My EVS time had exceeded all my expectations. It was an unforgettable journey that taught me many things. I met many incredible people that I am very grateful to.
I thought to write here something that has been a part of my experience and I thought would be helpful for those going on EVS in Sweden or even other countries. Some of these things you will hear during your stay in Sweden or read on the internet. Still, I want to reinforce and emphasise them or maybe clarify some in a better way. Many of them are those things that are, of course, easier said than done, but I believe if people would actually follow them it would make their experience much better, instead of just reading and thinking it is simple and obvious and unnecessary things that will not make much difference. At least for me, these things did help in various ways, which you can understand from reading further.
Some Advices For Doing Your EVS In Sweden
First and foremost, trust yourself and in yourself! It is common to have irrational feeling of fear or discomfort when starting something new that you have not done yet. That is understandable and probably common for all. The main thing is to tame this feelings and trust in yourself that you will figure out everything coming your way.
Have clear and reasonable goals, think realistically and in advance what you want to do with the year and start to do these things as soon as possible because the year will go pretty fast and you may end up not have time for these things in the end. If you have some things you would like to do, try to not just dream about them throughout the year but check them out right away when you get the idea if it is doable. It would help to discard the things that you cannot do just now and plan to make the realistic dreams come true. To make it more understandable I’ll illustrate it with the example: I keep hearing from many for a long time that they would like to see the northern lights. But instead of checking the best times and places to see them and try to plan the trip, they just keep dreaming and talking about it, hence, often loose the chance to see the lights themselves.
I recommend to learn some Swedish before or early during your stay in Sweden, even if you are not planning to learn Swedish fully. Knowing even a few phrases in Swedish will make you feel more confident and understood as well as understand others better. It shows that you are trying to know better the local culture and people, which is greatly appreciated anywhere.
How To Get To Know Sweden And The Swedes
Do not be afraid to go on events even if you don’t know anyone there. There are plenty of them even in middle/small size towns. For example, language cafes at the libraries, other events at the university or different locations throughout the city. Maybe you can even organize an event yourself and attract people that share your interests.
Be open and do not be afraid to take the first step in making connections. I have used Couchsurfing to write locals that I will be living in the area now and would like to make new friends. Then I actually became quite good acquittances with a few people and have been hanging out with them from time to time.
There will be plenty of occasions to participate in Swedish traditions so do not neglect them. It is fun, eye opening on many things and important for people in the society where you now live.
Don’t Be Late!
Not to sound boring but pay attention to the transport’s schedule because it can be pretty early that the buses/trains stop going. It is not fun to be stuck in another city and having troubles to make it home at night. Also, often if you miss the bus/train if will make you be late because of the interval between the transport. This leads me to my next point.
Be on time! Yes, this is said probably in every advice list about Sweden, but people are pretty relax about it. While in most cases, unless you are going to a highly important meeting, the sky will not come down if you are 10-15 min late and many people will let you get away with it because you are a foreigner. But!!! it is unprofessional, disrespectful and just annoying to others in many cases. So, pay extra attention to that even if in your home county it is ok to be slightly late or you see that other people around you do it anyways.
The Swedish Fika
You will hear about fika a lot. And I mean a lot! At first I as many thought that fika is just a fun sweet break during the day. Soon I have learnt that beside being a nice snack and a break to talk to the colleagues it is also sort of a necessity because some people just need their cup of coffee break. I feel that it would be good if you would be proactive and nice and make sure that there is always some fresh coffee at work even if you don’t drink any. Or if you invite someone to hang out to your place. No, am not joking about it, I really felt it should be taken care of.
If you feel that your EVS is not going too well, try to talk to someone, try new activities and re-evaluate your goals. From my experience, people are open give you support and it would be a shame if you do not try to turn things around, letting yourself be upset.
Don’t forget to enjoy the good weather when it is one because it is not always that way.