We had previously talked about the process of going on Erasmus here and here, but now it’s time to talk about the actual experience of being on Erasmus and to try to explain why so many people love their semester abroad. Anastasia has already talked about her time in Rome (link here) and now I will tell you a little bit about my time in Stockholm.
(Lack of) Culture shock
In many ways, Stockholm is not so different from Tallinn: it has the same weather, people are nice and polite but cold (don’t expect anyone to spontaneously start a conversation on the bus there either), basically no one uses cash anymore, almost everyone speaks English, they love their IT companies, their local food is not impressive… so don’t expect a huge change from what you are used to in Tallinn.
But there are differences!
Stockholm is quite a big city where it is not uncommon to spend a lot of time in the public transportation system, even though it is well organized and punctual. I struggled with this at the beginning because I was used to living right next to TTÜ and over there I had to spend an hour on the metro to get to the university. After a while I got used to it and started to use that time to practice my Swedish skills in Duolingo 🙂 And the fact that some metro stations are GORGEOUS helps too 🙂
I also hated having to take two buses, a metro and a train to get to the airport (it took me 2 hours!), whereas in Tallinn I can just take a taxi that won’t charge more than 10 euros for it and will take me there in 15-20 minutes. In Stockholm, taxis are sooo expensive that I only got one once because I had too much luggage with me and it cost 50 euros for a 30-minute ride (and it was a cheap company!).
Living costs, as you can see, are much higher there. I almost cried when I realized my dorm room was going to be more than 3 times more expensive in Stockholm than in Tallinn and then I almost cried again when I had to pay 6 euros for the cheapest beer at a bar over there.
On the other hand, Stockholm is much bigger than Tallinn and more multicultural, therefore there are many more things to try and do: restaurants (there I tried the best tacos I have ever had in Europe 😀 ), museums, places to see, bars, etc. There is also more variety of food in the supermarkets so if you miss your local food, chances are that you will find more options there.
University and student life
The university I went to was really nice and all my teachers were quite good, but also very demanding. On many courses attendance was mandatory and I had a lot of homeworks, projects and team assignments all the time, so while I did have some time to party and travel, I couldn’t live the typical party-all-the-time Erasmus semester. But this is actually my second exchange experience and this time around it was ok to be a responsible student since on the first time I partied A LOT (don’t tell my mum about that).
It was also unfortunately not so easy to make friends as in the lectures there were always at least 50 students, making it harder to get to know someone easily. The university didn’t have an ESN group either so there were only a couple of activities in the beginning of the semester to meet new people and afterwards it was up to us to try to socialize on our own.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it is not possible to make new friends, and in that sense the dorms were the best solution for that. Since in the dorm where I lived there were only international students, there was a really nice sense of community. There would always be someone borrowing/lending stuff, organizing parties and trips to museums, to go ice skating, to go to other towns in Sweden…
Speaking of other towns in Sweden, I got a chance to travel to a few places and they were also quite nice:
Overall it was an incredible experience that allowed me to learn so much more not only about Swedish culture, but also about other countries through the people I met while I was there. Hopefully you can take the opportunity to do it too 🙂
You can find all the information about the application process for an Erasmus exchange here.