From tropical to Sweden By Mayra Rulli

What is the first thing that you think when you have always experienced a warm and nice weather and are thinking in applying to study in Sweden for example? I don’t know about you, but the first thing that came to my mind was ‘how will I survive the cold’? Do not get me wrong, as every person that come from warm countries, I always dreamed to see snow and build snowman and whatnot, but when you are faced with the reality of ‘is it okay to live in a place that reaches -20°C or less during winter, you kind of wonder if you will be able to survive, when the minimum that you have ever experienced in your life was 5°C with a lot of layers on. Now I can tell you, it is worth every freezing hand when you get to wherever you are going when it is really cold and snowing.

It is not something that you adapt to in the first day, but it is something you can certainly adapt to and enjoy after a while.

Do you know why we that come from warm places are so afraid of real winter with minus temperatures? The answer is simple: in our countries, we are not prepared for cold weather. When it is cold here, you do not spend a lot of time outside, true, but once you are inside anywhere, you can wear whatever you want without fearing that you will freeze to death. In Brazil for instance, if it is 10°C outside, in my hometown we will sleep with two or three blankets and it will be cold, because it is 10°C inside too, we do not usually have heating system there. That is why we are so reluctant when dealing with places with real winter where temperatures go way below zero. Seriously, it is in some ways easier to live here during winter than it is back home, because you do not have to worry about the cold unless you are outside, and really, you do not stay out that long.

One thing that is quite annoying about the winter is to put on all those clothes before going outside. It is not that you need to have many layers on, it is more the fact the you need: a winter coat, a scarf, a hat, gloves, thick socks and boots (which are much more annoying to put on than nice flipflops). Imagine having to put all these on and then biking to where you have to go, for example to a café to fika (you must know what is fika if you pretend to come to Sweden, and you will love it) with some friends. When you get there, you have to take your coat, hat, gloves and maybe some other layers off, because inside it will be cosy and warm and you are quite hot to have biked there. Then, when you are done you put everything back on. Well, quite annoying, right? But the thing is, you get used to it quite fast.

Despite all this, there is nothing like seeing the snow falling from the sky. It is beautiful and hypnotising. The snow and the cold are not the problem, really. When the temperature is really low, like -10°C or -15°C, it is great to go outside. The air is fresh and the snow is nice, soft and you can have some nice snowball fight with your friends and do some snow angels, you will love it, seriously. However, the problem comes when it starts to warm up a little, then the snow melts and everything is ice and humid. Not cool. Biking on the snow, not a bit problem. Biking on ice, well you are always thinking this time you are going to fall, but you do it anyway. Swedes survive, why don’t you? It is cool, and then you can tell all your friends back home that you are fearless and you do bike in the snow/ice, no problem.

The most amazing thing is that when the temperature is super low and there are lots of snow in the ground, everything is white and there is much more light. Moreover, it might even be sunny, then you have the best days of winter. I have not tried it, but I super recommend a skying trip or ice skating. My Swedish and other European friends love it and say that this is the most amazing part of winter. Being outside, skying and skating or just playing with the snow. You might want to say ‘I am an adult, I don’t want to play in the snow’, yeah, right!

You might miss the warmth of the sun and some sunlight (we can talk about that later), but everything about experiencing the cold, snow, biking or walking in this weather is so new and exciting that you will enjoy it, maybe not the ice though, ice is scary, but you will manage. I am quite sure I will survive.

I am really excited about the change from winter to spring, everyone says it is amazing. Most of us from tropical countries have no idea how it is because we do not really have four marked season, things back home do not change gradually. I am looking forward to this, and that is something else to remember, Sweden is not all about winter.



  1. Carol

    Awesome Mayra! Lovely post, I sooo wanna go to Sweden after that! Cheers. x

    • Mayra Rulli

      Come Carol!! I know you don’t like the cold, but you’ll not regret it! I’m waiting for you

  2. Mohamed Gamal

    Nice to read your words & Hope to see you when i come to sweden this year to pursue my master study at uppsala university

    • Mayra Rulli

      Thank you Mohamed, hope to see you here!

  3. Muhammad Alfateh

    I liked your post Mayra and how you explained that preparation for cold weather is the key !
    I cant wait to begin my master studies this year at Uppsala university and experience the 4 seasons for the first time 🙂

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