Stockholm – The land of IKEA, meatballs and … vikings?

After arriving in Stockholm just a little over a month ago, it was surprising to see how little I knew about the country i’d be spending my semester abroad in. With a warm welcome, the university guides had met me at the arrivals terminal, and escorted the rest of the incoming international students to the university i’d be studying in – KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Founded in 1827, KTH is one of Scandinavia’s largest institutions for tertiary education in technology. Like all the other newcomers, I was amazed at how enormous this university was. From the buildings alone, it was easy to tell that KTH was full of history, pride and a status symbol for higher education in Stockholm.

Quadrangle at KTH
Quadrangle at KTH
Kth main walkway
Kth main walkway
Fireworks at KTH event
Fireworks at KTH event

My accommodation is situated 15 minutes north of central Stockholm, and only 5 minutes away from KTH. It is the largest student accommodation in Stockholm, housing thousands of international students tucked in a forest away from the city. There are so many international students here and so little Swede’s it almost makes you question whether or not you are still in Sweden.

Stockholm itself is a beautiful place, no matter where you are in the city there is always a picture-worthy scene. I hadn’t experienced as much culture shock as I had expected, with the Swede’s speaking perfect english. The city is very tourist friendly, and getting around as a foreigner is relatively simple. The prices of everyday items such as food, beverages and clothing are a little bit more expensive than Sydney, but nothing to be too surprised about. What I hadn’t been warned about when coming into Sweden is the public toilets. They aren’t as common here when compared to Sydney, and when you do find one you have to pay almost $2AUD to use it!

27-09-2015 - Djurgarden

View from the highest natural point in Stockholm
Skinnarviksberget – the highest natural point in Stockholm

Sweden town 1

What surprised me the most was the culture of the Swedes. They are a very conservative, distant group of people who generally don’t get involved in small talk. This is such a large contrast between Sydney where you can instantly become best friends with your local barista, or have a chat with a random stranger on the train. I had been warned by a local Swede that this is often the case with internationals coming into Sweden, but ensured me that once i’m able to make a Swedish friend, I have a friend for life.

My past month here has been a smooth transition from my life back in Sydney. I have been welcomed with open arms by my university and the Swedes, and I am proud to be able to call this my home for the next 5 months. I have met some of the greatest people from all parts of the world, friends of which I know will continue to remain in contact with long after we go back to our home countries.

Group of friends i've met on exchange (from left to right) - America, Australia, Spain, America, England, The Netherlands
Group of friends i’ve met on exchange (left to right) – Genet (America), Yan (Australia), Anna (Spain), Zoe (America), Nick (England), Sofie (The Netherlands)
Tyresta National Park
Tyresta National Park

There is still so  much more to explore here, and although summer has ended, and the days are slowly getting shorter and shorter, I cannot wait to see what winter has to offer. Having never experienced snow in my life, A Swedish winter will truly be an experience I will never forget.

Till next time!

Gabriel Reyes

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