Monthly archives: August 2011

What to Pack: Study Abroad in Sweden

So your flight to Sweden is booked, your classes start in a few weeks, you have received your student visa, now its time to pack!

Packing for a semester/year abroad may seem overwhelming or impossible. Usually there are so many things you want to bring and such a small space to fit everything. The key is to bring the most important things and buy the extras when you arrive.

The great thing about Sweden is there are many second hand shops where you can find what you need for very cheap. Everything from clothes, to furniture to kitchen appliances can be bought at second hand shops like Myrona. And of course for another cheap option, there is always IKEA!

Try keeping a list a few weeks before you leave and whenever you think of something write it down. While most people suggest packing weeks in advance, I am more of a night before packer. I prefer a growing pile of things I don’t want to forget in the corner with a last minute cramming of everything into a rolling suitcase.

Packing for Sweden can be easy! Photo By: Mararie (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Here are some things to make sure you don’t forget before you leave for Sweden:

- clothes especially for the cold (seriously, Sweden is COLD);

- camera, share your stories with people from home;

- favorite DVDs, easy to pack and give you something to do on a rainy day;

- alarm clock (don’t want to miss your first class);

- pictures, to decorate the empty walls;

- Some goodies from home (tub of peanut butter, marmite, kraft dinner etc…), Is there something you can’t live without? Might seem like a waste of space, but it’s the crazy things you crave when living in another country;

- Passport/registration papers/ important contact numbers. Might sound obvious, but super important;

- converters, if you want to plug in or charge anything (otherwise just buy a hair dryer or cell phone when you arrive);

- money, you need enough to get you by until you can open a bank account and transfer money;

- prescription medicine, stock up before you leave;

- student id card, always good to have to get some extra student discounts;

- some fancy clothes (suit or dress for the nation gasques);

- another empty bag if possible (there is lots of great shopping).

And of course, before you leave, make sure to check the weight allowances of your flight and use a scale for your luggage. The cost for extra weight is extremely expensive. Also, remember a carry on with a change of clothes just in case your luggage is lost for a few days.

Try not to stress when packing up your life because anything you forget you can buy when you get here. So just get here already!

There is always IKEA to fill up your dorm room and pick up anything else you need! Photo By: Kalleboo (CC BY 2.0)

The Last Days of Summer

I have heard so much about the outstanding beauty of Swedish summer. As soon as the snow starts to melt it’s all the Swedes can talk about.  At the beginning of the summer I wondered whether or not it would actually live up to these standards or if it was just the Swedes romanticizing summer after a horrific winter.

After my first summer in Sweden it is without a doubt that I will be joining the majority at the end of the winter talking endlessly about the summer to come. Long days of sunshine, hiking through the forest, hanging out by the beach, and grilling with friends are just some of the benefits besides higher temperatures.

A beautiful Swedish summer day. Photo by: Kristin Follis

From what I have learned in the last few months, summer needs to be spent outdoors as much as possible; soaking in the sun while it is still in the sky.

However, what is most often left out when stories are told of sweet summer memories is the crazy weather that comes with it. It can be sunny and beautiful one minute, it could start pouring rain the next and then, all of a sudden, clear skies. But, when the sun does peak through the clouds, it is without a doubt, beautiful.

What I have learned over the course of the summer is that it is impossible to get anything done. The big cities seem to empty and most businesses and offices shut down for some period during late June to mid-August. Most Swedes spend the summer months at cottages or summer houses near lakes or the coast.

So, if everyone else is on vacation there is not much you can do but sit back, relax, and enjoy the summer. While in Sweden might as well do as the Swedes do.

A nice and relaxing Swedish summer must include:

  1. Many barbecues with friends
  2. Camping in the Swedish wild

    Grilling on an open fire! Photo by: Kristin Follis

  3. Hanging out at the beach
  4. Picking berries in the forest
  5. Playing Kubb(A popular Swedish game mixed between bowling and horseshoes)
  6. Late night bonfires
  7. Hopping on a train to explore a new city
  8. Catching yourself some fish
  9. Canoeing or Kayaking through the picturesque lakes
  10. Fikas in the sun
  11. Dancing around a maypole
  12. Drinking lots of snaps
  13. Jumping into the coast
  14. And of course, eating crayfish

If you can complete at least a few of the things on this list, then it is without a doubt that you will have a Swedish summer to remember. For me, I only have one more week before school starts, so I’ll be fitting a few more of these in!

As summer comes to an end, the skies start to get darker, and the temperature begins to drop, everyone starts dreading the coming winter and darkness. But, at least we all have lots of summer memories to keep going until the next one.

Sunset by the lake. Photo by: Kristin Follis