A lot of people are understandably troubled about how it’s going to be when they step out of the plane and arrive in Sweden. Now, there’s a wealth of information available, but that’s super boring and you don’t have time for this. Instead, read this quick guide about the do’s and don’ts of your first 48 hours in Sweden.
I’m going to assume that you’ll arrive from Copenhagen airport, because if you’re going to do something wacky like coming by car, using that weird train/boat combo from Germany, or god forbid, directly landing at Småland Airport, you’re already resourceful enough to survive without this guide.
When you arrive, your first thought will be “Woah, I’m in Denmark!”. Your second thought will be “Fuck, is that coffee 6 bucks?”. Don’t linger to admire the functionality of danish architecture however; instead, go to the train station and nervously look everywhere to determine whether you’re waiting for the right train. Stare at the strange blue circle device on the platform, wondering if you should use your ticket on it.
DO: Ask an obvious question at the info desk, ignoring the dozens of signs, maps and notices surrounding you.
DO: Feel disappointed when your phone rings and it turns out it’s just your carrier welcoming you to Denmark.
DON’T: Buy danish crowns, since they will be worthless in two hours (more on that later)
DON’T: Buy anything really, unless you want to blast half of your grant money on the first day
If you’re an exchange student: step out of the train, let the combined powers of the VIS, Linnéstudenterna and LNU guide you towards a better life.
If you’re a freemover: depending on when you land, you might have up to 12 hours of light before the night arrives and the wolves come out. Immediately start running toward the south. If a bear attacks, dive into the lake (there is always a lake) and stay there until the beast loses your scent. Finally arrive at the university after spotting a VIS van and running after it for two kilometers. Spend one hour wandering aimlessly around campus before realizing that you forgot to pick up your keys. Discovering the bus system, climb into one and try to pay with your credit card. When it’s declined, get a 100% additional fee for paying by cash. Call your parents to complain about this bullshit. Have your call terminated mid-conversation because you forgot about the roaming charges.
DO: After dropping your luggage, immediately go to the supermarket and post an instagram picture of that weird tubed ham.
DO: Bring a box of chocolate for the VIS drivers (in a pinch, a small folded banknote discreetly slipped into their hoodie will work)
Since your money is no good here and you didn’t think ahead, you have to wait in line half an hour so you can get actually usable bills and coins while losing a quarter of your money on commission. If you’re from the Eurozone, say “it’s like 2002 all over again” and fondly remember the time when you had to change your money every time you crossed a border. If you’re also kind of old, fondly remember the time when “crossing a border” was actually a thing.
DO: Exclaim “Hey it’s the university guy!” when looking at a 100 kr bill.
DO: Look at the group of Chinese kids who just entered with stacks of 500€ and 100$ bills in their hands, since you will most likely never see that much money directly in your life again.
DON’T: Keep staring at them until they put the bills away and reach for the pepper spray.
DON’T: Skip the line like a dumbass because you’re still not used to this whole queue thing.
DON’T: Ask the locals when “they’re going to switch to the euro already, geez”
So you finally found your building after crisscrossing the campus twice, got your keys by signing an undecipherable Swedish rental agreement and threw your luggage on your bed. What now?
Start by meeting your roommate/corridormates. Open the conversation with your nationality, because this is obviously the most important thing about you, and don’t forget to freak out the whole time, wondering “Are they going to understand my English? Did he laughed because he didn’t get what I say? It’s the accent, isn’t it? I knew it was going to be the accent”. If you’re a native English speaker, struggle to dumb down your speech enough so that everyone can understand it without using your “talking to a child” voice.
DO: Turn on the TV and look for a typical Swedish show. Give up after 10 minutes when you realize that it’s only subbed american sitcoms and Discovery Channel series.
DO: Claim a shelf of the fridge, while passively noticing that there is only 7 shelves for 8 rooms. If you’re in a two-persons shared flat, spend half an hour drawing up a roommate agreement like you’re Sheldon Cooper. If you’re in a single apartment, find a suitable place to hide the mountain of gold you’re presumably carrying on your person at all time.
Realize with delight that the campus comes with two student pubs. Comment on how this is so different from your home uni! (Unless you’re american, in which case you’re welcome to appear jaded by the whole experience). After re-reading the survival guide to try to understand which associations you need to belong to in order to get into the clubs, start throwing cash left and right and amassing memberships cards until the bouncer at Sivans stop rejecting you.
Once inside, glance at the prices, convert them in your home currency, think to yourself “that can’t possibly be right”, then break out your phone and re-convert it on the calculator. Sigh when your fears are confirmed. Conservatively buy a beer and look around you. By now you should have heard “Don’t You Worry Child” approximately four times. Try to spot one of those sexy Swedish chick/dude you heard so much about. After a while, realize there’s no sexy swede around, and that the percentage of exchange student seems anomalously high. Jokingly say “Maybe they’re afraid of us” to someone who have been here for some time. Watch as they shuffle uncomfortably and start saying “Well…”
At one in the morning when you’re starting to get into the mood, wonder why the music suddenly stopped. Look at the people orderly exiting the club, and ask around whether there is some kind of fire emergency. After realizing that it’s actually closing three hours after the sun went down, join the people outside and start shouting “After party at [BUILDING]!” (note: it doesn’t matter which building you pick, it won’t happen anyway). After a while, try to follow people until you end up at a lame after-party at PG with music coming from an iPhone plugged into 20$ speakers. Get bored and leave, and enjoy an 8-hours sleep. Wake up at ten in the morning.
DO: Go to a Lyan party instead. Don’t forget to ask the 5 ritual questions: “What’s your name?” “Where do you come from?” “What are you studying?” “One or two semesters?” “Exchange student or freemover?”. Immediately forget 85% of the people you’ve met.
DON’T: Expect that there will be booze at the party you’re joining and that you can simply bring a bag of chips and that’d be cool. No sir: this is an exclusively BYOB country.
DON’T: Request “Don’t You Worry Child” at the after-party.
There. Settling down and partying, that should get you started. If you have additional questions (When is Stallarna open? Where can I buy this super-specific item? Where’s the girls at? Who let the dogs out, woof woof woof?), ask your buddy, or send a mail over at Tim from VIS: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim. Cool guy. Check him out.