Fika, more than a word, a culture

Fika is one of those things I have no idea how I managed to live most of my life without. if you have never been in Sweden and/or haven’t looked up anything about the country you probably also still live in the darkness of a world fikaless (I have just made this up). But truly, in Sweden fika is almost a entity and I bet it will be one of the first things you will go through once here. When I arrived in Linköping, someone spoke about the importance of fika and I didn’t quite understood, <<what is this fuzz everyone keeps talking about?>> I didn’t think it was that much big of a deal. Little I knew.

      

       

Straightforwardly, a simple definition of fika can be “a time in the day to stop what you are doing and have a conversation over some coffee and a sweet food”. But this is too simple. In my country we have this traditional break in the afternoon for coffee and bread, but it’s not the same. The point is that fika is a culture in itself, it’s a feeling, a concept, a state of mind, and maybe one will only fully understand it once experience it. What I like the most about fika is how it is a respected ritual, meaning everyone understands its importance and really engage in it, being kind of a moment which everyone is allowed (and even demanded) to enjoy. It is a break without excuses. A pause in everything you are doing, just to enjoy the simple and good things in life: people, food and, of course, coffee.

So if you are in Sweden, you will have fika. All. The. Time.

Usually it envolves the traditional cinnamon bun, but really it doesn’t matter much what is the food, fika is about time. Giving time to layback and enjoy the present moment. I feel like nothing matters when it’s time for fika, just to be there.

Excited for fika already? You should.

Buying a bike: some tips to help you into this journey

If you don’t know already, let me tell you: to have a bike (and to know how to ride it) is a absolutely must in Linköping. Not only you can mostly bike to all important places in the city, but this is the most important type of transportation chosen by students, I believe. Soon in your first weeks, if you don’t own I bike, you’ll start to feel as an outsider, someone on the margins of society. I am obviously exaggerating, but the truth is new students can get a little anxious in their search for a bike, so here are some tips i can give you for this that might be one of the first challenges you’ll face in your new town and way of life:

1.Don’t get anxious

As I said, axially can start to rise if you see the days goes by and you having to walk to the university while everyone cuts you off on their bike, it can look like you are the only one without wheels. That type of feeling can drive you to buy the first thing you find, so hold you feelings, it is best if do it with time and wisdom. Yes, it is good to have a bike and you definitely need it to have you stuff done around the city, but you will see a week or two won’t make that much of a difference once you got yours, what will make a difference is the quality of your choice. Here i can give you another tip, after the two first weeks when everyone who was desperate to buy a bike has bought one, I felt offers were better and more abundant. So take your time.

2.Give preference to second hand bikes

You will see you have many options where to buy a bike, including from new ones to used ones. Second hand bikes offers a better deal price-wise and are less prone to be stolen, and yes, bikes are stolen all the time in Linköping. If you will be in the city for just a year it can be even more interesting to not invest in an expensive bike. it is possible to buy a second hand bike directly from students or in second hand shops. The price for a used bike usually ranges between 500 to 1500kr, depending on the characteristics and conditions of the bike. Here are some shops you can look for one:

Hanaa Valla Cykelservice, Ulvåsavägen 10, tel. 013-13 06 40

Vide cykelservice, Videgatan 1, mob. 0707-72 92 96

Cykelmästaren, Götgatan 17,   tel. 013- 14 22 60

Amir Cykelaffär, Hertig Karlsgatan 14B, tel. 013- 12 81 12

Andreas Nyckel- och cykelservice, St. Larsgatan 15, mob.: 0707678144

Ryds Sko- och Nyckelservice, Ryds Centrum, tel. 013 – 17 66 90

Nellborgs Cykel, Stationsgatan 18, tel. 013 – 14 10 03

Besides those, you can use the facebook group of the student association ESN Linköping or ISA Linköping, there was where i got mine and i think usually is where it is possible to find the best deals.

3.Set your needs beforehand

You will need some basic and essential things in your bike, such as front and back lights (they are mandatory) and a functioning bell. Besides that, you have to chose if you want gears or not, if you need a basket, and which type of locker you will use. For what a learn, three gears are the minimal and ideal for Linköping, many don’t have gears, but I think it can help you a lot in your riding. The locker is also a important aspect, since you need to protect you new property, so it might be useful to invest in a good one, sometimes students selling their bikes already include this items and if you buy in a second hand store you might try to negotiate, just be smart.

My much loved bike

4.Try before you buy and be aware of scams

Always ask to see and try the bike out before you commit to buy. On the facebook group it is very common you arrange some time to meet the buyer to look at the bike and see if it fits your needs and check it condition, sometimes pictures can be misleading of the real situation of the bike. So try the bike out having some rounds around the block, it is not because it’s a good bike that it is good for you. Also, just know that scams happens, someone might try to sell a stolen bike to you or something that does not matches the asked price.

One last advice I could give is to buy a helmet, most students don’t use one, what doesn’t mean biking (especially in winter time) is not dangerous. You should also get winter tires around November, although they clean the bike lanes everyday, I discovered ice can sets itself pretty fast.

Just know you will make it in the end and soon will be biking everywhere. This is one of my favorite things about Linköping, I hope you will enjoy as well.

 

The new building Studenthuset at Campus Valla

On one morning in late August this year I went to class and was surprised by a present with my name, so to speak. Wrap it up in a blue ribbon, I whole new building was waiting to open its doors for each and every person at Linköping University. Located at the central part of campus Valla, the Studenthuset was conceived to be many things at once: a library, a place to study, a office, a restaurant, but on top of everything, a place to meet. Meet friends, co-workers, staff, get things done and also do different things. The Studenthuset felt to me as the new soul of the university, not that it ever missed one, but to have this place where different things can come around and interact definitely has added up to the student dynamics on campus.

I was especially excited about the inauguration of this new environment. The building was undergoing construction since last year, and dodging the improvised walls hiding its transformation became an everyday activity. Now, with the walls down, people are up to all the possibilities the Studenthuset has brought. There you can find the information center, where its possible to resolve a variety of things related to your student life, such as accommodation, student card, registration, among others; the international office, which helps in many issues related to foreign students; the Valla library, from which is possible to borrow books and print whatever you need; besides many study group rooms and tables to share with your fellow colleagues. One thing I especially like is how any student can book such rooms and have a proper space for meetings and discussions without distractions.

The 7-floor tall building has a modern architecture and a welcoming vibe, besides the coffee and cookies at a really nice price in this little student cafe, right on the left of the entrance doors. There is also a nice restaurant on the back of the ground floor that has a resealable price, really tasty food with many good options for vegetarians and vegans, though it can be kinda crowded during lunchtime. Aside from practicalities, the building will be hosting events on a regular basis, so its definitely worth it to keep a eye on it. Once again Linköping has surprised me with how considering it is with its students and its whole in providing spaces and opportunities for exchange and creation of knowledge.

   

Summer in Linköping

 

In my last post i talked a little about my first Swedish summer and how rewarding it felt to just enjoy Linköping at its best. There are plenty of things one can do around the city and the county to take the most of the season and here I will talk a little bit more about my experience and the places I have enjoyed the most:

1. Bike ride to the Blue Lagoon for a dip: this was one of the great discoveries of summer. The blue lagoon is a lake in the surroundings of the university which you can access by bike. The journey is of about 8km (one way) from Ryd, passing by different landscapes: it is amazing how in just a few minutes you can be in a more rural environment, cycling in the company of almost nobody. The final destination is then a place with clear water and many trees, where you can swim, have a picnic and lay down in the sun. I have been there more than 3 times between the beginning and end of summer, and what changes the most is the temperature of the water, its color and of course the amount of people around. In June the water is very clear but very cold and the place is mainly empty. In July the water was pretty warm, but not that clear. Although there was more people during this time, my impression is that it never gets too crowded. In August was almost the same as in June. It is definitely one of my favorite places in Linköping.

2. One day trip to Motala’s “Beach” Varamon: this was the truly summer experience as I am used to. This lake in the city of Motala, the second biggest in Sweden, works just as good as a “true” beach, in all the aspects. There you have everything: sand, water, food, crowd and the great messiness a day in the beach should look like, but still very Swedish of course. I went there first time in a very hot weekend day in the end of July, and stayed until get tired of the sun. The water was in perfect temperature, and although full of people, there are plenty room for laying down close to the water. I took my own food, but of course had to buy an ice cream to cope with the warmness. The place has public bathrooms and a nice structure which makes it easy to enjoy a full day. From linköping you take the train to Motala, which is about 30min away, and then one of the local buses that passes through to Varamon, another 15 min. It is worth the way, trust me.

3. Searching for random forests and lakes: Nature is one of the great Swedish assets, its everywhere. With around 53% of its lands covered by forests, it’s not hard to find a spot to contemplate this abundance. Around Ryd you can go for a fast walk into the Ryd forest and already feel you are far away from any civilization, such a privilege. if you are willing to go farer, different places hold great hiking options and hidden lakes. During summer I went with a friend to one of those places, close to her home, and we enjoyed the day almost in a lake that most felt like “ours”, even picked up some berries in the way (during summer you can find many spots to collect blueberries and strawberries, among other berries). So, if you feel creative, just go for it and maybe you’ll find your own nature sanctuary.

4. Walking along side Linköping’s canal and easy-swimming at the city’s pool: not every activity need to be far away from the city to be enjoyable. Linköping it’s beautiful during summer, full of people on the streets and nice public spaces to rest on in the sun. One things I really liked to do was just walking along the canal in the city center and sitting next to the water. I heard it’s possible to swim in it, but I haven’t try it. Another thing I did a lot during my vacation period in Linköping was to go a private swimming pool downtown. As I said, I really like to swim, but it’s not everyday you can go to a lake or beach. Therefore, for those day I just wanted to exercise in a place close home, I went to the Medley pool, which you have to pay, but can enjoy a nice olympic outdoor swimming pool, a artificial lake and other perks, such as the sauna. You can pay each time you go there or have a rechargeable card (with  discounted price), and they have special fares for students.

Goodbye summer and welcome third semester

 

Hello dear readers, I’m back.

After a long and deserved break, I am back to my usual activities as a student in Sweden, but with some new and exciting challenges ahead. My first masters year has gone and with it many good memories and important learnings, how time flies. With this post I start my third semester writings about Linköping, my programme and life in Sweden as a whole. To get things going I will begin talking about summer, definitely my favorite time of the year.

My last course ended in the beginning of June, just about when the temperatures were starting to get more how I like it. Although I enjoy really hot days, writing a final essay under 30 degrees wasn’t especially pleasant, and surprisingly ironic, since summer here didn’t have many of those. Swedish summer falls usually between 20/22 degrees celsius, which I came to appreciate and now believe to be just the perfect mark for a comfortable but enjoyable summer. No need for the 35 average I was used to in Brazil.

The two and a half months I had free from university were put in good use and I believe I have recharged all the vitamin D I’ll need for the less sunny days that lay ahead. While I took this time to travel in Europe and meet some friends, one of my favorite parts was to just relax in Linköping and seize the nature around, there is plenty. I stayed around one month in the city, time which I spent mostly riding my bike everywhere and desperately looking for places to swim, one of my favorite activities.

During summer the sun barely sets (but don’t worry, you just need a good set of curtains), so days are long and mostly sunny, although it rains more then I would have liked but still less then what would be an inconvenient. The good thing is that you can do a lot out of your day, sometimes i was even going for a swim at 16pm. Summer in Sweden is a big deal and it is as the country stops during this time, so don’t leave to resolve bureaucratic issues between June and August, people just won’t answer your e-mails and this is great, sun is very appreciated by everyone and you should do the same while here. I feel like now i am in Sweden summer has acquired a new meaning for me, and those intense days of enjoying light at its most are definitely important in the weather cycle I am learning to love. i am even craving the coziness of winter the next months reserve for me.

My semester started with one last course and now I will have a semester long internship, for which I am very excited and will write everything about. More information about the places I have been this summer will follow this post, but I wanted to start with a warm  hello (the remains of summer days). Let the second year of my masters begin.

 

Hello from this LiU fan