A year in Sweden!

Hello everyone!

It has been almost a year since I came to Sweden to do my master’s programme! Endless days spent on sunbathing and enjoying hot and sunny weather of the Swedish summer…

 

… were a direct stimulus to share my impressions of Sweden after a year living here.

Swedish Nature

Honestly, Sweden is a really picteresque country that cares a lot about its environment. I’m still impressed by the quality of air and water in this country. Simple as it sounds, in Stockholm you cannot really smell any fumes coming out of the cars’ exhaust pipes. Special Swedish policies concerning driving bans in certain areas, few parking lots in the centre as well as number of drivers in the city that is significantly smaller (as far as I know also due to really high cost of fuel in Sweden) than in other cities abroad, makes you feel that it’s not really a biggest city of Scandinavia. Swedes are also very thrifty and feel quite fine with using punctual and efficient public transprt as long as possible. Water quality in the city is not an exception: you can virtually drink water from all the taps in the city without worrying about incoming bacterial revolution in your body. Furthermore, in many bathrooms there are small plastic cups that you can fill in with water if you need to.

Swedish weather is very specific and when Swedes tell you that summer here lasts for two days, you shouldn’t take it as a joke. Today is the 14th of July and the temperature in Stockholm equals to 18 °C with occasional showers almost every day. It has lots of advantages though:

  • you don’t sweat extensively,
  • mostly in public transport, you don’t have to experience people who still haven’t discovered antiperspirants.

As Sweden is not densely populated, the country preserved most of its natural beauty with multiple small and charming towns scattered around the whole kingdom, such as Kiruna and neighbouring villages located in the very North:

or Oskarshamn and Kalmar, both located in the Southern part of the country:

Swedish Food

Many believe that the essence of the Swedish cuisine can be presented in the following picture:

Many also think that Swedes eat barely smelly fermented fish like surströmming:

Nevertheless, apart from hot-dogs and meatballs, which possibly can’t characterize the most refined cuisine in the world, Swedish pastry, in my opinion, is one of the best I have ever tried, and has its reflection in a tradition called fika. Celebrating fika consists not only of drinking coffee and chatting during the break, but also eating cinnamon bun (kanelbulle). Besides kanelbulle, in Sweden you can taste variety of delicious sweets, buns, and cakes, including punchrulle, kladdkaka, semla and licorice marabou chocolate. Smaklig måltid!

Swedish language. From A to Ö.

The language of Sweden is similar to other Germanic languages, with plenty of distinctive words coming from its antecedent, Old Norse. A verb to work in Swedish is basically att arbeta or att jobba. Swedish alphabet is enriched by 3 letters, placed in order just after the standard Latin letters: Å, Ä and Ö. One of my Swedish teachers once compared the letter Ä to the happy cow eating grass mooing and Ö to the sad one mooing because of approaching slaughter… Anyway, Swedish language doesn’t possess stable stressing system that makes it sound very melodiously and lively (that is also due to tonic or pitch accent). Grammar is relatively easy when contrasted with, for example, French, Polish, Russian, or even English.

The verb to be presented for Swedish, English and my native language, Polish:

Swedish English Polish
Jag           är I am Ja jestem
Du You are Ty jesteś
Han/Hon/Det He/She/It is On/Ona/Ono jest
Vi We are My jesteśmy
Ni You Wy jesteście
De They Oni/One

Pronounciation, in turn, is quite tricky as clusters of different letters can result in many distinct sounds. Additionally, of course, it may be funny at first to see a big SLUT on the cinema screen that means END (and famous slutstation meaning last station), FART meaning SPEED or GIFT meaning MARRIED and, at the same time, POISON.

Swedish music

In my personal opinion, Sweden is particularly famous worldwide as a centre of electronic music, represented by DJs such as Avicii, Axwell (both being part of the group Swedish House Mafia), John Dahlbäck, Eric Prydz or Otto Knows. In Sweden there are many festivals dedicated to this kind of music, so if you are really interested in this genre, Sweden is a country you should certainly take into consideration. Obiously, Sweden’s rich folklore is full of traditional songs, nevertheless, the electronic music seems to be the biggest, just after ABBA, export that is recognised in many other countries.

Summing up, as always, feel free to comment, improve my knowledge and write to me in case of any questions regarding your prospective studies in Stockholm, accommodation, cost of living or any other topic that may bother you just before coming to the new country.

Best,

Radek

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