Restrooms are shared and cash is rare

Jönköping in late October. Photo by Annika Wappelhorst

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? …


Getting around and opening a bank account

Photo of Lake Vättern in July by author

It’s August, which means new students are flocking to Sweden and repopulating the universities again—since studies here typically begin in the last week of August. I started studying in the city of Jönköping one year ago. Now, I look at new international students with a smile on my face, imagining their confusion, curiosity, and excitement. Here’s a guide for those who recently set foot in the wonderful “big brother” alias, the most populated country in the Nordic region.

Wondering whether to register as a new resident in Sweden?

Unlike Germany, where each new resident has to register at the local city registration office, Sweden doesn’t have this obligation, at least…


Experiencing an Ancient Technique in Modern Times

The newly built meditation hall in the Swedish Vipassana center. My course was only the second one held there. Photo created on Canva by author

Before completing a ten-day Vipassana meditation course, I was always trying to fill my calendar with fun things to do. I couldn’t hold a posture in yin yoga for three continuous minutes, I couldn’t stop scratching a wasp sting I got five years ago, and I spent many hours of the day in front of my computer or phone.

Now, I am less restless. I can peacefully sit in a cross-legged seat with closed eyes and no movements for one hour. I can ignore mosquito bites and know that I can spend a long time without external input, let alone…


Travel. Haiti. Mid-Atlantic America.

Heat, meat and negotiation.

Photo by Annika Wappelhorst (2015)

In 2015, I spent three months in Haitian Cape (‘Cap-Haïtien’ in French), the second biggest city of Haiti that was luckily not affected by the disastrous earthquake of 2010. The small mountainous country is located in the Eastern part of the Caribbean island ‘Hispaniola’; along with the Dominican Republic in the West. While I wasn’t able to understand Haitian Creole at first, I spoke the second official language, French, fluently.

Like many German high school graduates, I wanted to spend time abroad before starting my studies, so I volunteered in an orphanage and the neighboring school, along with three other…


No face masks, no lockdown

Sign in a Swedish train. Photo by author

I started writing this in September 2020 but never dared to publish it. Too incomplete, too controversial, too touchy: I always found a reason to let this text doze in my draft folder. However, I know many people want to know more about Sweden’s unusual COVID-19 strategy. The European country with only 10 million inhabitants has been infamous around the world for its comparatively liberal way of dealing with the pandemic.

I’ve been living in the small city of Jönköping, Sweden since August 2020. Before moving here for my studies, I was anxious about the situation in Sweden. According to…


It’s about quality, consistency, and luck

Photo of Lyon (France) by Annika Wappelhorst

Seeing your first Medium story go viral is probably as unexpected as seeing a rainbow when you’re outside. You may have noticed some indicators beforehand, but when it happens, you’re in awe — and like me, you might take a photo (of the rainbow) or a screenshot (of your Medium stats).

Even though I’m not a big fan of ‘meta content’ on Medium, I do admit that texts published about Medium helped me understand this platform better when I was a noob. …


It’s complicated.

Collage created on Canva by Author.

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?

Walking on a frozen lake in the city center of Jönköping. Photo by Annika Wappelhorst (Author).

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

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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

Cinnamon buns. Photo by Shreyak Singh on Unsplash

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).

Annika Wappelhorst

Multilingual master’s student of Sustainable Communication. I mainly write about language learning, veganism, and living in 🇸🇪/🇫🇷/🇩🇪.

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