Moving to a new country to start up a new life can be exciting, but also downright exhausting. Between new surroundings, new people -- not to mention a new language -- figuring out which end is up can leave even the most patient among us tearing their hair out.
Routine tasks like buying milk or posting a letter can require incredible efforts rarely undertaken back in your home country (and let's not even get into trying to find a job or a place to live).
But InformationSverige.se is set to change all that, offering "one way in" to a single online resource with information on where to find pretty much everything you need to navigate the Swedish bureaucratic jungle.
Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
And have no fear...this site's English section isn't some reduced version of the Swedish site. Basically everything on the Swedish pages also appears in English and ten other languages.
The site is a goldmine, also featuring an interactive map which can guide you to the right places for housing, jobs, organizations, schools, and health care. Find out what's available in your municipality with a nifty interactive service map.
To make it even easier for you to get a sense of what awaits when you click on InformationSverige.se, we've compiled a short A-Ö (that's Swedish for A-Z) guide below:
A – Activities: This site isn't just for facts and paperwork. Would you like to join the local football club or get help with your Swedish skills? To find out more about the numerous organized activities on offer in Sweden, just click the associations and organisations tab under Community.
Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se
B – Book about Sweden: Yep, that's right, the gang at InformationSverige.se literally wrote the book “About Sweden", which is available as a downloadable PDF in eleven languages. Get yourself a copy here.
C – Culture: Lots of it. Want to learn about Thor, Odin, Midsummer, Easter, Christmas, weddings, and much more? Check out the Culture tab.
D – Dental care: Got a toothache from all those cinnamon buns? No worries. In Sweden everyone under 20 years gets free dental care - and after that it's still subsidized. You can find out more on the preventive healthcare page. So have another cookie (but remember to brush those teeth!).
E – EU: Sweden is a member of the EU, but it doesn't use the euro. Which begs the question: How much does Sweden control, and how much does the EU decide? The answers are all right there under the Society tab.
Find out more: Visit InformationSverige.se
G – Glossary: InformationSverige.se also offers a helpful glossary of terms you might encounter in communications with Swedish authorities. It's got everything from Anställningsbevis to Uppehållstillstånd, clearly defined in English.
H – Housing: Let's be clear, this new portal doesn't offer actual real estate listings. But it does have a handy map of housing associations with plenty of links – check out what's available in your municipality here. There are also lots of tips about different types of housing, insurance, and links to other useful sites that can help make a challenging process somewhat easier.
Photo: Aline Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se
I– Interpreter: Obviously it's helpful to learn Swedish if you live in Sweden. But if you don't understand Swedish, you have the right to an interpreter when you visit the employment service, the Social Insurance Administration, and the hospital. You can find more information in the book “About Sweden”.
J – Justice: At some point you may need to deal with the judicial system here in Sweden. What do the police do? What can you do? What does Swedish law state? Find out in the Law section.
K – Keep right: Make sure to have a look at the colourful boxes on the right-hand side of the pages on InformationSverige.se. They're jam-packed with useful links to other sites that can make your life easier. This page about housing is a good example.
L – Lexin: A great online tool that employs images and phonics to help learn the Swedish language. Accessible on the right side of the page under InformationSverige.se's “Quick Facts” tab.
Read more: Visit the InformationSverige.se homepage
N – New in Sweden: If you're brand new in Sweden it's best to start with the basics. Find out how to register with the tax agency, get a person number, and all that jazz.
O - Official: The InformationSverige.se website is an official page run by the County Administrative Boards of Sweden. In other words, you're in good hands - this is all reliable information.
P – Public healthcare: Everyone in Sweden is entitled to access to healthcare, but understanding what to do can be daunting for newcomers. InformationSverige.se has tips about preventative care, what to do if you fall ill, and links to regional health authorities.
Q – Queer: Equality is prized almost above all else in Sweden, and the book “About Sweden” features an entire chapter about LGBTQ rights. It's a big deal – check it out.
Photo: Carolina Romare/imagebank.sweden.se
R – Rules: From barbequing on your balcony, to pets, to laundry, there are plenty of rules (written and unwritten) to consider so you don't upset your neighbours or landlord, and InformationSverige.se spells ‘em out in plain English.
S – Schools: The portal boasts a succinct and informative overview of the Swedish school system, as well as background on study techniques. Plus, if you look at the page for your municipality, you will find a map of all the schools in the area.
T – Taxes: Yes indeed, taxes must be paid. They are a fundamental part of Swedish society, and pay for all sorts of goodies. So check out the Society tab for links to the tax authority and more. There's also a chapter about taxes in the “About Sweden” book – priceless.
V – Voting: Depending on how long you've been in Sweden, you may be able to vote in certain elections. But how, you ask? See the box on the right-hand side - "How to vote". Voila.
Find out more: Visit InformationSverige.se
W – Working: InformationSverige.se offers an overview of the labour market, links to unions and employers' organizations, and information on everything that makes up the famed “Swedish model”. And if that weren't enough, there are even job listings for each municipality. Check out the map.
X – 10: (Ten, that is…See what we did there?) Did we mention that the site, and all of this information, is available in ten languages? English is just one of them. There's also Russian, Dari, Persian, French, Somali, Spanish, Arabic, Tigrinya, and Swedish. Just check the tab at the top right corner of the site.
Photo: Magnus Liam Karlsson/imagebank.sweden.se
Y – Young people: Sweden has a reputation for putting children first and offering them a lot of independence. The portal offers guidance for young people ranging from money to mental health, as well as host of useful links.
Z – Zumba: Alright, so this page doesn't have a specific page dedicated to Zumba, we admit. But it does have a page dedicated to leisure activities and recreation, with links to all sorts of fun – including boating, Zumba, sports associations, and more.
Å - Återvinning: Recycling, that is. It's absolutely critical. Don't forget to sort that waste - and read the other unspoken rules of Swedish conduct here.
Ä – Äktenskap: It's the Swedish word for marriage, and there are plenty of rights associated with it - including what is known as common-law marriages. Read more in the book "About Sweden".
Ö – Överväldigad: In Swedish, that means overwhelmed. This is a lot to take in, we know. But thankfully it's not going anywhere - so start from the top, and go back to InformationSverige.se whenever you've got a question.
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by the Country Administrative Boards of Sweden (Länsstyrelserna)