Random Tips for Newcomers to Sweden

Hej hej, jag heter Amanda. And hey to anyone who stumbles upon this blog. I have been meaning to find a useful place to list some of the things I have learned after moving from Vancouver, Canada to Stockholm in September 2009. This is my first post…and just what the title says, random information. Come back again as I develop this blog.

Enroll with SFI (Svenska for Invandrare – or Swedish for free)

As soon as you have a personnummer (which you get from Skatteveket), I highly recommend you enroll with the free Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) classes. It saved my life in more ways than one… blogs to follow at a later date! There are a few things that are inconvenient about trying to get enrolled..

  • Very little information is in English, but if you go to the above website, you can easily use Google Translate to figure some of it out.
  • If you live in Stockholm, you need to visit the SFI offices in person to go through an informal test that evaluates where you can be placed in the system – based on where you live, your education level, and current language skills.

Get a Library Card (Bibliotekkort): Swedish start page or English start page

As soon as you have somewhere to live, and you have a piece of paper with your address on it, join your local library, and/or the main library near Rådmansgaten tunnelbana (subway). Most libraries have some English books and DVDs you can take out for free, and when you first move here, saving money and staying sane is important.

Meet People: Volunteer

No matter the reason you have found yourself in Stockholm, you probably don’t know many people. The concept of volunteering is relatively new in Sweden, but there are places you can go.

I chose something that I had done in Vancouver, which was walking homeless dogs. There are lots of other organizations, but here is the link to Hundstallet to start you off.

Suck it up – Register with Arbetsförmedlingen

Yes, the Local job postings are an excellent start. But I learned a lot about looking for a job in Canada and you can pretty much apply the same principles to job searches in Sweden. I do know what I am doing. I got a job.

Everyone told me that you will never find a job through the Swedish government  job database and agency. And they were right (I found my job by hard research work!). However, as with any government department, and probably in most countries in the world, it is a good idea to get yourself registered for a wide variety of reasons, usually you don’t know the reason why until much later when you find out you should have registered…

Here are some reasons to go through the process.

You might be eligible for some program or grant or something that helps you look for work. If you are an EU citizen (as I am), there are not many programs at the beginning, but there were 2 things I took advantage of that made my job search better.

You start to learn Swedish – you have to learn how to communicate with our new country’s inhabitants. The process of filling in the online form is long and tedious, and quite difficult, but with today’s technology you can use Google Translator to help you. You will be surprised at the number of words that are very similar to English, and this made me feel better!

You can use any of these databases to search for company and employer information, which perhaps you can use later. The hidden job market requires a lot of networking, and these job databases can give you lots of information about a company, the jobs they advertise, perhaps salary expectations. If you treat Arbetsförmedlingen as a research data gathering exercise, then you will get more out of it than you realize.

As soon as you register, get a JOB COACH! The job coaches are consultants that contract with the government. These people actually know what they are doing and how to get a job in Sweden. Once you have registered, your Arbetsförmedlingen contact can approve a job coach. They have updated the web site since I used it, but somewhere there is a database with all the approved job coaches you can choose from…

That is all I have time for today everyone! More to come over the coming weeks.


One thought on “Random Tips for Newcomers to Sweden

  1. hi sweet pea! read every entry — loved it all. sometimes when i am on the drive going by some of our fave places to eat – i think of you!
    more later in email
    love to you all,

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