An Exchange Student’s Tips for Things to Watch for on Busses in Sweden (Especially for Americans!)

An Exchange Student’s Tips for Things to Watch for on Busses in Sweden (Especially for Americans!)

Public transportation isn’t a very common mode of transportation for many U.S. students, but it is in most other countries! High School Abroad Sweden student Catherine had never taken public transportation before studying abroad in Sweden. Now on program, she takes anywhere from 1-2 busses and 1-2 trains, with commutes lasting 1-2 hours every day! On the weekends, she often uses public transportation to visit friends in various locations. Here’s her advice for any student headed to Sweden who plans to use public transport (in other words, every student!).  Catherine goes to school in Nässjö, but travels to other areas near her quite frequently. 

By Catherine Daniel

  • Starting Your Journey
    • A must have for coming to Sweden is definingly the “Buss App” aka “journey Planner” it is a constantly updating Buss and Train monitor that can tell you all the future routes from the closest Bus stop or train station to wherever you wish to go. Other than on extreme occasions, the busses will arrive at the allotted time give-or-take 3 minutes. When you get on your buss you pay by scanning your refillable month buss pass, this is only about 20 dollars for minors.
    • The first big mistake I ever made was on my first week of school. Making the assumption that the bus station in the town I went to school in was the only bus station in all existence and the mother ship of all busses ever to roam the world. So I got on a totally random bus and simply waited for it to arrive at the bus station. However… I was soon to realize that there is a bus station in every sizable town and the buss I was on wasn’t even coming close to my town at all. The driver realizing I was a total Morton called some of his bus friends and brought me to the first bus station that had a bus going to my home town.
  • Changing busses
    • This was one of the hardest parts for me because you will often find yourself at bus stations with several stops all with the same names, you can get confused like myself as to where you should wait. Your host family probably won’t see the point in explaining the bus system because they lived with it their entire lives, so make sure to either ask questions or learn fast. In the beginning always double or triple check the stop you are waiting at and the time you should be there.
      • On my first trip to school form my new host family in a city far from the one in which I go to school, I got terribly messed up in a bus station. Usually I would take a longer bus to the nearby big city and take the train, but today was different. I got on the bus from my house and got off at a circular bus station with several stops. I knew the bus I was waiting from, but I had no idea where to wait. After about an hour I’d had three whole busses leave me as I was running after them. One of my problems being I hadn’t gotten a SIM card yet so I had no wifi to check the Buss App. Eventually I realized I would have to catch the first bus home and start all over. However! I realized that instead I could take the first buss to Jönköping and from there I would take the train like usual. I succeeded in my endeavor and will forever remember it as a win for me! … even though I got to class a hour late.
    • The Buss (and train) Police.
      • Now these guys are the real trouble… built like a cross between The Incredible Hulk and a literal Bolder, these guys com on to busses randomly, in uniform, in groups and check that everyone has paid and are following all of the rules. For an American student this means the following:
        • They approach me and ask for my Buss Card
        • Upon scanning my card they will realize I have a minors card (I don’t look 16)
        • Now they want my ID to prove I am 16…
        • Upon looking at my Drivers License they will see I am American
        • NOW I have to give them my Residency permit card to prove I’m not an illegal alien and then finally they will leave me to be.

Catherine in front of her bus stop.

I dramatize this of course, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to have all three cards on you at all times. Another problem that can occur with The Buss Police is refilling you bus card. This story is a rather humorous one for me, so much so that I almost forget sweating bullets during it.

Every month your buss card will run out one day before it was purchased the previous month, so if I bought my card on the 1st (like I do) then on the 31st it will run out. But if I keep refilling it the same day it runs out then the day will keep moving back and I just like a little more structure than that. So I use my expired buss card every month on the first to go to the buss station and refill it. This is possible because (especially with COVID-19) the bus drivers don’t require you to scan every time, usually simply reaching for your card will work and they will wave you on. One day however, it occurred to me that if The Buss Police were to come on the 1st then I would kind of be in trouble. My argument “that’s ridiculous I’m sure everyone refills their card on the 1st so why would they check? Aaaaaand I’ve only ever seen The Buss Police three times since being here, it’s terribly unlikely, terribly indeed…

Long story short — The Buss Police totally came that day but after I promised I was on my way to refill it right now they let me go!

The front of the buss is the number and end destination, this is also the name of the buss on the buss app


The back of the bus shows just the number .

Watch this video below to see how Catherine books her bus ticket:



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