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SINEWS

Välkomna! How to make the most out of your time in Sweden

“Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder” or ‘‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. So said Swedish Institute's Head of Department Kurt Bratteby at the annual kickoff for SI Scholarship Holders on September 22nd.

Välkomna! How to make the most out of your time in Sweden
Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

This Swedish proverb was the first piece of advice of the day at the event which took place at Münchenbryggeriet in Stockholm. Tips and tricks on how to make the most out of your time here were a significant part of the kickoff with many alumni reminiscing about their first moments here.

You may have got plenty of tips on the day but knowledge is power so here is SI News’ very own tips to help you make the most of your time in Sweden.

Embrace Swedish traditions

To truly enjoy Sweden, you should dive deep into Swedish traditions.

You have probably heard about fika already, perhaps the most important Swedish tradition you’ll encounter! Whether at university, at your workplace or in a café, coffee and cinnamon buns are everywhere. So explore the bakeries around your area to find the best kannelbulle or learn how to bake them, and you will fit right in.

Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Swedes love to be outdoors. In autumn, go for a walk in the woods and learn the art of picking mushrooms, especially chanterelles which are now in season. During the winter, be a real Swede and try out some winter sports or activities such as cross-country skiing or innebandy.

“You’ll never regret a swim,” is another famous Swedish proverb. As true as this is, don’t forget to have a sauna nearby! Especially if you’re planning to try out some winter bathing which involves diving into sub-arctic waters before sprinting to the nearest sauna (it’s as bad as it sounds but you sure do get a great adrenaline rush!).

In the summer, the daylight never ends. Go for a dip in the water or spend time with your friends in a park. Mostly, do as the Swedes do.

Socialize

Many speakers at the kickoff reiterated the power of networking. The Swedish Institute’s network is fantastic, so take advantage of it. Join events, meetups or hobby groups to get to know your fellow scholarship holders.

Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/imagebank.sweden.se

Homesickness might catch you off guard, and the best cure is to meet new people who will make you feel at home in this new country.

Don’t fear the Swedish winter

You might have already noticed the temperatures dropping, but don’t worry: Swedes are great at making winter cosy. Whatever you do, don’t go into hibernation mode: invest in some candles, invite your friends over to socialise or go outside to enjoy the winter light. In short, be active. It might seem counterintuitive to go and freeze outside during the winter, but you should make the most out of the daylight and soak up any ray of sunshine you can get (some people also swear by vitamin D supplements!).

Some say Sweden is the best winter country so take advantage of it: go skiing, ice-skating or sledging. Stay active and dress appropriately by investing in winter boots and a warm coat and you won’t even feel the cold. After all, as we said previously: ‘‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Explore your new country

You’ve just arrived in this beautiful country so explore your environs and other parts of Sweden. From the best museums and galleries to the most beautiful spots in Sweden, there is plenty to do. Yes, even in the winter!

Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

Learn a little svenska

Swedes usually speak English very well. However, you might get fed up with not understanding what people say when out and about, and this could leave you feeling left out.

Dedicate a few minutes every day to learning Swedish with Duolingo or attend Swedish for Immigrants classes. Learning Swedish is a great way to truly understand this new culture you’ve just been thrown into and make the most out of your time here.

Good luck, and enjoy the coming year in Sweden!

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SINEWS

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.