Restrooms are shared and cash is rare

Hej allihopa, hey everyone! In mid-August, I moved to the country mostly known for the band ABBA, cheap furniture from IKEA, and a rather unconventional way of dealing with COVID-19. I’ve been living and studying in Jönköping in Southern Sweden for over two months now, and there are a few things that puzzled, amused, or surprised me.

#1 You can look everybody up online (yes, even me).

When you live in Sweden and don’t want to tell people your address or your age, that’s too bad — because they’ll find out anyway. How? …

…besides the delicious French cuisine.

France — the country of the Eiffel Tower, crispy baguettes, delicious red wine, a sensual language, and elegant women with red lipstick. Is that how you picture France? Well, you’re not entirely wrong, but let me tell you some more convincing arguments to pack your bags and spend some time in the country of Coco Chanel, Monet, and Napoleon (yes, after the pandemic, I get your point).

How I Fell in Love with France

As a German citizen, I was lucky enough to spend several family holidays and school exchanges in my neighboring country. After my high school graduation, I took a gap year to perfect my…

It’s complicated.

If you’ve clicked on this article, you are probably either a linguist, interested in gender-inclusive language or learning/speaking German or French.

I am German, grew up speaking French and German, and spent one and a half years of my bachelor’s program in France. I did a lot of research on gender-inclusive language — even though I’m not a linguist, my communication studies sensitized me to how language can shape our imagination and carry power inequities.

In German

There are different ways of using the so-called “geschlechtergerechte Sprache”, “gendergerechte Sprache” or “inklusive Sprache”. Germans nowadays even use the verb “gendern” (literally: to gender)…

Ever heard of Snus or Mello?

Fascinating and sometimes strange — that’s probably what most of us think about local habits when we move abroad. Eight months ago, I left Germany to start studying in Sweden, the country of more than 200 000 islands. In the meantime, Sverige has become my second home. That is how I got to know some particularities, traditions, and frenzies like the following.

You may not know about a Swede’s nicotine addiction.

People don’t really talk like that

Until the pandemic hit Europe in March 2020, I wasn’t a big podcast listener. I didn’t even know that platforms like Spotify allowed you to download whole episodes for free and listen to them offline (almost embarrassing, given that I’m a communication student). It’s fair to say that due to COVID-19, I became a true podcast enthusiast. On walks around the block and lengthy train rides with face masks, I’m now accompanied by the voices of my favorite podcasters.

It didn’t take long until I saw podcasts popping up like mushrooms and felt curious to try it out myself. I…

Enjoy cinnamon buns, crispbread, and more

Välkommen and welcome to Sweden where the coffee is hot & black but plenty and the winters are cold & dark but cozy! Disclaimer: In this article, I will focus on vegan food in Sweden, not on clothing, cosmetics, or free-time activities.

Having lived in the small Swedish town of Jönköping for half a year, I can state that being on a plant-based diet in a Swedish city is very easy. Almost every Swede knows about vegetarianism and veganism and many are very open-minded, although the relative number of vegan people is far from mind-blowing (2 % in 2018).

#2 Discover German comedy

First of all, check out my previous article about numerous resources that I will not repeat in this article:

Ja ja, I know, you could probably also read this article in German, my mother tongue. Even though you might not understand every single word, you’d get the message (jawohl). Your German is good enough to hear that a person from Bavaria is a little bit harder to understand than you anticipated when learning standard German (And did she just greet me with “Grüß Gott”, Greet God?!). Nevertheless, I’ll stick to English, the language of most Medium readers.

#1 Listen to Podcasts

I must admit…

Bring your French skills, a laptop and coffee

Upon entering a lecture hall, you’d see more than 200 students, most of them sitting behind a laptop. You’d hear the incessant, rhythmic sound of keyboards and a professor speaking French into a microphone. A PowerPoint presentation full of information would be projected to the wall. If you took a glimpse at the students’ laptop screens, you’d either see an open text file being filled diligently, a private Facebook feed or an shopping website.

Welcome to a typical lecture of mine in France! Studying a French-German bachelor’s that ended with a double degree allowed me to spend three semesters in…

Fun & easy practice tips

Most language learners have been there: We’ve learned a language and achieved a level that made us pretty proud — and suddenly, we had to move away from that country, we learned another language, we had too much work or other time-consuming projects. The treasured language that we spoke with more or less ease seems to fade away like the color of those black jeans we thought would never turn this grey.

Like clothing dye, languages we’ve once learned won’t stay forever — they are not self-sustaining.

For me, it’s my beloved French that I don’t get to practice as…

I’ve done it for over 3 years.

“Writing a diary in a foreign language?”, you might think. “I don’t even write one in my own mother tongue! Isn’t that for a thing for teenage schoolgirls?” No! Let me convince you that journaling is an amazing opportunity to make you more confident in any foreign language you are trying to learn.

How I got into journaling in Italian

The reason I started writing my diary in languages other than my mother tongue (German) was an Italian tandem partner that I had more than three years ago. …

Annika Wappelhorst

Multilingual student of Sustainable Communication (MSSc). I write about language learning, sustainability, and living in 🇸🇪/🇫🇷/🇩🇪.

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