Five tips for settling in at Swedish university

Five tips for settling in at Swedish university
Students at Gothenburg University. Photo: Imagebank Sweden/Sofia Sabel
Congratulations, you've made it to Sweden! You like your university and you've started your studies. But how do you settle in and get to know this new culture?

Getting to know a knew place and culture is always exciting, but it can also be tough. 

But we talked to Helga Ekdahl Heun, international communicator at Lund University, who said there are a few helpful hints to help you get on your feet.

1. Make friends

You're here to study, but that doesn't mean you should be a hermit. 

"The friends you make at university often become your friends for life," Heun said. "So get involved, meet new people, explore your surroundings, and have fun!"

One good way to meet new people is to attend university events or join a student union. Ask your international office for more information.

Many cities also have fun groups on MeetUp, so you can pick out an appropriate group online and then meet in person.

2. Learn to fika 

Fika is a Swedish phenomenon you'll grow to love. But what is it?

"To have a fika simply means having coffee or tea together," Heun explained.

Swedes adore fika and may meet up for these social coffee breaks several times a day, usually having coffee and some sort of sweet bun or pastry. It's also a great way to make friends – especially the reserved Swedes.

"Asking somebody to get a fika together is a good start to getting to know each other," Heun said. So just ask – "Would you like to get a fika?"

3. Lower your expectations at first

You may be accustomed to getting perfect grades, and that's good – but it's important to give yourself room to adjust first.

"It is very normal to experience some difficulties during the first transitional period," Heun said. "When it comes to your initial academic performance, you can lower your expectations."

It's normal to have a rough start in a new country – so keep your chin up, your head held high, and remember you're human. It will get easier as you settle in!


Photo: Imagebank Sweden

4. Take off your shoes

When you've made Swedish friends or you're going to visit someone in Sweden, there are important unspoken rules.

"Swedes will probably not tell you this, but they are very particular about this one thing," Heun said. "It is custom to take off your shoes indoors."

Swedes like to avoid confrontation so they might not bring it up – but taking off your shoes is a good thing to keep in mind.

But don't worry – you can keep them on at school!

5. Be on time 

Swedes are also very punctual. 

"It is important to know that you should be on time, regardless of whether you're going to a class, an interview, or a friendly fika," Heun explained. "Meetings will start on time with or without you."

If you can't avoid being late, it's always good to call or send a text message and let people know. 


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