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‘The beauty of being different’: how to raise a global child

In today’s interconnected world, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to prepare them to thrive in the global community by sparking and feeding their curiosity. 

'The beauty of being different': how to raise a global child

But what does that mean? Well, we must inspire our children to be curious about the world and to become globally aware. We must teach our children to appreciate, communicate, respect and interact with people across different cultures and in other countries. 

That’s easily said, but how do we actually make that happen? How do we give our kids the tools to make their own way in our global community? 

One way in which we give our children the best possible start in life is to enrol them in a preschool that has a curriculum that encourages curiosity and will allow children to continue their education anywhere in the world if their parents move.

The International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) is a child-centred curriculum for 2-5 year olds that recognises the developmental needs of early years education and emphasises playful, holistic and child-focused approaches to learning and development. 

At Futuraskolan preschools the IEYC is given an international twist by teachers such as Luca Nicolo, originally from Italy, who works at the ​​Gåshaga preschool.

“We like to emphasise the interconnectedness of our world, so we help our children make the connections,” says Luca. “We teach that our connections with others should be built on respect for others. Others’ cultures, traditions and things that are different. We emphasise the beauty of being different instead of everything being the same as what we see out of our windows. We give kids the tools to find out about the rest of the world around them and how fascinating it can be. But we also always emphasise the importance of our roots.”

Looking for a preschool in Stockholm? Learn more about Futuraskolan and its commitment to an international education

Kids at Gåshaga getting messy.

Rachelle Colldahl, is a Californian who now lives in Stockholm, and whose 4-year-old son attends the Futuraskolan International Gåshaga. She explains the nuts and bolts of how the teachers at Gåshaga encourage the students to be curious.

“Before my son even started at the preschool he was asked by the teachers to create, and bring to school, something that represents the country he’s from. Well, I’m American, and my husband is half-Swedish, half-British so we made three things for the school.”

“I also really like the fact that the school has a diverse menu, such as falafels and other international foods. And when a particular country has a special holiday they’ll serve that country’s cuisine. And they’ll encourage the kids to talk about it.”

Learn more about Futuraskolan and its commitment to giving children the best possible start to their education

This focus on the “beauty of the other” and interconnectedness has paid dividends already as far as Rachelle is concerned.

“We want our son to learn different languages, so we’re very happy that Futuraskolan teaches him Swedish. He’s already learning other languages, small words from other countries, just from his friends at preschool. That’s really exciting to me, whether it be French, Spanish, or Arabic, he knows a few words from each.”

As Luca says, this international approach is deeply embedded within Futuraskolan’s DNA. “From the beginning, we read fairy tales not just in English or Swedish, but in the languages of some of the other children – maybe some in Spanish, Italian or Arabic. So the kids can see that these stories are not just confined to their own cultures but are global stories.”

“Our teaching methods go beyond any border, both geographical and cultural,” says Luca.

“On United Nations Day in October we invite all the families to celebrate with a multicultural party. We have dances where children will dance to some traditional music from countries other than their own and wear their countries’ traditional dress. Some of the teachers are from countries other than Sweden, too, and we’ll join in the dancing.”

How do we give our kids the tools to make their own way in our global community?

But there’s a more profound dimension to this internationalism, too, as Rachelle explains.

“The school has been sponsoring a feeding programme in the Philippines to support the students of primary schools in Legazpi city,” she says. “There are videos and communications back and forth between the schools and Futuraskolan. As much as we can teach empathy at home, sometimes it resonates more with the kids at school. They’ll say things like, ‘Oh, this kid doesn’t have shoes and he has to walk to school.’ 

“They learn that there’s no clean water in certain places, or some people don’t have electricity. Futuraskolan is teaching our kids empathy and to be caring. These are incredibly important, long-term life lessons. And they’re being taught them at a very early age.”

Futuraskolan’s commitment to encouraging curiosity in the wider world extends beyond preschool into regular school years, all part of its approach to helping children become empathetic, globally-minded human beings.

Are you looking for a preschool that has an international curriculum? Find out more about Futuraskolan.

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PROPERTY

Don’t panic! How to find student housing in Sweden

Help, I'm starting university in Sweden but I don't have a place to live! Read these top tips.

Don't panic! How to find student housing in Sweden
Finding student accommodation can be tricky. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Student accommodation can be difficult to find in any country, and in Sweden your options can vary considerably between cities. There are always going to be housing shortages, landlords who want to take advantage of your lack of knowledge of the market, and last minute mess-ups. 

Know your options

Sweden does not tend to offer boarding-school halls of residences with breakfast or dinner included as some other countries do. But there’s a range of options: from renting an en-suite apartment with your own kitchen, to student dorms with a communal kitchen and shower in the hallway.

There are several alternatives available, but some of the most common formal routes include renting via the university’s own housing scheme if they have one, the municipality’s official housing queue (which often has apartments available specifically for students) or, if you’re studying in Lund and Uppsala, via the student nations’ own halls of residence (read more about student unions here).

It is worth contacting your university’s housing office for information on your specific options, but do start looking as soon as you get your acceptance letter, as apartments in some towns are hard to come by.

Don’t rely on university housing

Places in university halls are often limited. Partly because of the increasing number of students, and not enough universities to accommodate everyone. Some municipalities offer a “housing guarantee” for all students, but most don’t have an obligation to provide accommodation.

Even if you’re part of the Erasmus programme or some kind of exchange student, a place to stay isn’t always guaranteed.

Check out The Local’s guide to how to navigate Sweden’s rental market if you want or need to look for an apartment outside the university accommodation system. You can also rent second-hand apartments via housing sites such as Blocket, but it is usually easier if you’re already in Sweden and know the system.


University housing can be difficult to obtain. Photo: Magnus Liam/imagebank.sweden.se

What do I do if the semester is about to start and I still can’t find a place to stay?

Have you contacted your university housing office yet? If you are in luck there may be a last-minute opening in one of the university complexes, and even if there isn’t anything available, they can point you to off-campus apartment complexes or housing offices in the area that the university has agreements with or find reliable, giving you the best chance at reasonable rent prices and finding a place that is close to the university.

But if it’s very late in the season, most university housing will be full, so it is best to look into subletting. Some towns or universities have an online notice board where other students can sublet their apartment if they, for example, go on a semester abroad (for example Studentboet in Uppsala).

Subletting, although useful, means you need to check extra carefully that everything is legitimate. Make sure you have approval from the landlord, don’t pay a deposit larger than a month’s rent and make sure you get insurance that covers any damages that may happen while you’re living there. Read more about it here.


Many student dorms come with a communal laundry room. Photo: Magnus Liam Karlsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Contact your student union

Your university’s student union is a great resource and they are more than happy to advise incoming students. You can get the inside scoop on where the best off-campus housing is and what to avoid, as well as making new friends. Some student unions have temporary housing programmes to help tide new students over when they’re still looking for housing. 

You can also look into youth hostels in the area. It may not be ideal, but it can be a safe place to stay while you get on your feet, and you may meet other students in a similar situation to you and look for an apartment together.

You could stay temporarily with a fellow student. Photo: Tina Stafren/imagebank.sweden.se

Use your friends, colleagues, family and acquaintances to your advantage

This is frustrating advice if you’re a newcomer, but networking is one of your best bets. Know a couple of people already studying in Sweden? Contact them and ask for advice, especially if they’re going to the same university as you. Maybe they know someone who needs a housemate, or are moving out of their apartment and the lease is still up for grabs. Or you could ring up your uncle’s best friend’s cousin’s boss who happens to live in Stockholm and who also happens to be a landlord. 

Connections are particularly helpful in major student towns such as Uppsala and Lund or in big cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg, where the number of students often exceeds the number of rooms offered by universities and are plagued by long waiting lists.


Get by with a little help from your friends. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Lastly, the internet is your ultimate tool

If you don’t have any contacts in Sweden, don’t worry. You can try using online marketplaces such as The Local’s property page.

Thankfully, social media is also useful to find somewhere to live. With Facebook groups such as Rooms/Housing in StockholmUppsala Housing or The Local’s own Living in Sweden group you have somewhere solid to ask questions and survey your options, and talking to people who are, or were, in similar situations can help you better understand the process and the advantages or disadvantages of options.

Article first written by Saina Behnejad in 2016 and updated in 20201.

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