On Ticket Drawing Machines and Conversations with Strangers

The Swiss and Swedish culture have a lot of similarities since we share a lot of cultural and religious values. So there wasn’t any crazy cultural practice that I encountered in Sweden that threw me off completely. But I’ve encountered a lot of small differences between the cultural practices here and at home that added up over time. 

Continue reading “On Ticket Drawing Machines and Conversations with Strangers”

Learning Swedish in a country where everybody speaks English better than you do

I‘m currently on a semester abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. As I am a master’s student, all the courses that I‘m attending are held in English. I was able to receive a room through the universities housing office. I have my own room (bathroom included) and I’m sharing a large kitchen with eleven other international students. In those aspects of my life English is needed, in the other part of Swedish is the dominant language, e.g. grocery shopping. Therefore I’m going to divide my analysis into two parts.

Continue reading “Learning Swedish in a country where everybody speaks English better than you do”

Fika- The Swedish coffee break

Before I had even decided to move to Sweden for my exchange semester abroad, I had some encounters with the Swedish culture (no, IKEA doesn‘t count). I had been listening to a podcast called “the mustards”, hosted by a Swedish couple in their 30ies now living in London. They introduced me to several important concepts of the Swedish culture, such as “lagom”. The word means “just the right amount” and is applied to many aspects in Swedish life. As an example, buying too many clothes or being too rich would be not considered being lagom. You can also say that a dress looks “lagom” on another person, which means that is the right fit for them. Swedes are even less likely to take risks or to be too extreme than people from other countries, because that wouldn‘t be “lagom”.

But for this blog entry I would like to focus on another concept that I have already been familiarized with through the podcast: fika, the Swedish version of a coffee break.

Continue reading “Fika- The Swedish coffee break”

Reflection on Language – Language shapes Personality

I came in contact with a lot of languages during my exchange. I often heard people talk in French or German and a lot of my friends spoke Portuguese or Finnish. But the languages I used to communicate with in daily life were Swedish, second to English.  As all my courses at university were held in English and my social circle consisted mainly of international students, the main language of my life in Sweden was in English. Naturally, I also heard and read a lot of Swedish, since it is the local language. Therefore, I will split my reflection into two parts. One for my experience with Swedish and the second one about my communication in English as compared to Swiss German. Continue reading “Reflection on Language – Language shapes Personality”

Active in Sweden

At a first glance, you could say that Switzerland is very similar to Sweden in terms of culture. They’re punctual, exact, calm, polite and not big on small talk. If there’s a line, everyone silently waits in the order they arrived and on the street, cars stop for people to cross. The place at university where I encountered the most Swedes was floorball practice. A sport that every Swede knows how to play and they take it very seriously, it’s basically their national sport. Two times a week I’ve been going there and I still don’t know the names of all of them. We just play and don’t talk much. I guess this is also on me but that underlines the fact that Swiss and Swedes are similar in some ways. Not to say that everyone is like that but in general we rather stay to ourselves and are hesitant to approach people. Not interested in small talk. Continue reading “Active in Sweden”

Lunds Angels

One of the biggest changes I experienced in Sweden, but which I never wrote about elaborately so far, was the change of means of transportation. While I was always walking my 800 meters to my primary school as a kid, and used public transportation every day of my secondary school and university life, there was only one time span in my life where I used my bike on an everyday basis. It was the time in high school, those two years where the every day commuting was kind of fun. Despite some cold icy days and a crash on one unhappy day, I was always looking forward to getting on my bike. I lived far away from school from school and it was a daily ritual to collect my two friends on the way there. Since we were the only three people in class coming from my village, it felt like we were this little bike gang from there. Writing about that makes me feel slightly nostalgic. Continue reading “Lunds Angels”

Who needs cash when you can pay by card?

There are so many stories I could tell about Sweden or especially Lund. As it is one of the two big student cities in Sweden (besides Uppsala), student life has a whole different position in everyday life here than in other cities, like for example Bern, where my home university is. Everything revolves around university. A sign for this is that the nicest buildings in the city are University buildings like the breathtaking main library, which ist often seen on postcards or pictures of Lund, or the stunning main building of the student’s society AF Bostäder. The city, especially the centre of it, is full of university buildings like the lecture buildings or the 26 libraries of the different faculties. Continue reading “Who needs cash when you can pay by card?”

The Nations – A Student’s Home Away from Home

Although the flight doesn’t take too long from Zurich to Stockholm-Arlanda, I was quite tired upon the arrival. The university’s welcome desk at the terminal and the coach bus standing ready to take the newly arrived students to Uppsala was most appreciated. After all the administration had been done at the university welcome center in Uppsala, each student was brought to his/her residence – what a luxury! Continue reading “The Nations – A Student’s Home Away from Home”

Sweden – in English

When preparing for my exchange semester by reading travel guides, asking former exchange students for recommendations and searching the web, I soon became aware of the good English skills of Sweden’s population. Language wasn’t a concern at any time. Nevertheless, I was eager to understand Swedish and speak it as far as possible. When registration opened for the free Swedish course Uppsala University provided for us exchange students, I was among the first ones to sign up. And so I attended classes two times weekly for two hours, practicing pronunciation and learning vocabulary that wasn’t so different from German or English after all. Continue reading “Sweden – in English”

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