If you’re thinking Sweden…

SAY NO MORE! I’m taking out the big guns

Gimme, gimme, gimme… a chance to give you all the reasons Sweden is the PERFECT place to study abroad. (Sorry, I had to pull ABBA out. They are amazing, don’t deny it)

I’ve been here about 2 months now, and let me tell you: It’s been amazing. There are several reasons why it’s been so incredible, but I will be focusing mainly on the academic aspect 🙂

Remember, when you go to study abroad in Europe: you actually get money! Listen carefully though, this shouldn’t be the only reason you go abroad (Lets avoid the scandals, guys) but a nice little sum of money helps. And get this, in Sweden, people actually GET PAID to go to school. Let’s just let that sink in for a while. School is FREE, and you get MONEY. To. Study. Talk about education being free! Now that is something the rest of the world needs to learn from.

Ok, now we’ve gotten that mind-blowing, life-altering fact out of the way, let me tell you about Lund University. I’m a future *fingers crossed* Zoology student, and being in my second year here I was quite worried. I checked, re-checked and checked again my classes to make sure they were adequate and compatible to allow me into 3rd year Zoology at Glasgow. However, I soon realised when I arrived in Lund that I had in fact enrolled in “advanced” courses. Or as I would later find out to be “masters” courses. Haha, yup. Imagine my face. I literally did an introductory year to Biology last year, and now I was in a class with Masters students who had already finished a freakin’ THESIS. The hardest work I did was a Lab Report, and it was not my finest work. I was freaking out.

But bear with me, because this story gets a little better.

My first class has been Population and Community Ecology, something that could fit in with the environmental aspect of Zoology. To my surprise, many of the students in the class were foreign or Swedish, with english being their second language. Lectures were really relaxed, and the many book and article seminars (however tired/hungover I was for some) were really interesting and a great place where you can really geek out with classmates. Rather than having information thrown at you every day of the week, there was much more in depth discussion of actual SCIENCE. Honestly. It was so refreshing.

Round about 2/3 weeks ago, I went on a school trip. Now, you may be thinking “oh she went to a zoo” or “how fun, she got to see a national park” (Although that last one is kind of true)… No, children. I went on a full week of ECOLOGY FUN-STUFF.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 20.28.15

We left early one glorious Monday morning, and travelled to Kivik (map to help ya’ll out, it was a beautiful little seaside swedish town famous for cider (aaaaaaawwyyyeeaaaaaah)).

For the next 4 days, we travelled to different parts of southern Sweden and grouped, and had to basically design an experiment using the area. We would take data, and come back to the hostel and statistically analyse the data for 5 hours. 5. HOURS. And then also make a presentation about our whole experiment and present it to the rest of the class, and that would all end around 11pm. And we did this for a week. It was the most exhausting week of my life (and although I got very sick after coming back) I wouldn’t have done anything else. It was one of the best trips ever, and not only did I make some great friendships; I also learned like I’ve never learned before.

There is so much out there that just can’t be taught in the classroom. We had to think scientifically the whole week, and by the end I was actually dreaming with statistics (a good dream was getting significant results, or a high r² value. Still a good dream now, actually). By the end of the week, I truly considered myself a scientist. And you know how I was talking about students getting paid? Yeah, well, the whole trip (except food) was 100% free. I didn’t pay for transport, lodging, materials, nada. AND IT WAS GREAT.

My swedish friend, Amanda and I working hard with SPSS (Fancy statistics program, it's thrilling stuff)

My swedish friend, Amanda and I working hard with SPSS (Fancy statistics program, it’s thrilling stuff)

Now, about exams. I’ve had one already, and if you thought it couldn’t get better (SPOILER ALERT): it does. My exam was so super mega laid back. It was 6.5 hours long, but let me explain. It was all statistics (using that SPSS program, check it out yo), and if you revised well enough and understood your stuff; there was nothing to worry about. We were able to have ANY notes we made in class about statistics, so that was a relief.

It seems to me that in Sweden, all they want to see is if you are able to apply your scientific knowledge. They don’t want to test for facts and how much you’ve memorised from your Campbell biology book. Because, let’s face it, that’s proooooobably not going to happen. We have the internet now, we have books, we are more easily able to look things up when uncertain; and it seems Sweden has realised that.

I have another exam coming up soon, and again we’re allowed to bring any course material that may help us. We’ll be given a research paper with everything except the discussion, and it is up to us to read the paper and write the discussion. I love this way of testing people. Not by their memory specifically, but more by their ability to apply their knowledge and have well-informed, scientific opinions.

Sweden is awesome. Bonus points for hosting Eurovision this year, which is only THE greatest and most amazing event of the year.

So to end this post (which seems to be more Swedish propaganda… oops), here is a little summary of what I said:

  1. Carefully CHECK CHECK CHECK your courses before commiting fully to them. You can always change them, but you may not be able to.
  2. Investigate study/exam methods, it may be different to what you’re used to back home. You may get a nasty surprise, or a pleasant one.
  3. Come to Sweden, because they recycle and have fantastic schools.

PEACE OUT, your girl from yonder Sweden, Isabel

I hope you found this post interesting, and you are more than free to contact me if you have any questions!

Email: 2073762F@student.gla.ac.uk

COOL FACT OF THE DAY: People say “Hej” to say goodbye here, which confused the hell out of me. Are you saying hello or goodbye? Because you’re leaving? Do you want me to stay?!?! Help.
My good friend Amanda (from the picture) explained it to me, and basically Swedes often say “Hej då” (pronounced hey doe) when saying goodbye, but most are too lazy to say the whole thing so they just say “hej”. Thought you future study abroaders to Sweden would want a heads up. You are welcome.

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