Vincent: But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Vincent: It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same stuff over there that we got here, but it’s just… it’s just, there it’s a little different.
In case you aren’t familiar with Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, this memorable conversation continues with a brief discussion of the metric system and then shifts to the American Quarter Pounder and French Royale with cheese, which is named such due to the incompatibility in the units between Europe and the US.
I believe Tarantino meant for this conversation to be informal, humorous character development for Vincent and Jules, but countless ex-pats and international students have adopted this dialogue to express some of their feelings after moving to a new country. As my way of appropriating this discussion topic, I’ve compiled a short list of random observations that are perhaps mildly interesting but not necessarily newsworthy in their own right.
- A Swedish mile (mil) is a unit of distance equal to 10 kilometers, or 6.2 American miles. Summary: American mile = easy walking distance. Swedish mile ≠ easy walking distance.
- Cheese slicers (osthyvlar) and wooden butter knives seem kind of like gimmicky souvenirs to me, but a lot of people actually use them here on a daily basis. Just add some knäckebröd (Swedish cracker) to the equation and you’ll have enough for a small (and unexciting if I’m being honest) snack.
Cheese and butter essentials. Photo: B. Seward
Read more » >>
I was going to try to come up with some well-argued rationale for centering this entire entry on food, but then I realized that ethnic food, from the perspective of a non-Swede, is in itself intrinsically interesting. This makes a trite or forced analogy unnecessary. So with that, I’ll get straight into it.
Over the past year plus that I have spent here in Gothenburg I have sought out some tasty, yet inexpensive places to grab a quick bite to eat; I’m on a student schedule and budget after all. Apart from the reliable and surprisingly affordable dining options in the Chalmers Student Union building, I have found a couple of delicious and uniquely Swedish places. Yeah, you could always take the easy way and pick up a generic pizza or kebab – as I have done quite a few times myself – but the places I list below are worth the extra effort in my opinion.
First up is the only food truck in Gothenburg – or at least the only food truck that I’m aware of in the downtown area. Strömmingsluckan has a simple concept: fried herring, potatoes and lingonberries. This is about as Swedish as you can get, and it tastes great when you add some mustard and horseradish to the herring, which oh by the way is full of tiny but edible bones (I ate the bones at least).
Fried herring with Dijon, horseradish, lingonberries, and potatoes. Photo by B. Seward.
Read more » >>
Fellow blogger Kazem recently wrote a really nice blog on the cost of living in Sweden. He did a great job of outlining all of the essential expenditures for a student in Sweden, and I’ll try to pick up where he left off by providing some tips on how to stretch your krona (or preferred currency) as far as possible. So in a somewhat random, yet itemized list:
Food & Drink
- You’re going to want avoid eating in restaurants as much as possible if money is a big concern for you. I’ve found Swedish restaurants to be expensive. There are many great restaurants in Sweden, but higher quality comes at a price. Learn to cook instead! If you have to eat out for a meal, choose lunch over dinner because a lot of restaurants have lunch specials that offer huge savings over the dinner prices.
- Since we’ve already established that you probably won’t be eating at restaurants as much as you might be accustomed to, familiarize yourself with the weekly ads from grocery stores (i.e. ICA, Lidl, Hemköp, Coop, etc.). These fliers are easily accessible on each of their respective websites, and I’ve found some great specials on various types of meat. Also, it is advisable to buy your groceries in the suburbs or away from the city center if possible. Unfortunately, the most convenient stores are typically the most expensive.
- Alcohol is more expensive in Sweden than in most other countries in the world. If you’re planning on going out to a bar and having more than a couple of drinks in a night, it would be a good idea to have a pre-party somewhere. This will save you a ton of money over the course of time because the prices at Systembolaget are much more affordable than any bar.
- Many museums are either free or have a reduced entrance fee for students and/or youth. In Gothenburg, the Konstmuseum (art museum), Röhsska Museum (design museum), Natural History Museum, and the City Museum are completely free for people who are under the age of 26!
Entrance to the Gothenburg Art Museum. Photo: B. Seward
Read more » >>
What do you do with yourself when you find a free weeknight? Well, get together with friends and make some sushi of course! At least that’s what a few of us thought last week. You can buy all the ingredients for making your own sushi from a local grocery store, although shopping at a local Japanese market will save you money and will probably get you better quality items. To do this, you will definitely need sheets of the seaweed covering (nori), some short grain rice, vinegar and lime, and whatever else you want to put in your rolls.
To start with cook the rice as you normally would. When it is done add some salt, vinegar, and a little lime juice. Lay out the nori and add a layer of rice. Then add whatever sliced ingredients you wish. You will end up with something looking like this:
Now you cut it up into slices and eat! Simple, right? To be honest I don’t know if this is the exact recipe for making sushi, but this is what we came up with. What fun is making food if you can’t be creative?
Being in Sweden is one of the most satisfying experiences to have. There are plenty of attractions throughout the country and an abundance of culture to take part in. However, as a student, staying in Sweden can be challenging. Coming from the US everyone was under the impression that Sweden was a “more expensive” country than a America. To a degree that is true. So for anyone out there who is thinking of moving to Sweden for whatever reason I would like to go over the monthly costs that you will have to face:
- Accommodation: 3000+ SEK. Accommodation is the hardest thing to find when coming to Sweden because it requires you being in a queue for some time and may be the reason that some people won’t come. So if you are able to find a place to stay consider yourself lucky. On the low end you can be paying about 3000 however you will probably will be sharing a flat or a corridor. The more you are able to pay, the better your accommodation will be.
- Transportation: 560 SEK (student price). Getting around Stockholm is very easy with the public transportation system. You are able to buy a monthly SL pass that will give you unlimited access to that system for the month. For anyone new to Stockholm I recommend getting it so that you have a good chance to explore. If you are looking to save money though you might not have to get this pass if you live close to school and perhaps a grocery store. Some people also buy bikes a ride those around during the warm months and only buy a pass for a month or two in the winter.
- Food: 1200 SEK. This amount will depend on what exactly you eat and will vary. 1200 is the value that I spend on average a month for food.
- Insurance. Remember you have to get insurance, both home and health/dental. If you are a student find out what insurance you can get abroad.
- Phone: 150 SEK. I have a smartphone and use Google Maps a lot to get around so I had to make sure I got a plan with data on it. There are plenty of companies to choose from. The most popular one for students is Comviq. I have a prepaid plan from Telenor. I pay 150 SEK for 3000 minutes, 3000 texts, and 500 MB of data for 30 days. I have never reached any of those limits so I though this was the best plan for me.
Putting everything together, at the very least you will be spending about 5000 SEK per month living here. That does not include things such as: eating out, buying books, or any extra expenditures that you have. I hope this information is useful for anyone considering on coming over to Sweden.
Photo of an ice cream cone and Mehsum Rupani at Kista Centrum – Photo by: Kazem Behbahani