“So, what are you doing in Sweden?” As a Canadian who has been in the country for less than a month, I get asked this by nearly everyone I meet. The trouble is, I don’t really have an answer for them!
At first, I moved here to stay with my boyfriend and earn a bit of money. I’ve been travelling the world ever since graduating university and in the past 6 months I’ve been in 7 different countries. It’s time to settle down and save up. After only 2 weeks I’m starting to realize that the longer I’m in Sweden, the more reasons I can think of to never leave.
And so, without further ado, a Newbies list of the Best Things About Sweden.
Life in Sweden is different in a lot of ways (for one thing, it requires a lot of warm winter clothes) and can take some adjusting to. But these things help make settling in fun and easy.
- FIKA! Fika has to be my all time favourite thing about Sweden. For those of you that don’t know yet, fika is a staple of Swedish life. It may seem like just an afternoon coffee and delicious snack (try a Kanelbulle!), but the outing can last for a few hours and is quality bonding time. Put your phones face-down on the table and get to chatting! Fika is the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends, to casually talk business, to get to know a new person or even as a stress-free first date.
- FREDAGSMYS! Literally translated to “Friday’s Cosiness”, Fredagsmys is family time popular all around Sweden. After a long week of work and school, families come together to eat dinner and watch Swedish Idol or Dancing With the Stars. What’s on the menu, you ask? Tacos! Surprising maybe, but true. This mexican food has found a new home in Swedish living rooms around the country.
- CANDLES! Candles are everywhere. I love it. It is the perfect antidote to the chilly evenings as fall turns into winter and the days get shorter. Walk around in the evening and nearly every window you see will be lit up with the glow.
- GYMS! It seems like nearly everyone in Sweden is fit, and after going to the gym here, I can start to see why – it was AMAZING! Never before have I been had a workout that began with a cup of coffee in the lounge area of a gym. Never have I relaxed in a sauna in the changerooms after my workout. The whole exercise experience was designed for comfort and practicality: there were hairdryers in the change rooms for women who had to run out and look good right after their workout. There was even a “play area” for kids so that parents don’t have to worry about booking a babysitter.
One of the best things about Sweden is that it makes it easy to be ecologically and environment-conscious. Want to be a more responsible global citizen? It just got easier.
- RECYCLING. When I first arrived I was beyond puzzled: why are there 3 garbage cans?! The Swedes separate their trash into compost, plastics and papers. There are even separate spots to recycle clear glass bottles, coloured glass bottles, cardboard cartons and metal tins. Coming from North America where recycling is an afterthought, not a part of life, this was a huge change! Go Sweden!
- AIR DRYING CLOTHES. What are those funny metal things in everyone’s homes, you wonder? They are racks for drying clothes. While most houses have washing machines, few have dryers. As a driers are massive energy-sucking devices, air drying clothes is a great way to cut down on the electricity usage and help out the planet. Plus, it’s better for your clothes.
- WATER BOTTLES. More specifically, reusable water bottles. Nearly everywhere you go there are taps or fountains to refill water bottles and there are hardly any disposable plastic ones at all. The less trash, the better!
- EKOLOGISK MAT. Or, in English, “ecological food”. You’ll see this on labels all over the grocery store, in the meat section in particular, and you can be sure that your food was responsibly produced.
Which brings us to…..
Because one of the best parts about travelling to a new country is always the food!
- KNACKEBRÖD. It’s like a big cracker, but better. Usually served for breakfast or a snack, many cafes will have a complimentary basket of knackerbröd to nibble on. Best served with Kalles Kaviar.
- JAM AND CHEESE. I know. Strangest combination ever, right? When I first saw my boyfriend putting cheese on his jam toast, I was disgusted! It turns out, it is actually delicious, and a common Swedish combo.
- LINGONBERRY JAM. Served with all things savoury. The jam is a little bit tart and sour and pairs particularly well with mashed potatoes and roast. It’s like cranberry sauce typically eaten at Christmas or Thanksgiving, but served all year round.
- MEATBALLS. Swedish meatballs. They’re famous and delicious and need no further explanation. Go try some!
I can’t say that moving here has been a completely smooth and stress-free experience. Moving somewhere new never is. But, there are many, many perks to life in Sweden and I cannot wait to stay and discover more.
For more stories about my move to Sweden, check out my blog
Written by: Lily Kaufmann
Hi, I’m Lily! I’m 21 and originally from Canada, although more recently I have been backpacking the world. I was an athlete most of my life and a Diver (or, if translated directly from Swedish, a swim-jumper) for the university I attended in Miami, USA. I’m excited to be in Sweden to settle down and to explore my passions and hobbies which include writing, reading and cooking. I am living in Nykoping with my boyfriend, a native Swede.