Sweden has a lot of the elements that typically lure international students: natural beauty, chic cosmopolitan cities, a welcoming culture, and lots of travel opportunities within the country and to neighboring European nations. But the country also has an innovative education system and highly developed economy that makes study abroad in Sweden a uniquely beneficial learning experience.
Geography & Demographics
Forget the general impression that Sweden’s northern position in Europe makes it a constantly cold place. Sweden actually enjoys year-round temperate climate in the south and warmer summers in the north. For warm, sunny days, schedule your visit from late May to September. If you enjoy hiking and camping, be warned: June and July mark the peak of the mosquito season.
Traveling in Sweden during winter requires some planning. With the exception of ski resort towns like Jukkasjärvi and Åre, small towns go into a state of hibernation during the cold season. Expect to find great opportunities for skiing, snowmobiling, and dogsledding, though. Though, the big cities are always in full swing no matter what time of year it is.
If you plan on a summer study abroad program in Sweden, pack for the mild and pleasant climate with summer clothes, light sweaters and jackets, and a raincoat. Make sure you have an overcoat handy if you will be studying in Sweden during winter, early spring, and autumn.
Favorable climate and limestone-rich bedrock pave the way for strikingly beautiful flora in the islands of Öland and Gotland. Sweden also has wolves and bears in the north, and wild boars and roe deer in the south.
Food & Culture
Sweden’s famous dish is the smörgåsbord, a large buffet that includes meats, fish, salads, cheese, sweets, and stuffed cabbage. Sweden is also known for its meatballs, which are served with boiled potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry jam. Other regionally important dishes are the eel in southern Sweden and the surströmming (fermented fish) in northern Sweden. Because of its many coasts and lakes, fish is a major staple in the Swedes’ diet. Other common Swedish foods are sausage, potatoes, cheese and root vegetables. Mind your table manners when in Sweden, as this is important to the locals, and use the phrase “tack for maten” (which means “thank you for the food”) when you’re a guest in someone’s home.
You will find various ethnic restaurants in Sweden that serve local dishes, as well as crossover themed restaurants that tastefully mix Swedish cuisine with foreign dishes. Also present are the ever-convenient fast food outlets and pizzerias. You can grab snacks from a nearby stand selling varmkorv (hotdogs). Ask for the Dagens rätt (dish of the day) when in a restaurant during lunchtime.
Studying abroad in Sweden will introduce you to a lifestyle that weaves together high quality housing, love of nature, environmental advocacy, cultural experiences, health awareness, and egalitarian values. Swedes have an interesting way of mixing old traditions and an open attitude toward new technologies, and combining efficiency and a laid-back frame of mind.
Sweden prides itself in being an open country. With a consistent influx of immigrants comes an increasingly international and multicultural society. Almost one-fifth of its population has roots in foreign countries. Swedes value privacy and tend to be reserved at first, until they get to know you. People in Sweden are known for being hardworking, but make the most out of their free time with leisurely activities and trips.
The country’s egalitarian system extends to its natural resources, with the ‘right of common access’ (as mandated by the law called Allemansrätten) ensuring that everybody gets to hike through fields and forests, and pick mushrooms and berries without having to ask for the landowner’s permission.
Studying in Sweden puts you in a society where you are valued and heard, and considered an equal even by professors. This high regard for the individual starts during early childhood. Families, government offices and private companies exercise the practice of setting up a forum to listen to children’s concerns. The input is later used for key decision-making processes.
Things to Do
Winter recreation in Sweden means playing winter sports during daytime and heading inside to cinemas, restaurants, and pubs during evenings. Come summer and spring, the Swedes flood outdoors to have fun with the open-air museums, music festivals, and other outdoor activities. If you intend to go sightseeing in Sweden, be ready with comfortable shoes for trekking the commonly found cobblestone streets.
Traveling in Sweden means enjoying its nature tourism; there is a wealth of aquatic and plant life, including large deciduous and coniferous forests. Sweden is the first in Europe to establish national parks, ensuring that people continue to enjoy its untouched wilderness. The first national urban park in the world, the Royal Ecological Park, is located in Stockholm, but cultural heritage areas and nature reserves also abound in the country, including the world’s largest maritime museum in Gothenburg.
If you want to experience a bustling metropolitan scene, then you must head straight to the city of Stockholm. Sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North,” Stockholm offers a picturesque scene that sprawls across 14 islands. You will never run out of things to do, what with its rich cultural heritage, innovative cuisine, and impressive music and art scene. If you study abroad in Stockholm your courses will surely include excursions to some of its many museums, art galleries, or music venues.
Studying in Sweden
Sweden’s economy is built on people. In its efforts to break away from its dependence on iron ore and timber, Sweden developed a knowledge-based economy that puts emphasis on its human resources. The country has managed to cultivate an education system that consistently ranks among the highest by international standards set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Studying in Sweden will not only give you access to top-notch education but will also give you an opportunity to explore “the Swedish model.” The country is known for its successful social welfare system. Education is mostly free and everyone has equal access to the government healthcare program. Sweden has successfully created a balance between economic success and social equality. Spending time studying Sweden’s society is beneficial for economics majors all the way to psychology, education, social work, and politics majors.