Swedish winter activities

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Hitting the slopes.
Photo credit: Nina Bakker

Cold and long nights are the first things imagined when the word Swedish winter is mentioned. But winter is also a time for several fun activities.

 

#1 Ski in one of several resorts
Skiing is a popular winter sport and we love to ski in Linkoping. There are a couple of nice spots to catch the thrill in and around Linkoping city. But if you want to have the full experience, you could hit the slopes in the provinces of Dalarna, Jämtland, Härjedalen and Swedish Lapland where there are hundreds of resorts with nice ski facilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A reindeer farm. Photo Credit: Aida Selimovic

The northern lights. Photo Credit: Aida Selimovic

#2 Enjoy the eskimo experience in igloos or ice hotels
Winter is the best time to visit the north of Sweden. Home to the world’s first hotel made of ice and snow in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi, about 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. The ice hotel is re made in a new guise every winter. Besides the ice hotel, you could visit a reindeer farm and enjoy a dog sled ride. Northern Sweden is also the best place to see the aurora. These northern lights of green, red and purple often dance in the sky on clear winter nights.

#3 Party indoors
If you would prefer to stay indoors to avoid the cold weather, then you could attend one of several parties organized by students or student associations. The popular Kårhuset Kollektivet and Kårhuset Kårallen are places to pin on your Linkoping map. They are the venues for weekly parties.

 So if you decide to study at LiU, you are assured of several fun winter activities.

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The 2019 Linköping rainbow week (Regnbågsvecka)

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The 2019 Linköping Rainbow Week took place from 20th – 26th of May. The theme for this year was norm creativity. The rainbow week which is organized by (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights) RFSL Linköping and supported by Linköping Municipality dates as far back as 2013.

The young and old gathered at Trädgårdsförenin

There was a colorful parade around the inner city

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week was a beehive of activities. Such as display of pride flags, lectures on the theme of LGBTQ in Linköping, film shows, circus performances and poetry exhibitions to name a few.
One of the highlights was the parade on the 25th with a gathering at Trädgårdsföreningen. It was an opportunity to explain the importance of equal rights and an open-minded society.  RFSL’s goal is that LGBTQ people should have the same rights and obligations as everybody else in society. It was also an opportunity to increase knowledge about LGBTQ people’s living conditions in the society.

Marching to promote equal rights for all

An opportunity to raise awareness about equal rights for all in the society.
Photo Credit: Yuan Yuan Xue

 

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My first Christmas holiday in Sweden Part 2

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I couldn’t travel till the 23rd. I had promised to attend a party the previous evening and I did just that. I spent the day compiling the results from my project. Very early the next day,  I was staring at the snow capped rooftops and the glassy lakes through the window on the upper deck of the SJ train.  That had become my favorite seat choice for traveling around Sweden. With those seats came the opportunity to catch breath taking views of the city and country sides along the route. After 3 hours, I was in a bus on my way to my brother’s house in Uppsala.

At the cathedral in Uppsala. Took a few minutes to believe its a statue

Not long after arriving my brother’s house, we were out again. This time for some Christmas shopping. We decided to wait till the next morning to buy the turkey. There was no way the large stock of turkeys we saw could finish overnight. We were exhausted and in no mood to carry any more items that day. A decision we would regret as the turkeys were sold out by the next day.

When everyone had gone to bed, I sneaked to place my gifts under the Christmas tree. I had decided to help Santa with getting and delivering the gifts for that home. I remember the excitement in my niece’s eyes on Christmas day when she got to open her present from Santa.  The day after Christmas we attended the service of Christmas lessons and carols at the Cathedral.  I was fascinated by the lifelike statue. It took me a couple of minutes to believe it indeed was a statue. The next day, we were out again. Tourists taking in the city sights and shopping as we went along. We ended each tour day in a local restaurant to have dinner before heading home. By the 30th we were bored with the routine in Uppsala. So we packed a few things and by the next day we were in Stockholm.  We checked into a hotel and stepped out to continue our all too familiar task of touring.

 

We decided to take a boat ride. The smell of the sea breeze in the winter morning air was an experience I will not be forgetting any time soon.

Having dessert on the boat.

There was a tour guide showing us places of interest. There was music and yes, there were breakfast and lunch buffets. The boat ride ended around 4 pm and we proceeded to an ice skating ring. We were content with just watching other individuals skate. After visiting as many places in the city as we could, we returned to the hotel around 8 pm to get some rest. We were out again  around 10 pm to grab a late dinner before heading to find a great spot to watch the  new year fireworks. We followed the crowd and with the help of police officers stationed around to maintain order, we settled on a spot in front of a castle by the water front. A few minutes to midnight, a boat with it lights off, slowly made its way towards us and stopped right in front of the castle.   At the stroke of midnight, the fireworks were let loose. Blaring from the boat and lighting up the night sky. Greeted with cheers, whistles and shouts of  gott nytt år (happy new year)!

A few days later I was on the train, on my way back to Linkoping. The holidays were over but I probably smiled through out the journey as my mind was flooded with pleasant memories of my first Christmas in Sweden.

 

 

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My first Christmas holiday in Sweden Part 1

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As early as the 1st of December, the mood was palpable in Linköping. It all began with the official lighting ceremony. It was a beautiful Saturday evening  and the excitement had reached fever pitch.

There were several performances to entertain residents who had gathered at Stora torget, the city center. Then at 4pm, the lights came on. Christmas was definitely in the air. From the beautiful decors adorning stores to the lighted trees in front of houses.

Radio and TV stations made sure to remind their audience often about the season with Christmas songs and adverts. Retail stores displayed several deals and discounts for Jul mat ( Christmas food). There were Christmas rea (discounts) that could tempt even the most frugal customer. A shopaholic’s paradise.

I took a trip to Norrköping with some friends and the mood was the same. Christmas menus in every restaurant. Not to forget the sweet Christmas Glögg (wine). It was also the season of parties and dinners. Everyone seemed to have a good reason to organize one. Nobody complained though. We enjoyed every one of them. After all, it was the season to be merry. Or wasn’t it? There were local Christmas markets. Stocked with selections of the finest Christmas presents. One of the major student accomodation providers in Linköping organized a ginger bread house contest.

Christmas tourists in Norrköping.
Photo Credit: Aj Alkhabawi

The Christmas market at Gamla Linköping.
Photo Credit: Aj Alkhabawi.

Gingerbread house masterpiece

They provided all the materials and even threw in a complimentary bottle of wine. It was a perfect opportunity for students on the corridor to socialize over the bottle of wine as we put ideas and skills together to come up with a master piece ginger bread house. There was so much to talk about and yes, we had some christmas music in the background.

 

By the 21st of December, the student housing areas had become like ghost towns. Leaving behind endless trails of wheeled travel bags in the snow. The holidays had begun.

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

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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: www.finansies.solidariteit.co.za

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: www.deskmoz.com

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.

 

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