The Lucia celebration, Christmas dishes and my first Christmas in a Swedish winter wonderland

On Sunday 16th December, I awoke to the first snowy day in 2018 in Linkoping. The Christmas mood had engulfed the city since the beginning of the month when the Christmas lightning ceremonies were held at the city center with much pomp and glamour. But with the snow came the real Christmas spirit.  Winter was finally here. Literally arrived.

Lucia Performance
Photo Credit: Claudia Gründer

Within the past few days, I have observed with admiration several Christmas traditions in Sweden. Notable among them is the Lucia celebration. This famous tradition is celebrated every year on 13 December.

The Lucia tradition can be traced back  to AD 304 when St Lucia of Syracuse was martyred. She brought food and aid to Christians who went into hiding for fear of persecution.  She used a candle-lit wreath to light her way so that her hands remained free to carry as much food as possible.

The Lucia performance is made up of children clad in beautiful white gowns. The procession is led by a girl who plays Lucia with a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head.  She is followed by her handmaidens, each carrying a candle. Also in the procession are star boys who carry stars on sticks.

This years Lucia celebration was observed by the LiU medical faculty outside of Delifresh at the Campus US. Students and lecturers converged at Rönnen after the Lucia performance to have lussekatter ( Lucia saffron bread), coffee and tea.

Lucia sweet saffron bread
Photo Credit: Elise Bauer


I will be sharing with you all the wonderful Christmas dishes I have had the opportunity to taste soon. So watch out for that.


Parting words and reflections of 2018 Autumn semester exchange students

It was a night of fun, games and farewells as Linkoping University organized a farewell mingle for departing exchange students at the Karhuset Kollektivet on Tuesday 11 December 2018. Highlights of the evening included the wonderful address notes given by some members of the team at the international office.

Oli and Jonas
Photo Credit: Aida Selimovic

Invited guests were treated to a typical Swedish Christmas dinner buffet. While guests were busy with the delicious Smörgåstårta (appetizing cake that is like a sandwich), some of the students summarized their experiences at LiU.

According to Thomas, LiU’s location in a nice small city makes it unique with a campus he rates higher than his home university.

Thomas gave LiU a thumbs up rating.
Photo Credit: Aida Selimovic

He will amongst other things miss all the new friends he has made and all the beautiful places he was opportune to visit in Linkoping.

Three students from Germany noted that organization at LiU is unique with a community feeling that is different from their home university. They enjoyed making new friends and will miss attending interesting parties in Linkoping.

Oli and Jonas thoroughly enjoyed the organization and practical work at LiU. Even with a bigger campus than their home university, the atmosphere according to them feels very personal.


Things I wish I had known before arriving Sweden: Part 2

Have some financial stability
While it’s possible to get a part time job if you put in reasonable effort. Especially if you understand and can speak Swedish. It is extremely difficult to combine a job with full time studies. You won’t be able to work and earn your school fees with a part time job. So, don’t even consider that. Many students who come to Sweden with a plan to earn their fees end up abandoning their studies because of the demands of such jobs. You don’t want to become another victim of poor planning. The LiU website has information about the financial demands associated with studies at Linköping University.

Learn to do it yourself.
Photo credit:

The Swedish migration agency also has information on financial maintenance requirements for individuals or families who need a visa to study in Sweden.



Learn how to DIY (do it yourself)
Pick up skills because knowing how to do those little things will save you big bucks in the end. If you have a very fat wallet then this post is probably not for you.
In today’s egalitarian society, knowing how to thread a needle can come in handy. Sewing back on a loose button could be just as expensive as adjusting the size of that perfect dress you still intend to wear. Sometimes an unexpected change in the weather or a small accident could cause a minor damage to your bike or even your shoe. If you don’t know how to manage these little incidents yourself then get prepared to budget a substantial amount of money for such issues every month.

Effective communication is key to adapting to a new environment. Photo credit:

Eating out all the time will not be feasible for someone on a shoe string budget. So, unless you plan to remain on a cereal and/ or noodles diet, learning to cook is an essential skill. You don’t need to be a master chef. At least not initially.

There are several recipes and video illustrations that would help newbies know their way around the kitchen. There are several healthy but tasty meals that can be made on a budget. Remember, if in doubt about how to do it yourself, the internet is your best friend.



Learn to speak Swedish
If you want to easily communicate with locals, then learning Swedish should be a priority. While many Swedes understand English, this is Sweden and Swedes speak Swedish language. Besides, many signs and important information are in Swedish. So, if you want to get around easily and settle in quickly then learning Swedish will be a good place to start.