Valkommen till Sverige!

‘College life’, like most people, I was looking forward to it. Pictures of students sitting in the park on a sunny day just hanging out with no worries of the world. Some of you reading this blog might be planning to come to Sweden for their University education, some of you may already be here, some of you folks couldn’t find anything better to do so you decided to search for random blog articles on the internet. Seriously guys, get your life together. Either way, if you came here to learn more about this ‘amazing college-life’ and the stuff that you’ll be doing once you get here, sadly, this is not the blog post for you. It’s grim and deals with some boring stuff. So if you don’t want your excitement to fade, I suggest you look for some other articles on the website.

So, let’s begin. Imagine waking up hungover. You wake up, try to get your feet on the ground with your head throbbing with pain and you saying to yourself,’Never again!’. Sad, considering you know that you’re going to go through that exact same feeling next weekend. It’s alright, we’ve all been there. Ahh, the irony! So, you stand up, look at yourself in the mirror and think about last night. You’re flushed with a feeling of embarrassment when you remember how walked into a pole and started apologizing to it like it was a person. You know it’s going to be a shitty day. You go to the kitchen to look for something to feed your stomach, it’s rumbling like the thunder during a storm. You open the fridge and Voilà, it’s empty. Except for a carton of milk that has developed new life and maybe some cheese, if you’re lucky. Grocery shopping, we all need to do it, nobody teaches us how to. Good grocery shopping is an art. I haven’t mastered it, not even close. Nevertheless, I figured that my experiences in last 7 months of staying here could prove to be helpful to noobs.

This article could be helpful to those of you who are staying/will be staying in Flogsta as the nearest grocery store is ICA Väst, one of the cheaper grocery stores out there.

1) Food
Start easy, if you don’t know how to cook, don’t go and buy onions, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms thinking you’ll make something fancy. You can’t, not yet. Start with the basics. Get some milk (Lactose-free if you’re lactose intolerant, none if you’re vegan). Be careful as they have something called ‘Filmmjölk’ in Sweden. It’s not milk, it’s ‘sour milk’. It’s similar to yoghurt. Buy some cereal to go with the milk. Get some fruit that is easy to eat, like bananas, apples etc. Sometimes, they have some good deals at ICA Väst, keep an eye out..

And then, our saviour, pasta. You can easily find pasta in any grocery store along with ready-to-use sauce.

These are all just different types and brands of pasta sauce. If you’re just looking for the cheapest stuff, it’s usually on the bottom shelves. The brand that you see is ‘ICA Basic’. They make a whole range of ‘daily-use’ products which are cheaper than the usual brands. Of course you have to make a few sacrifices and the quality of these products is a hit or miss.

Once you get the hang of it, you can try and start cooking proper food in a few days. What I usually do is go to the sales section, check out what’s on sale, buy it and then cook something based on what I get. It’s cheaper that way and ICA usually has a wide range of sales so you have the ability to choose. You can also check out the sales on their Facebook page, saves you the time of going physically to the store.

When you enter, on the left, you have the candy section. Beyond it, on the left, is the sale section. They have some good stuff on sale sometimes, keep an eye out. In addition, if you’re a meat-lover, you can find amazing sales on meat at ICA as well.

2) General stuff
But, food is not the only thing you’re going to need. Basic stuff like toilet paper and hand-wash also needs to be on your list. You will also need detergent. It depends where you are living though. If you’re living at Klostergatan 16 with UU housing office, you won’t need detergent. Therefore, it is important that you read about your accommodation and what facilities will be provided to you. If you’re living in Flogsta however, you will have to buy most of the stuff yourself. Apart from the pans, plates etc that you can find in the common kitchen. Unfortunately, I had to buy all of that as well since my kitchen didn’t really have much to begin with. So you may have to go to IKEA once you get here.

I could keep on going, but there’s only so much you can read and remember. This post started out as kinda serious, but if I’m being perfectly honest, you’ll be just fine. It’s like learning how to drive a car, when you start, you’re lost and don’t know if you’ll ever get there. But you do. All of this may sound scary to someone who hasn’t experienced this before. I remember being nervous when I came to Sweden because I didn’t know how to cook. And now, cooking has become my hobby. It’s a stress-reliever for me. So, I will say the same thing to you that my friends said to me when I moved here ,’Teri lagne vaali hai’. Meaning? ‘You’re going to get screwed’. They were being sarcastic. Or were they?