Borås is a medium size with more than 112 000 inhabitants in the western part of Sweden. The city center is a pedestrian zone full of restaurants, cafes and shops next to the popular city park. The university is located in the city center with walking distance to several parks, a large shopping centre and several supermarkets. The city is world famous as a textile and fashion centre and has in recent years become known for its street art festival, no limits, where street artist from around the world have decorated facades around the city.
Local and regional public transportation is run by Västtrafik. Timetables and detailed information about prices and different tickets can be found on their website. Tickets can be bought at the Västtrafik service center located at Resecentrum (opposite the Central Station) or in most convenience stores. A single ticket within Borås costs 31 SEK, a monthly card costs 435 SEK for students (student ID is required) you can also buy a top-up card which you then use to pay with on the bus. Using a top-up card gives you a small discount on single tickets. For more information visit vasttrafik.se (External link)
You can also buy a single ticket on the bus. Please note that you cannot pay with cash on the buses, only with credit cards (Visa, Maestro, Mastercard) and Swedish debit cards. If you have a Swedish mobile phone operator you can download the app ToGo and buy tickets there.
Sweden has its own currency, the Swedish Crown (SEK) which is generally the only accepted currency. Most swedes prefer to pay with debit and credit cards and increasingly with mobile apps to carrying around cash and most card are widely accepted in shops, restaurants, cafes etc. In most cases, you can also pay with cash. Please not that you cannot pay with cash on most buses and trains, if you wish to do so, you need to buy your ticket before boarding.
The most common way of writing dates is day, month, year, i.e. 27.05.2019 or 27.05.19 meaning May 27, 2019
Sweden, like most European countries, has right-hand traffic. In Sweden you have to be 18 years old and have a valid driver’s licence. A driver’s license from a county within the EU is valid. A driver’s license from a country outside the EU is valid for one year after registration in Sweden, after that you can apply for a Swedish driver’s license or an exemption as an international student. For more information on procedures and requirements, please consult the website of Transportstyrelsen (external link).
All types of narcotics are prohibited in Sweden. There are strong regulations against using and selling any kind of illegal drug.
The main electricity type in Sweden is 220 volts and 50 cycles (Hz) and you may therefore need a transformer or an adapter for your electrical appliances.
For Police, Ambulance, Fire department, dial 112 (no charge in phone booths)
This is a unique concept in Sweden, meaning “having a break” with colleagues, friends or fellow students. It means sitting down to talk about your day and having a coffee in good company and can also include eating pastries (fikabröd). You will soon learn that this is an integral part of living in Sweden.
In Sweden it is not mandatory to carry an official identification document we recommend that you have one with you most of the time. It is often required to access services, such as health care, picking up a package, buying alcohol and cigarettes or paying with a debit or credit card without a pin code. Passports and national ID cards with your name, signature, date of birth and photo are usually valid in everyday situations. If you need to identify yourself when contacting authorities special requirements can apply. We recommend that you always check this information carefully and make sure you have the right documentation with you.
The University does not provide students with student identity cards. But if you become a member of the Student Union you will receive a student card (sometimes called “mecenatkort” in Swedish). This gives you access to many student discounts.
Map services in Borås & Sweden
Google maps works well in Sweden. In addition to providing good maps and a directions, you can also find information about local businesses such as opening hours and reviews. Google maps (external link)
The Swedish law of public access to private land gives you the opportunity to freely roam the countryside as long as you show respect for the wildlife. You are entitled to walk, jog, picnic or cycle in the entire Sweden.
The pharmacy is called Apotek in Swedish. Apoteket handles prescription drugs as well as some hygiene products and over-the-counter drugs. Some over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, can be purchased in ordinary grocery stores.
If you have a mobile phone you can buy a pre-paid card in one of the mobile phone stores. You will also receive one in the welcome folder provided during the Oriantation Days. This card is called “kontantkort” and gives you a Swedish mobile phone number that you can use to call and recieve calls.
You can find the local police station at Sandgärdsgatan 15 in Borås. Their phone number is 114 14. Asked to be transferred to Borås police station. If it is an emergency call 112.
The Swedish Postal Service, called Postnord have outsourced their offices to conveniencestores and supermarket. To locate one, look for a blue sign that says “Postnord” or cunsult the postnord website (external link).
The following days are public holidays in Sweden during 2019:
Jan 1 – New Year’s Day
Jan 6 – Epiphany Day
April 19 – Good Friday
April 21 – Easter Sunday
April 22 – Easter Monday
May 1 – May Day
May 30 – Ascension Day
June 6 – Sweden’s National Day
June 22 – Midsummer´s Eve
Dec 24 – Christmas Eve
Dec 25 – Christmas Day
Dec 26 – Boxing Day
Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve
In Swedish calenders, Sundays and public holidays are written in red and it is common that they are refered to as “red days”.
Whenever you are in a shop waiting to buy something or waiting for service you are expected to wait in line. Many shops have installed queuing systems so instead of waiting in a line you take a number from a dispensing machine and wait until your number comes up on a display.
Restaurants, bars and cafés
If you need something to eat, there are cafés and restaurants in every city center. In residential areas, you can often find pizza or thai food but rarely more than that. Restaurants have the best selection but are the most expensive, cafés are cheaper but has a limited selection of food (often restricted to pastries, sandwiches, pies and salads), whereas bars mainly sell beverages and a few dishes. But this is just a general rule. Experiment to see what you find best!
Smoking is not permitted in any public places such as restaurants, bars, banks, post offices or in shops. From 1 July 2019, it will also be prohibited outside restaurants, bars and cafés.
You will find that alcoholic beverages only can be bought at the Systembolaget – the government owned chain of liquor stores in Sweden. To be able to purchase at the Systembolaget you will have to prove your age (bring your passport), minimum 20 years are required. Be aware that drinking and driving is strictly prohibited in Sweden.
Tipping is not considered mandatory in Sweden. However, if you have good service from a restaurant or taxi it is considered standard practice to tip around 10 percent of the bill.
The Tourist Information Centre can be found at: Österlånggatan 1-3, 503 15 Borås
SJ is the major Swedish train company running long distance traffic over almost all of Sweden. sj.se (external link)
The tap water is often of very good quality and safe to drink.