Learning Swedish for free

If you’re going to study at Uppsala University I recommend you taking the Intensive Basic Swedish courses. If you’re a student at UU, these will be free. This course starts at the beginning of the August. Aside from these courses, there are other ways to learn some Swedish, for free!

  • First of all, download an app called Duolingo it’s a great way to practice and increase your vocabulary. This will also help you develop a feel for the Swedish language.
  • Sign up at learningswedish.se and practice with the alphabet, numbers, and phrases. This website has some great exercises to help you understand spoken Swedish.
  • If you like YouTube, go subscribe to Swedish vloggers! In vlogs people tend to use every day spoken language. You will come across phrases that are used in daily conversations and might not covered in a text book. Examples of Swedish Youtubers: Keyyo, Therese Lindgren, Sabina Decireé, Amir Akrouti, Josefine Olsson, Helen Torsgården, IJustWantToBeCool. (Nackagubben does not speak Swedish in his videos but does explain interesting Swedish words)
  • You can also listen to Swedish Podcasts.
  • 8Sidor is a real Swedish news site that uses very easy words.
  • On svtplay.se you can watch Swedish tv shows, however, you can only watch this if you’re actually in Sweden. As far as I know, you can’t watch any content outside of Sweden.






Moving abroad… with anxiety

You shouldn’t let your anxiety stop you from moving abroad. Because the first few days, weeks or months might be uncomfortable, but after awhile you will get more used to your surroundings. I experience anxiety in places and situations that are uncertain to me. I’m constantly over-analyzing the situations and wondering whether I’m adhering to all the social rules and not offending anyone. I am also not particularly fond of asking strangers for help.

  • First of all: get familiar with your surroundings. You will feel less anxious if you know how to navigate yourself through the city. Practice using public transportation, find out how you can easily get to your school or work in your new country. Don’t stay inside too much. If you don’t expose yourself to your new surroundings, your anxiety will only get worse. Exposure will help you realize that… it isn’t actually that scary.
  • Interact with people. If you’re unsure about something, it’s okay to ask the people in the store for more information. Here in Sweden, people are more than happy to help you out. They speak English very well! And if people are unfriendly, it doesn’t have to be anything personal. They might have had a rude customer before you or have a lot on their own minds. Don’t worry about it.
  • It’s a lot to take in, so take babysteps. Walk around for a bit, go back home and recharge.
  • Try to learn the language of your new country. Understanding some of the words written and spoken around you will probably make you more confident! You can even put some of that into action by using easy words on people, for instance, say tack så mycket (thank you very much) when you’re done checking out at the supermarket. Or approach people with a friendly hej!
  • To take away some of your anxiety you can also look up information before doing anything, such as going to city hall. Check out the surroundings on Google maps. Maybe find out what the procedures are. But don’t frantically search everything online. In the end, you want to be able to approach uncertainties as well.

A little anecdote…
Because my Swedish is at a level of a 2-year-old (or maybe lower, haha!) I don’t understand everything I read, and when I’m in a hurry it’s even harder to process the words. So I accidentally bought sparkling water, which I don’t like. Later I went to the supermarket again, I was craving sugary drinks. So I took home a bottle, of what looked like lemonade. When I got home I took a big gulp. It wasn’t lemonade. It was flavored syrup. So now I added the syrup to the sparkled water and it’s delicious!

Getting a sim card & registering at Skatteverket

After arriving at Arlanda Airport I took the pendeltåg to Uppsala Centralstationen. I put my suitcase in a locker (förvaringsbox) at the train station. These can be found next to the bathrooms on the ground floor, close to the pharmacy.

Getting a Sim card
My next stop was Presbyrån, also located at the central station. I bought a prepaid sim card for my phone. They keep these behind the counter, so you’ll have to ask the store clerk about them. He was very friendly and explained to me how to top up your balance, the old fashion way. You can top up your balance at Presbyrån. You can buy a bundle there and you’ll get a receipt, on which there is a code you will need to ‘call’. Afterward, you’ll receive a message, in Swedish, that it has been successfully topped up.

If you want an actual plan (abonnemang) instead of prepaid, you will need a personnummer. But it will take awhile before you get your personnummer. With prepaid, you also can’t top up your balance online, unless you have a Swedish bank account. And again, to get a Swedish bank account, you’ll need a personnummer.

Getting a personnummer
A personnummer is like a social security number. The number consists out of your birthday (YYMMDD) plus four extra numbers.
After getting my phone number, I walked to Skatteverket, where I had to register myself because my study is longer than 8 months.

As an EU student, I needed to bring my passport, a self-assigned assurance that you’re able to support yourself financially, a certificate of registration, proof that you’re admitted, and my EHIC card. For the assurance, I wrote a letter stating I would be able to support myself, I specified where I would get my funds from, and put my signature on it. The certificate of registration you’ll get after officially registering at Uppsala University. For the proof that you’ve been admitted, you can download and print the admission results from universityadmissions.se. Lastly, you have to be insured before coming to Sweden, to prove this you can bring your EHIC card.

When I arrived at the Skatteverket, there was a long line. I think I waited in line for about 45 minutes. When you’re first in line, you will get approached by one of the staff members. I explained my situation to him and he handed me a form which I had to fill in. He also gave me ‘a number’. It was time to wait once more. There was a digital board on the wall which displayed the ‘number’ being helped at which desk.  Every few minutes you’ll hear a ‘ding’ sound and a new number is displayed on the board. It took more than an hour before my number was displayed on the digital board. During that time I filled in my form, on which they asked for standard details (name, date of birth, address, etc). They also wanted a phone number. So I thought it was the perfect time to pop the new sim card into my phone. It worked!

After my number was called, I went over to one of the desks. The staff member copied all my papers I brought with me, my passport and EHIC card. She also took the form. She explained that it will take about two weeks before everything is processed and I will get my personnummer. I have a Dutch driver’s license, but I will eligible for a Swedish one after I get my personnummer.

Moral of the story, get a personnummer as soon as you can. It’s a key to getting many things done in Sweden. If you’re not staying for a long time, but still need a personnummer (for instance, you need a Swedish bank account), contact Uppsala University. They might be able to help you!