Reflecting on a semester abroad in Sweden offers a compelling narrative of cultural immersion, academic enrichment, and personal growth. As a third-year mechanical engineering student, I embarked on this journey to Linköping University with the intention of broadening my educational horizons, immersing myself in Swedish culture, and meeting new people from around the world. This blog post aims to capture the essence of my experiences, structured around daily life as a student, traditional Swedish customs, and an unforgettable trip to Lapland.

Daily Life, Swedish Traditions and University Life

My days in Sweden began with a brisk cycle to campus, a mode of transport deeply ingrained in Swedish culture. If you choose to spend your semester abroad in Sweden, I highly recommend getting a bike – it is the Swedish way! You can get one second-hand for not much money, and throughout the city, there are loads of bike paths, so it is always easy to get around.

Academically, the Swedish approach to education was both rigorous and rewarding, offering an environment that fostered in-depth learning and critical thinking. As an engineering student, teaching was based around lectures and practical labs in which theory was applied. Lectures usually started in the morning as early as 8:15 am. Starting 15 minutes past the hour is part of the Swedish university approach and is called the academic quarter.

Every student eats lunch at the same time, either in the university canteen or in the campus’ common areas, bringing packed lunches from home. The university has rooms filled with microwaves where you can heat up food. It is a custom I particularly enjoyed as you can meet up with friends between lectures to eat together. Suppose you don’t want to eat in the canteen or haven’t brought lunch from home. In that case, you can also join in the Swedish tradition of “fika”, a break where you eat pastries, drink coffee and socialize with friends. A pastry Sweden is particularly famed for is the “Kanelbullar”, a cinnamon bun that even has its own holiday.

Student life was vibrant, marked by numerous gatherings and the unique tradition of wearing decorated overalls to most student parties. These events were held every week, organized by students and for which tickets sold out quickly. You receive a patch for every event you participate in, which can then be sewed onto your overall. The rule is that the more you enjoyed the event, the higher up the patch goes on your overall.

The Lapland Expedition

A highlight of my time in Sweden was the expedition to Lapland. This journey north offered a deep dive into Sweden’s natural and cultural richness. On day one, we travelled via bus to Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. We flew to one of the most northern cities in Sweden, Kiruna. We then took a tour around the city, learning about its rich history. The camp we stayed in was located outside the town, surrounded by forest, and offered various saunas and activities, such as ice fishing on a frozen lake nearby.

For 4 days, activities ranged from snowmobiling across icy terrains to dog sledging through serene landscapes, each offering a unique perspective on the Swedish way of life and the country’s stunning natural beauty. As we were far from any major cities, light pollution was minimal, which meant the night sky was clear to enjoy the spectacular northern lights.

Semester Abroad – An experience I would recommend to everyone

This experience has broadened my academic and cultural horizons and helped me meet new and unique people from around the world. I return with a wealth of knowledge, memories, and friendships that will last a lifetime, firmly believing that a semester abroad is an invaluable component of one’s educational journey. I encourage every student to embrace the opportunity to study abroad, step out of their comfort zone, and make lasting memories and friendships.

Semester Abroad in Sweden – My Experience

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