It was like yesterday when I wrote about my experience in Pune. A lot has changed over a span of 4 years. And now I’m writing another similar article with whole new experiences.
- The New Boy In Town – Pune (this is on my other site)
My first week in Stockholm – Difficult.
My first week was like Alice in Wonderland. It was like an alien world. Everything was different – it’s like everything has been upgraded. Suddenly coming out of the chaos and into a well organised world where everything works in an orderly fashion. A well-written algorithm.
I don’t know how to put this. Let me try anyway…
One important thing to keep in mind before you proceed – Please don’t take any of it as a complaint. I’m totally okay with it all. I understand that I’m in their home and it’s me who is different and not the place. I’m just trying to express the experiences and difficulties that I faced here in my first week.
I had one hell of an experience while travelling to Sweden. If you wish to read about my travel experience in COVID times then follow the link below:
Home Sweet Home
I was so tired after a long-long flight. It was a 2-hour flight first from my home to Delhi and then a 19-hour flight from Delhi to Paris (click here to read about my disastrous experience), then after a 5-hour layover again 3-hour flight from Paris to Stockholm and then a half-hour cab (this experience was really good, I drove in a Tesla Model X).
Anyway… after reaching my destination, all I wanted to do was – Relax. And that’s what I did.
The apartment was quite impressive.
Let me give you a quick look of it. BTW I plan to write a detailed post on the apartments in Stockholm and how expensive they are. Wow, I have so much to share 🙂
This was my temporary stay. The balcony was the best part.
There is a small garden in the backyard filled with trees and bushes, with a light cold breeze touching my face. It feels so good. I use to make some tea and just sit there. Sometimes I use to read the book, sometimes talk with my family and friends and sometimes just sit there for a while. It was soothing :). I will definitely miss that part.
Another amazing thing about the apartment is its location. It is right in the city centre but still away from it. I mean, it’s not too out there neither far from it. Feels peaceful. The grocery store is just 100m away, I go there pretty often.
I don’t want to talk a lot about the apartment here because I will write another article dedicated to it entirely. But yeah… it was quite good 🙂
Let’s talk about some of the common stuff now.
Let’s start with the LANGUAGE
I read on the Internet that everyone speaks English here… but that is just limited to the IT people. The locals talk Swedish (this has been my experience so far). There is a language barrier. And this barrier is not just limited to people. Everything ranging from the product labels in grocery stores, checkout counters and boards is all written in Swedish.
Make sure you’ve installed Google lens on your device. And don’t forget to download the offline translations in it. And if you are using an iPhone, the same applies to you.
Google is your only friend in such times. Sure you can ask for help in the store but chances are they only understand Swedish. Actually, I had this experience.
I was in the grocery store (I will talk more about the grocery stores here below) and looking for the Butter.
I entered a big grocery store and had no idea. So I asked – Excuse me… where can I find the butter (I usually try to keep it short and precise). The other person didn’t understand a word. But he was very patient with me (I really liked his intent on helping me).
At this point, I took out the translator and translated the word.
I showed this to him…
Smor doesn’t resemble butter in any way. It’s totally different.
After this… he guided me (with very little speech and some really good gestures) – “The the butter is at the back side towards the end of the store”. Amazing… that was excellent guidance. It was perhaps at the other end of the store and in the last refrigerator.
And without his directions, it would have taken me very long to reach to that place.
Just imagine… thousands of products and you need to find a small 500gm packet with Smör written on it. Well, it had “Bregott” written over it. And I had no idea 🤷♂️. Is it Smör or Bregott 🤔
Finding The Grocery Store
This one’s funny.
When I came to my apartment, I had everything. A nice cosy bed, wonderful kitchen with all the utilities and stuff. But I didn’t have the food. It was evening, and I already had a lot at the airport and on the plane as well, so I thought – I’ll buy grocery the next day.
I also wanted to take a quick look of the city as well.
The next day I got up, took a nice long bath and went for a walk around the city. I thought of walking like 2km and then buy grocery and come back. But I didn’t know that most of the grocery stores open after 11 here 😆 (on weekends). When I was out strolling, I opened google maps and searched for grocery stores near me – And Oriental popped up. It was close to where I was at that point and I thought – okay… let’s try this one.
Now this is how it looks in the google image
And I went round and round the block to find something that looks like this as shown in the image. I even tried opening a door which was locked. I was pressing and pulling on the door like a nut job. And a lady standing near by was looking at me with a weird smile on her face – What the hell is he trying to do?
OMG… I’ve never been so dumb stuck in my entire life before.
After struggling for some time, I took out the phone and searched for the place again (this time with more patience). And then I found one image that shows the outside of the store. And it looks like this,
Light Bulb moment💡
I had to go inside through that big automatic door, then walk 50 meters and there… I found it.
The system was not very different – you go in, pick whatever you want and checkout.
But… the food items were completely different. Not just different, in different language as well. I had to carry google lens translator all the time whenever I went for shopping. On top of that there are certain things that I/we/you won’t eat and it’s important to read about the contents of that food before buying it.
And everything is written in different language, so it kind of difficult. And a 15 minute shopping stretches to 1 hour.
My first shopping experience was full of – What the hell? What is that? Should I buy it? What’s that? Oh crap? I don’t eat beef? I’m going to bed empty stomach today… and a lot more in similar lines. I was in the all Chinese store in the middle of Stockholm (lol). I was so lost. But… by the grace of God, I did found something in the store that I thought I can eat. And I was right. I bought instant cook noodles and some sweet puffs and some more noodles.
My first experience was daunting.
BTW… this is what I had that day.
But grocery shopping is something that comes quickly. At least it did to me. The second time went pretty well.
After coming back home, I read a few articles and gathered knowledge about the grocery stores. Actually my agent gave me every possible manual/guide on Stockholm, but I’m not the one who reads manuals. I experience everything first hand. But that moment I was hoping that I would have read all about it before. But now when I think – if I would have read about it already, I wouldn’t have had such an experience.
So, next time I went to COOP. This time I was prepared. I was prepared to spend time inside the grocery.
And that’s what I did. I took my time in the grocery store without being weird (well how much more weird can it get).
I checked every shelf using Google lens translator. And finally got everything I wanted. I was just looking for fibre and protein rich food.
Aaahaaa… another idea. I’ll create a list of basic food that you can cook easily and where you can get it. I will write another article on that one (probably with images).
So, that’s how I did the grocery. I actually enjoyed it 🙂
First Day At The Office
Not here… I will dedicate another article to it.
Not much different.
I never felt like an outsider while walking the streets. It was pretty normal. Everyone was in their own bubble.
I think this has to do with the diversity in the country.
There are people of all race and creed walking on the road. You would never feel like an outsider in this city. And once you learn basic Swedish, you would never leave this place 🙂
I had a few instances where people have been really helpful. I have already told you about the one that happened at the grocery store.
The policemen helped me find the right bus stop
The other incident happened when I was looking for the right bus stop. I asked the police officer nearby. Turns out he didn’t know about it either. But he didn’t give up… he made it his mission to help me. He walked to the people standing there and inquired about it. Checked with his colleague and then came back to me and guided me step-by-step to reach the destination.
It was really impressive. Kudos to that.
A civilian taught me to look for the right bus
Then there was another incident. I was at the bus stand but I didn’t know if that is the right one. So, I asked a lady sitting there whether this is the right stand or not. Instead of just saying yes or no. She stood up, took me to the chart and taught me how to see and understand it. Also, she gave me a tip – always match the routes that are shown on the Google map. Because sometimes there are bus stands next to each other and you could very easily pick the wrong bus and go to the other direction. Or sometimes Google messes up.
It has happened to me here. I went the other way then I had to come all the way back.
The point being – people here are very helpful. If you ask for help, you will get it.
No Preoblemo or Inga problem.
Stylish – Probably the best in the world
People have a fantastic dress sense here. They walk on the streets like fashion icons. I just admire the way they carry themselves.
At some point I couldn’t even take my eyes away from them. So cool, effortless and fluid.
After all they have the H&M.
There is only one corporation that holds the responsibility of the entire transportation system here – ranging from bus, trams, subways to railways. Everything is owned and operated by SL.
The transportation is awesome. I’m comparing it with India.
There are two reasons for it –
- Less Population
- Managed by a Single Corporation
The system is pretty straightforward. You go to the subway, ask the officer for a single ticket, swipe the card and pass through.
Now the ticket is valid for 70 minutes.
That means, you can travel anywhere via any medium for 70 minutes. You won’t have to buy another ticket. This was confusing to me for the first time. As we buy ticket for the journey. But here you buy ticket for a given time.
Let me explain it to you with an example.
Let’s say I have to go to someplace and come back in 70 minutes.
Then I would just buy the ticket once. With that ticket, I can travel on the bus, tram or subway. No one is going to ask me to buy a new ticket. But once the 70 minutes are over, I will have to buy another ticket. Whereas in India, you have to buy a separate ticket for each journey.
So, if you plan your travel well, it might save you some bucks. And this is possible here because everything is operated by the same corporation.
Then there is SL card. SL cards are like ordinary NFC cards which you can recharge with money. This way you won’t have to buy the ticket every-time. You just tap the card and you go. And there are many different offers as well. For ex – recharge with 1000 SEK and travel anywhere in Stockholm for a month. I will write more about this in the coming articles.
I’m yet to buy a card, but I asked for a temporary card in my office and they had one. They gave it to me. I got lucky, usually temporary cards are not available.
Great. I want to talk more about it but I will save it for another post. This article is just to give you a glance into my first week in Stockholm and what all I did.
I travelled via all mediums (well except trams…. and… ferry… and a lot more which I don’t even know about at this point)
What Would You Like To Know More About?
If you want to know about anything or interested in anything then please do comment below. I will keep adding more to this article, but for now… ab bas hogaya yaar.
I have a lot of things to share with you all… which I will do in my upcoming posts.
So, keep posting and don’t forget to like and subscribe.
Jais Taneja says
Nice blog Varun… I must say, It was very interactive blog and I felt like I was talking to you one to one.
Varun Shrivastava says
Thanks a lot Jais 😊
Let me know what you would like to read next 😃
Lavish Yadav says
Amazing blog, waiting for the next one 🙂
Varun Shrivastava says
Thanks, Lavish 😊
If you have any preference for the next one then let me know.