The SBS Student Blog

Life as a student at Stockholm Business School


City Life, Student Budget

Today, being the business school student that I am, I want to talk money. A story to set the scene: when I was initially looking to apply to Universities back home, London was always one I daydreamed about, but hearing students moaning the hardships of high costs of living put me off.  Roll on a gap year of self discovery and the idea to move abroad to study, I apply to Stockholm without second thought. I arrive and realise soon enough that everything costs pretty much the same, if not more, than London. Moral of the story, if expenses freak you out, they’ll find a way back to you.

Oh Stockholm, for moments like this I can forgive your price tag

But, it doesn’t need to be this way. With what I’ve learnt from living with a serious bargain-hunter landlady to spending the whole month of February living off mashed lentils and peas to challenge how little I could spend whilst maintaining some quality of life, I have been there. And now, having broken the illusion that Stockholm is ridiculously expensive (which to be fair in some areas will always be), I present to you some solutions I’ve picked up so you can go do all the cool things you came here to do:

  • Crucial first step: put on your invisible bargain-hunter hat and never take it off. This is the act of you getting into your new role as conscious shopper, so when those good deals are staring you in the face, you’ll notice them.
hat

Experiment beyond the local uniform of black

  • Food: it’s tempting to want to cut back on food expenses, however no matter your budget, you will dine like the wholesome king/queen that you are. A routine my landlady passed on to me is checking the supermarket newspapers that advertise new offers every week. I initially thought this would be totally useless with deals only being on random packaged stuff like pancake mix. But, if you combine a quick Google on what foods are seasonal with a keen eye for those ‘PRISBOMB!’ memos you will be surprised e.g. often onions go down to 5kr/kg and clementines 10kr/kg. Also I’ve found prices for the same thing to be lower in stores a little further out than central.

Prisbomb!

  • Free ‘trial’ products: this is where you pay a small fee just for postage and they send you out the product to ‘trial’ for free before proceeding to send you further shipments each month if you’re happy and want a regular supply. Basically, completely save on costs for stuff like razors, even supplements (!), through this method – downside being you could only do this once per item and you’d  need to remember to send an email saying to cancel further subscription. Still fun to try: www.efi.se
  • Discount online stores: these are good for doing a big order of household goods like plastic bin bags, cleaning stuff, body wash etc. They do sell really cheap packaged food (stuff that is surplus in stores) if you have a spare 50 you just want to blow out on a hundred packets of peanuts or something. Prices are crazy: www.megafynd.se / www.matsmart.se
  • Mobile credit: just when you think you’re onto a good monthly deal, there’ll be another even cheaper one that comes along. If you’re a member of the SU, Studentkortet send out regular emails of deals. I began to notice some really competitive ones for students, i.e. 49 kr a month with Hallon (intro offer, 99 thereafter). I won’t lie you will need to put in some effort to switch providers but if you want to keep your expenditures seriously low this one is worth the time.
  • Recycling centres: I’ve routinely sat at home in the evenings and watched my landlady bring back pretty much new bits of furniture like lamps, even a kitchen table in mint condition, that she’s found. People looking for a quick way to get rid of stuff they don’t want will just leave it out in the trollies. With most living areas having one of these centres, it’s worth adopting your inner eco-warrior and giving something a new lease of life; you’ll be surprised what gets left.

For when Netflix has gotten old, a free TV for some Swedish reality!

  • Facebook: make sure to join student circle groups such as the ‘Lappis’ page where people are selling/advertising cool stuff. Having a stalk of events/what others have marked as ‘going to’ can also often flag up free events and free breakfasts (I’ve never been up early enough for these to know if they’re worthwhile but still – free food).

 

And finally, an obvious one but remember to use your student title to your advantage! You will only be one once, so before you buy anything always think if you could be getting a further discount even, for example, on saving shipping costs when ordering online. The pennies, after all, do add up.

So happy money saving – I’ll be here when you go to book your summer getaway to the Bahamas with all your new funds…

 

 

 

 

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Second-Hand Stockholm

Over the past few years I’ve learned to love second-hand shopping. First of all, buying used clothes can save you awful a lot of money which I as a student of course appreciate. I also like the idea of consuming a bit more sustainably. And if you know the right places to go you can actually make some pretty awesome (and cheap!) finds. Stockholm is a pretty nice city to live in this regard as there are many options for second-hand shopping and today I thought I’d share a few places I like to go treasure hunting when I get bored with the endless amount of H&M’s you find in the city center.

Hornstulls Marknad buzzing on Sunday afternoon

Hornstulls Marknad buzzing on Sunday afternoon

Hornstulls Markand is my number-one tip for anyone in Stockholm during the summer. It’s an outdoor flea market organized every Sunday throughout the summer in Hornstull in western Södermalm. I’ve made some good finds there but it’s worth going just for the atmosphere. The location is beautiful as the market stretches along the waterfront, there are several food trucks serving different kinds of delicious street food for the hungry shoppers and it seems to attract a lot of hip and stylish people so it’s also perfect for looking for style inspiration! Definitely a must-activity for the weekend when the weather is nice.

Shopping along the water front

Shopping along the water front

For actual second-hand stores Södermalm is the place to go. Some stores offer more carefully selected vintage clothing. There nice pieces are usually easier to find but the prices are also slightly higher than in other second-hand shops. Beyond Retro is probably the most known vintage chain in Sweden and has three stores in Stockholm (two of which are in Södermalm). Some other more exclusive second-hand boutiques in Stockholm include Lisa Larsson and Judits.

For real bargains you should head to Myrorna, Stadsmissionen or Emmaus which are run by charities. The prices are lower but the quality is also more inconsistent so you might have to put a bit more effort into finding those hidden treasures.

The most beautiful store entrance (Emmaus)

The most beautiful store entrance (Emmaus)

Hopefully someone finds these tips helpful! Happy shopping everyone!


Student Troubles: Checking your eyesight in Sweden

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying the lovely weather this morning.

This week, I will talk about getting your eyes checked in Stockholm since, as a student, I spend so much time reading from and working at a computer screen. After almost a full year of studying, my eyes are feeling a little tired and my old glasses aren’t cutting it in lectures to read the material.

I asked a few of the Swedish students how I could get my eyes checked here and several recommended visiting a store called Synsam. While this site is in Swedish, the store representatives and eye doctors are more than happy to help you in English.

I popped into the store without an appointment and had to wait about 10 minuted before the eye doctor could see me. I spent this time looking at glasses and trying just about every pair on! The salesperson told me that after my appointment, if I buy lenses with Synsam, I can get some pretty good discounts on frames. They range from a flat percentage discount off the frames to buying one pair at full price and receiving 50% off of the second set of glasses.

Then it was time for my exam and the eye doctor performed the usual tests – reading letters with both eyes, then alternating eyes, testing different lenses, then puffing some air into my eye – to test the reflex I guess and all the other usual things. The one thing that surprised me is that they did not do the (standard) eye drops that I would have had in Toronto. The eye doctor told me that if there had been any “problems” he would have referred me to an Optometrist here and they would have done that.

I received my new prescription details and can go back at anytime to take advantage of their price specials. Students receive a 10% discount as well here at Synsam!

They took some personal information to register me in the system and walked me through the online account process where I had to enter my Personal number, phone number, email and address. This gives me the change to book appointments at stores that offer this service as well.

After my appointment, the doctor and sales person talked to me about my different options – glasses and contact lenses. All in all, it was a good experience and they were super helpful!

So if you need an eye exam, just pop into any Synsam location and they will help find what you need.


Buying & Recycling Household Items

Hi everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed the weather this weekend… especially today!

In November, my boyfriend and I purchased an apartment, and while one would think we would be 100% moved in, that is not the case! Between my classes, part-time job and extra curricular activities, the last thing I want to do on the weekends is paint and unpack! I know my boyfriend feels the same way after a long work week.

Now that the weather is nicer, we have been spending more time finding things for our place. One site we like to check out is Blocket. For North Americans, Blocket is basically the equivalent of Craigslist or Kijiji. It is a common forum where private citizens and companies can post ads. This site is mostly dedicated to used items like Bikes, Sofas, Beds and so on, but you can also get some great smaller things like dinnerware and cookware.

One great feature about Blocket, is that it really lets you search close to your current municipality, so it can be really convenient.

Today, we met with a young woman who lived a few apartment buildings down from us and arranged to pick up a coffee table she was selling. We went with the intention of inspecting the table and deciding whether we would buy it. The table was in good condition and was a good deal, so we ended up deciding to take it on the spot! She helped us carry the pieces down and continued packing for her move.

We have also recently listed a few items for sale, so we hope someone will be interested 🙂 It does cost some money to post an ad. It is about 40 SEK if you want to include one picture, then there is an additional charge for more pictures.

With Ikea being so far from the city (especially when you need to buy large items) it is great when you can find used goods in good condition close to your own home.

This site is especially beneficial for students, especially exchange students who may want to buy or sell some dishes, or cooking utensils – other smaller things at the beginning/end of their stay!

Have a great week!


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Handling Challenges in Stockholm

This week, I thought I would share an ongoing (challenging) experience I have been trying to wrap up over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, about two weeks ago, my wallet was either lost or stolen at T-Centralen. I have no real way of knowing exactly what happened since I was rushing to make a train and didn’t properly close my purse.

Many of my personal documents were in this wallet including some of my Canadian documentation (Birth Certificate, SIN Number, Credit Cards and so on.) While this may seem like a big challenge to deal with from abroad, it has not been too horrible so far!

Firstly, in contacting my banks in Toronto to cancel cards, I was actually able to use Viber, a data-based free calling service available on mobile devices. This meant that there would be no long distance fees for the long phone calls to my home bank and secondly, I was able to designate my parents to help me replace all of my Canadian documents even though I am abroad.

Another challenge I faced was replacing my UT card or Residence Permit in Sweden. This has perhaps been the most challenging aspect so far. In order to replace this card, I must present a Police Report documenting everything that was lost with the wallet. So, last week, I called the Police Department and was able to do all of this in English and the Police representative was extremely helpful and thorough. They advised me to continue calling SL Lost & Found to check if anything gets returned.

The Police Report was then sent to me via the Postal Service, and as soon as I receive this document, I can go to Solna Immigration and request a new UT card.

Luckily, I had my Swedish bank card in my pocket when this incident occurred, so I was able to continue on with my routine easily.

The main lesson I learned from this experience was that I should have separated my important documents from my day-to-day documents and kept them somewhere safe. The other lesson is that, no matter what, it is always best to ensure your bag is zipped securely while travelling in a crowded station.

I remain optimistic that some kind samaritan will return my wallet to the SL Lost & Found or the Police department, but we will see! Although it was a difficult experience, my parents and friends here have been encouraging and supportive. After all, everything is replaceable.


Banking in Sweden…Internet Banking, Wire Transfers and Swish!

Internet Banking is very secure in Sweden. It is also a little complex and very different that what I am used to in Toronto!

When you sign up for a bank account, you will be given a small keypad on a keychain that allows you to access a secure code to log in to your bank account. This secure code changes every time. You will also be given a larger version of the keypad that allows you to insert your credit card and then access you account.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 12.05.36 AM

My SEB clicker that generates a new code for each log in.

I decided to sign up with SEB, and their system is great except that it does not currently have an English site for the online bank platform. They do have agreements with SU though for international students, so it is really easy to sign up.

Transferring money can be done online, and needs the keypad as well in order to verify different steps in the process. In order to ensure accuracy, I would recommend asking a bank representative to review the features before you get started on your own!

Generally, you open your clicker, and hold down the red button at the bottom, then enter your pin code. Then, the online bank site will prompt you to click and hold a certain number down, then you will be prompted to enter two different codes on your clicker before the log in code is finally generated. Once you are logged in you can send money to your friends accounts as long as you have all of their bank details. You will use the clicker again to verify all transactions.

Since I am frequently out with friends and classmates for fika and study sessions, we have gotten into the habit of having one person pay each time to avoid confusion. This was sometimes chaotic, but ever since I was introduced to the mobile transferring app called Swish, this has gotten much easier. Swish is a mobile payment app which makes it possible to accept and send Swish payments from individuals using a phone number. Recipients must also have Swish in order for this to work.

There are a few steps you will need to take before you can access this app. Using your online bank account, there should be an option to activate Swish. Follow the instructions on your bank’s webpage. You will also need to download another app called Mobile BankID. This app allows you to access your secure pages from a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone.

Once you enter your phone number into the Swish app, you will receive an activation code via SMS. You can start Swish, enter your pin code on BankID when it pops up, and then you will be all set. You will now be able to transfer money back and forth with friends with only their phone number!

This takes banking to an entirely different level convenience wise, and while I am still getting used to the app, it has been great so far.

Just remember that you can ask a representative from the bank to walk you through these steps once you are approved for an account. Good Luck!


Gaining Practical Experience While Studying

One significant difference I have noticed during my first two courses here at SBS is the focus that lecturers place on theoretical learning in comparison to a North American practical or case based approach to learning. While this is a generalization of sorts, Master level studies at many Universities are very theoretical starting off. It is very important to understand the theory behind the concepts put into practice in the real world, but it is also important to see how theories are used in the day-to-day business environment.

Finding creative and interesting ways to gain practical knowledge as an international student, living in a new city where the language barrier may limit your options, can be difficult. However at SBS, there are many options available to you. For instance, Frank-Paul discussed the KPMG International Case Competition. This is not the only avenue available at SBS, but it is certainly a top-level case study to get involved in. Other options include The Marketing Academy and other external case competitions. Students accepted into The Marketing Academy have the option to join certain teams within the extra curricular group. These teams include: The Buisness World Committee, Social Events Committee, Branding Committee, Education Committee and the Treasury. The Business World Committee spends the first half of the semester contacting companies in Stockholm and abroad should they wish and work to secure a series of real world cases that companies hire the Marketing Academy to complete. Each case is an eight week long commitment and cases are generally done in teams of four people. Case teams work in direct contact with the companies involved and present conclusions at the company offices at the end of the eight week period. I personally started my case this week and am thrilled about my team and the first steps we have taken. This exercise is extremely valuable to students as it allows us to explore opportunities to apply our classroom knowledge and previous experiences to real life situations.

In regards to the other external case competitions, I have also joined the L’Oreal Brandstorm case competition that will start in the next few weeks. Participants are challenged with the task of creating an innovative Travel Retail Experience for the L’Oreal Brand. Finalists will have the opportunity to travel to Paris and present their ideas to a panel of judges. These case competitions are published regularly and in order to find them, you can search on google for local case competitions in many subject areas. At the beginning of the semester, there was another competition called Venture Cup. This particular competition is more focused on entrepreneurial concepts but partners with internationally recognized companies.

There is also the opportunity to search for a part-time job. One excellent resource that I have seen is Multimind. Multimind publishes both part-time and full-time opportunities for Swedish and Non-Swedish speakers. Working part-time in addition to your studies can be a challenge, but working part-time also allows you to supplement your student budget with some additional income.

SBS offers great resources and activities, and while I have named a few, there are many more opportunities available within the different faculties. These opportunities range from volunteer positions and student mentors to joining a professional mentorship program. While I definitely have a busy schedule with my current extra-curricular activities, I am always on the lookout for new opportunities to help build my CV. Taking the opportunity to get involved at school is a huge benefit. Not only do you get to add practical experience to your resume, you will also meet some extremely interesting like-minded individuals who accept your skills and knowledge but also challenge you on a daily basis!

These opportunities are especially important to participate in if you are hoping to remain in the local market for an internship or after graduation as it exposes you to different companies and allows you to begin to network in a new city. It is important to build your resume while you are studying, as it will set you apart from the crowd at graduation time when you enter the job market.

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend.

Until next time!

Erin