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
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It’s officially the time of year where receiving a semi-cryptic text message like “BBQ next to the penguin house in 1 hour?” is completely normal. In this case, the penguin house is referring to the little zoo in the middle of Gothenburg’s largest park, Slottskogen. I’ve noticed that Swedes will flock to Slottskogen and other city parks as soon as the sun starts shining and the temperature climbs up to 15˚C. Fortunately there have been quite a lot of opportunities to gather up a group of friends and spend time outdoors in the last few weeks. Arranging a cookout is surprisingly easy, especially when you have friends with portable charcoal grills. It’s just as simple as a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some sausages, hamburgers, chips, cookies, and maybe some fruit if I’m feeling “healthy”, and then it’s onward to the park to claim a piece of ground for our group. This can be surprisingly challenging depending on the time of day and just how nice the weather is; there are soccer games, joggers, Segways, and juggling/yoga-practicing bohemian types who must be dodged on the way to nabbing the perfect patch of grass.
Scenery in Slottskogen. Photo by Lauren Meiss.
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As I noted in an entry last week, Cortège is a parade in Gothenburg on April 30th put on by students from my university, Chalmers. While I knew it was a parade that literally shuts down traffic in part of the city for a few hours, I wasn’t exactly sure what the content would be. Now that my first Cortège has come and gone, I can tell you that it is largely political, though in the most lighthearted, lampooning way possible. The most popular news stories and pop culture events from the past calendar year were mixed in with a few marching bands, cheerleaders, and some crazy vehicles/modes of transportation designed by some of our more creative students. Even if there were just a few too many Findus horse-meat themed floats, I still enjoyed spending the sunny day outside with friends while taking in the sights and sounds of the parade.
Several of my pictures from Cortège are displayed after the jump. The captions below each picture provide a brief explanation of what the heck is going on in each scene. I also included a few shots I took while on a walk around Gothenburg with a friend (shoutout to Michael for visiting!) on May 1st, which is Sweden’s Labor Day. Unlike April 30th, May 1st is actually a rather serious political day where many people take to the streets to voice their support of their political parties and beliefs.
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A lot has happened in my life in the last month or so. I’ve been to three different countries (Germany, Hungary, and Serbia) and finished one class (Human Response to Sound & Vibration) and one major project, which is the bulk of what I’m going to pontificate about today.
As I have mentioned in previous entries, my Room Acoustics class had the challenging task of designing a hypothetical opera house for a competition in Montreal. The two architecture students I was teamed up with produced the layout, CAD drawings, and renderings of the entire complex, while I focused primarily on the acoustical design and analysis of the various rooms. We spent the week leading up to the submission deadline completely engrossed in the project in the architecture studio since it was a re-exam week and we didn’t have any other scheduled classes or assignments. [Tangent: The idea of re-exams was novel to me when I first started studying at Chalmers. I personally don’t agree with the concept of a re-exam because I believe that it makes more sense to retake an entire course and not just the exam over and over again until a passing grade is achieved, but that could just be because I wasn’t used to this system before moving to Sweden. Regardless, I don’t plan on having to take a re-exam any time soon. I probably just cursed myself by writing that!] But anyway, despite spending the entire week working on the project, we still had to pull an all-nighter in the Architecture building the day before the project was due. Apparently this is a regular occurrence for a lot of architecture students around deadlines, but for me spending 30-some straight hours in the same building was a bizarre experience – fun and team building in some ways, yet hellishly exhausting and frustrating in others.
The war room for the week. Photo by Brett Seward.
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Studying abroad is not for the faint of heart. This is something that I’ve felt compelled to touch on before now, but I felt more motivated to add some of my views after observing the recent chaos in Boston from afar. I suppose a quick 3 or 6-month semester long stay can be pretty manageable mentally since it’s such a whirlwind, but a program of a year or more can be more emotionally taxing at times. Not only are you trying to do well in your courses, but you’re also trying to learn a new language, establish yourself socially in a new culture, and travel on weekends and during breaks from school – all while attempting to maintain a link back to your life in your home country. For me personally, adjusting to life in Sweden has gone pretty well, but there have been a few valleys to go along with the peaks. In all honesty, the standard of living here is quite similar to the American way of life, so I haven’t had to undergo any large paradigm shifts or anything like that. The Swedish language is probably the single biggest factor that occasionally isolates me from my surroundings, but I am sincerely trying to improve my aptitude (probably to the chagrin of my friends who gracefully put up with my constant questions about spelling and pronunciation).
Cortège is coming… more information below. Photo by Brett Seward.
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