With picturesque views of mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, and the ocean all together in one place, Sweden has much to offer teens with a growing love for the outdoors. A unique combination of island topography colliding with mountain ranges, this country is like no other on Earth (TRANSLATION: It’s totally awesome, and an incredible place to study abroad as a high schooler). Ready to visit the homeland of Ikea’s famous meatballs and your favorite fish-shaped gummy candy? Then start searching for a high school program in Sweden!
In many countries, there are restrictions as to where students are allowed to go during class times and even during free periods, students can be harshly penalized for being tardy, and sick days are heavily monitored. At schools in Sweden, however, students are free to come and go as you please, a practice which builds trust between the institution and their young students. Students are instilled with a sense of personal responsibility, by being allowed to determine when they’re too sick to attend school or when family or private matters take precedence. Ready to play your best game of hooky?
The biggest selling point for many students who love the outdoors and are filled with wanderlust is the geography of Sweden. Sweden is a unique nation that has nearly every type of scenery there is to offer, from islands to rock-strewn mountains and beautiful beaches to deserted snow caps.
We suggest taking your high school studies to beautiful Stockholm. When not cramming for your next exam, you’ll be able to squeeze in trips to H&M’s headquarters (well-intentioned budgets beware). Teens who have inklings toward civil engineering will be giddy during high school programs in Stockholm: it sits on no fewer than 14 islands that are interconnected by 57 bridges. For a taste of “yester-year”, students can admire the cobblestone streets and baroque architecture of the old town, Gamla Stan.
High school students seeking true immersion would be wise to consider a smaller city for their high school program in Sweden. Enter Gothenburg! While your wallet is no safer here than in the capital (Europe’s largest mall resides here), there are plenty of alternative perks of high school programs in Gothenburg. For instance, if you have an immediate hankering for a delicious breakfast pastry, you can quickly make your way just across the sea to the Denmark. Poetry geeks will #fanboy hard for John Greene here: did we mention it’s speculated that Beowulf is set in this area?
Fortunately for the outdoor enthusiasts, Sweden is also well equipped with an excellent public transportation system, so traveling to and from different locations as a high school student is well within reach. From nearly anywhere in Sweden, it takes mere hours to reach gorgeous city destination, with cobblestone streets and small-town café charm, or chilly Jukkasjärv, where you can brave staying in a hotel completely made of ice.
High School Programs in Sweden
If you decide to try out high school in Sweden, you can choose between multiple program emphases. Unfortunately, no high school programs in Sweden revolve entirely around reindeer rearing though.
Swedish schools are an excellent option for international high school students who aren’t fluent in a second language, and there are many high schools in Sweden taught entirely in English. However, students keen to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in its original form might opt to sign up for a language-oriented program. Mastering Swedish and scoring some foreign language credits before college will do the body (we mean, uh, the college preparedness) good.
Another option to consider is choosing a cultural exploration focused program (which will take you beyond my silly, yet always brilliant, pop culture references to Sweden lives a seriously fascinating and complex culture). Explore life in the Arctic Circle, learn how Sweden managed to join the EU without adopting the Euro, memorize an ABBA song (DidYouKnow: Sweden is the world's third biggest exporter of music after the U.S. and the UK?!), or catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis in Swedish Lapland.
Fortunately for Swedish citizens and international students, schooling is the first thing on their mind. For decades, Sweden has been hard at work building a rock-solid educational system, and taking steps to guarantee every Swedish citizen an excellent education, free of charge (university and post-secondary schooling included!).
Thanks to the effort of Sweden’s Ministry of Education, the nation’s curriculum has been streamlined to offer the best of literature, mathematics, and science, taught by top-of-the-line educators who are motivated by student performance. During high school in Sweden, subjects are assigned to students, taking the endless choice of class schedules, advanced placement or regular courses, and elective options out of the equation.
Scholarships & Costs
Due to Sweden’s socialist political system, education for Swedish citizens is provided for free; even private schools, which have entrance standards and requirements, are subsidized fully by the government. As an international student seeking admittance into a high school in Sweden, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your schooling will be entirely paid for, but the reduced rate is a definite check in the “pro” column for those contemplating high school in Sweden.
On the whole, Scandinavia is rarely referred to as an affordable destination. Therefore, students are encouraged to apply for scholarships to attend high school in Sweden to help offset the costs. While it may be hard, commit to staying in Sweden for the entire duration of your program. While the holidays at home would be lovely, it’ll cost you a pretty penny and rob you of an opportunity to see how another culture celebrates your favorite time of year.
Accommodation & Visas
Swedish high school exchange programs typically include host family accommodation for international students. Depending on the host family’s situation, they will host a student in exchange for a monthly fee, or an equal exchange for their child; some families require no payment. Whichever situation you avail, living with a host family is an economical alternative to living on your own, and allows you to become ingrained in the local culture much easier, making it an all-around smart choice.
All foreigners who wish to enter Sweden are required to have a visa; smart travelers know to coordinate this well in advance. All applications for staying longer than 90 days will require applicants to have an official invitation letter from a sponsoring body, a passport, proof of enough money to sustain expenses during your stay, and a return ticket or the money to buy one.
Visit GoAbroad’s Swedish Embassy Directory to get the contact details and information you need to visit Sweden legally and with the right documentation.
Benefits & Challenges
Sweden is at the forefront of nations working overtime to ensure that women and men are treated fairly and afforded the same opportunities. This makes a huge difference in their daily culture, especially in the academic environment. Coming from nations where the gender gap in wages and STEM field positions is pronounced, international students revel in the opportunity to be a part of a society where their gender is irrelevant to their studies. Sweden still has a long way to go on other planes, but this is a definite advantage for both male and female high school students studying abroad in Sweden; as studies show, both genders benefit from being on an equal play field.
Another small distinction of Swedish high schools is that, for the majority of assignments, coursework is completed by students alone, as opposed to being done in a group setting. There are rarely group assignments, because schools believe that solo work will far improve a student’s overall success and retention of information.
There is no shortage of reasons to apply for high school programs in Sweden; their high school system is top-tier and provides international students with an accredited education they can use when they travel back home.
But, even broader than the education you will receive within your high school in Sweden, is the education you will glean outside of the classroom. Whether it’s picking up bits and pieces of a foreign language during your stay, having your host family teach you how to prepare special meals or make a cake for Swedish Midsummer’s Eve, or learning to love a new outdoor activity, Sweden has much to teach you!