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Ten Swedish words you need to know as a student

If you're going to study in Sweden, you need to know certain words. Here are some keywords to help you brush up on your student vocabulary.

Ten Swedish words you need to know as a student
Students, brush up on your vocabulary. Photo: Magnus Liam Karlsson/

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Akademisk kvart

Classes in Sweden usually start at 15 minutes past the hour, and this is called the academic quarter. It is linked back to the days when the ringing of the church bell was the general method of telling time. Thus, the students knew that when the bell was ringing, it was time to leave and to make it to the lecture. This tradition is still deeply rooted in university towns such as Lund or Uppsala.

At Uppsala University the lectures are now officially scheduled at 15 minutes past the full hour. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT


If you are going to study in one of the traditional Swedish university towns, you have to know about nations. These student associations provide a space for students to meet, socialize and enjoy life outside the classroom. Each of them are related to a Swedish region and many date back to the 17th century. Fika, restaurant, pub, club, sport activities… the nations are probably the places where you are going to spend most of your free time. You just need to get a nation card which costs a few hundred kronor per semester.

The student nations are made for studying as well as partying. Photo: Susanne Walström/


You can't find strong alcohol in a regular supermarket in Sweden. Systembolaget is the only retail store allowed by the state to sell alcoholic beverages. It doesn't matter if you think you look old enough to buy, you will nearly always be asked to show your legitimation (your ID card) to prove you are 20 or older.

The minimum age to buy alcohol at “Systemet” is 20 years. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT


Many Swedish students live in a korridor. This is a shared accommodation in which you usually have your own room but share the kitchen and the living space. These korridorer are also a common place to organize party (korridorfest) so don't be surprised if one day you find your home transformed to a huge nightclub.

While the housing situation is disastrous, many students chose to live in a corridor. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT


Watch out for this false friend. The Swedish semester is much more fun than the English one because it has nothing to do with studies. Instead, it means vacation. The Swedish word for term time is termin.

Everyone loves sommarlovet. Photo: Johan Willner/


“You can swish it to me.” The first time you hear this sentence you might not understand, but once you go Swish you don't go back. It is a mobile payment service which allows you to instantly transfer money from a bank account to another one, conveniently splitting the cost of any event you organize with your friends.

Over half of the Swedish population use Swish. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT


Skål is what you say when you raise a snaps glass or drink some öl (beer) with your friends. It is the Swedish equivalent of “cheers” so remember this one.

Smiles and eyes contact go along with Skål! Photo: Gorm Kallestad/TT


Because the student life can't only be made up of korridorfest and semester, at some point you also have to study hard to pass your examinations: tentamen or tenta for short. Fortunately, it is often followed by a post-exam korridorfest.

The exam period is a busy time for students. Photo: Emelie Asplund/


A gask or gasque is a traditional dinner for students with varying degrees of formality. If you go to a gask, you should also know about the klädkod (dress code) that you can't skip. Also, it is usually recommended to eat before going if you want to stand until the end of the släpp (after party). 

The gasks are also called “sittning” in Lund which basically implies sitting at long tables and for a long time. Photo: Tor Johnsson/TT


If you're a student who don't live at his parents' place any more, the famous meatballs are probably the main ingredient of your dishes. Ideal with pasta, you can also mix them with a tomato sauce and you will obtain the best quality-time-price ratio.

Frozen meatballs. Not as good as your mum's, but they will do the trick. Photo: Per-Erik Berglund/

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For members


Moving to Gothenburg? The best areas and neighbourhoods to live in

Whether you're moving to Sweden’s second biggest city for the first time or are looking for another neighbourhood, The Local talks you through some of your best options.

Moving to Gothenburg? The best areas and neighbourhoods to live in
Which neighbourhood of Sweden's second city is right for you? Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/

First of all: where to look? The city of Gothenburg suggests on its website that sublets, houses and townhouses to rent all across West Sweden can be found on Blocket, a popular digital marketplace (in Swedish).

Other alternatives for rentals include the sites Bostaddirekt, Residensportalen and Findroommate, as well as Swedish websites like Hyresbostad and Andrahand. Note that some of the housing sites charge a subscription or membership fee. There are also Facebook groups where accommodation is advertised. An example in English is Find accommodation in Goteborg!.

If you’re buying, most apartments and houses for sale in Gothenburg and West Sweden can be seen on the websites Hemnet and Booli. Local newspapers often have property listings. Real estate agents (mäklare) can also help you find a place.

Majorna on a hot summer’s day. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT


Majorna is a residential area in Gothenburg that has transformed from being a classic working-class district to becoming a hip and restaurant-dense cultural hub in Gothenburg. The buildings typical for Majorna are three storey buildings with the first storey built in stone and the topmost two built with wood — the houses traditionally called Landshövdingehus. This neighbourhood just west of the city center, beautifully positioned between the river Göta älv and the park Slottsskogen, is hugely popular with young families.

Majorna was traditionally populated with industrial workers and dockers. The area is still supposed to have a strong working-class identity, with many people living in Majorna seeing themselves as radical, politically aware, and having an ‘alternative lifestyle’.

This doesn’t mean, however, that one can live in Majorna on a shoestring. The average price per square meter here is approximately 55,000 kronor as of May 2021, according to Hemnet.

Eriksberg on Hisingen. Photo: Erik Abel/TT


From the centre of Gothenburg it’s only a short bus or tram ride across the river to Hisingen. It’s Sweden’s fifth largest island – after Gotland, Öland, Södertörn and Orust – and the second most populous. Hisingen is surrounded by the Göta älv river in the south and east, the Nordra älv in the north and the Kattegat in the west.

The first city carrying the name Gothenburg was founded on Hisingen in 1603. The town here, however, was burned down by the Danes in 1611 during the so-called Kalmar War and the only remnant is the foundation of the church that stood in the city centre.

Hisingen housed some of the world’s largest shipyards until the shipyard crisis of the 1970s. Over the last 20 years, the northern bank of the Göta älv has undergone major expansion. Residential areas, university buildings and several industries (including Volvo) have largely replaced the former shipyards.

Hisingen comprises many different neighbourhoods — Kvillebäcken, Backa and Biskopsgården are only some examples. At Jubileumsparken in Frihamnen, an area bordering the Göta älv, there is a public open-air pool and a spectacular sauna. Further inland you’ll find the beautiful Hisingsparken, the largest park in Gothenburg.

Apartment prices are still relatively low in certain parts of Hisingen, while the housing market in other neighbourhoods is booming. The average metre-squared price on Hisingen lies around 41,000 kronor.


Gamlestaden or the Old Town was founded as early as 1473, 200 years before Gothenburg’s current city centre was built. You can take a seven-minute tram ride towards the northeast to this upcoming district (popularly known as ‘Gamlestan’) which, like Majorna, is characterised by the original Landshövdingehus in combination with an international atmosphere.

What was once an industrial centre, mostly the factory of bearing manufacturer SKF, is now rapidly turning into something new, as restaurants and vintage shops move into the old red-brick factory buildings.

The multicultural neighbourhood is also close to the famous Kviberg’s marknad (market) and Bellevue marknad, where you can buy everything from exotic fruits and vegetables to second-hand clothes, electronics and curiosa.

The Gamlestaden district is developing and should become a densely populated and attractive district with new housing, city shopping and services. In the future, twice as many inhabitants will live here compared to today, according to Stadsutveckling Göteborg (City development Gothenburg). Around 3,000 new apartments should be built here in the coming years. The current price per metre squared in Gamlestaden is 46,000 kronor.

Södra Skärgården. Photo: Roger Lundsten/TT


It might not be the most practical, but it probably will be the most idyllic place you’ll ever live in: Gothenburg’s northern or southern archipelago (skärgården). With a public bus or tram you can get from the city centre to the sea and from there, you hop on a ferry taking you to one of many picturesque islands just off the coast of Gothenburg.

There are car ferries from Hisingen to the northern archipelago. Some of the islands here are also connected by bridges. The southern archipelago can be reached by ferries leaving from the harbour of Saltholmen.

Gothenburg’s southern archipelago has around 5,000 permanent and another 6,000 summer residents. The archipelago is completely car free and transportation is carried out mostly by means of cycles, delivery mopeds and electrical golf carts.

Most residences here are outstanding — wooden houses and cottages, big gardens — and always close to both nature and sea. Finding somewhere to live, however, is not necessarily easy. Some people rent out their summer houses during the other three seasons. When buying a house here (the average price being 5.5 million kronor) you have to be aware that living in a wooden house on an exposed island often comes with a lot of renovating and painting.