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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. So what does a GIC buddy do?

We are basically here for you, for anything you need (with some obvious limits). We answer any questions you might have. This is usually extra important before the arrival. Because we know you do never get enough information, and for many of you this is probably the first time you are really “on your own”. So do not hesitate to contact us for anything =).
Once you arrive, the buddy usually arranges activities for you to make sure that you get to meet each other and become friends. What these activities are depends on the buddy (party, cooking, sport events, BBQ, doing traditional Swedish things, photo expeditions, museum, art trips, ice skating....)
We also help out if there’s anything you need Swedish for, like going to the bank or if you get weird notices in your mail.
Buddies are also there for those of you that have a hard time making friends. It doesn’t matter if you are shy, have bad luck or smell kind of funny. Just come find us. We will try to do our best to help you. Most of us have been exchange students and we know how it can be.
If you don't have a buddy or for whatever reason do not enjoy the activities proposed by the one you have, do not worry. Try to bribe your way into another group you like. We are all friendly and pretty decent people.

  1. I have yet to receive this thing/mail/document that is vital for my exchange!

Well, the university is sometimes slow. Specially as you are a lot of exchange (and regular) students. It will most likely show up a day before (or after) you need it. In any case, you can always contact the International Coordinator of your faculty, they are usually really helpful.

  1. I’m going home and the SGS people want me to pay for damages that were already in the apartment when I arrived, and it wasn’t even cleaned when I came! Why should I have to clean it when I leave?

This is actually a very IMPORTANT point. If there’s anything wrong with your apartment (even small details as tiny stains), take pictures and send them to the Housing Service within the first couple of days. Unfortunately SGS policy can be really strict and there is almost nothing you can do if you complain 6 months later. Also your apartment should have been cleaned when you arrived so complain if it is not the case. And of course make sure to clean it when you leave because, well, don’t be the twat that doesn’t.

  1. I’m suffering from the plague! Or possibly a small cold, I’m not sure.

http://www.1177.se/Vastra-Gotaland/Other-languages/Engelska/ This link will take you to the the self help page where you can search for common symptoms, diseases, and stuff as well as the locations of your nearest clinic. In Sweden we usually go to the local clinics first and then work our way up. You can book a time with them or you can go there early in the morning and hope that they have free time.

  1. How/where do I get a tram/bus card?

The local traffic card can be bought at pretty much any food/convenience store as well as the official Västtrafik places. As a student, you can have a discount but you might have to activate your mecenat account (things are changing lately about this problem). One month pass cost 450 SEK and three months pass cost 1215. You can also buy single tickets or pay-as-you-go cards.

  1. What happens if I get caught by the tram-inspectors?

Well, the fee is pretty high: 1000 SEK. So if you get caught is a bit too late. You can still try the “I'm a foreigner I didn't know...”. Or try to avoid to get caught. Inspectors wear white cap you can easily recognize. Good luck anyway, 1000SEK do not worth avoiding to pay a month ticket:p.

  1. What’s the deal with buying alcohol in Sweden?

You can only buy it at Systembolaget, which is open only on weekdays (the bigger ones are usually open on Saturdays as well but only until 15.00). You have to be 20 to shop at Systembolaget but you can drink at bars/pubs when you are 18.

  1. I want to send/receive a package or do other post related stuff.

So yeah, few years ago someone decided that we didn’t need post offices anymore. So now they exist at the nearest (in theory) food shop. You can off course send from anywhere that has the service but your packages will come to a specific one. They’ll tell you by text or you’ll get a little letter in your mailbox tell you to go pick it up.

  1. I’ve heard that there’s no crime in Sweden…

A common myth that we like to perpetuate, while there’s very little crime compared to many countries theft and pickpockets are common. Do NOT leave your things unattended. They will not be there when you get back. You can not walk away from your purse/phone in a club and expect it to be there when you get back. Also, Friday and Saturday evenings can be a bit rowdy but not more than any other country.

  1. Is it safe to go out in the nature areas at night?

Well, the chances of you being eaten by a bear or a wolf are slim to none, but like everywhere else, bad people do exist. So basic awareness is a good thing.

  1. This guy shows up and asked if I have a TV and says that I have to pay...

Yes. That would be the TV-license people. The best way is to deal with them is to deny them entry/vision into your home and say that you don’t have a TV. They got zero authority to do anything. They might claim that a computer/cell phone counts as well. It does not. If you tell them that you have a TV you have to pay for the license which is about 1000 sek for a year. Which I’m sure that all of you are keen on doing since we are all good law-abiding citizens.

  1. Can I invite friends to GIC events?

Yes. But please be responsible. If there’s a certain amount of people that can come, maybe wait a while and see if other exchange students want the slots first.

  1. So I signed up at an event that only a certain number of people could attend and then fucked off, am I a bad person?

Yes, yes you are. And as an organiser of a lot of events with limited slots, I'll hate you deeply for all the complications and additional work you put on us but even more for stealing the seat of another student. I won't do anything to you, but I'll hate you deeply =). Of course, it happens to everyone to be sick (or forget) but please tell us as soon as possible if you can, like that someone else can go.

  1. I study at Handels/Chalmers/Sahlgrenska can I join GIC events?

Yes. It generally doesn’t work the other way around though.

  1. I don’t have a student buddy but I need help with something, what do I do?

You contact us anyway and we can usually help. We are here for that =). Also you can often bribe us to join a group... It often work =).

  1. Is it too late to apply for a student buddy?

No, it’s never too late. We’ll find someone for you. And since you didn’t apply at the start. You can be clever and find out which student buddies are active, what they like to do with their groups and how attractive they are before you apply for one. Although, be prepared that the popular and active ones usually have full groups, bribes might be in order.

  1. I already have a Int-U studentbuddy.

You can have both. We technically don’t care, but there is not as many of us as we would like (considering the number you are), so maybe some of us will prioritize students with no buddies at all.

  1. I have trouble making friends.

Wow, that just won’t do. Please let us know and we’ll help. Also, see previous post about bribes ;). This is often the bane of shy people who for some reason believes that after a certain time has passed it’s no longer okay to ask for help or ask people to hang out with you. It’s always okay.

  1. Why is it so hard to make Swedish friends?

Short answer. We are shy.
Long answer. Exchange students usually live very carefree lives. You have a lot more free time and a lot less social obligations. While inviting all your exchange friends to a party 10 hours before it happens usually works perfectly fine. Swedes have workout schedules, family meetings, laundry times and god knows what else that we need to take care of. Give us a chance to make time for it.
Also, initiating contact is a good idea. We are usually too shy to do it. And though we are very interested in other cultures we don’t really know how to approach the subject so we casually sit and stare at you in the distance. Another important part. Asking “oh can you please show me how to do something Swedish/cook a Swedish meal for me” is not as good as “Oh, I can invite you over for my traditional meal” and then just let social obligation force us to pay you back.

  1. I went to a club at 10 and no one was there, why?

Drinking is expensive in Sweden. That’s why we usually stay at home and preparty and then go out around midnight. However, usually the entry fee is cheaper/free if you show up early.

  1. I’m only 20 can I get in anywhere?

Are you a pretty girl? In that case the answer is always yes. If not, there are some places that cater to younger people. These are usually the places that host parties for exchange students as well. The pubs at Andralång street generally allows 18 year olds.

  1. Do I have to join the student union?

No you do not. However it can be quite beneficial to do so since they arrange parties, seminars and other stuff. It’s really a cost issue since you can still go to those events but they’ll cost more. The unions are also there to help you if you have problems with the school. So, yeah, think about it. Maybe some union representative can fill in more on this?

  1. What is the deal with GIC, INT-U and INT-ET?

GIC is responsible for all exchange students in Gothenburg, We even accept people from Chalmers although they usually don't join.
Int-U only takes care of Business/Law students.
Int-Et only takes care of Medecine students.
Which means that if you want to join GIC events as a Business/Law student/Medecine that's perfectly okay. Invite your friends! But if you study something else you sadly can't join Int-U/Int-Et stuff.
You can even have one studentbuddy in Int-U/Int-Et and one in GIC.

  1. What’s the deal with **NOT A GIC EVENT**?

We generally allow you to post a single link to an event that has nothing to do with GIC, these are generally various parties created by people that want to earn money. Now there’s some conflict of interest as they do it for cash and GIC’s goal is that everything should be free for you (although sometimes we can’t afford that). This gets even more convoluted by the fact that some people have their own side business and are still in GIC and even more so by their inability to keep these roles apart.
The board has decided that as long as they aren’t hurting anyone or spamming the site they can go ahead as long as they clearly mark it as not a GIC event. We don’t want to take responsibility for it.

  1. What about Scanbalt then?

Scanbalt is a long term sponsor that arrange trips to the northern part of Sweden as well as various neighboring countries. They do so for very affordable prices as they their main customer is exchange students. Check their stuff out.

  1. My sim card is too big! Help!

You can cut it down. Either do it yourself with a sharp knife or you can go a phone store and they will fix it for you. Nordstan has several phone stores.

  1. I need a sim card!

You'll get one in your welcome package.

  1. How do I get my login to the GU-portal?

Go to the service center at pretty much any faculty and they'll help you. Bring your passport/equivalent. You can also get your GU card that you can use in the library and stuff.

  1. I need to print things.

You need first to get your GU card and then to put money on it (at the Service center) and you can then print at the University Library for pretty cheap. You can also go to the public library and do it there.

  1. How do I get a public library card?

Go to the public library card and ask for it. You’ll probably need your passport to sign up for it.

  1. Why do all Swedes have food with them?

Because food is expensive, we microwave yesterday's leftovers. The university cafeteria is ridiculously expensive. There's usually a Baguette shop outside that will sell you a large, well filled baguette and a 33cl drink for around 35, whereas the cafeteria will charge you 35 for just a small cheese sandwich

  1. I can't access Ladok to look at my grades/other important stuff.

It crashes... ALOT... like all the time. Keep trying.

  1. Can we join Chalmers parties?

If you manage to get tickets. Usually each Chalmers student gets to bring one friend no matter which university they go to. Make friends there, flirt, bribe, beg. Their parties are usually quite awesome.

  1. I tried to talk to my Swedish neighbors and they just ignored me.

Swedes are a skittish bunch, if you suddenly start talking to us we wonder what you want. If you don't seem to want anything specifically with us we assume that you are crazy.

  1. Why is no one sitting next to me on the bus?

Really the same answer as the question above. We don't really talk to strangers unless we are drunk. Sitting next to someone on the bus when there are still empty seats is a great faux pas. We will take your name and add it to our list of eternal enemies. Obviously if you know the person this is way more okay.

  1. I play instrument X, I would like to play it in Sweden, is there somewhere where I can play for free?

Not really, your best guess is Artisten, the music department or making friends with a Chalmers student that has access to their music room. If you like singing there’s several choirs that accept members.

  1. I am (for various reasons) really into second hand shops. Where should I go?

There’s a big one near Järntorget. I’m sure there are others that nice people can post in this thread.

  1. I am a nerd, I really like games and stuff and I’m afraid there’s no one like me.

Seriously? This is the university, where all the smart people end up. There’s like 15 board game groups. (It’s really big in Sweden), Several roleplaying groups and pretty much everyone of the male persuasion plays some form of games (and lots of girls too). So yeah. This is not really a problem. Although they are generally just as shy as you are so they are all pretending that they haven’t logged 5000 hours in League of Legends. There’s also various fan groups for Dr. Who, Lord of the rings, Star Wars and I’m pretty sure that you can find one for My Little Pony and the Smurfs if you look hard enough.

  1. Should I pay any rent/contract in advance?

If it's SGS or Chabo. Yes. Otherwise, no. That seems shady. But then again you might be desperate.

  1. I have trouble finding a place to live.

This is unfortunately a bit of an issue here in Göteborg (specially when you are a free mover and not an exchange student). On the Student Portal and on the Newsletters from the Welcome Service you should find some good tips for that. Different websites (blockets, boplats, airbnb...) exist for private rental or to live with inhabitant but please BEWARE. Not everyone is nice on this planet and lot of them know how desperate students can be. And lot of scam are present. So NEVER EVER pay in advance and ask around if you have any doubts. Also for short term options, you can stay hostels (which get expensive really quickly), use couch surfing and making a lot of close friends (or partners) might help as well.

  1. What is "Fika"?

The best thing about Sweden, so we will let you discover it by yourself when you will arrive.

  1. What the hell is GISA?

Well, GISA is nothing more than our previous name (before we got attached to the main student union Göta) and therefore, we sometimes have some trouble to get use to the new name and still have the reflex to write “GISA”. Sorry.

Fredrik Lindqvist (GIC-buddy and former member of the GIC-board)