It has been a long time since I posted my last entry here, mostly due to the Christmas break and a little bit more intensive January curriculum. We finished finally our winter term and immediately (no interterm break) started the next one with the course called Animal Laboratory Science. Anyway, the application period is over now so for all future newly admitted students I would like to share my thoughts on the living in Stockholm in general, excluding accommodation problems, since those were thoroughly discussed in many previous blog posts. Let’s begin from the commuting in and around Stockholm:
This is basically a metropolitan railway (metro), but since in Swedish this kind of railway is called, as mentioned before, Tunnelbana, never look for the sign M when walking along the streets. The symbol of metro in Stockholm is T and looks most often like this depicted below:
The metro system is very punctual, clean (OK, except for Friday and Saturday nights), and extensive. Considering that the last enlargement of the network took place on the 15 Aug 1994, it is quite impressve how still a well-functioning system it is. Tunnelbana system on a daily basis works from 4 am to 1 am and non-stop on Friday and Saturday, every half an hour during the night. That’s why you really don’t have to be afraid that you will spend all your money on the taxi if you want to participate in some kind of events or just a regular party. It is therefore very convenient to live in the neighbourhood of any of the tunnelbana lines to have a comfort of having a sort of the student life. There is also a commuter train, called pendeltåg, which is not operating at nights and, strangely, has a symbol J. I still don’t have the slightest idea why is this letter used for the pendeltåg, maybe someone can enlighten me here?! (Update: I got enlightened: J stands for jarnvagsstation – railway station)
Comparing to the metro and commuter train, these are relatively slow, since you must validate your ticket every time you enter the bus to let the driver know you have paid for your 30- or 90-day-long student card. You can imagine what may happen during the rush hours:
Yeah. This is obviously an exaggeration, but it’s highly possible you will spend one minute at every stop waiting for all the people to enter the bus. That’s why I prefer to use Tunnelbana and, for shorter distances, I simply go by foot.
3) Alcohol consumption
The alcohol market in Sweden is monopolised and controlled by the government. You cannot find any alcohol above 3.5% vol. of pure ethanol in normal supermarkets, such as Lidl or Netto. To buy some wine, whisky or vodka, you must head to the Systembolaget, the chain of stores specailly dedicated for providing stronger beverages. Most of them are quite expensive though, nevertheless it is worth to try some of the beers (7% vol.) and wines.
Systembolaget store during typical Friday afternoon.
4) Fast foods
Swedish government cares about its citizens, that’s why to the Happy Meal at McDonald’s you can order a package of carrots or apple. Moreover, there’s no KFC or Pizza Hut, so don’t count on filling yourself with trans fatty acids. Interestingly, Sweden has its own fast-food chain called MAX (something like Quick in France), which, in my opinion, serves better food than the standard McDonald’s (if we can talk about fast food in terms of its exquisite taste, of course). There’s one MAX next to the KI campus Solna, so you will probably have many occassions to go there with your classmates. My friends adore chicken nuggets with a Cheddar sauce!
An example of random Swedish MAX fast-food restaurant (this one is kept in a countryside style).
5) Post office
These are quite fun, because I am perfectly sure many people will struggle with them until they obtain a ID-card (I still don’t have one because I enjoy arguing with them). This is actually really strange, because having your national ID, you can do plenty of things in Sweden without having problems at all, but when it comes to getting a package from your mommy, it MAY be an arduous task. Namely, many officers will not accept neither your ID or passport, even if it’s from European Union (Well, they’ll give your package in the end, but sometimes you will be forced to use your negotiation skills)
6) Clubs and pubs
There are plenty of clubs and pubs in a hipster district of Stockholm, called Södermalm, when you can hang out with your friends and have a relatively cheap beer. Remember though that to enter most of the clubs you must be at least 23 years old (security guys are not very picky though) and, for clubs,after 22 you most probably will be asked to pay an entrance fee (to enter Berns club in Kungsträdgarden the price may be equal to 200 kr, more or less 20 EUR). Almost always there is also a dress code, such as elegant or a black tie, suit so bahama shirts and shorts are not recommended.
In case of any questions, feel free to ask. Write to you later!