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Sweden easier for students?

*Catchrndry*
post 10.Feb.2006, 08:25 PM
Post #1


Hey all, I've been lurking and carefully reading these forums for awhile. I really don't want to be like another uninformed newbie saying "HAY GUYZ I WANT TO MOVE TO SWEDEN IT SEEMS COOL".

I'm an American engineer, basically looking to do something different. I make a comfortable living yet I feel the urge to shake off my dead suburban soul and take damn risk for once, before I lose all the youth fo my 20s. I think living abroad for about a year would be good sorta character development. And hey, I was quickly enlightened to the fact Sweden has free grad school for dirty foreigners like myself. I've been to Scandanavia for about 3 weeks, 5 of those days in Stockholm. That hardly makes me an knowledgable on anything, but at least I got the flavor.

After reading through most of these threads, the main complaint is the difficulty of true integration. I am not expecting to be carried on shoulders through the city and for grandmas to have me kiss babies. However, I am extremely discouraged by the fact that many others have claimed it takes a superhuman effort to move slightly beyond tolerance by Swedes. I hate being a tourist, and felt I was treated as such in all of Northern Europe (and rightfully so). My best times abroad anywhere is when I was doing SOMETHING useful other than drinking and staring at stuff in museums, and thereby got to know people in a more familiar, daily way.

I guess my questions lead:
Does the life of a student make it any easier to be "plugged-in" to society than the that of a working man? If I spend a year or two on a masters, will I more or less be looked upon just as super-tourist and only hang out with other foreigners?

How does the environment of Swedish Universities compare to the more residential "college-town" universities of the US (the ones I've gone to)?

I am very willing to learn the Swedish, but does that mean social isolation for months while trying to build proficiency?

I'm a born and raised US citizen of ethnically Chinese. Will I be treated differently than my fellow Americans?

Thanks!
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*The Teenage Diplomat*
post 10.Feb.2006, 08:36 PM
Post #2


I think that studying might help you with social connections. Another way to make the social life work easier is by going to the gym, or do some sport, get involved in a political party or things like that. To tell you the truth im not sure how you will be treated, I've never talked to an american at my uni. However we have people from all over the world here, Israel, China, Australia etc. I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but for some reason it feels like we have mor aussies here than americans and english, im not sure if that's the truth though. Swedes are usually somewhat withdrawn, but once they get to know eachother it will change. An advise if you would start studying here, is to not show up a while after the term have started. Because if you show up at the start, it's likely that there'll be a lot of new people, and not many may know eachother. Then you might see the swedes sitting around a table scared like hell, and no one is talking, but if you can get in at that stage it would probably be easier.
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Dev
post 10.Feb.2006, 09:05 PM
Post #3
Location: Gothenburg
Joined: 20.Jul.2005

I visit the Local everyday being the only place I know of, with Swedish news in English. Cheers to The Local. However this is my very post on the lists here. I thought I should post a reply in this thread having experienced Sweden as a student and as a person working here !!! Anyway I'm Indian and I've done my masters in Göteborg. Firstly since you are American I guess you would be opting for one of the International Masters courses here which are tutored in English. From my experience its really good to study here but I can "almost" guarantee that all the students in the courses tutored in English would be from non swedish speaking countries some of them probably exchange students who are here only for a couple of semesters or so. Some of the classes could have a few swedish students as well but from my experience we english speaking ones tend to have our group and so we dont end up actually getting too much integrated into the swedish system. Having worked for some time in California and having friends who have done their Masters there I can say that the experience of doing your Masters here is just as similar except that don't expect to get loads of swedish friends just by studying here. If you study at one of the top universities here which I think personally are Chalmers and KTH, and if you are really good in what you do I dont think you would be treated any differently than anyone else. Most of the people working in Multinational companies in Sweden ( atleast the ones I work with ) are really cool and don't care of who or from where you are. They only appreciate your work and your knowledge. On the other hand getting a job here as you would have read elsewehere on this forum is not easy at all. I personally feel it doesn't ,matter if you know Swedish or not if you don't intend to work in a field which has lots of customer interaction. The main thing here is you really need contacts or know someone to even know that a company is looking for people. Hope this gives you some ideas.

cheers
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Eyallow
post 10.Feb.2006, 09:30 PM
Post #4
Joined: 2.Jun.2005

Hey sorry if on this forum you have been given the general impression that swedes are intolerant. That is not the case in all arenas. I guess integration is a common problem in all societies and even within people of the same background. For example, social, mental and sexual integration etc.

The problem in Sweden is that it is quite hard to get jobs and this affects native swedes as well. The situation only gets worse when you can't speak the language fluently.

About being a student, if you have saved enough money to take care of accomodation and feeding for at least a year, then i think you will have a fabulous time..

With students life is easier and merrier than when one is working and very stressed out. Through students you will meet a lot of a mazing people. Most people working are people with families that kiss good bye to everyone after work and rush home to baby sit their kids and partners and only surface the next morning from their niches.

Also a swedish diploma puts you way up the laddar than just a foreign degree even from the states. Being a 20-something young man, you will vigourously enjoy the life as a student if you are receptive!

Come galloping and join the crowd!

Cheers!
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Haz
post 10.Feb.2006, 09:55 PM
Post #5
Joined: 5.Sep.2005

I'm from american and study in comp sci in gbg. I would say that it is quite easy to get along here as a student. You might find it boring if you don't like to drink alot and you might not like the wheather. Integration is easy but there is one simple rule, join clubs, join as many club like activites as you can and do it fast. Don't be afraid to make the first move to converse with any swedes, they don't mind talking to you if you talk to them, they just won't start conversations that easily. As far as friends that i hange out with outside of Uni, they are (all but one or two) swedish. So yes i have made alot of swedish friends. I don't know much swedish and it doesn't matter everyone is fine speaking english.

Im sure there are more "exciting" places to go to Uni then sweden, but sweden does provided some a good experience for study.


best of luck
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*Catchrndry*
post 10.Feb.2006, 10:25 PM
Post #6


Thanks all for the fast replies, I appreciate how well thought out they were. I'm looking forward to participating in The Local and asking many stupid questions.

QUOTE (Stebro)
I think that studying might help you with social connections. An advise if you would start studying here, is to not show up a while after the term have started. Because if you show up at the start, it's likely that there'll be a lot of new people, and not many may know eachother.


When you say "start of term" do you mean the beginning of a semester? Or do you specifically mean "start of term" as "fall"? Its pretty much too late to apply to any schools for fall semester, is it a bad idea to show up at spring semester?

QUOTE (Dev)
Anyway I'm Indian and I've done my masters in Göteborg. Firstly since you are American I guess you would be opting for one of the International Masters courses here which are tutored in English. From my experience its really good to study here but I can "almost" guarantee that all the students in the courses tutored in English would be from non swedish speaking countries some of them probably exchange students who are here only for a couple of semesters or so. Some of the classes could have a few swedish students as well but from my experience we english speaking ones tend to have our group and so we dont end up actually getting too much integrated into the swedish system. Having worked for some time in California and having friends who have done their Masters there I can say that the experience of doing your Masters here is just as similar except that don't expect to get loads of swedish friends just by studying here. If you study at one of the top universities here which I think personally are Chalmers and KTH, and if you are really good in what you do I dont think you would be treated any differently than anyone else. Most of the people working in Multinational companies in Sweden ( atleast the ones I work with ) are really cool and don't care of who or from where you are. They only appreciate your work and your knowledge. On the other hand getting a job here as you would have read elsewehere on this forum is not easy at all. I personally feel it doesn't ,matter if you know Swedish or not if you don't intend to work in a field which has lots of customer interaction. The main thing here is you really need contacts or know someone to even know that a company is looking for people. Hope this gives you some ideas.

cheers


Thanks what you posted is pretty encouraging. To be honest, I wasn't even too concerned with what I study, I already have a masters in engineering, and am more curious to branch out for something that may or not be useful for a career. Do you know if there are any MBAs besides the one at Stockholm School of Econ? What did you study there? And as for working in Sweden or staying long term, I haven't even spent more than week there yet so I have no idea. Were there many programs in English at Göteborg?


QUOTE (eyallow)
Hey sorry if on this forum you have been given the general impression that swedes are intolerant. That is not the case in all arenas. I guess integration is a common problem in all societies and even within people of the same background. For example, social, mental and sexual integration etc.

The problem in Sweden is that it is quite hard to get jobs and this affects native swedes as well. The situation only gets worse when you can't speak the language fluently.

About being a student, if you have saved enough money to take care of accomodation and feeding for at least a year, then i think you will have a fabulous time..

With students life is easier and merrier than when one is working and very stressed out. Through students you will meet a lot of a mazing people. Most people working are people with families that kiss good bye to everyone after work and rush home to baby sit their kids and partners and only surface the next morning from their niches.

Also a swedish diploma puts you way up the laddar than just a foreign degree even from the states. Being a 20-something young man, you will vigourously enjoy the life as a student if you are receptive!

Come galloping and join the crowd!

Cheers!


Thanks for the welcome. I think Swedes are the oppposite of intolerant. I didn't get the impression from the Local or other expat blogs that Swedes were unfriendly, just very difficult to get to know beyond a basic level. It seems there is a marked difference between being generally polite and tolerant (which no one will dispute Swedes are), and readily being accepted socially (which seems difficult if you don't know Swedish).
As I said I had been in Sweden before and everyone was quite friendly.

I'm not wealthy, but I can defintely live a student's life off savings for about a year. Two years may be stretch though. I'll be honest I'm paranoid since on I've seen quite a small but significant minority of expats takling about how difficult it is to make deeper friendships without language. But apparently the universities have a different atmosphere according to your post. Would you recommend a small univeristy college town, or staying at a larger city with a major university?
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Haz
post 10.Feb.2006, 10:27 PM
Post #7
Joined: 5.Sep.2005

o wait if you are looking for "deep friendships" no sweden isn't the place. even my closest (swedish) friends here its like pulling teeth trying to get them to talk about anything personal.
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*Catchrndry*
post 10.Feb.2006, 10:31 PM
Post #8


QUOTE (Haz)
I'm from american and study in comp sci in gbg. I would say that it is quite easy to get along here as a student. You might find it boring if you don't like to drink alot and you might not like the wheather. Integration is easy but there is one simple rule, join clubs, join as many club like activites as you can and do it fast. Don't be afraid to make the first move to converse with any swedes, they don't mind talking to you if you talk to them, they just won't start conversations that easily. As far as friends that i hange out with outside of Uni, they are (all but one or two) swedish. So yes i have made alot of swedish friends. I don't know much swedish and it doesn't matter everyone is fine speaking english.

Im sure there are more "exciting" places to go to Uni then sweden, but sweden does provided some a good experience for study.


best of luck


I'm from Arizona, the cold may be a welcome change from the desert. I'm 26, so I'm far beyond those 18 year olds going to Italy and Spain to study and partying every night for "excitement". I'm a little too old for that. As long as its not extremely boring, which I doubt. How long are you in Sweden and what made you want to go?
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*Catchrndry*
post 10.Feb.2006, 10:35 PM
Post #9


QUOTE (Haz)
o wait if you are looking for "deep friendships" no sweden isn't the place. even my closest (swedish) friends here its like pulling teeth trying to get them to talk about anything personal.


We seem to be replying ever so slightly out of sync from each other.
I guess its how you define "deep friendship", I'm not traveling to look for friends, but its just nice to connect with people from a different place when you are a stranger. Beyond just bland pleasantries and "hellos". I'll be honest, I'm scared of the prospect of being alone in a foreign land where the people are supposedly not receptive beyond general politeness. I guess psychologists and other touchy feely counseling professions probably aren't too big in Sweden.
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*Brathair / Don't Be Lagom*
post 10.Feb.2006, 10:46 PM
Post #10


Holden (or do you prefer Mr. Caulfield?):

If you are interested in obtaining an MBA, I recommend you do some networking with senior bank officials in Sweden, who can give you the LD on obtaining an MBA in the US or Sweden. Perhaps you can get an American MBA while studying abroad in Sweden for part of it.

I don't think the language or your ethnic background would be a great barrier to making friends in Sweden. In my opinion the Swedes treat each other like crap, and would be more outgoing to someone like you.

I believe there is an MBA program down in Lund.

If you want character development, join the Army. They could teach you a foriegn language and they pay for it (afterwards you could probablby get a guaranteed overseas assignment)., That would require at least an initial year at Monterey, not bad. You are an excellent candidate for OCS, even better if you speak fluent Chinese, could go into intelligence.
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*Catchrndry*
post 11.Feb.2006, 02:39 AM
Post #11


Nice, you got the horribly phonetic chopping of my screen name, that I made when I was like 14 and got attached. Don't get me wrong I still love the book.

Well you seem to know what motivates me pretty well. A sense of purpose and atmosphere. I'm assuming by Monterry you mean the US Army defense foreign language institute. Too bad I was in the naval reserve enlisted on a whim for a brief period, and had some medical issues and was deemed damaged and discharged. Unless you meant the Swedish Army?

MBAs, grad school whatever, I guess what it comes down to I'm just looking for a legit reason to quit my stable but boring job, leave my stable but boring town and not regret it! So I'm still trying get attain info on whether or not this is a good idea or just a foolish one. Are you in Sweden currently Ballyfeenaun?

In Finland, everyone seemed more dour and sort of gray than even non-drunk Icelanders. But I see what you mean, the minute I struck up conversation with some, they were more than eager to talk. One guy wouldn't shut up. He kept droning on and on about how we wished he was in the US in a old Chevy, driving across route 66 and stopping at small towns eating apple pie. I guess we all have romaticized views of the other side of the world.
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Haz
post 11.Feb.2006, 04:03 AM
Post #12
Joined: 5.Sep.2005

QUOTE (Catchrndry)
I'm from Arizona, the cold may be a welcome change from the desert. I'm 26, so I'm far beyond those 18 year olds going to Italy and Spain to study and partying every night for "excitement". I'm a little too old for that. As long as its not extremely boring, which I doubt. How long are you in Sweden and what made you want to go?



its not the cold, its the wet and the dark. The summers are wondeful, they are mild and i think there is a law against girls wearing skirts longer then an inch above the knee. If anything you will find sweden "a change." You will make of it what you will. There is no one who can tell you how you will feel about living in sweden. So what exactly (like in the form of a list) are you looking to get out of sweden, and what exactly (also in the form of a list) do you think sweden and the swedes are like.
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Dev
post 11.Feb.2006, 11:50 AM
Post #13
Location: Gothenburg
Joined: 20.Jul.2005

QUOTE
To be honest, I wasn't even too concerned with what I study, I already have a masters in engineering, and am more curious to branch out for something that may or not be useful for a career. Do you know if there are any MBAs besides the one at Stockholm School of Econ? What did you study there? And as for working in Sweden or staying long term, I haven't even spent more than week there yet so I have no idea. Were there many programs in English at Göteborg?

I think there's a management school called Handels in Göteborg. Its connected to Göteborg University. All the universities in Sweden have many programmes in English and they are all at the Masters level as far as I know. Just check out their web sites for International Master's programs. I did my Masters in Dependable Computer Science. My personal opinion is that Chalmers is very good for Computer Science, Automotive Engineering , Fluid Dynamics etc and there are lots of engineering companies in this area so these courses have a pretty good support. I think if you are looking for a change and experiencing something different its good to just go on and do a course here. Even if you don't stay here long term its not a waste of time. And of course you are in Europe so you may spend time travelling around Europe during your study as well ;-) Don't count on getting part time jobs out of school here , its very difficult and knowing Swedish for that is almost a must.
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Leonard
post 11.Feb.2006, 12:24 PM
Post #14
Joined: 2.Nov.2005

A few points.

I didn't read all the mumbojumbo above because people wrote so much.

- Most people on this website complaining about integration are people that don't speak Swedsih - hence the English news page - so don't worry about that

- Studying a international master's degree in sweden is not the same as studying a master's degree in the USA - they are not the same at all - a master's degree in sweden is basically the last 2 years of a bachelors degree

- It is easy to meet people at university but it will be much easier if you start in Sept then in Jan. In Sept everyone is new and hence want to meet new people.
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*Wilding*
post 11.Feb.2006, 01:12 PM
Post #15


If you want to do an MBA in Sweden, make sure you check out its credentials thoroughly first - there have been problems in the past. Check out these stories for an explanation:

http://www.thelocal.se/article.php?ID=711&date=20041208

http://www.thelocal.se/article.php?ID=738&date=20041216

I have not studied in Sweden, so I only have 2nd hand information about what it is like, but I get the impression that social life around Stockholm University is perhaps less lively than around, say, Lund or Uppsala. It seems that many people at Stockholm are Stockholmers, live there with their partners and therefore don't socialize as much within the university. Uppsala and Lund have more social activity centred around the universities themselves, and might therefore be more welcoming for foreigners.

I hear too that Chalmers has a very good social life.
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