My (Different) Student Life in Sweden

At first glance Sweden may seem very similar to Switzerland. This is true to a certain extent,  but there are some significant differences that can be very confusing in everyday life.

One of these is counting the floors. I always thought it is easy to tell people on which floor I am on, but in Sweden the ground floor is counted as first floor. So, I live on the second floor which is the first floor for me. It took me some time to recognize this difference but ever since then I always say: “I live on the Swedish second floor”. So, it is clear to everyone. 

For the reason mentioned above, it is not easy to navigate quickly through the university building. Because sometimes, what I would call ground floor is called second floor. So, it takes a lot of time to find the right room. Luckily the university has an app with an application to search for the rooms. It seems as if there was a need for this. 

There is more self-studying than in Switzerland. Therefore, many students spend a lot of time in the library. Studying in there could not be more different from the library in Bern. People are talking, making phone calls, and eating. There are even microwaves in the library! I had to get used to the smell of the food when some students were eating their first warm meal at 9 am. The atmosphere in the library resembles more of being in a café than studying in a library but I like it. 

“Hej, my name is Peter.” This is the way our around 60 years old professor introduced himself. In Sweden it common to use the first name only. It does not matter if the other person is a boss, a professor, or an elder person. The only exception is the king. In Swedish there is no “Sie”, there is only a “du”. Some years ago, they eliminated the “Sie”-form. If the professors are addressed as professor or Mr/Mrs it can happen, that they do not answer. In general, there is a little degree of hierarchy. 

I do not know if it is common at every Swedish university, but in Linköping all students have overalls. The colour depends on the program they are studying. Everyone with the same colour is in a sort of student association. But it is not as exclusive as student associations in Switzerland can be. It is enough to study in a program to enter. There are many events within these associations especially at the beginning of the semester. On some events patches can be purchased and they are sewed on the trouser leg of the overall. Depending on the place the patch is sewed on, the event was better or worse. It is so complex that I have no idea of the different meanings. After graduating, every student has his or her own cherished memory of many fun activities during their studies. 

Since wintertime began, the sun sets at 4pm and afterwards in many windows there is a lamp burning. Often it is a similar model, and they can be bought in IKEA. There is not only the lamp in the window but also little pieces of decoration next to it. Except for the area where all the students are living, curtains are not widely used. This enables you to see in people’s apartments. It brightens the dark afternoons and long nights to see bright windows. The windowsill inside is especially broad and window blinds on the outside wall are not common. So, there is no reason to open the window frequently and the windowsill can be decorated luxuriantly.

Sarah Dähler 

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