Dear Prospective International Students,
Most of you (except for some late applicants) are done with their applications and are currently waiting for selection results.
While you’re waiting for the results (which hopefully would be satisfactory), it’s better to use the time (even if it’s just 10 mins a day) to plan for your move to Sweden. In this post and the next ones, I’ll try to give you some tips based on my experience as a foreigner who moved to Sweden.
To learn Swedish or not to learn it, that is the question!
I know you read this thousands of times “Almost all Swedes are good at English”…Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean that during your time here you won’t have any sort of contact in Swedish.
Swedes have no problems switching to English once they realize that you can’t speak Swedish, but if a Swede (who doesn’t know who you are) starts a conversation with you or answers your call, he/she will most probably do it in Swedish. If you receive forms to fill (that are not sent by the University staff or organizations which are informed that you can’t speak a word of Swedish), you’ll most probably receive them in Swedish. There are some places where they don’t have any signs in English. Of course your Swedish speaking colleagues will help you when/if necessary, but this is not convenient for people who prefer some autonomy. There are many examples to demonstrate how it’s impossible to avoid being contacted in Swedish while you’re here, but to make things short, some knowledge of Swedish is definitely better than none.
Therefore, I would recommend that before landing here you’d take a look at the basics of Swedish. The internet is full of free material that would help you begin with very basic things such as phrases to order food or ask about the toilet and prices of some services…etc
Swedish itself is not an extremely difficult language (compared to Chinese or even Arabic!). The grammar is rather simpler than many other languages. The only difficulties (according to my experience) are pronunciation (especially when it comes to vowels and combined letters), the fact that it’s possible to combine many words to make them just one word (same in German, I think) and the hardest of them all (which also makes it easy for Swedes to recognize foreign speakers) which is the Swedish melody (or what is called “Betoning” in Swedish). Swedes tend to have a certain melody that varies according to the words used, length and the structure of the sentence which allows them to stretch the pronunciation of some words and “speed up” while pronouncing some others.
I can assure you that once you master some of the basics (provided that you have a good knowledge of English and/or German), you’d be able to guess the meaning of so many words and won’t be forced to spend much time memorizing new vocab.
Once you land here in Sweden, KI would offer you some basic courses in Swedish (provided by a third part school free of charge) and you can also enroll yourself in SFI (Swedish For Immigrants or in Swedish Svenska För Invandrare) which is also free.
Being an ex-SFI student and a current OK Swedish speaking foreigner in Sweden, I can give you more tips about reading material which would help you learn some basics. Feel free to email or message me and you’ll get reply.
My colleague, Dina wrote another post about the same topic. Please, take a look at it.
Stay tuned for more “Pre-arrival tips”