Surviving the Swedish winter

​Even in the darkness, there is always a light to be found. Make the best of the season with these winter survival tips from our student ambassador Teanette.
Picture of Chalmers Campus during Winter

It’s the beginning of November: the last of the autumn leaves are holding tenuously to their branches, gloves and scarves are making their appearance, and it’s getting harder to wake up each morning. Winter is Coming. Having already survived one winter in Gothenburg, I can tell you that the rumours are true – they are cold, they are dark, and they can be quite depressing. However, even in the Swedish winter, there is always a light to be found. This is how I made the best of my winter at Chalmers.

Light up the way
One of the biggest dangers of winter is feeling isolated. This was particularly true during the pandemic times - when the temperature dropped and classes were online, it was almost too tempting to just stay inside your apartment the entire day. The most important advice I have is to get up and get out! Only when I did this, did I realise that winter offers a unique way to build connections: lights. It’s very typical to see cheerful light decorations or candles all over Chalmers and Gothenburg in winter, in public spaces and in personal residences. There’s a special solidarity in putting up these lights – a sign that, regardless of who you are or where you come from, we can stand together as humans to lighten even the darkest of times. It inspired me to put up my own light decorations. I spent many an afternoon with a cup of coffee admiring the twinkling of lights in the distance, imagining that they were signals to communicate that, despite the darkness, we persevere.

Eat right (Eat light)
Most of my international student friends agree: it’s not the cold of the Swedish winter that gets you down, but the dark. Humans need sunlight to function, not just on a psychological level, but a physical one. One way to strengthen your body during this dark season is to eat right (eat light!) Get yourself some vitamin D and make sure to take it! There is some debate on when it is most beneficial to start taking these vitamins, with one school of thought encouraging people to start a couple of months before winter, and another arguing that your body cannot build up a storage of these nutrients anyway. What I personally found to work is to get a good multivitamin that you can take all year round, while possibly supplementing it with a stronger vitamin D dosage in the winter. That being said, sunlight remains the best source of vitamin D for your body, so make sure to enjoy those sunshine rays as often as you can!

Sleep right
One of the biggest challenges I faced during winter was establishing a constant sleep cycle. Specifically, I struggled to wake up in the mornings while it was still dark. It turns out, it’s immensely important for our circadian rhythm to be exposed to the right amount of light at the right times. I know some of my friends invested in special lamps that produce the same light spectrum as the sun. These can help wake you up in the morning and provide you with an energy boost when it counts. 
On the other hand, it’s also important to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Last winter I found myself staying up later and later watching Netflix series or scrolling on social media – it was so easy to snuggle up in my nice warm bed and just relax with my devices. However, exposing yourself to electronic screens close before bedtime makes it much harder to fall asleep. Cuddle up with a good book and a warm cup of tea instead!
Another factor that plays an essential role in your sleep cycle is getting enough exercise during the day. I know, I know, it’s hard to exercise when it’s cold... but it is important! Luckily there are a bunch of indoor sport facilities at Chalmers, like the climbing gym (Klätterlabbet), the sport hall, or Fysiken gym, which makes it a bit easier to be motivated. And you can book a spot at our very own sauna in the student union building after you exercise – another cherished (and highly recommended) Swedish tradition.  

Picture of lightshow on trees Dress right
As anybody who has spent any amount of time in Sweden will tell you: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” Initially I wasn’t too worried about having the right clothing, because I thought that I could stay inside (where it is always cosy and warm) on cold days. However, if this is your mindset, you are missing out on everything that winter has to offer! Take a look at what the Swedish people do, and you will realise that they never let a bit of cold or rain deter them from being outdoors. And winter as a season has so much to offer in terms of stark aesthetic beauty and unique experiences. My friends and I took a trip to the archipelagos last year in the snow, and it was one of my most cherished winter memories – from seeing the frozen beaches, to being able to play in fields of undisturbed snow, to enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate on the ferry on the way back. Plus, the student events at Chalmers certainly don’t stop because of the winter season. So go peruse those second-hand stores, and don’t let a lack of winter clothing make you miss out on an unforgettable winter adventure!

With the right mindset and preparation, the Swedish winter can be a very enjoyable and rewarding season – a time for reflection, beauty, and the opportunity to build unique connections. So light a candle, grab a warm cup of coffee, and enjoy your winter wonderland adventure!

Picture of Teanette

Author: Teanette

Page manager Published: Mon 01 Nov 2021.