Tall, blonde and smart: this is how we tend to picture swedes. But for sure, there’s much more beyond that: cutting-edge technology, world-class research, high quality of living and respect for the environment are only a few reasons why enrolling university in Sweden will change your future for good.
In this country with fewer inhabitants than London – it doesn’t hit 10,000,000 people -, almost 70% is covered by forests and only 3% of Sweden’s territory has been built up, having its capital, Stockholm, as the biggest population hub. However, if you’re starting to think that it makes Sweden a less enthusiastic or dynamic study destination, please, stop right there! The swedes, from the youngest to the oldest generations, have been worldly known for its active lifestyle, joy of living and efficiency, spreading an enviable reputation throughout the globe.
1. An innovative country and one of the world’s most advanced societies
“Studying in the land of innovation” is the same as saying “studying in Sweden”. Many of the world’s greatest inventions and researches took place here. From physics, chemistry and medicine to literature and creative arts, the Swedes have been at the forefront, and it is not by coincidence that the Nobel Prize, established by the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, has been awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for more than a hundred years.
Image 1 - The pacemaker, the three-point seatbelt, Skype, Spotify (picture above) – they’re all Swedish inventions making life easier to many of us.
Benefiting from a thriving, digitally connected economy, Sweden is also a pioneer on technology implementation and the fact that its society doesn’t depend on social hierarchies makes it possible to have a free debate atmosphere, where creativity and ideas flow naturally.
2. Most people speak fluent English and are keen to learn other languages
Although Swedish is the official language, English is also as official as it can be – the majority of swedes speak English at an advanced level. This is obviously reflected in workplaces, with most companies using English as its business language, and even at school, with universities offering a wide range of English-taught programs. However, this doesn’t mean that Swedish and English is all you can practice here. Join one of their welcoming international communities or simply learn from swedes - they are very good language learners and from their early years of childhood, they can start studying other foreign languages such as Spanish and German, besides the languages of their neighbouring countries.
3. Universities with worldwide recognized teachers and researchers
Just check the annual rankings and statistics: Sweden’s excellent education system has some of the best universities in the world. Uppsala, Gothenburg and of course, Stockholm, are the most popular student cities, but you’ll find excellent national and international teachers and scientists almost everywhere. Why are they in Sweden? Because it is here that those successful multinational companies, laboratories and reputed universities are based, allowing and promoting a close collaboration between faculty and students on several types of innovative projects. That’s right: here, your opinion matters and your work as a student is valuable.
Another interesting advantage of studying in a Swedish institution: the relationship between faculty and students is closer and more informal than in the majority of the countries worldwide. Soon, you’ll be calling your excellent but laid-back teachers by their first name, participating actively in all their classes and comfortably discussing ideas with them afterwards.
4. Enjoying and respecting Nature is one of their mantras
“Sweden is one of most beautiful countries in the world”, many travel experts say. Have you pictured yourself close to nature, yet benefiting from the comfort and resources a developed country can offer? Don’t be surprised if your university’s neighbours are forests, lakes and wild trails - enjoying nature and outdoor activities is part of the students’ daily routine in Sweden. Get ready to join many adventures across this wide-ranging country and don’t forget to head north to have a glimpse of the fascinating Northern Lights and ski and slide along those extensive mountains and ice lakes. Make the most out of it: you’re at the top of Europe! Besides this, there’s also the proximity and easy access to other European countries. Norway, Denmark, Finland and Germany are just a train-ride away and, if you decide to fly instead, in a few hours you can find yourself enjoying the sandy beaches of the south of Europe.
Image 2 - From a simple late afternoon swim to kayaking, skiing or hiking, there are many outdoor activities you can easily enjoy while studying in Sweden.
And, speaking of environment, know that this is an important matter to the Swedes. Sweden is known for its exceptional environmental protection measures and for producing, exporting and efficiently using energy from renewable sources, and the population itself sets the example by adopting sustainable habits and respecting nature.
5. The best companies and conditions to work in are here
Where there is innovation, modern resources and world-class professionals, there are top employers. It was also in Sweden that many multinational companies were born (IKEA, Volvo, Ericsson and H&M are good examples) and where several others decided to set their offices.
Since Swedish education focuses on field practice, teamwork and industry cooperation, studying at a Swedish university will allow you to use your theoretical knowledge in a real work environment. Thus, you have the chance to engage in real projects as a student, from science and technology to fashion, music and arts in general. Plus: you will build your own international network, which will follow you anywhere you go and drive your career further.
More good news: You can work part-time while studying, as well as remain working in Sweden after finishing your studies. We’ll tell you how on number 7!
6. Swedes know how to have fun – in moderation, yet enjoying the pleasures of life
On your day-to-day as a student in Sweden, you’ll benefit from living in a highly modern country, yet still able to keep its own traditions: enjoy their inventive fish and seafood cuisine, safely walk through the streets of one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan European capitals, Stockholm, and get used their mandatory coffee break, sided by their traditional cinnamon bun (or cookie, if you will), called “fika” – it’s everything you need to fit in this welcoming, open-minded country!
Swedish people work hard, but they also take their time to rest and relax very seriously - and, believe us, they really know how to enjoy it. It is no coincidence that the Swedish Government guarantees its citizens one of the largest vacation periods allowed worldwide.
One more word to include in your vocabulary: "lagom", another Swedish mantra. Lagom means "just enough", to do just what’s right, adequate, and no more than that, which also works as an excellent explanation of the Swedish social and cultural ideals and their sense of equality and justice.
7. Easy access to Swedish education for international students and free tuition for EU students!
If you are a student from any EU/EEA/Nordic country or from Switzerland, then studying in Sweden is an excellent opportunity to pursue your academic students, as tuition is free. If you’re not, you can always come to Sweden and take an short program without a visa – there are many options available, from language courses (English, Swedish, German...) to professional diplomas and certificates. If taking a Bachelor’s or a Master’s program is what you want, or any other course for more than three months (90 days), then you’ll need a student visa, just like in most countries in Europe.
For those applying to university, the Swedes are as practical as they’re advanced: just ask for your residence permit through the Swedish Embassy website and, with a simple online application, your request goes directly to the Swedish Migration Agency and is prioritised. As an alternative, you can always hand-deliver your application form at any Swedish Embassy or Consulate near you, which is also the viable option for those who will study at an institution different from a college or university.
What about working in Sweden? As a higher education student, you can work as many weekly hours as you want, given that it does not interfere with their studies (remember to ensure around 40 hours/week for lessons, homework and other school activities).
Image 3 - Quick tip: always interact and demonstrate your skills during university, so both businesses and teachers you're working with can help you entering the labour market. Besides that, you also have your university’s career service available for you.
After finishing your university program, you can benefit from six months extra (maximum) to look for a job or to start your own business in Sweden, so you can get a work visa to stay there permanently.
Important update for those who want to build their future in Sweden: international students taking a PhD program in Sweden are allowed to request for permanent residence, provided that they had spent four out of the last seven years in the country on a student visa.
Images: Study in Sweden; Spotify; Image Bank Sweden