Preparing to leave for Sweden: my experience, tips and advice

by Lucy Mann, Physical Geography and Environmental Science (International Year)

Hej! I’m Lucy and I am a Physical Geography with Environmental Science student from Keele and for this year I am studying at Uppsala University in Sweden.

I am writing this obviously from a Swedish perspective, but I am sure many aspects will be similar for other European countries.

To say I spent a lot of time thinking about and preparing to leave for Sweden is probably an understatement! Once second year was complete and my permit was approved, it was all systems go to get ready for the off, despite the ongoing fear that Covid would intervene.

The main task for travelling Sweden now is obtaining a residence permit. If you are living there for more than 90 days, approval is needed for travel. I cannot recommend enough applying as soon as you receive the Acceptance Letter from your Swedish host university as this process was taking 1-3 months when I applied in May 2021. Once applied, you can go to London to do biometrics or wait for approval of your permit. I waited for it to be approved and travelled with an acceptance letter as there was not enough time to get my physical card in the UK. I did my biometrics in Sweden, this was super easy, quick and only short bus or cycle from my accommodation. Due to Covid, there was also a travel ban for non-essential, so covid tests, vaccine and permit proof was required to travel. I was very nervous about this, however with everything in place, the journey was a lot simpler and quite stress free than I was expecting.

A key component within preparing to travel is packing. It is always referred as one of the hardest things to do but with some efficient packing techniques, it wasn’t too bad. Here are some handy tips that I recommend:

  • Vacuum pack! Saves a lot of space, especially as you need warm clothes for Sweden
  • Pack clothes that can be worn across the year so you can add or reduce layers.
  • Think ahead of what the weather will be like,  it quickly turns ‘Autumnal’ in Sweden: coats, hats and gloves are essential!
  • Start getting things together early, this makes it less stressful and you can really consider what you need and don’t!
  • Pack sheet and duvet cover for the first night, most accommodation by Uppsala Housing Office does not provide bedding.
  • Pack food to cover travelling and first night before you find a shop.
  • Think about what can be brought there, second hand shops and buying things off other students is very common in Sweden.
  • Electricals: bring adaptors, ethernet cable and router if you have one, as some accommodation has no wireless internet (only cable).

Two important things I recommend checking due to Brexit is your bank card and phone contract. Some bank accounts can charge 1-3% fees for transactions and it is not possible to open a Swedish account for being in the country for under a year- however there are companies that have no international fees so worth switching! With the changes in international roaming, it is good to check with your provider what is stated in your contract. As I have found out, I will get charged for ‘Permanent Roaming’ as using more than 60 days in a 120 day period, this was in the small print! However, there are options like switching to a Swedish sim for your stay or looking into international companies such as LycaMobile where you can transfer your number. It is handy to have a working phone in Sweden.

Finally, connect with peers going abroad! Within my cohort there were three going to Sweden, two of which to Uppsala. It was really handy to discuss things and share the nerves and excitement. It is nice to have a friendly face you can touch base with. Uppsala has many facebook and whatsapp groups which I recommend you join- I connected with some people in my corridor before arriving which was super helpful and I even got duvet and wifi router that way for when I arrived, this made the first night so much easier!

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