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What to pack for Sweden: do’s and don’ts

If you’re about to join KTH for the upcoming semester, this post might be just in time for you. As we will talk about something that brings a lot of stress to everybody who is moving to a new country for a long time, packing your stuff. Don’t panic! I’ve been there, too. So in this post, I’d like to share some advice for those of you who don’t know how to tackle this challenging task. 

Do’s: 

1. Warm clothes 

I might not surprise you here, but it is cold in Sweden! As for me, I’m very cold-sensitive (sorry for ruining the stereotypical image of a Russian girl), so I was already wearing my winter jacket in early October. Although it might not be the case with you, Stockholm gets cold and rainy quite quickly over the autumn season, so it’s better to be prepared with a nice pair of waterproof boots, a warm jacket and a few sweaters to layer up. 

2. Medical documents & medicine if needed 

Although the health care system in Sweden is quite cheap and sometimes even free, you might want to think about taking your specific medication for the first few weeks with you until you find substitutes here. For instance, I know when it gets cold, I might get sinusitis, so I packed some of the drugs that I use when it happens. Also, your written medical history from your GP or a profile specialist can be helpful when you reach out to a local doctor here. Let’s hope you’re not going to need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

3. A sleep mask 

Something I struggled without during my first time in Stockholm, as I got used to sleeping with blackout curtains back home in St. Petersburg, where white nights also occur. During summer and spring, it’s pretty light at night, so if you’re used to complete darkness, as I am, it’s better to pack a sleep mask. In Swedish homes, curtains are not very common. And although my student accommodation has blinds, it wasn’t enough for me. Given the fact that my window faces the sunrise, which makes it truly beautiful, but not really comfortable without a face mask for a night owl like me. 

One of the many breathtaking sunrises I witnessed from my student accommodation window

4. Little comfort things 

It may be some pictures with you and your friends to hang on the wall, a mug that you’re drinking morning coffee from every day or simply something that reminds you of home. Even though you might think you don’t need it, it is easier for your mind to adapt to changes when it finds something familiar in this whole new world around you. And it’s going to help you feel better when you’re feeling homesick at some point, which happens with most international students from time to time. 

My own collection here. The mug says “Almost a champion, season 2016-2017”. Oh, the irony

5. A small suitcase or a bag to travel within Europe 

Living in Stockholm gives you a fantastic opportunity for affordable travel throughout Europe. Although this might not be a necessity, I found it really helpful. I bought a pretty small violet suitcase back home to fit in the carry-on baggage. I’ve been travelling with it since, as I don’t usually need many things for short trips, and thanked myself multiple times for choosing a comfortable suitcase because it makes the whole travelling experience easier and erases unwanted stress. 

Don’ts: 

1. Your whole closet

Typical mistake number one packing too much clothing. My suggestion is to make a list of clothing that you typically wear every day, add up a few clothes for special occasions, and then one or two favourites that you might not wear that often but would definitely miss. Then, revise everything and try to take away at least 10% that you can do without. Believe me, you don’t need that many clothes! First, you can always buy something you need here. Second, you’re not going to wear everything anyway. And finally, if you have doubts, you can take something you really need when travelling home for the holidays or ask your friends or family to send it to you by post. 

2. Bedding set 

This probably takes most place in the luggage. If you’re going to stay with KTH Accommodation, they provide you with a bed-kit when you’re moving in, which includes 1 duvet and 1 pillow. If you’re renting a place on your own, you can easily find what you need in shops, or buy it second-hand, which brings us to the next point. 

3. Household items (kitchen utensils, a lamp, etc.) 

Swedes are known for being homebodies, especially when it gets cold outside. I think that’s one of the reasons why they pay so much attention to creating a cosy atmosphere at home. Here there’s a large variety of shops where you can buy everything you need, starting from kitchen utensils to lamps, mirrors and literally anything else. IKEA, Rusta, ÖoB — these are just a few of the most popular destinations. And don’t forget about second-hand shopping: sometimes you can find a diamond for just a few SEK over there! Check out my post about it here

4. Hygiene & cosmetics 

Same here: you can buy almost everything you need in a regular supermarket or in Åhlens, there are plenty of them in the city. Sometimes it can be even cheaper here, depending on where you’re coming from! So don’t waste your precious luggage space on it unless it’s something really local and unique that you can’t find here. If you’re not sure, try googling it first. 

5. Vitamin D

For some reason, when I was moving to Sweden, everybody around me was crazy about it, telling me I should definitely pack some vitamin D with me as, allegedly here, it’s always running out of stock. It is so not true! You can buy it in every supermarket or drugstore, so don’t bother yourself beforehand. The same goes with nasal sprays, sore throat lozenges and other seasonal drugs. Unless your medications are specific, like I mentioned before, you’re good to go to Sweden without them. 

Hope my post will be helpful to you when you’re packing for your great Swedish adventure! 

Take care! 

// Valerie 

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