Continuing our travel series, we will share an exclusive interview with a Nigerian studying in Sweden.
Sweden is a country in Northern Europe. Our interviewee is Titilope Oladiran, studying for her master’s degree at Lund University, Sweden. Titilope owns a little space on the internet called Tee Books Review – the Instagram page is dedicated to book reviews and recommendations for your book collection.
How did you travel to Sweden?
I traveled from Nigeria to Sweden by air with Ethiopian Airlines, to be specific. I used my passport and student permit.
Your first impression when you entered Sweden
The very first impression is about how cold the country is. Despite wearing one big, oversized jacket, I felt really cold. Despite the cold, Sweden is a beautiful and peaceful country to behold.
Why did you choose to go to Sweden, and what is your purpose for going there?
I didn’t choose Sweden; it is more like Sweden chose me. I had applied to several schools in different countries for my master’s education. I got admission to Sweden and one other country. By rating, the school in Sweden was better than the other, so I decided to come to Sweden. My purpose for coming to Sweden is to get my Master’s degree.
Where did you spend your first night there?
I spent my first night in my corridor room. Before leaving Nigeria, I got a school accommodation and had my keys picked up for my arrival.
How is the food?
I am not big on food, and this is one of the areas I find really hard to integrate into. However, I have tried some foods that I like. Remembering the names is a big problem because they always have long Swedish names. I like the way restaurants prepare ‘Fisk’ (fish). I never liked fish before now, but they make it so crunchy and tasty. For snacks, I like Burger King’s chicken burger and milkshake and ‘Kanelbullar’ (Cinnamon Roll). And I like eating more vegetables now. I don’t like curry sauce in my food. I once tried it and didn’t like it.
How is your program going there?
My program is going well. It has been really good, though my first year was really challenging. I remember how I couldn’t hear a particular lecturer in my first year due to her accent. She taught me in my second year, but I can hear her better now.
How is the experience? Are you touring sites and places? Are you having fun?
I have toured some lovely places in Sweden, and the plan is to visit other European countries soon. I have been to Ven Island, Kullaberg, Copenhagen, Malmö Museer, and different beaches during the summer, of course. So far, I love going to these places, and I can’t wait to have more fun. I had my first hike last year.
What is the biggest difference in how people live there compared to Nigeria?
There are so many differences that I can’t even pick one. However, one thing is Nigeria is loud, and Sweden is quiet. Nigeria is lively and fun, while Sweden has been a bit boring for me.
How is the language barrier/your ability to communicate with the people?
It is easy to communicate because most Swedes speak both Swedish and English language. Communication has not really been difficult. However, most jobs require proficiency in the Swedish Language.
Do you work and study? If so, how and where, if not, why?
I study and also work part-time as a Content Administrator. I study at Lund University, and I work at Global Product Compliance (GPC), Lund.
What would you recommend other Nigerians/people to do when they are in Sweden?
There are a whole lot of recommendations to give out. However, the most important thing is to have a clear goal of what you are going to Sweden to do because there are many distractions. Having a clearly defined goal and plans to achieve them will keep you going even when the journey gets tough or overwhelming. It is also important that you are financially prepared for your stay.
What did you travel with that came in handy for you?
I traveled with African foods and spices, which all came in handy, some of which I am still using to date.
How much is your monthly living expenses?
My monthly living expense, including my accommodation, is around 5000 SEK (about ₦211,000). Sometimes, I spend more than that if I have a lot of expenses for that month.
What will you tell others planning a trip to Sweden to take along with them for convenience?
They should take foodstuffs with them. You cannot easily find things like dried fish, melon, dry pepper, locust beans, etc., here.
Was it easy to find and buy things you needed along the way?
Yes, finding things to buy has been easy for me. This is because I ask questions from people who have been in Sweden years before me.
Did you notice any cultural norms that would be helpful for someone to know before visiting?
Yes! Do not invade people’s space! It is important to know this. Also, do not shout when talking. I have noticed that some people can be so loud, which might be okay in Nigeria but not in Sweden.
Is there any cultural norms visitors should be wary of?
I can’t think of one right now.
What do you wish you knew before you started the journey?
I wish I knew how lonely and intensive a Master’s study would be for me –LOL.
Did you experience any frustrations on your trip, whether related to the destination itself or the actual traveling?
Yes, I had difficulty with the initial airline I booked my flight with. The airline (name withheld) denied me boarding, alongside some others. The reason is still unclear till today, and I see it as a misuse of power. I had to sleep at the airport and booked a new flight with another airline on the second day. I got my money back quickly because I had initially gotten a refundable ticket as if I knew this would happen.
Rather than spending two days on my trip to Sweden, I spent three days. On getting to Sweden, my luggage was missing. From Stockholm, I went to Lund without my luggage. I got my luggage some days after. The summary is the trip was frustrating and challenging.
What can people be aware of in order to hopefully avoid those frustrations?
I can’t be of much help here because I honestly don’t know why we were denied boarding till today. The airline gave several unacceptable excuses, some of which I can’t even remember.
What website services did you find the most helpful for planning/booking your trip?
I mostly used my school platform ‘Unibuddy’ where I chatted with current students and asked all my questions. From there, I connected with a Nigerian student, and from him, I got to know other Nigerians in Sweden.
What advice would you give someone going there for the first time?
To be prepared for the cold weather.
What was the most enjoyable or relaxing part of your stay?
My most enjoyable and relaxing time was during the summer. I worked during the summer and made sure I had fun since there was no school or study to worry about for three months. I planned trips and hangouts with my friends, and each trip was relaxing and fun in its unique way.
Did you go anywhere super beautiful where you felt like your photos just couldn’t do it justice?
Yes, Kullaberg is so beautiful. The view at the end of the hiking trail was definitely worth it. I took some pictures, but I know that the images do not reflect the beautiful scenery precisely.
Are you considering studying in Sweden? You can start by looking at the different study programs available on Study in Sweden website.