My room looks like a natural disaster has hit. Maybe a tornado, if tornados were made of winter clothes, English books, never-used rain boots, and postcards from half a dozen countries. And in the middle of it all sits my trusty blue suitcase, which seems to have mysteriously shrunk over the past semester.
I remember a similar scene five months ago, when I was packing to come to Uppsala. I googled “Swedish fashion” at least twice a day, trying to figure out which of my clothes were cool and European enough to bring (in my opinion: very few). I stuffed my suitcase full of running shoes, shampoo bottles, room decorations, and a bunch of other things I either didn’t need or could have easily bought in Uppsala. So, whether you are preparing for a semester abroad or starting your degree, here are a few dos and don’ts to help with your packing for Sweden.
- Pack some fancy clothes (and a floor length dress or suit jacket if possible!). The nations love to hold gasques and other formal events, and you’ll save a lot of money if you don’t need to buy a new outfit
- Bring a power bar if you’re from outside of Europe. You’ll need an adapter to plug in your electronics, but if you bring a power bar or cube, you can charge multiple things from one adapter (*I’m not sure this is the greatest idea from an electrician’s point of view, but it’s worked for me so far!)
- Visit second hand shops when you arrive. If you’ve forgotten something, or want to buy some decorations for your room, these are probably the cheapest option (like, even cheaper than Ikea) and they have lots of cool stuff. Myrorna and Erikshjälpen are both great stores
- Look around your room before you go shopping. The previous occupant might have left useful things behind that you won’t have to go and buy. My room came with blankets, a small heater, and coat hangers. Thank you to the former resident of room 511!
- Pack extra makeup or shampoo. Sweden has all the brands you’re used to back home, and these things will eat up your precious 23 kg weight allowance. Bring travel sized bottles if you want to have a shower as soon as you arrive, but that’s all
- Bring too many shoes. The eternal question: What kind of shoes do you pack when traveling? My answer, after packing way too many myself: Sturdy boots for fall/winter/spring, a pair of fancy shoes for formal occasions, running shoes, and one pair of everyday shoes. That’s all
- Worry about looking good when it’s cold outside! And whether you’re coming for one semester or a couple years, it will get cold. Forget about your fashionable-but-useless light sweaters and instead pack thick, warm layers to make it through the colder months
- Forget about warm weather, either! The tricky part about packing for Sweden is preparing for all four seasons at once. Bring your wool socks and sweaters (see above), but don’t forget your shorts and summer dresses, either. Try to pack a little bit of everything so you’re ready for the unpredictable weather
For a bit of international insight, I asked my friends about how they packed for Sweden:
Is there anything you wish you brought with you but didn’t?
“Vegemite! I wish I brought unique foods from Australia to share with people, because they always ask what certain things taste like… and it’s a fun way to entertain people I guess!” – Linda, Australia
“I wish I brought some cold medicine with me. At home you can buy it at a grocery store or whatever, but in Sweden you need to see a doctor and get a prescription for most medicine. You don’t need to pack a whole pharmacy but it never hurts to be prepared,” – Caleb, USA
Is there anything you packed that you’re glad you brought?
“Since I wasn’t sure if I could ever feel at home in my Flogsta room when I first entered it, I was really glad that I brought some decoration stuff from home like some colourful lanterns or a big, thick scarf which I put on my wall, and also so many pictures… And I brought a warm blanket which reminds me of home!” – Lea, Germany
“I’m happy I brought so many pictures of my friends and family with me. It made me feel more at home, and made my room look a lot cozier with something hanging on the wall,” – Michelle, Canada
It’s always hard to image squeezing all your favourite things into a suitcase, but don’t panic if you forget something – or bring so much stuff that you struggle to pull your suitcase through the airport (that was me). Happy packing!