny and (kind of) warm.

 

How to get to Norrköping

  • University bus

Since LiU has a campus in Norrköping, it is possible to get there by taking a specific bus dedicated to students and every person owning an LiU student card. The bus, called Campusbussen, is available on week days and is for free ! You can check out the timetable here.

Driving from Linköping to Norrköping takes approximately 40 minutes, according to Google Maps.

  • Train

Another way to go to Norrköping is to take the train. You can book tickets on the SJ website, which is the global website for train-ticket bookings in Sweden. The journey is less than 30 minutes long and costs between 120 SEK and 200 SEK return.

  • Flixbus and other companies

Since I went to Norrköping on a Saturday, Campusbussen was not available. I decided to take the bus there. Many bus companies offer journeys with stops in Norrköping, since the city is located on the way to Stockholm and to Skavsta Airport. I booked a trip with Flixbus, which cost me around 200 SEK (around 20 euros).

 

What to visit in Norrköping

  • Go around the water

Norrköping is a former industrial city built around many dams, destined to produce electricity. Therefore, it offers a nice landscape of canals and rivers going through the city. You can have a walk along the water and enjoy the sound of waterfalls and, if the weather is good, the sunlight reflecting on the water ponds.

Me, holding a giant “Gender Equality” cube at the entrance of Norrköping’s visualization center.

  • Museums

Norrköping also has several museums to visit. Among them: Stadsmuseet (the municipal museum), Konstmuseet (the Art gallery), Arbetets museet (museum of work) and Visualisering Center (a museum displaying scientific works).

I only visited the Arbetets museet. It was very diverse with a lot of different exhibitions revolving around history and social issues such as climate change and sustainability, as well as art – mainly photographs and drawings.

I passed by the Visualisering Center out of curiosity. It was displaying scientific research about the brain and emotions. It also has a cinema where it is possible to watch 3D movies about space and science.

  • City-center

Walking around Norrköping’s city center is not as nice as strolling along its waterside, but can be a good way to end the day. You can go through its numerous parks and colorful buildings, visit its church – if it is open – and go shopping.

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Swedish toolbox – Why you need a Swedish personal number

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When I arrived in Linköping, I did not know how long I was planning to stay in Sweden – to be honest, I still don’t. However, in some cases knowing how much time you are going to spend here is necessary. Getting a Swedish personal number is one of these cases.

 

Applying for a personal number is not as much as paperwork as it sounds. Copyright: Unsplash/Cytonn Photography.

 

In this post, I am going to talk from experience and thus only tackle the situation regarding students coming from an EU country.

What is a personal number?

Every Swedes have a personal number from their birth. It is created from their birth date, to which are added four random numbers. Like the following: YYYYMMDD – XXXX. Swedes use this number during their entire life to accomplish the smallest daily things. For example, they need their personal number to open a bank account, for a phone subscription or even to register to the gym. With one number, they have access to all their activities history.

Although it might sound a bit creepy, this number is very useful and you might need it in two cases: if you plan to stay more than a year, or if you plan to work in Sweden. It allows you to be registered into the Swedish population.

However, if you plan to work for less than a year, you will only get a coordination number, which is not similar to the personal number, since it is only temporary.

How to get a personal number

In order to get a personal number, you need to register to the Tax Agency Office – Skatteverket – as soon as you can. If you are studying, you need to prove you will stay in Sweden for more than one year – thus, you have to study a two-year master. (If you need a coordination number to work, then you need your work contract.)

Skatteverket. Copyright: Flickr/Magnus D.

In any case, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Skatteverket’s website and fill in the online form, available here. (You will need to print it afterwards)
  2. Gather all the following documents:
    • The printed form
    • Your passport
    • Your rental agreement (to prove you live in Sweden)
    • Your letter of admission to LiU
    • A certificate from LiU to assert you are really studying there (in my case the student card worked).
    • (A work contract if you are planning to work)
  3. Go to Skatteverket – in Linköping the address is the following:

                             Kungsgatan 27 (hörnet Kungsgatan – S:t Larsgatan)
                             Linköping

There you just have to say you wish to apply for a personal number and give them your documents. Skatteverket’s employees are usually very friendly and all English-speaking. If no document is missing, you should receive your personal number within a few weeks.

 

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