FOR the international PhD

For international PhD students, you’ve just started on a new, exciting journey in a new, terrifying country (well, maybe not that terrifying…). Here are some things that might help you settle into your new life here!

A great start could be reading Young Academy of Sweden’s A Beginner’s Guide to Swedish Academia, and then continuing with the tabs below.

“Fika” is the first word you need to learn in Swedish. Fika usually takes part sometime between 8 and 10 a.m and 2 and 3 p.m. where you sit down with your colleges, have a coffee or tea (or something else, and maybe something small to eat) and talk. Sometimes about things outside work, sometimes it is academic discussions at a high level. 

If you can’t join every time it is OK, but to say no every time is not in your favour and is nearly considered rude. Unlike most of the world, in Sweden you don’t get credit for working ALL the time 🙂

Sweden has a strong cultural identity and here are some basic dos and don’ts:


  • Take of your shoes and place them inside the front door if you get invited home to someone. If you feel naked in socks, bring a pair of indoor shoes.
  • Take part in fika when you have time.
  • Drink the water from the tap, it is safe. No need to buy in bottles.
  • Throw the toilet paper in the toilet, not in the bin. Our pipes can handle it (but ONLY toilet paper, not other paper). And if you have done number two, erase the remains with the brush.



  • Ask anyone what their salary is. It is considered rude. (Although we could do with more salary tranparency…)
  • Ask anyone about their religious faith. Sweden is the most secular country in the world. On paper most people are Christians, but most just go to church for weddings and funerals. 


For more cultural insight, get Matthias Kamann’s book “How to be Swedish: A Quick Guide to Swedishness – in 55 Steps” from the library or buy your own copy at the Student Union.

How to be Swedish: A Quick Guide to Swedishness – in 55 Steps by former LNU exchange student Matthias Kamann really lets you go native and blend in with the Swedes. The perfect gift for anyone wanting to learn about our odd ways and weird traditions! Price for members: 130 SEK (non-members: 170 SEK)

As an international PhD, you will probably want to join our Buddy program to get matched with a local student who can show you around and perhaps help with practial matters. Read more and apply!

Friend Family Kronoberg bescribe themselves as: 

“…a nonprofit organization with the purpose of connecting Swedish families and international students. The students get to know more about Swedish everyday life and the families get to know more about the world outside Sweden. Lifelong relations and friendships have been created over the years and a large number of students and families keep visiting one another across the world. It´s free, there are no obligations – just enjoy and have fun.”  From  

Why not contact them and join?

Healthcare and mental healthcare

In Sweden we have both public and private healthcare of good quality. There are different levels of care:

  • In cace of emergency go to the emergency department at the hospital. If you need ambulance call 112. (Same number for police, fire department and ambulance).
  • If you can wait till the next working day call your medical center (vårdcentral). If you need medical advise no matter day or time call 1177.

We recommend that you create an account at the public healthcare platform where you can keep track of all your details. At the bottom of the page you can change language.

Student Welfare Office
If you feel stressed, depressed, anxious, have relationship problems or are going through a crisis the Student Welfare Office is there for you. They work with well-being and is available in both Kalmar and Växjö for all student, including PhD students. They believe in early intervention, high availability, low thresholds and can be a great first contact if you are not well. Find out more about what they offer, or book a consultation!  

The Student Welfare Office also offer courses, group activities in Kalmar and Växjö as well as online lectures and sessions related to mindfulness, yoga, stress management and more.

Dental healthcare
Sweden has both public and private dental healthcare. Get in touch with public heathcare through and simply use Google to find private dentists. The Swedish word for dentist is “tandläkare“.