-- Me at the harbor of Hanö Island (Sep 24, 2018) --
2018年9月，我從台灣搭乘14小時多的飛機，來到世界的另一頭 — 瑞典，並正式開始了我人生中第一次的留學生涯。目前在這邊已經生活了兩個多月，不得不說其實飲食、起居、還有種種的習慣，都比起當初在台灣有蠻大的改變，因為這裡的文化、步調都與台灣有著明顯的不同。而在這篇文章中，我不僅止是想跟大家分享我在瑞典的生活，期間因為生活上也遇過的一些大小問題，所以想藉由這篇文章一併告訴你們。假若哪一天你/妳也有幸來到瑞典留學，或是突發奇想的想規劃到瑞典旅遊，希望本文底下的資訊都能多少幫助到各位喔！
In September 2018, I took the plane for more than 14 hours from Taiwan and arrived in the other side of the world - Sweden. Here, I started the career as an exchange student for the first time. As I have now lived in Kristianstad, Sweden for more than two months already, everything has just changed a lot from how it was in Taiwan. My diet, my living, and all kinds of habit have changed since the culture and pace of life in Sweden is so different from those of Taiwan. In the following, I will not only share the experience of life in Sweden to you, but also the problems that I had encountered. Well, just in case that you also have a chance to study abroad in Sweden, or you plan to travel here someday, the experience and information below may help you know Sweden more in advance!
-- My exchange university - Kristianstad University (Aug 28, 2018) --
其實在我來到瑞典以前，就已經從很多人口中得知這樣的訊息，就連我瑞典斯德哥爾摩當地的朋友也是這麼覺得。然而，沒有真正在這邊生活以前，是很難有這麼直接的感受。我先舉咖啡店的例子為例，同樣一杯大杯的熱拿鐵，在台灣本土品牌路易莎可能只要價85元台幣，但在瑞典最普遍的咖啡連鎖品牌Esspresso House 折合台幣卻要快155元 (45 SEK)，重點是！並沒有比較好喝.. 因為考量到價格的因素，原本每天習慣出外喝咖啡的我，現在反而都自己買咖啡豆回宿舍泡了。
1. Price is HIGH in Sweden. I'm not joking!
Before I came to Sweden, a lot of people, including one of my friends from Stockholm, had already informed me about this situation. However, I hadn't had such direct feelings until I actually started to live here. I'll take the comparison of price of a large coffee latte first. As the most popular Taiwanese local brand, Louisa Cafe sell their latte at a price of nearly 2.4 EUR (85 TWD). On the other hand, as the most popular cafe in Sweden, Esspresso House sell their latte at a price of nearly 4.35 EUR (45 SEK), which is nearly double the price of the latte sold in Taiwan! OMG.. And the thing is that, latte doesn't even taste better in Sweden lol~ Considering the high price of coffee in Sweden, I would now rather buy coffee beans and make coffee myself at the dorm than drink out at a cafe.
Not to mention the difference of price at a common restaurant, if we take cheese burger for instance, we can expect to have some really nice ones in Taiwan at the price around 5.6 ~ 8.4 EUR (200 ~ 300 TWD). However, the nice ones in Sweden would normally cost around 16.9 ~ 19.3 EUR (175 ~ 200 SEK), which is even more than double the price in Taiwan this time!!! The reason why I wrote "nice" here is because, of course, you can choose to have an ordinary burger at fast food restaurants, such as McDonald's and Burger King, and wouldn't cost you so much. Nevertheless, that wouldn't be a nice burger at all then, right?
As a result of the high price, I normally buy ingredients at the supermarket and cook them at the dorm now. Even though the cost would still be same as eating out in Taiwan, I could still save almost half of my spendings in Sweden! Moreover, because I must buy ingredients myself and always think about the most suitable way to cook and season, I have gradually learned how to cook and fell in love with cooking! Whenever I go to supermarkets, I am always excited about checking out the ingredients and brainstorming the way of cooking at the same time. Trust me, this is really interesting!
-- Food that I am used to eating in Sweden --
2. Swedish people can generally speak fluent English!
When almost everybody in a country, other than those English-speaking countries such as the US and the UK, can speak fluent English, it's just amazing! And that's how Sweden is like. Before I arrive in Sweden, I was with my Swedish teacher and wished that I could learn at least the basic Swedish well. However, after arriving, I discovered that it isn't necessary at all to learn Swedish because Swedish people can generally speak fluent English! And this includes any staff at every store, any person on every public transportation, any teacher or student at the school, etc. By estimating those I have met in Sweden, I am confident to say that at least 90% of them can speak English fluently. It's incredible because you can always feel comfortable and wouldn't have to be worried while having a conversation with them! Unless, unless, your English ability isn't good enough! Then that will not be their problem at all.. haha..
-- My exchange university - Kristianstad University (Sep 6, 2018) --
3. Stores are closed before night!
Swedish people pay much attention on their quality of life. Unlike those in Taiwan or any other asian country who work long hours on a daily basis, Swedish people would rather spend more time with their families and friends than earn money. Therefore, a lot of stores are closed early before night. Of course, not all types of stores do the same thing. There are some like restaurants, convenience stores, and supermarkets which are closed later around 19:00~20:00, but that's still a minority. For stores that are closed even later, you can find only bars and nightclubs then. However, they are usually opened only on weekends. Most of the time, Swedish people still live on a healthier basis, lol~
At first, this was hard for me to get used to because most of the stores in Taiwan are usually opened until night between 21:00 and 23:00. After all, this is the only time when they can earn most of the money! Even when it comes to midnight in Taiwan, you can still find convenience stores standing by everywhere for 24 hours! Whenever you feel hungry or thirsty, it is always easy to look for something to eat or drink. However, after one month of living in Sweden, I think I've gradually got used to this whole new kind of lifestyle. Moreover, if we take a look at the advantages of this lifestyle, it had also allowed me to live on a steady and healthy basis which I never had before!
-- Me at the university nearby - Lund University (Sep 17, 2018) --
4. MUST pay before getting on any public transportation!
You should always keep this advice in mind, especially when you are from an Asian country, because the public transportation system may be so different from those of Asian countries that you may easily get in trouble for being fined nearly 100 EUR (1000 SEK) if you don't follow the rule.
I will take my personal experience for instance. I was once traveling by bus in Malmö, the second largest city in Sweden, and got fined 100 EUR because i didn't pay in advance of getting on the bus. However, I did not intentionally try to escape from paying but was just really confused with the bus system. I didn't even know that I will get an invoice for not paying beforehand because there isn't such rule in my country. Though I did try to explain to the inspector about everything and even proved that I was a foreigner who wasn't familiar with the system at all, I was still fined 100 EUR without any compromise. GREAT! This fantastic fine had really made my week!
Luckily, Sweden is a rather reasonable country. I got 8 days to contact the customer service center of the company and was able to explain my situation in details. After writing back and forth with the customer service center for about three to four times, the invoice was reduced from 1000 SEK to 125 SEK. Though it still seemed like a huge amount of money for taking a bus, I felt happy enough because I just saved 875 SEK from paying an unreasonable fee! Hurray!
-- View on a bridge in Malmo (Sep 19, 2018) --
早在九月初的時候，我和我另一位台灣的朋友就已經規劃好要前往參加10月初的德國慕尼黑Oktoberfest盛會，然而，真的好巧不巧！就在我們準備好要出發的前幾個小時，我們開往機場的火車班次們竟然無預警取消營運了！！！說到這裡大家可能會覺得，火車壞了，搭巴士或計程車不就好了？因為，這裡可沒像台灣那麼方便又簡單。我們所住在的 Kristianstad 並不是什麼大城市，一切通往最近的國際機場 — 哥本哈根機場的交通，就只能靠火車抵達，偏偏又選在我們要出門的前夕，火車因為中轉站的纜線壞掉而無法行駛，簡直只能用衰到爆來形容！而我實在很不想再罵下去，因為這家公司明明前一天就知道中轉站的纜線發生了問題，卻絲毫沒有為隔天的營運想出任何有效的因應對策，會不會也太沒有效率？而當時，我們也只能在火車站苦等接駁的巴士司機睡醒後，前來車站載我們到指定的地點.. 當晚我們既沒有睡覺，又錯過了班機，甚至，拿不回任何賠償。此時無奈的我腦中只浮現了一位法國朋友曾向我說過的話：「亞洲要超越歐洲，已經是遲早的事了。」
5. Be prepared to delay or miss a train!
This is from my personal experience again.. Yep, everything has just been a mess in the beginning of my arrival. :(
In the early September, my friend and I planned to go on a trip in October to Munich, Germany for the well-known beer festival - Oktoberfest. When the day had finally arrived, however, the train system, which is the only way for us to head to CPH Airport, was partially shut down without any prior warning. We had no choice but to stay in Kristianstad until we are able to be transferred to Höör at midnight 4:00, and then be transferred to CPH Airport afterwards by bus. But while transferring from Höör to the airport, we have wasted SO MUCH time just waiting for the bus to arrive. I could say.. at least 1 hour or more! Hence, when we arrive at the airport, we just didn't manage to go on board because the time was already 1 hour later than the departure time of our plane! We were forced to book a new plane ticket right after since we had already organized everything so completely, and we couldn't even get any compensation back!
The thing is that, according to a Swedish man we met on the train, the train company had already realized the problem one day before this shit happened. I still don't understand why they'd rather let shit happen than come up with some useful solutions. Probably because they don't even care that much at all, even we're now in one of the most developed countries in the world. It was such a disastrous experience and I would never forget!
-- The coolest German group we've met during Oktoberfest (Oct 6, 2018) --
Conclusion for the first month
Sometimes, things could be so shitty in the beginning when you arrive in somewhere you're not familiar with. But generally speaking, Sweden is still worth visiting because they have really warm people, really natural environments without any pollution, and everything in such good quality.
Lastly, I want to thank all of my friends in the prison (We call our dorm prison because it used to be a prison) for making my exchange life even more splendid. Thank you for organizing all of those amazing events and planning those brilliant trips, so that I can have the chance to broaden my horizon to see different cultures and different aspects of everything. Hope the journey of our exchange life would be as splendid as it was!
" To be continued - Leon's exchange life in Sweden! "
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