Facebook Mail Twitter

First Week in Sweden: What to Expect

Expectations and reality are usually two worlds apart. You must have painted that perfect first week in your mind as you arrive Södertörn University. I do not intend to disrupt that expectation, but I wish to guide you and introduce to you things you have to do in your first week in Sweden.

Två kvinnor på ett torg

Credits: Lena Granefelt/

By Amaraizu Genius

Arrival Day Matters

You want to arrive one, two or more weeks before your studies start. This gives you the ample time to familiarize with your new environment. If you’re living in the school housing, it is best to arrive within the arrival days of the university. By arriving within this period, you can solve 20% or more of your needs without breaking a leg. The arrival days are organized to provide assist to new students and it is usually same week of orientation. During this period, expect to receive your housing key with ease, expect to make your first purchases in Sweden at ease and also make your first friends. I have written previously on this in an article “5 Things to Do before Your Arrival Day to Stockholm”.

Culture Shocks Are Real

You may think you have read so much about Swedish culture and life in Sweden that nothing will get to you as a surprise. That was exactly my case, but I still had so much surprises waiting for me. I remember entering the elevator and greeting everyone “Good Morning.” Well, no one responded. It was awkward at first, but now I know better. Nobody wants to disturb the silence enjoyed in an elevator, and not even greetings should disturb that.

On another note, there are culture shocks that have refused to change for me. I am still working on them though. First, I knew people prefer to be called by their first name and not by any title or by names out of some sort of respect. That is un-African for me to call an elder by their first name. Back in the day, I will be reprimanded if I did that anywhere in African soil. I still find it very awkward to call my professors by their first name. To make it easier and comfortable to me, I address them as Professor. That is fair to all concerned.

Some other shocks can cost money. I remember entering the store to buy groceries, and after my purchase, I saw some branded bags for packaging. I picked the big bag. Back in Nigeria, branded bags from supermarkets are free and a form of advert for the mall. I never imagined that I was going to pay for the bag that had the company advert boldly printed. But yes, in Sweden, you pay for the bag, or bring your own.

Kvinna shoppar kläder

Credits: Tina Axelsson/

You Can Get Things Cheaper

In my first week in Sweden, I bought everything at expensive cost. This is simply because I didn’t know better, but I wouldn’t want you to make such a mistake. You can happily expect to get things cheaper than the usual price or even free. Right from your arrival day, you may receive free SIM cards from the student’s ambassadors, you can also get discounted recharges for your calls and surfing.

In Sweden, you can get discount for everything, especially as a student and people are very generous. I mean it. You can furnish your apartment with free materials from start to finish, without any single purchase. Do not rush to buy things, relax, and then look out for free or cheaper price for the things you need. For example, on Facebook Marketplace or in the app called “Tiptapp” you could get donations for almost all household items or regular materials you may want to buy. There are many second hand stores in Stockholm, even at your housing, they may be planning to host “Loppis” – a form of second hand sales between neighbours. Read through my article on “15 Unique Discounts & Benefits Available to Students at Södertörn University

Swedish is Necessary; so are Swedish Things

I know you must have heard that 80% of Swedish residents or more speak English and you may not need to know Swedish to thrive. That is correct. But, have basic knowledge of Swedish before arriving. This is as important as the fact that almost all street signs, traffic information are in Swedish. For big cities like Stockholm, you can get lost at Stockholm Central Station due to the multiple layers and magnificent rail construction you find there. Learn the bus lines and train lines while perfecting your skill of reading the map – Google map is a good friend. So many other things are very Swedish too. To start, make sure you register for your Personnummer if you are eligible. It is your only way to access a bank account and so many other daily necessities in Sweden. Find more information from the Swedish Tax Agency External link, opens in new window.. Also, the postal service is very important, so make sure your address is open to receive your mails – you will receive so many mails to your private box and you have to make it a character to check your mail box regularly.

Don’t forget to honour any ‘fika’ invite you may receive too. It is a true welcome to Sweden.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: External link.

Picture of the author Amaraizu Genius

Amaraizu Genius is an International Student Ambassador at Södertörn University.

Would you like to read more about this area:
Read more about: Student


Facebook Mail Twitter

Page updated