ADVICE: STUDYING ABROAD16:24:00
Basically since I started talking about studying abroad and now especially that I have returned home explaining my studies has become a daily activity.
Also on the internet I receive a lot of questions and as my last year comes to a close and so many of you guys are graduating I thought I might as well tell you a little bit more and save myself a lot of breath and time.
What are you studying?
I study to attain my bachelor in International Relations, which I would roughly describe as International Politics at Malmö University in Sweden. My lectures, papers and books are all in English.
Why are you studying there and not in Germany?
This has a number of reasons. On is me being raised with basically nothing but Astrid Lindgren books and always loving and dreaming of Sweden. A family vacation there is still one of my happiest memories and I just remember crossing the baltic sea via ferry and being nothing but entirely happy for two weeks.
I think for everyone there are places or countries where you just feel like you belong and I have this feeling with Sweden and England. As England was too expensive to study, I chose Sweden.
Next to this I also could not really find a programme in Germany that I entirely liked. They were either to broad or too narrow. I knew I wanted to pursue something I could do internationally and that would allow me to work as a journalist, but also give me the possibility to choose from a variety of other jobs when I graduated. I think that my current programme offers this.
What is different? What is the same?
The swedish academic year is different. My fall semester begins in the start of september and ends mid january. In contrary to Germany there is no winter break, even though usually you have the days over christmas off. This means that my spring semester starts immediately after the fall semester in mid january. The spring semester ends in the beginning of june and I then have three months off. While in Germany all exams happen at the end of the semester I have papers to hand in, oral exams to attend or sit in exams about every three weeks. You therefore work quite consistently the entire year. While a lot of my friends spends hours and hours in university, I usually have on lecture per day. This means a lot of free time, but it also means heaps and heaps of learning and reading by yourself. The studies are very much dependent on how well you can motivate yourself.
How did you apply?
Sweden has a wonderful website where you can apply for all universities in Sweden in one place. There are two different deadlines the 15th of January which I believe is for international students and the 15th of April. The website explains everything very well and is also available in English. You can click here if you want to be directed to it: University Admissions Sweden
As I am a EU citizen they only needed a copy of my ID and my high school diploma. Since I took English on a higher level, a bit like AP or honors classes in the USA, I did not have to take a test to certify my level of English, however that depends on a number of factors.
I then send the required papers to the office of University Admissions in Sweden and got my letter of acceptance on 21st March.
What is included in your programme? How is it structured?
My programme takes three years to finish. The first one is spend with courses in Malmö. In my first and second semester I had modules like Theory of International Relations, Issues in Global Politics, World Systems in History, Globalization and Regionalization and of course Research and Methods.
The second year, meaning my third and fourth semester are elective courses. You can do internships, take courses from other programmes or go on an exchange inside or outside of Europe. As Sweden does not take tuitition fees no matter where in the world you go you also do not have to pay.
I personally will do an internship in a human rights organization in Göttingen in my third semester and spend my erasmus exchange at the University of Sussex in my fourth.
For my final year I will then return to Malmö and finish my studies there.
Is Sweden very expensive?
Yes. If you look at it from the spoiled German viewpoint (let´s face it for such a developed country we are ridiculously cheap) Sweden is more expensive in terms of rent, food and of course alcohol. However I do not pay any tuition fees and with the money from the German government, my summer job and my parent´s help I managed to have a perfectly fine lifestyle, going out a lot, having coffee with friends and eating nice food at home. Yes I had to watch out for my money and shopping or traveling weren´t really up for discussion, but I think if you work your money responsibly it is possible.
Do you like your programme?
Yes and no. It is very research focused, which I do not look for as a career and the organization is very messy as teachers often change and Malmö University and the programme are quite new.
However the content of the course is incredibly interesting to me and I love studying in such an international group. I have people in my class from Brazil, Iceland, Mongolia and China. It is great to get to know all of the different cultures and viewpoints about international politics and I feel like I could not have this in Germany. I am also really looking forward to my internship and exchange and am happy that I have the possibility to do those things.
What can you do with your degree?
Since International Relations are now part of a lot of work fields, there are many possible jobs. I could work as a journalist, as part of an non goverment organization, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, for the European Union, the United Nations... There are a lot of possibilities and it depends on your master, your interests or your work experience what you want to choose.
What is Malmö like?
Malmö is Sweden´s third largest town wit around 280 000 inhabitants, so for a German it is quite small. It is however the city with the most immigrants in Sweden giving it a very multicultural vibe, loads of different restaurants and cultural festivities. I really love Malmö, it is such a beautiful town, it has the sea, it has beautiful parks, a great nightlife and it is directly next to Copenhagen and a big international airport. It is a rather alternative town with loads of small, amazing cafés and bars and especially in summer it is just gorgeous. I already miss it!
Do you speak Swedish?
I can do the basics, but as everyone speaks basically perfect English it is hard to practice and you do loose some motivation.
I am really happy I went to Malmö not necessarily for the school, but for the people I met and the home I found there. I hope I could answer some of your questions and I am happy to answer more of them.