Sweden has a population of just over 9 million people, with the majority of the population residing in the southern part of the country and along its southern coastline. The reason for this is due to its northerly latitude and the colder annual temperatures in the northern tip of Sweden.
The country boasts a high quality of living and often scores highly in worldwide surveys to evaluate quality of life and overall happiness. It’s generally viewed as a very safe and friendly place to live and you won’t find it hard to integrate on arrival.
Sweden has rejected the euro and keeps its own currency, the Swedish krona (SEK). You’ll find that a large percentage of Swedes speak English, although it’s important to learn Swedish if you plan to study there.
It’s a good idea to ask your chosen Swedish institution about the accommodation options they offer as soon as you apply for a course. As an international student, you’ll find that making friends is made easier if you arrange a room in student halls or housing. The international student department of your institution will help you to find suitable accommodation and they’ll have housing officers to assist you.
In some places, like Stockholm and Gothenburg, it’s hard to find student accommodation and there is a shortage of student rooms. It’s wise to investigate this early on, as prices in the private sector can be high. Approach your student union to ask their advice. There are some websites, like the one run by the Swedish Student Accommodation Association, that can help you find a place to stay in Sweden’s larger cities. For more information have a look at their site.
You can choose to rent accommodation privately, either a flat or house you’ve sourced yourself, or one recommended by your student union. These tend to be more expensive, but offer a degree of freedom that may suit more mature students used to their own space.
If you’d rather rent a student room or specific student accommodation, then you will probably have to prove that you’ve been accepted onto a course at a Swedish institution before signing a lease. This type of accommodation comes in many forms – you can rent a room in shared house with shared kitchen and bathroom, or a smaller flat designed for one person.
Student dormitories can be an option for people looking for a cheaper, more sociable option. You’ll find it easier to make friends in a dorm, although kitchens are sometimes shared between more than 10 people, so it can be busy and you’ll have to make allowances for other people’s habits.
Sweden enjoys a relatively temperate climate due to the Gulf Stream, but if you’re from a warmer country you’ll need to prepare for the cold, snowy winters and long, dark days (called the Polar Nights) in midwinter. In midsummer, during June and July, hours of daylight can be long due to Sweden’s high latitude north of the Arctic Circle. In the north, the sun can sometimes be seen 24 hours a day.
The Swedish climate really offers you the best of both worlds. In the south, temperatures are coldest from November to March, with heavy snow at times. Summers can be very warm and pleasant indeed, and can last for more than four months of the year.
Swedish cities all offer a uniquely Nordic blend of entertainment, beautiful buildings and interesting things to see and do. You’re never far from water, even in Sweden’s larger cities, and this perhaps explains the Swedish preoccupation with the Great Outdoors and all things sailing, fishing and swimming.
Stockholm is the business centre of the country, and is a cosmopolitan and cool destination that’s home to many different nationalities. It offers up a dizzying, and occasionally very expensive, mix of restaurants, bars and boutiques. It’s built on a multitude of islands and is surrounded by water, so there are plenty of opportunities to indulge in the popular Swedish pursuits of fishing and sailing.
Gothenburg, nestled on the west coast, has over 500,000 inhabitants. It is Sweden’s second largest city and the largest Nordic seaport. If you choose Gothenburg as a study destination, you’ll have a choice of beaches and nature reserves at your disposal, as there are plenty within a few kilometers of the city centre. You’ll also find some great eateries in the city, offering a mouth-watering selection of fish and shellfish dishes.
Malmö is well known for its unusual skyline, plethora of fine-dining restaurants and multicultural appeal. In fact, 30% of Malmö’s residents hail from outside Sweden. The lively city is definitely influenced by its close proximity to Denmark’s capital city Copenhagen. The two cities are connected by Europe’s longest bridge, the Oresund Bridge, so you’ll be able to visit the Danish city at weekends if the inclination takes you.