Sweden is filled with jaw-dropping natural beauty and culture rich cities. It is a forward thinking country that boasts high-quality education, great medical care, low unemployment rates and long life expectancy. Low crime and great public transportation make Sweden a great place to settle down. Travelers looking to work, volunteer or just explore will find more than enough to see and do while spending a gap year here!
With such diverse options, a gap year experience in Sweden can be tailored to your personal interests. For example, environmentally conscious travelers can spend time working in nature and positively affecting their surroundings. Those who’d rather give back as they travel can volunteer with organizations providing assistance in elderly care or youth development.
For those who enjoy children, why not consider working as an au pair? It’s common and there are always families looking for English speakers to teach their children throughout Sweden.
With nearly 98,000 lakes, about 24,000 islands, and forests covering over 50% of Sweden, it is a great country to spend a year working in nature. Located on Lake Siljan, one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, Earthway Experience has a program “dedicated to Land Stewardship, Education, Research and Sustainable Living.” With a base in community living and looking toward the future, volunteers at Earthway Experience learn about permaculture, bee keeping and alternative energy.
Workaway.info is another great resource for finding agricultural travel opportunities in Sweden like this farm and education center being built in the forest by Sandviken. Search around and find an opportunity that speaks to you!
For travelers looking to make a difference during their gap year, United Planet is an excellent organization with volunteer opportunities in Sweden. Through their partner organizations, volunteers can assist people with disabilities, both physical and mental, work with the elderly or youth development.
Volunteering for elderly care is especially advantageous for individuals who want to get to learn Swedish, as the seniors in assisted living facilities may not necessarily know English. Travelers involved with youth development projects will likely assist teenagers with social problems. Or consider Volunteers for Peace, an organization that places volunteers all over the world. Their projects range from community theater productions to working at yoga camps to working at a monastery camp.
With most au pair jobs, the family you work for provides room and board. An interesting stipulation to note, au pairs in Sweden must take Swedish language courses. Take a look through Au-Pair World, Au-Pair Sweden and Scandinavian Au-Pair to find a program you like best.
Gap Year Jobs
Becoming an au pair in Sweden is so common there is an entire visa classification dedicated to it. Job opportunities can be found in countless cities throughout Sweden and depending on the family, you may have plenty of free time to explore your new surroundings.
Cost of Living in Sweden
Even though Sweden is a part of the European Union, they maintain their own currency, the krona. Sweden can be rather expensive, so sketching out a budget ahead of time is a good idea. Expect to pay about $13 USD for an average meal, $7.50 for a beer and $2.50 for a bottle of water. At the time of writing, the average taxi start rate is $7 and $2 per kilometer.
Rent, like most places, depends on where you live. An apartment in a city center is $930 a month while places outside of the center can come in at $600. One-way public transit will cost around $4 and the an average cinema ticket, $16. (Source: Numbeo)
Culture and Etiquette in Sweden
- Body Language: Swedes are distant in their body language and generally do not make physical contact in public. Eye contact is important to maintain while in conversations.
- Fashion: Swedes are fashionable and well dressed in public.
- Customs: Don’t criticize Swedish prices, habits, or lifestyle. Toasts are considered formal in Sweden and it is important not to take a drink until the host gives a toast. Compliments should always be genuine, as insincerity is considered rude.
Health and Safety in Sweden
With a lower crime rate than most of Europe, Sweden is one of the safest countries to live in and visit. In larger, touristy cities, pickpocketing does occur on public transport and in restaurants. As anywhere, be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Demonstrations should be avoided, as there is always the possibility they could turn violent.
Stay attentive of news reports, as there is a chance of natural disasters such as floods, windstorms and rockslides. In the event you encounter a medical issue while traveling in Sweden, the country has exceptional, easily accessible medical care.
Contributed by Alecia Weaver
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