There is something Sweden does even better than IKEA, ABBA, and H&M (and no, it’s not capitalizing everything). If you haven’t heard yet, Sweden is one of the premier study abroad destinations in the world. 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 as well as to neighboring European nations. But, the country also has an innovative education system and a highly developed economy, making study abroad in Sweden a uniquely beneficial learning experience.
Forget all your ideas about Sweden being blanketed in snow all year round. Sweden actually enjoys year-round temperate climate in the south and warmer summers in the north. Favorable climate and limestone-rich bedrock pave the way for strikingly beautiful flora and animals, including wolves and bears in the north and wild boars and roe deer in the south.
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, 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 too.
Cafes line the Dutch-style canals and leafy boulevards of Gothenburg, while trams rattle up and down streets, and a lively art and music scene feeds the appetites of culture-hungry students. Harnessing its seaside location, Gothenburg serves up fresh seafood, ship-spotted waterfront strolls, and museums with everything sea-related.
A vibrant university town, Uppsala meshes a party vibe with a wealth of history and the accompanying historical buildings. Its Scandinavian beauty shines through the elegant streets of neo-classical architecture, Sweden’s oldest cathedral, and the captivating riverfront. One of the fastest growing cities in the country, Uppsala is an exciting place to study abroad in Sweden.
Studying Abroad in Sweden
Choosing to study 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.
Sweden’s economy is built on people. In its effort 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 abroad 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.
Considering all of the above societal characteristics, spending time studying abroad in Sweden is particularly beneficial for economics majors as well as psychology, education, social work, and politics majors.
Scholarships & Costs
Though they might do budget clothing and homewares really well, the overall cost of living and studying abroad in Sweden can be high for international students. Savvy budgeters can get by on around $1000 a month, excluding study abroad program and course fees.
Unless your accommodation is already covered by your program provider, housing generally costs around $450 a month, food an additional $250, transportation $60, and entertainment and miscellaneous costs around $200 per month. You should also budget a little extra for weekend trips and excursions around the country or to neighboring countries if you decide to study in Sweden.
Financial restraints shouldn’t stand between you and the unforgettable experience of study abroad in Sweden. To explore different scholarship options and help offset the costs, it’s a good idea to stop by GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory. You can also contact the study abroad office at your university, for lots of great advice on scholarships and other options for financial aid.
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodation will usually be provided in either dormitories or homestays. Both options have strong advantages. Living in an international dormitory will be a fast-track to making friends with students from all over the world, as well as with locals. Despite sharing living spaces, you will have more independence, apart from the possible restraints of family life. Living in a family is also a wonderful experience, however, and if improving your Swedish or immersing yourself in Swedish culture is a priority to you, this is the best way to go.
Students from European Union or other Nordic countries can live and study in Sweden without a residence permit or visa. If you come from a country outside of these areas, you will need a residence permit. To be eligible, you must be enrolled at an accredited university and have paid your first tuition instalment. The application can be done online, but the approval process can take up to three months, so you should submit your application as soon as you have been admitted to the university of your choice. For more detailed information, you contact a Swedish embassy in your home country.
Benefits & Challenges
Sweden prides itself in being an open country. With a consistent influx of immigrants comes an increasingly international and multicultural society. In fact, almost one-fifth of its population has roots in foreign countries.
However, 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. This comes in handy if you plan on traveling while studying abroad in Sweden, because it means you can enjoy its natural tourism; there is a wealth of aquatic and plant life to explore, 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.
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. 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.