Now that all the basic formalities are done for everyone coming to Stockholm this Autumn, and almost everyone has a place to live as well. Many of you would be in a big dilemma about what to bring to Stockholm and what to buy in Stockholm itself. I have compiled a list of all such things below from my experience, I hope this will help to clear the confusions and doubts.
First things first, this is something that people don’t plan carefully and later end up regretting.
I’ll suggest distributing your luggage as following.
- The Main Bag: Get a big 4 wheeler bag, that can accommodate up to 30 kg of stuff. Pack all your heavy things in it.
This can serve as your storage bag in the long term where you can keep all the clothes that you don’t need in your shelf at that point.
- The Rucksack: This is going to be the best investment for you in the long term, get a 40-50 liter rucksack.
This can be your travel bag when you travel in Europe. Most of the budget airlines don’t allow free check in bags, so you need to take everything in the flight cabin, that’s when the rucksacks come into play, 40-50 liter rucksacks fit perfectly in the cabin, and they’re better than the small suitcases.
- The Backpack/Small Suitcase: Here you have some choice, most of the airlines allow around 7kg as your carry-on luggage (except British Airways which allows 23kg), so you could either stuff this 7kg along with your laptop bag or carry a lightweight laptop bag, and an additional carry on bag/suitcase. You can choose to take some weight off the Main Bag and add a third check-in bag.
I would advise buying a good Laptop bag, which has some extra space for books, tiffin etc, so it may serve as your daily bag for the university.
- Laptop/Camera Bag: Laptop and camera bags are not counted in the carry on luggage and if you go by the rules, you can even carry a Guitar, Umbrella, Tuxedo. But we just have only two hands; moreover, in the end, it all comes down to the guy standing at the check-in counter, who might not allow you to take all the stuff (I know it isn’t fair but that’s what happened with one of my friends few days ago), So don’t take more than two bags to check in for a safe side.
So my advice would be (The way I did it):
Check in Luggage: Main Bag + Rucksack + Small Bag
Carry on Luggage: Backpack + Laptop/Camera Bag
Some more tips:
- If you are staying with KTH Accommodation, you’ll get a bag with a duvet and a pillow. Be prepared to carry one extra bag on top of everything as you go from campus to your accommodation.
- A common query that I get is if there is any problem with steel reinforcement rods in the rucksack. Well, there is no problem with those, I have traveled to a lot of countries with a rucksack like that, and didn’t face any problems so far.
- Most of the airlines allow extra baggage allowance to students, so allowed baggage goes till 40kg. BUT, Never put more than 32kg in a single bag, it’s one of the airport rules that is not mentioned everywhere because the normal allowance is less than 30kg. One of my friends faced problems because of this.
- Buy a lot of Ziplock bags to isolate stuff inside your bag. You never know what might leak and screw up everything else.
- Having Packing Cubes helps big time to isolate things inside the bag, they help a lot while backpacking as well.
- You can use Vacuum bags to squish in more clothes in little space.
- If you’re not comfortable with stacking everything inside rucksacks and want something organized, look up for Panel Loading Backpacks, they open up like suitcases.
- Don’t exceed the baggage allowance at any cost, it is not wise. If you’re coming from India, I can surely suggest you something, India Post has pretty decent prices, they charge around 400 per kg, while airlines will charge you 6 times more for extra baggage. If you really need something extra, just send it to your address (it’s on your accommodation contract) before you leave. It will reach in 8-10 days. Check out their price calculator here.
It is even cheaper than this if you send by parcel instead of Speed post, it takes usually 10-15 days for the parcel, so not a big difference.
In General, most of the electronic products are expensive in Sweden compared to the rest of the places across the globe. On top of that repairing is also expensive. I remember, I asked for a spare part for my MacBook and the service center quoted 1500 SEK for that, later I got the same part from eBay for 120 SEK and fixed it myself.
When buying electronic products, make sure that the brand you’re buying has international warranty and has service centres in Sweden. Otherwise even for a small problem, you’d be forced to spend a lot of money or buy a new one.
What Should You buy
Laptop: There are always mixed views on this, if you want to buy a MacBook, it is cheaper in India and rest of the countries as compared to Sweden even after the 10% student discount. However, in brands like HP and Lenovo, there are student discounts on select models and you might get some of the high-end models which are not available in some other parts of the world. But you’ll get a Swedish keyboard in most of the cases.
- HP has 30% Student discount
- Lenovo has 10-12% Student discount
- Microsoft has 15% Student discount on Surface
However, these discounts are still on the Swedish selling prices, which are usually higher, so my advice is to look carefully before investing.
- Grab a good pair of headphones, you’ll need it (Sony headphones are cheaper in Sweden than India).
- Buy a good wireless mouse, you’ll need that as well.
- A USB extension wire and an Aux audio cable might come in handy.
- I won’t mind buying a decent USB/Bluetooth speaker.
- An External hard drive always helps, You can get a decent discount on WD hard drives here in Sweden.
- USB Flash Drives (Pendrives) come in handy, bring at least one.
- Don’t buy Windows and Office licenses, KTH provides student licenses to all the students, also you’ll get a licence for a lot of software like Matlab etc.
If you’re into photography, don’t just bring your camera, buy a tripod as well. And if you want to try time-lapse etc, buy an Intervalometer.
Bring a cleaning kit and a good camera bag for your gear.
Even if you get an internet connection at your accommodation, you would just have a LAN socket in your room. So buy a good Wi-Fi modem (A Router to be more specific, not an ADSL modem), when I say good Wi-Fi modem, I really mean it, I’d prefer to get a dual band modem (The “why” part of this is explained in comments).
Your modem should be capable of exploiting internet speeds of this order, this is the speed at my apartment, I had to get a new modem to squeeze it out.
A lot of my Indian friends ask for recommendations about dual band modems, this is what I suggest: TP-Link AC750 or D-Link DIR-816. There could be many better options as well, but these are cheap and good.
Smartphone: At a place like Stockholm, a smartphone is kind of an obligatory thing, from helping in travelling to allowing us to make WhatsApp calls, smartphones are needed for everything. Again, I find the prices of smartphones and accessories more than back home. I recently got a new phone, which one of my friends brought from India, I got it for 3/4th of the price that I would have paid in Sweden. On the other hand, some of my friends bought Huawei phones in student offers at very low prices here in Sweden.
- Get a nice pair of earphones, again these are expensive in Stockholm.
- Buy an efficient Power Bank, at least 5000 mAh. With Wi-Fi/4G and GPS on all the time, phones suck power at unimaginable rates.
If you’re buying it in India, I have a couple of recommendations, Lenovo and Rockstone, I have owned both of these for nearly a year, these are quite handy.
- If you wish you can bring spare screen guards and phone covers (I did that).
Converter and Extensions:
Sweden has a Residential Power supply of 230V at 50Hz, same as India. However the power sockets are different (C and F type, see the picture below).
I’d suggest buying a couple of Travel adapters ,(suggestions below), and a Multi-socket power extension to make your life easy.
- Buy an Iron box, preferably a Steam Iron.
- If you own a Tablet PC, bring it, it will help you when you read all those eBooks and papers.
- Bring a small toolkit if you like fixing your stuff, I brought a small screwdriver kit, soldering kit, wire cutter and a plier, A Swiss army knife can be handy as well.
Stores to check Electronics Prices
- Kjell & Company – A lot of stores, a bit expensive
- Biltema – Huge stores, nominal prices
- Jula – Huge stores, nominal prices
- Webhallen – You can get nearly everything here
- IKEA – Self explanatory
- Öob – Cosmetics, Food, Electronics, Furniture
- Teknikmagasinet – A lot of stores, a bit expensive
- Prisjakt – Search prices on all stores
- Pricerunner – Price comparison
Apartment Essentials: Buy at least 2-3 bedsheets; if you’re buying cotton bedsheets, make sure that they are a bit oversized because they’ll shrink when you wash and dry them here. No need to bring Duvet and Pillow if you’re getting KTH Accommodation, you’ll get one when you arrive, you can buy the cover for these at IKEA.
- Bring at least one Tuxedo, there will be occasions when you need to wear it. A couple of traditional dresses as well. If not a Tuxedo, at least bring a blazer. I’ll suggest ladies to bring a couple of formal and party dresses as well, but even if you don’t HnM has a lot of stuff for you.
- When bringing cotton clothes, remember they’re gonna shrink big time when you wash them here, I still don’t know how to avoid that.
- Bring at least 7-10 pairs of undergarments, socks and hankies, mostly you’d be doing laundry once a week, so this makes it easy. (I’m also indirectly suggesting not to skip bathing).
- Lowers and exercise clothing is available at nominal prices at Decathlon and Stadium, you can still bring a pair. If you’re a fitness freak then bring the gym gloves and back support.
- Towell and hand towels could be bought at IKEA, but you can still bring.
- Bringing a laundry basket/bag is recommended.
- Bring Hangers, at least 4-6. The good ones are expensive. I found cheap yet good ones at a remote place for 1 SEK each, I consider myself pretty lucky for that.
- Bring a Sewing kit, will help to fix those loose buttons.
- It doesn’t rain as much as other parts of Europe, so a raincoat won’t be really necessary, an umbrella should suffice. Buy a windcheater here.
Winter Shopping: This is the section that’s been the source of maximum queries, so I’ll write this in detail. While some people may advise you to buy all your winter clothes only in Sweden, but my views are a bit different.
If you look at the temperature trends in Stockholm, four months December, January, February, and March are the months when you’ll get the taste of “Swedish Winter”, In January temperatures go as low as -20°. However, if you see except June, July, and August, the temperature is mostly below 15° and even in these months temperature can be cold (Yesterday it was 5° at night). But you won’t be wearing a heavy Eskimo jacket in May. If you come from a place with 30+ temperatures during August, you’ll feel a bit cold then also. Don’t be horrified by these temperatures, all the winter stays outdoors, and the apartments are perfectly insulated and centrally heated, I was still wearing a t-shirt indoors, while it was colder than -15° outside.
So here’s what I’d recommend:
- Bring one or two jackets, a pullover, a windcheater that can help you survive till Mid-November, these will be your best friends after the snow melts away but it’s still mildly cold during April and May. Don’t bring much of sweaters, I personally don’t find them significant. Bringing mufflers, caps is highly recommended.
- For December-March, you’ll need to buy winter jackets, maybe with down filling, you will have to buy it here in Stockholm only, You’ll also need to buy winter shoes.
- Bring a couple of pairs of thermal wear (upper and lower both), it’s not easy to find those here, but you can’t trust just a pair of jeans to shield you from -20°.
- Winter socks are better bought in Sweden, I bought mine from Clas Ohlson and they are awesome.
- Buy gloves as well as shoes from some sports store like Decathlon or Stadium.
- Try to explore the second-hand stores during August and September, there are chances of finding some good winter-wear at lower prices.
- The cost of winter jackets is 700-1500 SEK. Winter Shoes cost 600-1200 SEK, Gloves 100-400 SEK, Socks 50-100 SEK.
- Try to wait till Christmas for most of the shopping, most of the stores offer 40-70% discount after Christmas, and that’s one of the reasons everyone is out on streets during holidays.
Read this blog about surviving in Swedish winter that I wrote back in January.
Footwear: You’ll be walking a lot here, bring at least a pair of Sports Shoes, a pair of casual shoes. Winter shoes better be bought here. When you have to walk so much, sandals don’t make sense here, I don’t see anyone wearing them. Bring a pair of indoor slippers. You can bring a pair of formal shoes to match with your tuxedo.
- Usually, there are leftover utensils/cutlery in the apartments, and most of the previous tenants leave their kitchen stuff, so It’s wise not to bring a lot of stuff as it will just add to the weight, and you can eventually get everything at IKEA. Especially, if you live in corridor rooms, you’ll find enough utensils in the common kitchen that you don’t need to buy your own.
- You’ll need normal cutlery, a couple of knives (it’s easy to sharpen them with each other ), it’s better to have microwave ready utensils. Having a Can opener is a must thing, you’ll be needing it a lot.
- If you’re going to share your apartment with someone, it’s better to get in touch with them and decide, who brings what, that will save space and money for both of you.
- Boxes, Tiffins, Mugs etc can be bought at IKEA or Öob.
- I’d recommend buying a hand blender and a sandwich maker once you’re here, it will make the breakfast process really fast.
Indian Kitchen Stuff
- Bring a pressure cooker, rice cooker (if you need), rolling pin and board (belan), also bring spare gaskets and safety valves for the pressure cooker. If you’re living in corridor rooms with shared kitchen, it would be good to tell the non-Indian neighbors that when the cooker makes that whistling sound, it’s totally fine, so that they don’t freak out.
- Remember that there are no gas stoves(cooktops) here in Sweden, they’re mostly Electric Cooktops (hot-plates) or in some cases Electric Smooth tops (ceramic surface with radiative Heating). In both cases, you’ll need flat base pans/cookers, and in both cases, you’ll face quite a lot difficulties in making chapatis (personal experience). DO NOT BRING ROUND BOTTOM UTENSILS, which are quite popular in India.
- Bring all the spices you’re going to need, and bring enough to last for at least a year, they’re very expensive here compared to India. Bring pickles as well. But seal them else they’ll spoil everything in your bag.
- Don’t worry about pulses, rice, flour etc, you get everything here, and don’t take the pain of bringing all this from home, anyways you’ll consume it in a month and then buy from here, there are places where you can get it for cheap.
Read the blog about Grocery Shopping in Stockholm once you’re here.
- Don’t get the crazy idea of bringing Oil/Ghee, if one of these leaks, it will force you to throw everything else in that bag. And anyways, Olive oil is really cheap here as compared to India, (1/4th the price).
- Pack everything in dual layers of zip-locks to make sure there is no leakage.
- Instead of bringing all the pulses etc, I’ll highly recommend bringing Laddoo and Namkeen(Mixtures) and some more snacks which can make for good breakfast till they last. Because even if you bring a lot of pulses, I don’t think they’ll last very long, and eventually you’ll have to buy them here.
This is the section you should worry least about, just bring one notebook and a couple of pen/pencils to last until November. In November, there would be Armada- The career fair. And all of those 150+ companies who’d be participating in Armada would be giving away free stuff, I would recommend participating in the team organizing Armada, it gives you a lot of exposure to the way things work in Sweden and you’ll get to make a lot of friends. You can get a year of stationery from there if you just visit every counter, Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, Notepads, Highlighters, Chocolates, Pendrives, Keychains, Towels, Sippers, Rulers, Sticky notes they give away everything. However, there are some things that you should bring:
- Scientific Calculator, Make sure you bring one, it’s way too expensive here.
- Stapler, and enough pins for that.
- Binder clips, they help in a lot of things.
- Whitener (correction pen) if you feel the need of it.
- A Paper cutter, with spare blades for that, Scissors as well.
- If you’re a fan of Gel pens, Uniballs, bring them, if you bring fountain pen, bring ink as well.
- Bring some stickers for labeling stuff if you want to keep things organized.
- Bring a Permanent marker, might come in handy.
- An Exam pad (not for exams) helps when you’re too lazy to sit on the chair and studying on the bed.
- Don’t worry about printing, you get 200 SEK worth of free prints every semester from KTH. That is 200 Coloured or 400 B/W Prints.
Health & Fitness
- Don’t forget to bring a Thermometer, if it’s digital, bring spare batteries.
- Visit your family doctor and ask them to prescribe you some medicines that are not banned in this part of the world for some normal problems. Medicines for Cough, Cold, Mild Fever, Stomach Problems, Eye drops, Tooth pain. Bring the prescription as well. However, if the problem is mild then only take these, otherwise go see a doctor.
Read this blog about accessing healthcare facilities as a student in Sweden.
- I recommend having a proper dental checkup before you leave, the insurance cover of dental costs is pretty bleak.
- Bring a first aid kit: Band-aids, Pain reliever Spray, Crepe Bandage, Hot water bottle, off the shelf anti-allergy and antiseptic creams, Dettol, Burnol, Vicks.
Although it’s quite cheap to get access to the Gym here. Although, the gym accessories are a bit expensive. If you live near the main campus, then KTH-Hallen, the KTH Sports club is the best place for you, they offer free access to all the fee paying new students for a year just pay the registration fee of 100 SEK. However, if you’re living away from the main campus (like me), Fitness 24×7 is a great gym, they charge 169 SEK monthly from students, and are open 24 hours, so go anytime, even I go at midnight.
So if you’re going to work out at the gym, bring all the essentials like the Gloves, Belt, Athletic supporters, training clothes.
All the personal care stuff, i.e. Shampoo, Conditioner, Body wash, toothpaste etc are priced normally, and as far as I have seen Willis Supermarket and Öob have the lowest prices. However, if you have some particular favorite toothpaste, toothbrush, bring enough for a year or two. If you’re coming from India, bring some shampoo, conditioner pouches, they come in handy while traveling.
Buy a good hair trimmer, you can buy hair dryer etc here for nearly same prices.
I asked a couple of friends to help me out with this section of the blog, so here’s a compilation for what you need to buy before you come to Sweden.
- Epilators are recommended, waxing etc is really expensive here, bring tweezers as well.
- All the nicer face lotions/face washes are more expensive here, and the selection is also much more limited; don’t count on being able to find your brand/product here. Also, there is not a great selection of deodorants and it mostly contains the wet roll-on type, not the stick.
- If you’re really used to some particular product, bring full supply, don’t count on finding it here.
- There are some good makeup shops, like FACES. Apotek for lotions/face washes, Lyko.se is good for buying cosmetics online.
- H&M has cheap personal care products too, makeup, shampoo, hair color, etc.
- You should bring the hairpins, hair bands etc.
- Bring one or two pairs of spare glasses, they’re extremely expensive here 500+ SEK (You can get Crizal lenses for this price in India).
- Invest some money on buying a good pair of Polarised Sunglasses, the sun is pretty harsh here, During May – August you can’t go outside without sunglasses on a sunny day. I’d recommend getting Ray-Bans.
- Although since the inception of Cell phones, watches have become a little insignificant, but if you have one, bring spare batteries for your wrist watch.
That’s all I’ve been able to think in past 48 hours, If you have any doubts just Drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you. I’d really prefer having comments over messages because then the information would be visible to everyone else. You can also suggest what you wish to read about in next blogs.