Marta Reina

I am very honoured for having been asked to write down a study report about my exchange year at Stockholm University since it has been an unforgettable experience in every way possible.

Easy and smooth

To start with, I must give credit to the amazing team composing the international relations administration for making the application processes clear, easy and smooth; and a special mention to my coordinator at the receiving department Mrs Suk-Hi Cho for her incredible job and willingness to help.

Regarding the Orientation meeting, I truly appreciate all the information we were given because it was of great help as a newcomer in Sweden and Stockholm University. Thanks to this first meeting, I have to know about many activities and opportunities that are offered at the university, for example the Language Cafés, in which I participated during my two semesters there.

Fun activities

Furthermore, the meeting was also quite pleasant to attend since the speakers were easy going and brief, as well as having several fun activities in between and a longer break including free dinner and several more information stands. During the Orientation Week many other events took place were international students had the opportunity to meet new people and enrol in the university life.

When it comes to Stockholm University main campus - Frescati - it is a great open space where something is always going on. During the warm sunny days, the campus is full of young people laying on the grass enjoying the splendid weather in a lively environment of youth and nature. On the other hand, during the colder season everything is covered in beautiful snow, a gigantic Christmas tree is set up and the insides are kept warm and cosy for nice study sessions.

Join the Student Union

The facilities are all in great conditions, clean and up to date. Everything you need and more can be found on campus: many different food options - always including a vegetarian/vegan choice - bookshop, second hand bookshop, study rooms, computer rooms, pubs, clubs, etc. Moreover, it was amazing to hear about the new policy of the university that is planning to change all the gender restrooms on campus for unisex facilities to promote gender equality and support the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, other communities are also publicly supported at the university and students are highly involved in society improvement and world changing ideas; as an example there is a massive cork in one of the buildings with many different advertisements from the Vegan Society among others.

One thing I was not expecting was the existence of the so-called Student Union, which I very much recommend joining as soon as one becomes a member of the university. Not only do they offer discounts on several businesses, but they also send a weekly newsletter informing the members of the many activities they organise which are usually very enjoyable and educational, as you get to learn about Swedish culture and traditions while having fun.

One other thing I was very grateful for was the help provided regarding accommodation, which can sometimes be very exasperating in Stockholm. I was lucky enough to get a place in the student housing closest to Frescati Campus and really enjoyed my time there along with many other international students.

Big change

As for the educational system, it was a bit of a shock to go from a 6-hours-a-day-5-days-a-week system to having one or two seminars a week of roughly two hours each. It was definitely a big change which took me some time to get used to, but once you are you start seeing the perks of being able to keep your studies at your own pace and organise your time by your own means. In regards of the grading system it differs from course to course, but in my experience most of them were based on little pieces of work to hand in every now and then, a final project and/or oral presentations.

Seminars are usually very smooth and based on discussion and student collaboration rather than a 2-hour speech by the professor. The contents were always interesting, mind opening and contemporary. The opinion of the students was always taken into account and professors would be willing to consider our theories even when disagreeing with the ones on the studying material.

Interest in students' opinions

Something very important within Stockholm University's academic system as well is surveys; they are genuinely interested in the students' opinions and are constantly seeking to improve their ways based on real experiences and comments. In terms of equality, I did not spot one single time a racist or sexist comment by any of the staff members within the university, which for them can be seen as a quite basic aspect but that, is something that I consider product of an educated and open-minded society.

Overall, I am very proud about my decision of taking an exchange year at Stockholm University, which I think has enriched not only my professional but also my personal life in ways I did not imagine. Very looking forward to going back soon.

Marta Reina: Exchange student (2017-2018) from the University of Seville, Spain.