5 Tips on Moving to Sweden from Nigeria

I wrote this article for The Newbie Guide to Sweden sometime in July 2016 but I decided to share an updated version of it since I have spent 2 years in Sweden now and I think I can confidently say that I know much better than I knew when I wrote that article. I will be sharing my top 5 tips for any Nigerian about to move to Sweden for the first time and is curious to know what to expect and how to survive the first few weeks of arrival. 

For most people moving to Sweden from Nigeria. It is either you have been given an admission to study for undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral studies or just like my situation where I was coming to join my husband who had lived in Sweden for two years. If you fall in any of these categories, the excitement of leaving Nigeria to move "abroad" is the first stage that you will experience especially after getting your visa or permit and the countdown has started. After the whole excitement comes the reality of what to expect and how to survive a new country far away from your home country. These are my honest tips. I hope you learn and make use of one or two these tips before leaving home.

  • Accommodation: Housing is one of the challenging things to cope with in Sweden aside the horrible winter😆. Although most schools provide accommodation for international students in their first year of arrival which is based on first come, first served basis while you sort yourself out in the subsequent years. The general advice I would give is first to contact your university once you have been given admission to ask questions about the available options and secondly, it is very important that you are on the queue even if your university provides immediate accommodation.This is because there is a vast competition between international students and you wouldn't want to be stranded as a Newbie. The queue system works in a way that the longer you stay on the queue the better your chances of getting a place of your choice so all you need to do is to get the name(s) of student housing sites of your school from your student union (check your university website for details) and get yourself on the queue before leaving home.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

  • Food! Food!! Food!!! : Don't even think about leaving Nigeria without buying some basic foodstuffs that you love and can't do without. It might take a while before you get a hang of the system. Aside that, things can be really expensive in the African shops compared to their prices in Nigeria. So my advice for you is to buy as many foodstuffs as your suitcase can cope with and be careful with the way you eat them when you arrive so that you can still have a feeling of home for sometime before reality steps in. Foodstuffs like poundo, garri, groundnut, crayfish, maggi cubes and spices are very important. Note that Palm Oil is not allowed on any flight so don't go and buy a keg of palm oil😆

Photo Credit: Amaka Ltd

  • Be Informed: One of the mistakes I made when I was moving to Sweden was not doing enough research. This might be due to the fact that my husband was already living in Sweden for roughly two years at that time and I felt he would tutor me on most things. Yes he did tutor me and saved me a lot of stress but I still had my own fair share of culture shock when I arrived. So my advice for a Nigerian newbie is to read as many articles as you can find online, watch video clips on youtube, find a Nigerian community (if it exists) on facebook to join or search for friends you can hook up with either on facebook, linkedln, or other social media platforms before your arrival. This will help you to learn more about the culture and society faster on your arrival. Well, it doesn't have to be Nigerian friends alone, there are lots of other African countries you can hook up and relate with like Ghanians, Cameeronians, Zambians and lots more. Don't hesitate to ask questions and make new friends before your arrival. 

Photo Credit: Branding Personality
  • Language Barrier: Swedish is the official language in Sweden and just like I wrote in one of my articles here, the language can be a bit of challenge if you are planning to work or live in Sweden after your studies. As a newbie/ international student, you do not require the language in any of your studies but just like the popular adage that says "when in Rome, you do like the Romans", I think it would be nice if you can learn few words and phrases before your arrival. This will make you feel a little bit relaxed/less confused when you visit the supermarkets and malls in your first few weeks of arrival. There are a lot of short and free online courses you can take but I will personally recommend you learn the names of food items and fruits as this was one thing I wished I had learnt before moving to Sweden. Below are some food, fruits and vegetables pictures that I got from Lexin. Yes, your swedish lessons has started😛. Learn all these and thank me later😉

  • Weather: Finally is the almighty Swedish weather. This might be the most difficult part for a newbie coming from a country with an average of 25 to 29 and sometimes 30 degrees weather to a 13 degrees at summer and a cold, dark sub-zero weather at Winter (averaging at -18 to -22 degrees). If you arrive in Autumn or Fall which is the usual for most international students, you might be overwhelmed and carried away but don't be surprised if after two months, everything suddenly changes. My best advice is to buy at least a sweater and jacket before moving to Sweden in order to avoid running helter-skelter on your arrival if need be.

Smiling through the Cold

Annual Snow Sculpture Event. All these were made of Snow. So Cute😍

I hope these few tips will be useful for anyone planning to move to Sweden. Its always better to plan ahead and be well informed than to be surprised. Hey before you go, if you like this article, consider buying me a coffee by clicking here. 

Until next time...💋