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Things to Avoid in Sweden as an International Student

In my blogs, I have shared with you things to know, things to do and how to do them. However, in this article I will be exploring some basic things you just have to avoid in order to have a fruitful stay in Sweden. Let’s go:

Studenter på tåg

Credits: Simon Paulin/

By Amaraizu Genius

Traveling without Tickets

You must love Sweden for this – trust. Here, people trust you, the government trusts you, and even animals and plants trust you to engage in eco-friendly activities. This trust is evident in the transport system. In Stockholm, the transport system is managed by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik ( External link, opens in new window.), and you are required to purchase a ticket from the website, the mobile app, the ticketing machines or even over the counter at the station. Any SL ticket purchase gives you access to use the subway, the bus, train, light rail/tram and SL ferry within the validity period of the ticket and in many cases, no one cares to check if you have a valid ticket or not. This is the trust – everyone trusts that you will have these tickets. However, in many cases you could find people jumping across the ticket gates to catch unpaid rides. To travel outside Stockholm city by rail, you will need to obtain your ticket from SJ ( External link, opens in new window.) or some other private train operators. Do not travel without valid tickets. If you are caught without a ticket or with an invalid ticket, you will be heavily fined.

Feeding Ethnocentrism

For lack of a better word, how do we describe people who are too rigid and against embracing other cultures. Sometimes I wonder how one could enjoy the cosmopolitan nature of Stockholm if they are not willing to embrace new cultural experiences and try out new things. If you have a tendency of judging other people’s culture from your rigid perspective and standards of one’s own culture, then that is a problem that must be avoided. In Stockholm, you experience an international community and exposed to diversity. You learn how a multi-cultural environment can build your view of global affairs and shape your contribution to a better world. Don’t miss this opportunity by feeding an ethnocentric mindset. Embrace cultural relativism and be ready for all kinds of culture shocks. In fact, make videos about your culture shocks, or keep a diary – these are moments you would gladly share with your friends when you return to your country.

Student på tåg

Credits: Ulf Lundin/

Shy and Reserved Like a Swede

Before I dive into this – are Swedes really shy and reserved people? If you ask me, a Nigerian who is “a happening person”, I would shout, Yes! Lol. Every new person to Sweden will likely say the same. Although we do not have to generalize, but on this good assumption grounds, lol, we can argue that Swedes are reserved. They are mostly uninterested in human contact, so willing to help you at any point, but never comfortable to build a relationship so close. I might need to conduct a research to learn more about this. For example, a Swede will likely stand than sharing that only seat or space remaining in a bus with you. Why are they this way, you may wonder. Well, I guess, they are too respectful and willing to respect that your precious private space. They also expect you to respect theirs. Okay, I am not saying you should avoid this. No, however, the point is this – always respect private spaces, but do not be too reserved in other senses like greeting a stranger, making new friends, honouring an invitation or even accepting food from neighbours. People are the beauty of your experience in Sweden, and you have to meet and greet. Avoid shying away from this.

Party Time over Study Time

Unlike students from other smaller cities in Sweden, students in Stockholm may have a hard time balancing the regular life of a Stockholmer and the life of a student. My friends in many other cities in Sweden, have stronger and closer student communities than those of us in Stockholm and the reason is simple – almost everyone they know is a student. Study visits, study plans, study this or study that is always in front of them, and their parties are usually student corridor parties that happen once a while. However in Stockholm, there is an activity every now and then, and there are unending new stores, new event centers, new parks or new parties or even concerts you will want to attend. This is something to avoid, learn to enjoy your student life under a calendar. You can learn how to organize your schedule from one my previous blogs titled, “How to Organize Your Schedule This Semester”.

Let’s connect on LinkedIn: External link, opens in new window.

Picture of the author Amaraizu Genius

Amaraizu Genius is an International Student Ambassador at Södertörn University.

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