The ins and outs of my Placement in Sweden

Posted in: Department for Health, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements

Hi, I am Arianna, and if you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that I am a sport science student currently doing my placement year in Sweden at the Winter Sports Research centre. I am now 8 months in to my placement (only 2 months to go☹) so I thought I would discuss what I have been enjoying about my life here and any challenges I have faced, as well as how it has benefited my knowledge of sport science.

Working in Sweden:

  • My job here mainly consists of assisting with the testing of elite and recreational athletes, however I have also got involved with data collection for various research projects and have also recently been doing some data analysis for the ski federation.
  • The work life balance here seems to be much better than it is in England, here I feel like the idea that we work to live is much bigger than the idea that we live to work. People are always trying to make the most of any good weather and there is an hour of paid exercise incorporated into the working week!
  • The working day here is from 8-5 but obviously this is different in any job and there are always lots of coffee breaks throughout the day
  • As an intern I am often asked to help various colleagues with different things, whether it’s a research project or pedaling on a bike to check it’s working properly, so I guess be prepared to do some potentially tedious tasks if you’re looking at doing an internship!

Swedish culture:

  • FIKA!!! Probably one of the first things I learnt here! Fika is essentially a coffee break with some sort of cake or snack, there isn’t a word for it in English! We have ‘proper’ Fika once a week on Thursday and people take it in turns to bring something in… I always look forward to Thursdays 😊 It has been a great way to try some more traditional Swedish treats and is always a nice way of catching up with people! There are also Fika breaks everyday at 10am and one at 3pm, so if you’re bored at your desk you can usually find people to chat with by the coffee machine!
  • Language: obviously the difference in language was quite a big thing to get used to, everyone speaks good English, however a lot of the time conversations are had in Swedish as this is the native language. I could find this a bit isolating at first but it pushed me to try harder with learning the language and you can also always ask people to try and speak in English so you can be kept in the loop! – to help with this I attended some Swedish lessons at the university in Östersund, which I found really helped!
  • Something I found quite surprising is how much the Swedes love candy, there are pick and mix stations in every supermarket, even the small ones, and Swedish people consume the most candy each year!
  • DIY: another thing I have found is that Swedish people have a very ‘Do It Yourself’ attitude, from making their own bread, to building their own furniture, which I think is really cool and definitely something I want to take back to England.
  • Barbecuing in all 4 seasons; if there’s one thing about Swedish people it’s that they love a barbecue or ‘grill’ as they call it, even when it’s minus degrees outside and there’s snow outside. When I first heard about this I thought it was kind of crazy, but I’ve since taken part in a winter barbecue, even having hotdogs up the mountain and it is so much fun!

How has it helped my understanding/learning:

  • My placement has been really beneficial in allowing me to put things I have learnt in lectures into practice, I have used a lot of theory from physiology as most of the testing I do is VO2max testing, so I now know a lot about measuring oxygen uptake and lactate sampling
  • I have also done lots of blood sampling to measure variables such as lactate, haemoglobin and also oxidative stress, which will be very beneficial moving forward
  • Through getting involved with research studies and data collection I have learnt a lot of valuable skills which I know will be really useful when completing my final year project
  • So all in all I’d say the placement has really added to my learning and overall understanding of sports science, even though for me the work hasn’t necessarily been my absolute main focus while being here as I have also really enjoyed the oppurtinity to live in a different country

Things I have enjoyed the most:

  • Learning about a new sport: I have learnt a lot about Nordic skiing or cross country skiing whilst living here both in the lab and outside doing the sport myself
  • Being able to go skiing at the weekends!!!
  • Having snow from November to April
  • Getting to know new people from lots of different cultures
  • The Fika!!!

Things that have been a bit more challenging:

  • The lack of sunlight in the depths of winter, the sun would rise at 10am and set at 2pm, and I would usually be inside at work during the 4 hours of daylight – not so fun
  • The freezing cold – although manageable it is very different to being England, it could get up to -30 on the coldest days, and you would have to wrap up like an eskimo
  • The language difference and not always understanding everything
  • Being away from family and friends back home


Although these things were slightly challenging, they have only added to my overall experience here.

So that’s it, my little insight into life in Sweden, I hope you enjoyed 😊

Posted in: Department for Health, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements


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