8 Tips to Survive the Darkness This Winter

Hej! My name is Anna Hentunen. I am a second year master’s student in the program International and Comparative Education. I was born in Helsinki, Finland. I enjoy hosting parties for family and friends, going to the gym and listening to Christmas songs year-round 

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I moved to Stockholm over a year ago. I did not come from far, though. I am originally from Helsinki, Finland. Moving to the “south” has been great. I get to go on more cruises, the warm Gulf Stream reaches Sweden way better than Finland and my sense of style has improved with the increasing peer pressure from trendy Swedish youth. Despite all of this, one lurking thing has not changed. The darkness. 

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Every winter, I am struck with SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. I notice myself feeling more dispirited and lazy. All I want to do is stay in bed and my consumption of Nutella goes through the roof. 

After years of perfecting them, I have found helpful ways to endure the gloomy season. Here are my tips to survive this winter!

1. Wake up earlier

At the start of my studies, I was a big night owl and preferred sleeping in. Now I try and optimize the time I have with the sun and like to get up at dawn, even on my days off!

2. Do the hard stuff in the morning

I have more energy when it is light outside. I try and get the hardest tasks of the day done first thing in the morning. I can watch movies guilt-free in the evening.

3. Get creative with lighting

Candles, fairy lights, disco balls – make the darkness your friend and test out new ways to bring in light. You can also purchase a daylight bright lamp, which comes highly recommended. It can help you wake up in the morning and focus while studying.

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4. Get moving

From improved mood to less achiness over all, getting some type of exercise in is always a good idea. 

5. Embrace the “no-effort look”

While it is dark outside, even the Swedish youth won’t be able to spot you. I wear my most impressive lazy outfits in the wintertime. 

6. Eat well and supplement

I have noticed a significant improvement in mood when I consume a vitamin D supplement. I have also noticed a significant improvement in mood when I consume chocolate. Both are acceptable ways to fight back. 

 7. Make an effort to meet others

Leaving the house becomes much harder when it is dark and cold outside. Make plans ahead of time to meet friends and stick to your commitments. Stockholm has a great variety of cozy cafés and bars.  

8. Use a reflector

It is a cheap life insurance, and so helpful to drivers.

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I hope these tips help you and will spark some inspiration. Stay safe this winter!

Cheers,

Anna

Mid Semester Blues: 3 Steps to survive til the end

Oh. Hej reader!

I’m Valerija Denaityte, a mixed bag of culture from the Netherlands and now pursuing an MA in Global Media Studies here at Stockholm University. During my undergrad, I kind of had my shit together most of the time - I kept a neat bullet journal and colour coded calendar, and I was generally aware of all my deadlines for both university and my journalistic endeavours. And then I finished my degree and all that flew out the window. It’s just past the middle of the semester for me, and probably for you too. I’m exhausted but we all have to finish this sem, right? So let’s go on a journey together. A journey that will hopefully end with us both having an overview of the plethora of things happening in our busy lives.

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FIND SOME WAY TO ORGANISE

Sounds kinda boring, doesn’t it? The simple act of just putting your stuff where it needs to be can be quite liberating. Or it cannot, because some creative souls really push the limits of ‘creative messes’. So, find what works. Not just for all the garb in your living space, but also for all the things going on in your life. Right now, it isn’t much for me: I study, I mess around as an ambassador, and I will occasionally schedule in time for laundry and groceries because adult life is that exciting. Different things work for different people. I used to be obsessed with bullet journaling but have since found that I just am too lazy, so I shove everything into distinctly coloured calendars in Google, et voilà! I totally didn’t miss the deadline for this blog either.

How did this person do this? Do they schedule time to pee every day?

How did this person do this? Do they schedule time to pee every day?

KNOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT

Now, I’m not necessarily talking about deadlines - those are important. Please finish your papers and go to your exams. But I’m not here to tell you to do your work in a meticulous manner if you, for a lack of better word, find other things more important. Realise that there’s only so much you can do in a day. It’s easy in university to feel like you’re always behind, and I’m feeling that way right now. In the end, however, you will manage to reach those deadlines no matter what. If spending time reading every day and having a fun weekend is your ideal structure, go for it! Everyone chooses their university experience on their own. You’re here to study, yes, to get degrees or learn something that will serve you well - but sometimes it’s those moments you take off to do other things thatreallyshape up who you will be someday. God, I’m getting all sentimental aren’t I?

These gals from my old university volleyball club were always a priority.

These gals from my old university volleyball club were always a priority.

FILL YOUR DAYS

This is going to sound boring, but do roughly the same things every day, or at least on set days every week: go to class, to the gym, to the supermarket, to see your friends. Fill your days equally with important things like university and other work things, and then add sprinkles of the things that help you wind down. You could hang out with friends, or if you’re like me, you cradle a bag of cookies from your mum’s care package in your arms and watch someone play Red Dead Redemption 2 on Twitch. But sometimes, fill your day with nothing, and take a moment to yourself. Or don’t. I’m really not the boss of you, just a well-meaning Samaritan who likes to write about things.

Me, on my way to steal your girl.

Me, on my way to steal your girl.

TAKE CARE

Read the things I said here and take them to heart, or don’t. Do whatever feels right for you. I’m just here to let you know that there are things that can help, but if you’re still stuck in your rebellious teenage phase and refuse to listen to the words of a wise Jedi, that’s up to you! We’re reaching a low point in the semester. Christmas is in sight and even I am feeling it, and I don’t likeChristmas. So here’s what I want you to know: pull through, my padawans. If you’ve already done it, if this is your first time - it’s all cool. We’re all kind of unsure of what we’re doing anyway, so we’re in it together. If you feel like it’s all becoming much, there’s no shame in taking a moment to yourself. Step back. Breathe in and out. Continue when you no longer feel heavy.

This has been a brief lil message from me. I’m sure you can do it. I sure hope that I can do it too. Catch you on the flip side. (The flip side is next semester, during which you all should join the amazing ambassador team!)

 

Kisses and hugs from an agony aunt,

Valerija

Board Games in Stockholm

Hello there!

My name is Guillem, and I am a first-year master student at Stockholm University. Since I moved to Sweden I have realized that the weather and temperature differ enormously from the one I am used to (in our warm Catalan coast by our lovely Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona): it is hard to find energy enough to practice outdoor sports or even go for a morning walk (at least for someone who is not used to temperature dropping below 10º).

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But where some see tragedy, I see opportunity! And the fact is that it is not hard to understand why the cold weather should not prevent you from doing some social life when the key word appears: board games.

Since I was little, I have been in love with card, board and roleplaying games, and so have many other people. Now that the winter is harsh, and one wishes to stay indoors, it is the best moment to let the geek in you come to the surface!

Stockholm is a great city to play board games. Most Swedes I have met are pretty likely to join you for a board game if you ask them, especially for simple board games like Carcassoneor classic party card games like Cards Against Humanity. You will probably meet some Swedes who are also interested in more complex games: even if it is said that Swedish people are cold and not really friendly you may find yourself surrounded by others with similar hobbies in some Swede’s apartment playing board games while enjoying some tea during a cold and dark November evening.

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So you did not bring your games to Sweden?

There are also several places where one can buy card, board and roleplaying games in case your luggage was to tightly packed. Some of them are also a great way to meet more gamers and to play with them! If you want to check some board games, books or anything of a geeky nature, I would suggest the Science Fiction bookstore and the Dragon’s Liar.

  • At the Dragon’s Lair (either at Kungsholmstorg 8 or Sveavägen 118) you can buy some card, board and roleplaying games, and even to join their events. Those are usually card tournaments, though some board game nights are also planned0

  •  At the Science Fiction bookstore in Gamla Stan (Västerlånggatan 48), you will not only find science fiction books, but also fantastic literature, manga, comic books, board games, role playing games, card games and anything you could dream of. If you are bored and have nothing to do, give it a chance as a nice place to spend your afternoon! 

But if you already have your board games, or do not want to buy any, you can simply join gaming events:

  •   If you are searching for a calm evening with short boardgames, then the Dice Café is your option. For 50KR you can go to this café, located at Polhemsgatan 21, and play until 10 PM days (it is still smart to check the closing hour beforehand). You will be able to find more than 200 board games there, and there is always enough people to fill your game!

  •  If you are around university on a Tuesday, Speleriet is a great organization that holds board, roleplaying, card, miniature and digital game sessions every Tuesday from at 16.00. If you do not know what to do, remember that everyone is welcome at Green Villa, in the Frescati Campus; where a huge offer of games and lots of nice people will surely make you want to repeat.

  •  Last, but not least, you can use Spelkartan (https://spelkartan.se/discover) to access a map with lots of gaming associations, from board to videogames. For most of them, you can simply walk to their office and ask to join! There are plenty of associations, for all “tastes and colours” (as we say in Spanish). If you cannot find it there, then it probably does not exist!

Those are, of course, not the only options. But remember: if you like board games and you are in Sweden, you have no excuse no to play them as much as you want!


Best,

Guillem

What to do in Stockholm during the Autumn season

Hi!

My name is Sarah Samarra’e, a 2nd year master student, studing computer and system sciences at Stockholm University. Love to spend my time discovering things, new experiences and new tech trends!

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Well, I wish someone had given me a list few years ago until I discovered it, if you are a newbie to this city you might feel lonely during this season after a nice summer, during this season the sun won’t be there all the time. Also, as an expat, you can notice the Swedish people in the street are not seem sad or being inactive, unlike you, because they are already busy by engaging themselves in a lot of stuff during this season, here is a list so you can keep the vibes up.

Before we go through the list, take in consideration that the period between September and November is the most active period in the Swedish life cycle, many changes happen to so many people, at this time of the year the academic year start for universities and schools, and all the organizations and company around start recruiting and have new people into their teams, so my advice to you is to take advantage of the period to grow your career and self while enjoying the Swedish autumn, and here is a suggested list of what to do for fun during this season:

  1. Before you start planning where to go: have a look at any street and notice the colorful trees and how lovely their colors become, its a color bomb out there, something mix between very red trees and so yellow trees and strong orange ones. Not all the countries in the world are enjoying this colourfull painting during their autumn, so pick a sunny day from your calendar and give it a walk along the city, suggested places to walk is Djurgården and Hagaparken.

2. Stockholm International film festival: This year starts on 7 November and ends on 18 November, where you can watch 200 different films from 60 different countries. You can get your free ticket through the student union of Stockholm University, just pass by and ask how.

3. Mushrooms picking: Here try to be a real Swede by following the Swedish fall culture by picking fresh mushrooms from the forest, the famous one at the period is the chanterelles. My advice to you is to bring some friends with you, everybody will love the idea since it's so popular to do this activity, suggested places is Gärdet and also so many parks and forests where you can find it.

4. Sthlm Tech Week: this year have been a week, not just two days, it already happened in September so keep your eye on it next September and mark it into your calendar, here you can get the most inspirable experience, you are going to listen to many motivated successful speakers who are entrepreneurs from many different industries, making a network with the audience where you can find the most bright people when you can’t find them somewhere else in the world, and yes so many people are flying around the globe just to join this experience for one week. You can join it either by being an attendee or a volunteer, because they need a huge number of volunteers each year, try to find the volunttering link on each tech exhabition of the Tech week and enjoy unforgettable experience. One more thing, there is a tech meetup each single month and you can attend it for free called Sthlm Tech meetup, so if you are a business, or economy, legal student, social science, bio, or an IT or any field and you want to know how Stockholm Tech community is beating the Silicon Valley so jump in.

5. Cruising around Stockholm: cruising around is one of the most important activities to do if you are living in Sweden, you can’t imagine how much beautiful Stockholm is from the water sight. One nice thing this year is you can use your SL-30 day-90 days-annual ticket type to cruise with waxholmsbolaget.se for free! And its valid from 3 Sep until 9 December, means they are covering the autumn period. This trip will take you to the archipelago, so don’t miss discovering the most beautiful side of Sweden.

Have a nice time exploring Stockholm in autumn time!

/Sarah

How I Balance My Vegan Diet

Hi!

My name is Dia. I’m a 3rd-year Business Administration and Political Science student, and also, a nutrition-enthusiast.

1,5 years ago I went vegan for 1 week for purely environmental reasons - I was simply curious what it felt like and whether I could actually do it.

With the amount of long-distance running I was doing at the time - 1-2 half marathons a week - I thought it might be challenging to keep up with living on plants. But it felt amazing!

So then I started researching... and I soon found myself reading nutrition-related research papers and watching videos from several doctors every spare minute of my time.

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Are you thinking of giving veganism a try?

Do you tend to be ‘unsatisfied’ and ‘get hungry’ soon after a vegan meal?

Well, in a nutshell, here’s what I learned from all of my science-based approach to plant-based eating.

  1. Focus on whole plant foods

Try to eat as many unprocessed plant-based foods as possible. This means incorporating legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), whole grains (wheat, oats, rye), dark leafy greens (kale, arugula, spinach), other vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds into your daily dishes. A mix of legumes and whole grains in addition to your vegetables, nuts and fruit will keep you satiated for long periods of time.

2. Eat a lot more in volume

Compared to meat-based or vegetarian diets, a whole food plant-based diet consists mainly of low-caloric foods - except for nuts and seeds. Therefore, you want to make sure that you are actually eating enough calories when assembling your dishes. Don’t be intimidated by giant-looking salads - they’re really mostly just water, so you have to add beans, grains and perhaps a spoon or two of some nut butter to turn it into an actual meal!

3. Take vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 plays a crucial part in keeping our nervous-system well-functioning. It is made by microbes covering the Earth and for vegans, the easiest sources of it are either fortified foods or pills. I personally take a pill of 2500 mcg of B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin once a week. This dose and form have been approved by several doctors, but for more information I can recommend this website: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/vitamin-b12/

4. Get enough water

Going vegan all of a sudden from a standard diet might cause bloating at first. Getting enough water can seriously do all the magic you need though. It will help you digest the larger amounts of fiber that your body may not be used to. Perhaps a gradual shift to plant-based eating is a safer way. However, I went vegan overnight and I didn’t feel the need to slow the process due to bloating.

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I truly hope that you find these thoughts helpful, and maybe even inspiring to give plants a try!

Some of the most educational pieces of advice that I personally discovered were on this website: https://nutritionfacts.org

Here you will find the latest nutrition-related research results translated into easily understandable and short videos by a group of physicians and doctors who accept no corporate sponsorship and don’t advertise anything.

Enjoy the process!

Best,

Dia



Lapland trip: what to expect

Lapland trip: what to expect

International Student Coordinator Monika Lionaite about Lapland trip:

Have you ever wondered how Lapland looks/feels/tastes like? It’s stunning, exciting and tastes like reindeer (or lichen/mushroom if you’re vegetarian). However, if you’re up for a real mind-blowing one-week adventure, you should definitely include Lapland on your trip-list!