7 Things to Know About Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden: A city with an H&M on every corner and an abundance of nature like you’ve never seen before.
Last May I went on a short term study abroad trip to Stockholm, Sweden. It was through the University of Illinois’ College of Media, and it focused on media, technology & sustainability in the food market in both the United States and in Sweden.
Aside from going to professional business meetings and learning about the sustainable dairy and meat industry, we also had time to explore different universities, museums and popular areas of Sweden.
Although we were in Sweden for seven short days, our days were jam packed and we got to see a lot of the country while we were there. Before I signed up for the trip, Sweden was not really on my bucket list for places to go. That being said, I’m so glad that I took the leap of faith to go, because it a beautiful country and I was not ready to leave at the duration of our trip!
So if you ever have the opportunity to explore Stockholm, take it! Here are some things to expect when you go to Sweden:
When I first got to Sweden, I was amazed by landscapes that greeted me. There are so many clear blue rivers running through the cities, flowers blooming everywhere and trees galore. Although I tried my best to capture Sweden’s beauty with pictures, there’s nothing that compares to being there in person.
Not only did Sweden have an abundance of natural beauty, the people also kept the city clean. Litter was kept to a minimum, which added to the presence of the city.
I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of public transportation in Sweden. Our group of 10 traveled by taxi, bus, train and subway throughout the week. Not only did this save a lot of money by not having to drive everywhere, but it also was a cool way to see the locals and be a part of the community.
The easiest way to utilize public transportation in Sweden is to buy prepaid cards that are good for a whole week and include unlimited rides on the subways and buses. You can get these at convenience stores and at the stations.
Although we were very busy during the week we had free time during the evenings and on Saturday night to explore the city of Stockholm on our own and got a taste of the nightlife. While some things were similar to here in the US, we did encounter differences.
Liquor stores are only open until 4:00 PM and you have to be 20 to buy alcohol. However you can get beverages with an alcohol content of 3.5% and less at convenience stores at anytime. At both bars and stores alcohol was very expensive compared to prices you would see in the US, mostly due to the fact that the standard of living is higher.
Closing times of the bars varied based on the locations. The bars in the smaller parts of town closed around 10 PM during the week. In the main part of the city, places stayed open later especially on the weekends.
The entrance age for bars also varied. On a slow day, people would be allowed in with an 18+ ID. However, when we went out on Saturday night some bars were checking for 20, 21 and even 23+ IDs. It all varied on location and how crowded they were.
Uppsala University is a beautiful campus about an hour north of Stockholm. It is also the oldest university of Northern Europe, so it has a unique character and charm. It is well kept with huge churches, and abundance of flowers and cobblestone roads. It is a prestigious university and one that many University of Illinois students choose as their study abroad destination every year.
During our trip, we went on a tour of the city of Stockholm which gave us information about the city and took us to many prominent buildings and places. We covered a lot of ground and learned a lot about the history of Stockholm and its people. It was also a great time to take photos of the many remarkable views that you encounter.
There is also an Old Town tour, which goes to the original island that Stockholm was founded on in the 13th century.
Fika is an afternoon coffee break that many Swedes take advantage of. Many people drink coffee or tea in the middle of the day, and accompany it with cookies or pastries. In Sweden people usually get together with friends or coworkers daily to fika.
As I mentioned, the reason for our trip to Stockholm was to study sustainability in the food market. But when it comes to sustainability in Sweden, it doesn’t stop there. The people of Sweden are working hard to lessen their impact on the earth by adopting sustainable practices in energy consumption, technology, buildings, and transportation.
KTH Royal Institute of Technology is one of the driving forces behind development in environment and sustainability practices in Europe, and it was actually our host university that we partnered with while in Sweden.
Although there is a lot of progress to be made when it comes to sustainability, Sweden is leading a great example for the world to follow.
Stockholm, Sweden is a one of a kind destination that everyone should strive to travel to. I’m lucky I was able to experience their people, culture and breathtaking views and would go back in a heartbeat if I was given the chance.