Category Archives: stockholm_guide

Solving the European Health Insurance Card

Know that the results are in, it is time to start making your KTH Dream become a reality. And it means there is a lot to be done. Finding airplane tickets, take care of visas and permits, look for a place to stay, and a lot more. However, there has been a question that popped more than once on my email, regarding the European Health Insurance Card. I know it only applies to a particular student profile, those that hold an EU Passport but don’t live in Europe.  It is a situation I have been through, so I decided to write about it and try to clarify some things.

Continue reading

7 Videos You Should Watch Before Coming to Sweden

If there were to be a Wikipedia entry for a stressful week probably there would be a picture of me there. This semester I have worked like crazy, being on school-related assignments, side projects, or for the company I work for. On top of that, I am leaving for Brazil next week and don’t want to leave any unfinished business behind.

Therefore, today I will do a quick post: videos you should watch before coming to Sweden!

They are a collection of curiosities and practicalities, with things I deem interesting. I sincerely hope you like it!

# Swedishness

It is always good when people can make fun of themselves, and this video is a good example of that. As far as I know, it was the opening video for Eurovision 2016, which happened here in Stockholm.

# Things You Should Know About Sweden

This is a collection of fun facts and habits of the Swedes. Some of them I have already covered here on the blog, such as the Allemansrätten, the Fika, or the weather.

# Things You Should Know About Swedish History

I’m curious by nature, and since I got to Sweden I try to learn as much as I can about the country, its history, and traditions. And you know what? It’s a great way to make Swedish friends. They are often surprised by foreigners knowing things about their country!

Another great way to learn about Swedish habits is this book. Highly recommended!

# Swedes and Their System of Alcohol

Alcohol Monopoly is something particular to the Scandinavians, and every country has some form of it, with exception of Denmark. Before coming here, it was something I frowned upon, but now I’m quite used to it. Have you never heard about it? Then check this out!

#Surströmming!

Surströmming is a weird thing. Before coming here, I was certain that it was something that I would not like, but since it is traditional, I would have to try at least once. Well, in fact, it is not that common around Stockholm! I have yet to meet someone that actually enjoys eating surstömming, and all I hear is that the northern you go, more people enjoy it. Anyway, I really like this video because it tells a little of how the weird dish became a thing.

#Amazing Facts about Sweden

Who doesn’t love trivia and fun facts? Well, I know I do. And here are a couple of interesting things about Sweden. Always good to know!

#This is Sweden

Let’s finish this on a high note? Look at this beautiful video. Doesn’t it make you pack your bags and come over? There is still time to apply to KTH and do it!

 

By the way, since we are talking about videos, did you know that now KTH has a student vlogger? You should totally check her out!

 

Hope you liked it!

/tomas

 

8 Things I Wish I Had Been Told About the Swedish Winter

The days are becoming shorter; the temperatures are coming down, the sunlight is getting rarer and rarer. There is no other way to put it: the winter is coming.

Yes, I know, I might be getting ahead of myself, since there are still two months or so until the winter actually arrives. However, this is a post for you to help you to get ready for it. These are the X things I wish people had told me about the Swedish winter.

 

1. The Cold is Not That Bad.

The first thing people would comment on when I said I would move to Stockholm was how cold it was. How could I survive there? Well, first of all, we got coats and heating, but the fact is also that A. it is not that cold, and B. you get used to it. About the point A, take a look at this graph:

See the averages in light blue? It is around -4C or something like that, with the minimum temperature there being -6C. Yes, some days it can feel colder, but it is not like you are moving to Kiruna or the North, where the average is closer to -20C.  The way the winter is here in Stockholm, you can get by, I guarantee that.

However, if the cold is not the problem, you cannot say the same about the lack of sunlight.

 

2. But the Darkness Can Mess You Up

The thing with the sunlight here in Stockholm is that it is just unbalanced. You go from 18 hours of sun at the height of the summer (making Stockholm the European Capital with most sunlight) to 18 hours of complete darkness at winter’s peak. Again, just look at this chart:

Average monthly sunhours in Stockholm, Sweden

And this does mess with your head. It is a weird feeling leaving KTH after class, during the night, ready to eat some dinner and go to bed, just to look at the clock and realize it is 3 PM. In short, you leave home in the morning, and it is still night, you come back, it is already night, and in the end, you just haven’t had a “day,” you know?

Where did my sunlight go?

You easily can get demotivated, or at least stay home for 3 straight months due to lack of energy. What you need is a lot of willpower, to go out even when there are negative temperatures, meet people, try to get 15 minutes of occasional sun if possible.

And this leads us to my next point:

3. Don’t Forget Your Pills

First of all, just to make sure: I am not a doctor, and you should not trust me 100% on this topic. These are things I heard and read, mostly “common knowledge.” However, again, I have no training whatsoever.

Anyway, vitamin D is produced naturally by your body, so often you don’t need to think about it. Now, the issue with it is that its production is based on a chemical reaction dependent on sun exposure. And as I said, you don’t get much of that during the winter here. So your body can easily become Vitamin D deficient, which can lead to:

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.

If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may have pain in your bones and weakness, which may mean you have difficulty getting around. You may also have frequent infections.

The Vitamin D Council. (Yes, that is a thing)

Luckily, there are many ways in which you can tackle these issues. One of them, probably intuitive, is to eat right and healthy. Not necessarily a priority on a student budget, but you should think about it. Also, there are pills and supplements, which seem to work. Just take care: last winter, the first time I took my vitamin D supplement I took a big dose which sort of gave me an allergic reaction. So be careful and read instructions, right?

4. You Can Still Go Out

One could assume that everyone hibernates during the winter over here, right? Naturally, people cannot just leave their jobs for a full season (that is what the summer is for), but maybe avoid leaving home and just stay in bed 3 months?

No, it is not the case.

If during the summer you stumble on closed shops because everyone fled to their countryside houses, in the winter things work normally, even with some outside events. Last year, for example, I visited a bunch of Christmas Markets, which is a cool cold winter day program I guess. But still, shops, and bars, and restaurants are up and running, so you can call your buddies and party around.

5. You Don’t Need to Leave Stockholm to do Winter Stuff

A cool part of the winter is winter sports. Not that I can do any of them (I’m from Brazil, remember?), but still, trying (and failing) on snowboard or ice skating is cool. And you can do some of this stuff here in the city.

For example, at Kungstragården, a big square in the center of the city is turned into an ice skating rink. I tried it last year, without much success, but it was a fun time. And you can also go to Hammarbybacken if your thing is snow, sky, and snowboard. Probably not the best slope ever, but at least it is just 10min away.

Just one quick warning: doing these activities can hurt. I mean, physically too, but I am referring to the pain it causes in your self-esteem. It does feel hard to struggle in your skates while 3-year-olds do all sorts of tricks.

6. You Should Go Shopping

If you are in Stockholm right now, you should start thinking about getting your clothes ready for the season. I am sure you have a jacket but ask for a more seasoned opinion on it. My Brazilian winter coat is at most an autumn coat over here and that could be your case.  And if you are into fashion and looking good, your winter jacket should not be a problem. You just need one and no one will judge you for using it every single day of the season. (I guess). The goal is to be warm, not beautiful.

But don’t think that it is only about a good coat. A good pair of boots is essential for the snowy season, and if you have a biological tendency to fall, you can easily find some attachable things to give you traction on ice. I would also recommend some of those super thin and tight shirts that athletes use. They are super warm, and you won’t feel like a cabbage due to excess of layers.

7. Learn to Enjoy Bad Days

Personally, I don’t like days spent solely on the couch. I like to feel I have actually been active, that I have done stuff. However, winter is the perfect season to just stay in and relax. Damn, it will be dark, it will be cold, there will be no sun. Why not just throw yourself on the sofa, get some food, and find a new series to binge watch? Who said you can’t see all Game of Thrones in 2 days? Right?

Sidenote: it takes 2 days 15 hours 29.52 minutes to watch every episode of Game of Thrones in order without breaks. Start on Friday, forget about sleeping, and prove yourself.

Sidenote 2: fika food is great for the winter. Freshly baked kanelbule is a fantastic thing for an afternoon tea.

8. It ends soon enough

Even though my points here try to show the contrary, the winter indeed can feel heavy. However, it will pass. I mean, every winter to date has ended, right? And then comes the spring which is beautiful, and summer which is fantastic. So the winter is worth it.

Also, someone once told me that the first winter is always the easier. You know, it is all a novelty. The snow, the low temperatures, the darkness. There is an aura of new experience to it. So if these will be your first winter, make the best out of it 🙂

Is there anything I missed? Let me know!

/tomas

 

 

 

Football Night

As you know, I come from Brazil. It means that, by definition, I am all about beaches, samba, carnival, and, of course, football. But not really.

I am from the state with the worst beaches in the whole country, my feet were not designed to dance to samba, and I never got into carnival. Therefore, all that is left is football. And yes, I love it.

However, since I come here, I have been in sort of a football abstinence. I try my best to keep up with my home team (Gremio, check it out), especially because that is something that helps me connect with friends. And when Stockholm hosted the UEFA League Final I made certain to at least enjoy the fan fest, as I did not get tickets (I wrote about it here).

But yesterday I finally made it. After more than a year, I finally attended to a game. And an important one: Sweden vs. Luxemburg for the European World Cup Qualifiers. Why that matters? Because Sweden has been out of the World Cup since 2006, and now everything indicates they are heading to Russia 2018. As the last home game before the qualifiers end, this was huge.

How was it?

Well, it was different. I know that football is undergoing a gentrification process, becoming more an entertainment product than a party for the masses. But this is the kind of crowd I like.

 

Yesterday, people were calmer, less passionate, and it was all about a pleasant experience. Halftime concerts, pre-game kids performance, and stuff like that. Was it bad? No way. But it is just super different from what I am used to.

However, I have to say that the Friends Arena is splendid. Everything is so shiny and clean and organized. Nothing less than you would expect here in Sweden, actually.

What about the game?

Sweden needed a simple win to keep its chances. However, it delivered a massacre. The game was a walk in the park, ending at a massive 8×0 score. Luxemburg did not stand a chance, and Swedes just kept scoring. At the end, I was both feeling sad for them and hoping Sweden score one more, to equal the worst defeat record for Luxemburg (it is 9×0), but that would be just sadistic.

Talking about records, yesterday was the biggest attendance ever at Friends Arena, more than 50.000 people, which was pretty cool.

Can I book my tickets to Russia 2018?

Sweden is currently the 2nd place on the group, 1 point behind France with 1 game to go. If Sweden does better than France on the last round, they end up in the first place and are in the World Cup. Since Les Bleus are playing against Belarus, I would bet that France will win and end in 1st place anyway.

Now, Sweden plays against Netherlands and can loose up to a 6 goal margin that they will still guarantee the 2nd place, which would lead Sweden to the playoffs. If they win, they are in the World Cup.

My advice? Everyone here has high hopes, but I would wait for a little to book that Russian Tickets.

But if you do, be sure to memorie the songs!

Take a Look!

I took lots of pictures yesterday and picked some to show you here. Hope you like it 🙂

I will start with the goals, but there is way more 🙂

 

Getting of the station

The Friends Arena is just by a shopping mall, which becomes a natural meeting spot for supporters.

The Friends Arena is pretty new. And the naming rights were bought by a bank and given as a donation to Friends, an anti-bullying NGO.

 

Teams warming up

 

This kids put up a pretty cool show.

The most engaged crowd was (as always) just behind the bars.

The game is a family event, which is super nice. Back home, people could be worried about stadium violence.

We Are Sweden

Self-service coffee. This would NEVER work in a Brazilian stadium.

11 Reasons to Move to Sweden: Analyzed

If you have ever read a couple of blog posts here, you probably have already figured out how much I like Sweden. Moving over here was a fantastic idea, and I love (almost) everything in Stockholm.  Apparently, I’m not the only one. The other day, this video popped up on my social media feed and caught my eye. So I decided to discuss the 11 reasons why everyone should just pack and join me in Stockholm 🙂

 

Sweden is a Pop Music Powerhouse

Yes! Music is a great reason to move to Sweden! As I explained in this post here, there is much more to Swedish music than ABBA. The country is number 3 on the musical exports ranking, just after the US and UK. And there are probably a bunch of Swedish made music you already enjoy. If you don’t believe me, just google for Max Martin.

They Clean Up After Themselves

Maybe I’m already used to it now, but my grandma who was here last week was really impressed with how clean subway stations and streets are over here. I don’t know if I agree, but the fact is that indeed Swedes are leaders in recycling, 2nd hand shopping, and using incineration to generate heat and electricity. They even buy trash for other countries.

Last year I wrote about how Swedes deal with disposal and waste management. You can take a look here.

Sweden Always Rank on top of the least Corrupt Countries

OK, I come from Brazil, so basically, EVERY country on Earth is less corrupt than what I’m used to. Anyway, the fact is that year after year, Sweden is among the less corrupt countries on Earth. For example, this is the Corruption Perception Index, from the NGO Transparency.

But please, that is NOT to say that politicians over here do not have their screw ups.For example, a classic of Swedish Politics is the Toblerone Affair, where a congresswoman was accused of buying chocolates with the Parliament credit card.  And just a few months ago, there was something about a politic using the travel miles he acquired with public trips for own benefit. So, things also happen here, but they are on a completely different scale. Just compare this two example with this bit from an ongoing investigation back in Brazil:

Brazil’s political scandal, known as Lava Jato, has reached an astonishing scale. The pain is widely spread; no fewer than 20 different political parties have had members implicated. More than 200 people have reportedly been charged with crimes. Two former Brazilian presidents, the heads of both houses of Brazil’s congress, more than 90 lawmakers and one third of Temer’s cabinet are implicated. The value of bribes paid as part of this scandal is estimated at about US$2 billion. Billion with a B.

So, from my perspective, yes, Sweden is barely corruption free.

Swedish Will Always Have a Fika

 

Yes, Fika is a thing. But I feel it is more in the foreigner imagination than in the people daily lives. I mean, yes, people here do drink a lot of coffee. Yes, pastry is generally past of the day. But the whole idea that people would stop in the middle of the day to sit down and have fika is just not what I see over here when I’m working.

However, that is not to say that Swedish work culture would allow for that. I feel work environment here is way more relaxed than in Brazil, and if my colleagues wanted to stop for a coffee, nobody would mind.

Midsommar

Midsommar is probably the one single best day in Sweden. It is just so playful and happy! Well, there is nothing to say about this celebration other than, if you can, spend a midsommar night in Sweden. You will probably have the time of your life,  dancing around a maypole, singing childish songs, and enjoying an endless sunshine. All of that with flowers on your head!

In fact, everything I had to say about midsommar  I wrote on this post.

Summer GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

Generous Parental Leave

I have no kids, nor I’m planning on having them anytime soon. But having them in Sweden is a great idea. In the case of parental leave, both parents have 480 days of parental leave to share. Yes, four hundred eighty. Also, it is mandatory for each of them to take at least 90.

Whoa GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Also, these are WEEKDAYS and can be used as the parent wish, meaning you can decide to take 100 Fridays off to take care of your kids, working from Monday to Thursday only for two years.

I guess parental leave is just one more aspect of the great benefits workers enjoy over here.

 

Free Kindergarten and Health Care

Aside from the fact it is not uncommon to see kindergarten kids taking the regular bus with their teachers in Stockholm, I have no idea how it works. But when it comes to Health Care, yes, Sweden has a comprehensive health care system that is free to every citizen.

And it seems to be a really well-integrated system. For example, a couple of weeks after my girlfriend and I got registered to the city; she received a letter from the government with an appointment to make a Pap test and check for early symptoms of cancer.

As for me, luckily, I still have had no reason to use it. But if I end up in the public health system, I let you know.

Doctor GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

Extra food Holidays

Hm, this one might be contested, but I guess one can say that every Swedish holiday ends up being a feist. The mentioned midsommar involves lots of food and alcohol. Christmas is not really Christmas without a 7-course dinner. And there are also the crayfish parties, cinnamon bun day, and so on. Actually, I have already written a few times about Swedish eating traditions. Check it out:

Julbord in 5 Acts: about the traditional Swedish Christmas Feast

Sweet Side of Sweden: about the princes’ cake (and its recipe!)

Fat Tuesday: a day to eat semla!

Meatballs Time: learn to do meatballs

 

So, was that enough to convince you?

/tomas