Reaching the Arctic Circle, Sweden is mostly covered by forest and with the longest coastline in Europe. Swedes are very attached to nature, and after the long harsh winter, enjoy spending the warmer months outdoors—swimming, hiking or visiting family and friends. A unique treat in the summer is the midnattsol (the midnight sun) when the sun is visible 24 hours a day for almost two months. Swedes are committed to sustainability, making them a global leader in organic agriculture, recycling and renewable energy.

Most teens in Sweden concerts, movies and small gatherings. It’s quite common for a bicycle to be your main form of transportation. After school and on weekends, you can meet your friends at youth centers, called fritidsgård, to play games and hang out. Sports lovers will have a great time in Sweden, playing soccer, tennis, ice hockey or going skiing.

Culture & Community

Most Swedes live in small rural towns, and while the cities are populous and modern, they retain their ancient charm with pockets of medieval streets and architecture. You could be placed throughout Sweden, though most host families live in the countryside or in small towns. Mutual respect between children and adults is nurtured from an early age. The Swedes prize personal freedom and accountability, so your responsibilities at home and school will reflect those values. Household chores are usually equally divided among family members, in small and tidy houses.

School

School in Sweden begins in mid-August and goes until mid-June, from 8 am to 3 or 4 pm, though the class schedule varies between programs. Your school schedule will be determined by your interests and the classes you’ve already taken. Swedish schools offer a variety of tracks but sciences and humanities are the priorities for many. No matter what you focus on, expect to take Swedish, English and math.

Language

Swedes speak Swedish, though almost 90% also speak English, as it has been a required subject in schools since 1849. Many Swedes speak a 3rd or 4th language as well. You don’t have to know Swedish before starting your exchange, but some basics will certainly be helpful. AFS will support you in learning the language before and during the exchange by providing materials, links and language lessons.

Food

Common Swedish meals include potatoes, cheese, seafood, meat, fresh vegetables, salads, and open-faced sandwiches. Smorgasbord, a bountiful buffet, is common for special occasions. Meatballs, lingonberries, and smoked salmon are popular delicacies.

Explore the Programs Available in Sweden