There are several hundred international students at the University of Skövde. Students from all over the world who are eager to learn more about Swedish culture and language. Once a week the University offers a Swedish language and cultural café.
The students are all agree that the Swedish language and cultural café is a great opportunity for them to learn more about both the culture and the language.
It is afternoon and many of the lectures have finished for the day. Students arrive at the Swedish language and cultural café on campus. Some of them have been to all the cafés during the autumn semester, others have just recently joined.
“Sometimes we have had between 20 to 30 students. That is great and we divide ourselves into smaller groups so that everyone gets the opportunity to talk, says Ines Niksic, lecturer in Swedish at the University.”
Ines Niksic is responsible for the meetings together with some colleagues and student volunteers. She welcomes the students, makes small talk and asks how they are doing.
“This is a very international mingle where we practice speaking Swedish, but of course we also speak other languages. We also talk about and explain different cultural things and have for example talked about Swedish traditions and how swedes celebrate Halloween.”
An important Swedish word
When talking about traditions and habits, the Swedish word fika is important to know.
Alexander Wagner and Janine Feyrer are from Austria and have embraced fika. They place a package of sweet biscuits on the table, next to the coffee. Having a coffee break in Sweden is called fika, and it is more like a social institution and it is not something you miss.
Both Alexander and Janine are on an Erasmus exchange program for one semester. Alexander studies Cognitive Neuroscience and Janine is studying Data Science/Cyber Security and the lectures are in English.
“As our native language also is a Germanic language we don’t find Swedish words so difficult to pronounce. However, coming to the café is a great opportunity to practice Swedish as we realised that at other places, such as the Supermarket, people often start speaking English to you instead”.
At another table we meet the international students George Kokolakis from Greece, Md Saiful Islam from Bangladesh and Fatime Toci form Albania. All three of them are studying a Master’s degree in Data Science.
“The language café has been very helpful when it comes to practice the Swedish, says Fatime.”
George also points out that Ines Niksic is very understanding when it comes to moving to and studying in foreign country.
“It is great that Ines is responsible for the café as she herself has moved to Sweden and learnt the language. She has the same experience as we have and her sharing that experience with us helps a lot. I really enjoy these meetings and I think I have been to most of them, says George”.
Alexander Wagner and Janine Feyrer are from Austria and are both on an exchange program for one semester. "The café is a great opportunity to practice Swedish as we realised that at other places, such as the Supermarket, people often start speaking English to you instead”.