Category Archives: STUDENT LIFE

Transport in Stockholm

The transport and its efficiency tells a great deal about the city. There are multiple ways to transit within the city of Stockholm. People in Sweden are very health conscious, so they prefer to walk or cycle to work. However, taxis and electric scooters are available on rent at various places in the city to move around. However the easiest and the best way to transit in Stockholm is to use public transport, as most of the options in peak winter become difficult to use due to extreme weather conditions.

SL ferry ride

Public transport in Stockholm is run and maintained by private sector. The main public transport company is SL. Apart from SL there are other companies such as MTR, etc. However, the city is very well connected by transport service of SL. SL has buses (buss), metro (tunnelbana), ferry, trams, trains (pendaltag)  and light rail.

SL access card

Tickets are available for each of this transport mode. However, the best option for a long term stay is to buy a monthly pass. An adult monthly pass costs 890 SEK. However, as an university student, discounted rate apply, which is 590 SEK per month. It is important to have a valid student ID card, with the SL logo on it to use the discounted tickets. The student ID can be obtained after registering as a member of the student union at any one of the Universities.

A monthly pass can be used to access any and every mode of transport offered by SL in the city of Stockholm. Further, the same can be used to get extension tickets to Uppsala. Furthermore, recently, the SL service has also included the ferry trips to the island of Vaxholm in the Stockholm archipelago.

The access card is literally the most useful thing to move in and around Stockholm. It is as I like to say :

One card to ride them all

Semla Day!

Semla day or as the Swedes call it – Fettisdagen is just another excuse to get fat. Literally, it is called Fat Tuesday in many countries. People typically eat Semla or fettisdagsbulle on this day to celebrate last day before the start of the Lenten fast.

The orthodox church follows the Lenten fasting tradition, where they believe to prepare for the Easter prayers and practice penance. Thus, in order to have the last sweet before the start of the long fast, the Fat Tuesday or Semla Day is celebrated.

Creme filled semlaaa!

However, in today’s day, the Semla day is an occasion for colleagues, families, and friends to come together while enjoy sweet buns made of Almond paste filled with whipped cream and sharing their lives with each other.

Just like everyone else, we celebrated Semla day at Scilife Labs where I work as an intern in Friedlander Lab. Here’s a picture of me with my PI and other lab members enjoying Semla!

PC: Vaishnovi

Winter shopping for Sweden

Scandinavian winters are known to be one of the coldest winters. The temperatures in major cities like Stockholm and Uppsala can drop to -15 to -20 degree C. Thus, preparing oneself for this in advance is very important.

Absolutely essential winter wear one might need for daily city life is a good winter jacket and a good pair of shoes. I strongly recommend buying these two things from Stockholm or Sweden and not from any other place, as the specific products are better available here and one can get a wider variety and price range.

Before telling more about what to buy, let me tell you something about the weather conditions. First and foremost let me start by telling you that the extreme negative temperatures of -15 or -20°C last maximum for a period of a week, typically in the month of December or January and that too late at nights. So it is a rare possibility that one might actually have to be outside when it is -20°C. However, facing -10°C is quite common during peak months of winter. So having a mental preparedness surely helps to get through most part of the winters with just enough winter wear.

Apart from negative temperatures, one can experience high wind speeds both in and around the city, as there are many open landscapes. Typically on a windy day the wind speeds are in the range of 18-25 kmph. So, most of the times it is not the cold temperature, but the freezing gushes of wind that makes it difficult to go out.

Now that you have an idea of the weather conditions, the need for the good and specific type of winter wear will be self explanatory.

Jackets

Buying a good winter jacket is of utmost importance. A jacket needs to be water-proof and thick enough to resist the winds and keep inside warm. The winter jackets are typically quite thick, as they have a sandwich architecture.

Note how thick and fluffy the winter jackets look

The outer and the inner most layers act as the envelope in which the warm material is filled. It is this material that makes all the difference. The best material that one can get is ‘Down’, except fur of course. The winter coats have different percentage of Down blended with cotton or other materials.

Product description- Down material filling in the sandwich

The description of this is mentioned on the product and can also be inquired from the staff at the stores. Good winter jackets can be brought at a starting range of 1000 to 1500 SEK (after discount).

Winter jacket

Stadium, Stadium Outlet, Decathlon, Intersport, XXl, are names of few stores where one can buy good winter jackets at discounted price. I personally recommend to check out Stadium Outlet (note that it is separate from the Stadium store), as it has many products at discounted prices throughout the year.

Warm inner body wear are also easily available in any of the above mentioned stores.

Other useful things: Neck-warmer, scarf, winter cap.

These are equally important, but can be bought easily at any of the above mentioned store and no specifications are required while buying them.

Shoes

Feet are the one of the places that get cold the fastest and keeping them warm is equally important. Further, once it starts snowing and ice deposits, it can be really slippery. Thus, having a good pair of shoes is mandatory.

While buying shoes, there are two main things that need to be taken care of : A) sole of the shoes B) Length and the inner lining. Continue reading

Afternoon tea at Rosendal’s Garden cafe

The winter in Stockholm can be quite depressing as most of the days there is little or no sunlight. Eventually in February, it is when the sun starts to re-appear slowly and the temperature gradually rises to positive degrees. It is this time when everyone on the streets stop for a moment to absorb the mild warmth from the rays of the sun. So just like everyone else, my classmates and I too decided to go out to absorb some sun (may be some Vitamin D) and enjoy this weather.

Especially, after the intensive and taxing course of bioinformatics, we were longing to take a break and just enjoy the outdoors after a very long and cold winter.

We went to Rosendal’s garden situated opposite to the Nordiska Museet (Nordik Museum) and right next to the Stockholm’s open air museum and zoo – Skansen.

The park has a long walking track around a lake. As it was still the end of winter, it is not just warm enough yet to melt the frozen lake completely, as a result one can see some ice floating in the water, and thin layers of ice at the edges untouched.

The layers of frozen waves on the shore of the lake

Inside the park there are some interesting structures, like the one that you see in the pictures below.

Castle or a cafe?

Going further inside one encounters small green house like structures made of glass. These structures accommodate a nursery, a cafe and sitting area.

Inside green houses – sitting area

There are also some tables outside. However, we decided to enjoy the warmth of green house, that had fancy table chair arrangement as opposed to a barn table placed outside in the open. The cafe has some snacks, sweet dishes and various beverages like coffee, varieties of tea and a bar.

Us, enjoying snacks in the warmth of green house                                                                                                                      PC: Vijay

Surrounding the green houses are many plantations, unfortunately, we did not see any, as they were all dead after being exposed to the harsh Swedish snow filled winters. But I was able to imagine how beautiful it would look during peak spring!

Beautiful walkways in the park

This visit in the garden not just reminded me of the time when I first arrived in Sweden in August when it was still sunny and warm and when the the nature was in full bloom; but also filled me with excitement for the approaching spring season!

Supermarkets in Sweden

Living in Sweden can be quite expensive as a student, for it is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Thus, as a student it is imperative to find various ways to save money. One of the best ways to reduce the expenditure is to cook your own food. A meal in any student restaurant or university cafe is for about 75 to 100 SEK, which is approximately 8 to 10 euros. I leave the further calculation to you.

Cooking in the beginning can be time consuming. However, practice makes the man perfect! When I first arrived in Sweden I was not very efficient and well versed in cooking even though I had learned to cook some basic food items before leaving home. But, the two weeks gap between the arrival day and the start of the academic courses, provided me with a nice buffer time to organise and look around and improve my cooking skills. Furthermore, I learned to cook variety of dishes from my corridor mates some Spanish, some Japanese, some Singaporean and many more.

Supermarkets

Now, let me tell you a bit about the supermarkets in Stockholm. There are a few chains of supermarkets that can be found everywhere in and around the city. Coop, Hemkop, Lidl, ICA and Willys are a few to name. Willy is generally located on the outskirts of the city, and not generally in the central parts of the city. These supermarkets have weekly discounts on specific items, which differ from week to week. Further, each of these have an android app which can be used to register and get notifications of the weekly discounts.

One can find all the groceries and other supplies for cooking. I personally prefer Lidl, it is cheaper then most of the supermarkets and has almost everything that is required for cooking on a daily basis. The vegetable are better at Coop or Hemkop, as they are more fresh. Lidl has a good variety of frozen foods, right from frozen peas to frozen pizza and frozen french fries. The frozen foods are an essential part of student life, as it is the easiest to prepare. All one needs to do is, put it in oven for 15-20 mins and its ready to eat!

By chef – Jannah

Apart from these there are a few special oriental shops in Stockholm. Most of the ingredients can be found at the major supermarkets, however, some special ingredients such as special spices and some special sauce can be found in one of the following stores: Orient Hus, Kista Grossen and Himalaya Livs.

There are lunch rooms at all the three universities, where, refrigerators, microwaves and spoons and plates are available for common use. Even these are used by large number of students they are well maintained. The refrigerators can be used to store food until lunch time and then heated just before lunch.

I have come to realize that on a very busy day, going to the shared kitchen and cooking a nice meal, while talking to other people from the corridor is relaxing and gives a homely feel. It is a very good way to have a short break from the routine of academics and work in daily life (especially during the exam time) and share and learn about various cultures.

My classmate Jannah, who is a food connoisseur says,

Why should I go to places to escape, while staying home and cooking something good can liberate me