Exchange programs excite a lot of students; however, moving to a new country with no intention of being there for long can become a logistical nightmare, affecting your ability to benefit fully from the exchange program. Below are tips to help you survive an exchange program in Sweden and make the most of your stay in the country:
1. Where to Live
Finding accommodation in a foreign country is an uphill task. Instead of looking for accommodation on your own, ask for assistance from your host institution. They are more likely to find you something within your budget and close to the school, saving you from the long queues associated with house hunting. Alternatively, visit online sources such as Study in Sweden to book accommodation early.
2. Moving Around
Your transportation options will depend on different factors: the distance between where you live and the school, or your proximity to the shops. If you live near your school and can access a grocery store nearby, walking or cycling will serve you conveniently. Alternatively, buy a monthly SL pass to give you unlimited access to Sweden’s convenient public transportation system, and students get a special discount price. However, note that cycling and walking can limit your movement in the winter, necessitating an SL pass.
3. Phone Bills
As an exchange student, you will rely on your phone a lot (to access Google maps to find your way around and to call home, for example). Choose whether to operate on a contract basis or a prepaid service from the three main mobile phone service providers namely Tele2 and 3 Sverige, Telia, and Telenor. Each operator offers a pay-as-you-go option or a monthly package; however, you need to have an active subscription for at least 6 months to qualify for the monthly contract. Alternatively, you can use your phone’s roaming service, which is quite expensive.
4. Swedish Culture
The Swedish uphold the principle of equality regardless of your job title or social status and expect the same from visitors. In an effort to uphold fairness, they respect queues, which are quite common. Acts of kindness towards the elderly or handicapped are expected. The Swedish also enjoy outdoor activities, both in the winter and in the summer. When in the country, embrace the outdoors and learn a new skill or sport.
5. Health Insurance
Students from countries in the EU/EEA and Switzerland can access medical care at the same cost as Swedes with a European Health Card. If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen in the country for less than a year, contact your university to help you get coverage through the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. However, if your exchange program will last more than 12 months, register with the Swiss Tax Agency to access the same medical care as Swedes.
An exchange program is an opportunity to explore a different country and culture for personal, social, cultural and academic growth. Make the most of your stay in Sweden by immersing yourself in their culture and making as many friends as possible.
Have you lived in Sweden as an exchange student? Share your tips and experiences with us in the comments section below!