“Beauty at low temperatures is beauty” J. Brodsky
Now it’s about two weeks that I’ve moved to Stockholm for an exchange semester at the Stockkholm University. During these two weeks, where I had the wonderfull news that I had two weeks more of holidays, I could discover the city in every all of his aspects.
Referred to by some as The Venice of the North, to others as just another Nordic city with tall blondes, and to some as the capital of a dynamic modern social democracy, green and clean city, Stockholm is a city that conjures up both fantasies and reflexions.
The center of the city, Gamla Stan, one of the most well preserved historical cities of Europe. This so-typical northern architecture, that we all have seen in the pictures representing scandinavia, makes you dive into the scandinavian style, colorfull and medieval, with small street, royal palaces, a church from the XIII century. Well, a place where you can enjoy a good “fika” which consists in a coffe and pastries break-time – enjoying it much more during a cold day – with a beautiful landscape, making you steep to the medieval ages of the Kingdom of Sweden.
Stockholm is the cultural, media, political, and economic center of Sweden. And, if you walk in the city, it’s easy to guess it. Indeed, apart from this architecture, the city has, all around his archipelago, lots of museums, all different and interesting in their way. The most well-know is the Vasa Museum, but you should certainly go visit the Fotografiska Museum, the Modern Art Museum, the History Museum – where you find a great exposition about the Viking story, that totally satisfied my fan-interest in the great tv-show Vikings – and the Art Museum. One particularity is that, almost every week, one or several of the museums has a lecture, about a temporal exposition, a hot topic, or an art reflexion, and that for totally free. So, the culture in the city is tremendously rich.
Nevertheless, this is not the only cultural richness of the city. Indeed, in all of the city, and specially in the spots where you’re used to wait (bus and subway stations etc.) you can see an evident cultural effort. These small details celebrates the art during small and routine’s moments. This things are part of the city, of his life fabric, and which makes you starting to love Stockholm.
(things actually seen waiting for the subway, instead of the usual advertising)
Let’s talk now about practical life in the Sweden’s capital. Sweden is an expensive country, due to the high level of life that the country has succedeed to adopt, and Stockholm, being the capital, is even more expensive.
First thing is first, you need to know the good places and good tips to go out in Stockholm. Cheaper bars and pubs, where you can have a pint for a “relatively” good price are Lionsbar and Retro bar. Elsewhere you’l usually pay 70/90 crowns for a pint – 7/9€ approximately. In these bars you usually meet chatty swedish people. Same for nightclubs, you need to know the good places that usually let you in for free before a certain hour. Another different thing from Barcelona is that you can only buy alcohol – beers, wine etc. – to special shops controled by the state, the System Bolaget, these shops have a minimum opening hours and the alcohol price is normally high.
The cost of life (food, drinks…) is normally more expensive than the continental Europe, but without that much difference if you manage well your consumption and needs. For instance I’ve become flexivegetarian, almost vegetarian, less for conviction than for a saving-money purpose – but hey, the result and not the motives is the important thing, isn’t it?
The transport cost is the same that others countries – even less – if you’re a student. The ticket to travel freely with subway, ferries of the city and bus for three month cost around 1600 crowns – 160€, so 53€ per month, which I find pretty fair. The public transportation service works really well, during day and night. And at every train, bus or subway stop, they have exactly where each vehicle will stop and how long it will take. In addition if, like me, you don’t have a sense of orientation, there is also a mobile app that can route your trip for you. If with all of that you still don’t find your way, you can ask to some passer your way : don’t worry, everyone speack perfectly english and are really helpfull and nice to show their city!
Finally, it’s pretty expensive to have a cellphone plan, but usually exchange students that just stay for 6 month / 1 year use prepaid card. University gives some for free at the beginning of the year. Then, you just have to put an amount of money monthly to use it. To save money you can also took a lot of sim cards at the beginning at put a new one every month, but if you do that know that you’ll have a new phone number every month – but hey, it’s free.
Last topic of reflexion, the Erasmus culture. Doing an exchange program does not only open to you a new country a culture, but all of the european culture. Indeed, in the student resident, in the university and in all of the parties you can met a lot of exchange students : some coming from Netherlands, Italy, Germany, UK etc. You easely can talk and have interesting debates, comparing each culture, since normally, people that go on an exchange program are more people-persons. Futhermore, there are a lot of parties and events organized for international students : ice-skating, welcome party, pub crawl… These part of the exchange, maybe the richer one culturally and socially is, of all of them, my favorite.
Marc Becat Busquet