How to get the most out of life in Sweden

Marisol Perez was once an international student at Malmö University. Today she's the head of the Student Union Association, an international ambassador planning activities for other students and having a blast. Marisol shares her top five tips for how to get the most out of your time in Sweden.

How to get the most out of life in Sweden

1. Walk and bike!

One amazing thing that you will notice about Sweden is that every corner is a different story. While you are heading to places, or when you are feeling restless and the wall of your  room stops being interesting, taking a nice walk or bike ride is definitely the way to go!  

When you are in a corner you may find yourself witnessing some ducks crossing the street as if they were civilians, while the cars patiently wait; go to the next street and you will walk by a beautiful old building which will make you wonder if someone royal lives in it.

Go to the next big square of the city and you may find two young people with shiny spandex clothes doing hard core acrobatics just for the sake of having fun; get in that dark alley that looks mysterious and you may arrive in a lovely hidden neighbourhood with really short old Swedish houses, with their mail boxes beautifully painted by hand, and big wooden doors that look like taken out of The Hobbit movie. 

2. Get involved!

Although in the beginning it may seem hard, because of the language barrier, or because you are still feeling shy, you will eventually realize that Swedes are extremely welcoming people. And not only are they welcoming, they are also active and love getting involved in different activities! 

In Sweden you will be able to find groups of people who get together to do yoga in the park; poetry groups; people who meet up to discuss what they can do to improve the world; people who meet up to cook vegan dinners together; groups of people who meet up to share their love for painting, singing, dancing, talking, writing, coffee drinking, head banging, EVERYTHING! And all it takes for you to join them is a simple “hello”. You will not regret it.

3. Take advantage of the nature

Sweden has an incredible passion and ability for preserving its natural beauty. While you are in the center of the city you may think, “Oh, well, this is modern”, but soon you will realize that just a few minutes away from wherever you are in the city there will be an exit to the country side.

To the beautiful flat landscapes of Skåne, where the yellow sea of rapeseed flowers and dandelions surrounding a small red country house will greet you, or to the mighty forests with the tall trees and the freshest, cleanest air you’ve ever experienced.

And it's not only the beauty, it’s also the freedom! In Sweden you are legally allowed to camp anywhere you want, so pick up that camping tent, get a warm sleeping bag, and get out there and see the real Sweden that has always been there!

4. Oh behave!

You will find that while Swedes are really welcoming and accepting, they also appreciate their order and routine.

When you are wanting to throw away some trash, you better sort it! If you are taking the bus, don’t be loud! If you are introducing yourself to someone, keep it simple with a nice handshake, no cheek-kissing someone you just met!

And you should always remember to say “Hej” to any stranger that crosses your path. Swedes love their “hej”.

If you find yourself breaking these rules or not agreeing with them, don’t worry, you shall be forgiven. Except for the trash, you must always always always separate your trash into correct bins!

5. Celebrate!

The moment you take your first step in Sweden, you will realize it’s the season of some celebration, and they will be grand. Swedes love their traditional celebrations and you should join them!

If it is June you will experience Midsommar, and will see people walking in the city wearing white dresses and flowers on their head. You will get to eat lots of strawberries and try pickled herring and all sorts of strong tasting fish, and if it all goes according to plan you will end up dancing and singing folk songs around the Midsommar pole.

If it is August you will feel the Crayfish spirit. Yes, they actually have a crayfish party, and if you are in the right place at the right time you will be able to join their massive crayfish party in the main square of the city, where hundreds of people will get together, put on their paper crayfish hats, sing and dance to folk songs, while drinking snaps and eating scary amounts of crayfish.

If it’s December you will walk in a city full of lights and decoration, Christmas markets, glögg, tangerines, kanelbullar, lussebullar, ice skating. You will get to watch the typical Sankta Lucia parade, where girls and boys are singing beautifully, wearing gowns and candle crowns on their head, and after that date has passed you will get to experience the most Christmassy Christmas that has ever existed.

Whatever the occasion is, celebrate it! This is the best time of your life!

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