Lately, I’ve been receiving questions from some people who are going to move to Sweden, either for work or study in my website and Instagram. And some of the questions are actually really simple, about everyday info, which I didn’t consider important before. At least I used to take it for granted.
But I think that was just because I’m lucky. My husband moved to Sweden eight months earlier than I did so he’s kind of paves the path for me. But not all people have the same experience. So here I compile the basic information of everyday life in Sweden for recently moved newbie.
Like many other countries, Sweden has plenty of expressions, idioms and sayings rooted in history and tradition. Some of them can be found in other languages, or at least share similar meaning like “Beat around the bush” and “Gå som katten kring het gröt” (English: walks like the cat around hot porridge). Some others are quite exceptional.
Despite its hilarious literal meanings, these sayings are actually relatable to everyday life in Sweden. Personally, I found some sayings are helpful in understanding Swedish values, and for that reason I wish I knew them earlier 😀
Living in a new country brings its own excitement and challenges. The first years are usually dubbed as the honeymoon phase. This is the moment when everything seems so bright, fresh and exciting.
Then soon, things become routine and less fascinating than before. In a matter of time, we started to settle and eventually adopted the new habits, including the habits in eating. Either we consciously do it on purpose, or it just comes naturally, we’ll find ourselves embrace the new habit, no matter how strange we thought it was.
This is actually a good sign as you’ve had become part of another culture, and it has changed the way you look at people, life, and even yourself.
After living in Sweden for almost three years, here are the things that I found unusual at the beginning but now I got used to them:
As a country that is eager to create a zero waste society, second-hand items are highly valued in Sweden. It goes beyond lifestyle and has become an essential part of Swedish everyday life. Swedes have been said to have a deeply rooted habit of selling and donating old things, which means there are plenty of second-hand items to buy throughout the country. Where to find them in Lund?
Erikshjälpen is one of the most popular second-hand shops in Lund. It has two branches: one in Stora Södergatan 25, not too far from Botulfsplatsen bus station and the other one is located in Öresundsvägen 16, a little bit outside the city centrum. Selling almost everything you need for your home, Erikshjälpen is like the second-hand version of IKEA and even better because it sells other brands too.
Here you can find various items, from a set of antique spoons to books in English to bulky furniture.
The Öresundsvägen branch is bigger than the one in Lund city. However, it has limited opening hours. It only opens on Tuesday, Thursday (11.00-18.00) and Saturday (10.00-16.00). Expect a large crowd when you come on Saturday, as it seems to be the favourite day for the customer. Here in the Öresundsvägen branch, you can also treat yourself with fika because it has a mini café inside the store.
Tiga bulan terakhir, pemberitaan tentang Greta Thunberg, anak muda Swedia yang mogok sekolah karena mengkampanyekan perubahan lingkungan memenuhi media dan lini masa saya. Di waktu yang hampir bersamaan, muncul kabar tutupnya Tempat Pembuangan Sampah Terpadu (TPST) Piyungan, Bantul, dan keresahan warga Jogja soal mau dibawa ke mana sampah-sampah mereka. Belum soal kabar paus yang mati karena menelan berkilo-kilo plastik. Semua hal ini membangkitkan keinginan lama saya untuk menulis tentang pengelolaan sampah di Swedia.
Swedia memang bisa dibilang sangat serius soal pengelolaan sampah dan kepedulian lingkungan. Greta adalah bukti nyata bagaimana kesadaran lingkungan menjadi keseharian di negara ini. Dan dia tidak sendirian. Banyak Greta-Greta yang lain yang menjadikan kesadaran lingkungan sebagai gaya hidup. Mereka adalah hasil dari sistem yang sudah disiapkan sedari awal. Pilah-pilih sampah sudah diajari sejak dini. Reduce, reuse, recycle bukan hanya berhenti sebagai slogan. Bahkan, sekolah-sekolah berlomba-lomba menjadi green flag school, salah satu program EU untuk menginisiasi dan melibatkan anak-anak muda dalam menjaga lingkungan, dimulai dari ruang kelas mereka.
Daisy Goodwin, an English writer once said: “Marriage is like living in a foreign country as an adult: You can become fluent in the language, you can step yourself in the culture, you can know all three verses of the national anthem; but no matter how hard you have worked to assimilate yourself, there will always be a joke you don’t get, a children’s TV star you don’t recognize, a word whose inner core of meaning still eludes you. Unless you were born there, you can never wholly belong (101 Poems to help You Understand Men (and Women))“
Don’t worry. I’m not going to talk about marriage 😀 .
The underline is about living in a foreign country as an adult.
It’s a common knowledge, I think, that living in Sweden is not cheap. According to a data from Numbeo (2018), “Cost of living in Sweden (rent is excluded), is 15.47% higher than in United States.” However, thanks to the Swedish ways of life, there are some things that we can do to save a little bit of money. Here is the list based on my personal experience:
Shop “home brand”
When you shop at Swedish supermarkets, you’d better check their home brand first for comparison, as their price could be much cheaper. Some of these home brands use the supermarket’s name like ICA; some others use totally different names because they have cooperation with certain suppliers, like Garant and Eldorado. But, you can tell which ones those are from their simple, plain and usually duo-tone colours packaging since that’s how they keep the prices low. The quality of these home brand products is okay especially when you need to save money for the rainy days. 🙂