Life in Sweden, a few months in

When I came to Sweden for a visit last summer I was overwhelmed by the idea that I was living several thousand kilometers from my home back in British Columbia, Canada. I resided in Gnesta, Sweden but during the short, thee month visit, I also traveled to Goteburg, Barcelona, Manchester, London, and Amsterdam.

I left for home in the beginning of October 2011. Seven months later I was back, and this time for the long haul. I moved to Stockholm in May and have been living here since. This post is dedicated to my life in Sweden so far. The differences and similarities, and my opinions on it all.

Train passes at Kista Metro Station

 

Well Connected

King George to Downtown Vancouver, a 40-minute, under 70 kilometer journey pretty much sums up Vancouver’s rapid transit system. It’s no wonder I have been continually impressed by Stockholm’s intricate, convenient and quick transportation.

An underground metro¬† – with one hundred stations. Suburban rail, connecting even distant cities as far as 100 kilometers. And frequent trams uniting tranquil neighborhoods. This makes up the 430+ km system that is Stockholm’s public transit.

Vagn 2000 (C20) pulls up to a station in Stockholm’s Metro

 

I realize I’ve excluded buses, as both Vancouver and Stockholm share very strong, inexpensive bus lines connecting most parts of each city.

When it comes to specifics, the story is similar for both cities. Frequency here varies, during peak hours downtown, expect a train as frequent as every two minutes. Outside of the city center it can be much less, but that’s to be expected. I haven’t found myself waiting more than 15 minutes for any train, even in the middle of the night. It’s important to note, unlike Vancouver, the metro is operational all night on weekends. Translink claims they can’t keep the SkyTrain open this long as they need to perform maintenance during the night… I think they could learn a thing or two from MTR Corperation.

Stockholm Central Station

 

Unlike the rest of the city, the transit is also very reasonably priced. Especially when you consider you’re getting more than four times the amount of possible travel distance for the same price as Vancouver. These ticket prices are enforced by turnstile gates. Similar gates are being installed at select SkyTrain stations this year.

I’ve failed to mention, due to lack of experience, Stockholm’s regional and intercity rail, as well as their blazing fast airport connecting transport – the Arlanda Express, which takes you from T-Centralen (Central Station) to Arlanda Airport (a 40 km journey) in just twenty minutes.

Lack of Availability

As I hinted earlier, Stockholm is very expensive. On a recent night out to a free concert downtown I was faced with $25 drinks. Across the street after the show we walked over to Burger King where even fast food is significantly more; yup no dollar menus here. But cost is not the only noticeable different. I didn’t notice how much selection we have in North America until I came to Europe.

Cereal is one example, this is easily explained, but sugared cereal (children’s cereal) is no where to be found. This is of course because Swedes are generally healthier and aren’t willing to add it to their diet. But my roommate and I were very surprised when he bought Kellogg’s Fruit Loops only to find the red and blue coloured loops removed from the box. It seems Kelloggs had actually changed their product to appeal to the Swedish market by making the cereal less vibrant / seem more healthy.

Shrimp flavored cheese. This brand also has a bacon cheese.

 

Design

After spending a summer here in 2011, I was heading back to North America via Iceland Air, an airline that connects mainland Europe to North America utilizing an airport in Reykjavik, Iceland. While transferring flights, I knew immediately I was at the right gate to Seattle, WA. Baggy blue jeans, over sized t-shirts and white sneakers everywhere.

Blockquote from local newspaper, “Friatidningen”

 

As I am by no means a ‘fashionista’ (nor would pretend to know what that even means), I will not judge and say one is better than the other, but the style difference is very noticeable.

Design doesn’t end with fashion, it’s just the beginning. Sweden, in general, is very well designed. From their newspapers to signage, IKEA to H&M, I’ve been continually impressed with their attention to detail and modern approach to typography. Being in this environment is well suited for a designer.

The Future

The end of this week marks the first day of fall and the cooler temperatures have already arrived. The sun has been setting earlier everyday for weeks now, and showers spot throughout¬† most breezy days. You’ll even find a few orange leaves already changing their colour.

I started a new job last week which I will continue throughout the winter. I also am planning to begin a short documentary film, which I will talk more about at the beginning of next month. And though its not a priority, I also am hoping to launch a comment system so I can get input directly on each post.