Isabelle, Lisa and Marleen
Isabelle, Lisa and Marleen

By Isabelle Koehler, Lisa Endres & Marleen Eichenlaub (from Regensburg, Germany)

Why did you want to study abroad as an exchange student?

We decided to do a semester abroad to get the chance to experience a lot, to find ourselves, to notice our potency but also our debilities and to prove ourselves in our future job.

We have deliberately chosen Sweden, because we wanted to get to know both the local people and their culture and lifestyle and we were very interested in the Swedish school system. This is particularly known for its concepts, which are also met in the courses at Stockholm University, for example how to positively deal as a teacher in school with the great heterogeneity and the immigrant background of students. We thought that this knowledge would bring us such a great benefit for our lives in the future.

In general, it is always a great adventure to visit new countries, to acquire a different language, to get to know people from all over the world and casually to gain a lot of experience.

Why did you choose to study here?

Stockholm, as the most famous city in the Scandinavian area, presents on the one hand a city with a lot of cultural heritage, as well as on the other a global and modern lifestyle. The selection of museums, exhibitions, and concerts you can find on a variety of homepages made this even clearer. Furthermore, Swedish inhabitants are known to be extremely kind, helpful and open-minded. Every Swedish person we met, tried to make our stay as comfortable as it can be and therefore our expectations were totally fulfilled.

However, the most important reason for us to choose Stockholm as a destination for a semester abroad, were the academic opportunities Sweden and the Stockholm University offer. No countries are as popular for its educational system than the Scandinavian areas, especially Sweden. Therefore, it presented the best place to gain professional insights into one of the leading school systems of the whole world. This and many other reasons made our choice clear, we want to do our Erasmus semester in Stockholm!

What is the biggest difference regarding everyday life here and in your country?

Being a Swedish student means to have to read a lot of books at home in forms of home studying, this is a big difference to the German system. Another difference is that the semester in Sweden is splitting into two parts with two examination times (sometimes the courses even change monthly). In Germany, you have all your exams at the end of the semester and the timetable is full of different kinds of courses. In Sweden, most of the time you only have one course at once and then another, therefore you have the chance to focus on one topic intensely.

Generally, in Stockholm, nature is not far away, compared to Germany. If you are lucky then the next lake is not far away. You can visit a lot of museums or do some trips to little islands. In autumn and winter, it gets dark earlier than in Germany but you get used to it. The different weather conditions were special to experience and we really enjoyed it.

Sweden is more expensive than Germany but most of the time restaurant have special lunch offers and if you want to go shopping you will also find cheaper shops.

How is it to be a teacher education student here in Sweden?

We really must say that it was kind of different way of studying than back home in Germany. In Germany, you normally have courses, which are quite theoretic. Mostly there is the lecturer, who tries to give you some inputs in some specific topics. The students are listening to him or they are attending a group work or something similar. The seminars and lectures often end with a written exam or some group presentation.

At Stockholm university, we experienced being a student in a completely different way. It was more about exploring together with the lecturers by conducting hands-on-experiments or even planning our own projects. There was a lot of practical working and sense behind every activity. Thus were the examinations, which were all about planning experiments, developing ideas or creating projects.

Christmas market
Christmas market

What do you think about the country and city and the university?

Sweden and especially Stockholm present an area full of diversities, you have a lot of parks and places with sea views where you can sit around and relax when it's still warm. When it's getting colder the big areas turn into ice skating possibilities and Christmas markets. Stockholm is also a great spot to go shopping and enjoy various hours in cafés or museums.

We did some trips to other parts of Sweden to get some insights into other areas. In our first month, we went to Uppsala and experienced a beautiful and lovely city which offers you a variety of sightseeing spots and little streets, which are worth seeing. In the advent season, we made a one-day trip to Goteborg. In the internet, it said that Goteborg offers the biggest Christmas market in Sweden and we weren’t disappointed. The whole city was dipped into a Christmas atmosphere and the Christmas market made you feel like a little child believing in Santa again.

Polar lights in Lapland
Polar lights in Lapland

Even though we enjoyed our little trips a lot, the highlight of our whole stay in Sweden was our Lapland trip. It was a bus trip fully organized by "Scanbalt Experience". In these few days at the polar circle, we experienced so many different things and got impressions of an untouched nature and the native inhabitants of Sweden. Among other things we made a husky tour, visited the ice hotel, went to a sauna and even saw the polar lights. This was a once in a lifetime experience which I would recommend to everyone.

The Stockholm University is a big campus which is nice and very comfortable. It offers a lot of cafés, where you can meet friends or study during free time. The library has a big selection of books and magazines and the order and borrow process is easy to understand and the staff is helping a lot with problems. One thing a lot of Erasmus students complain about, is the price of the food at the Uni, as well as the non-existence of a normal canteen. However, the Stockholm University offers microwaves, so that you can bring your food from home and heat it up there.

We tried to choose some courses, which are similar to the once at our home Uni for an easy credit transfer. We took two science courses in early childhood education, as well as a course about afternoon child care. There is a variety of course possibilities in English depending on ones interests. We experienced the lectures as good structured and amazingly open, since practical episodes were dominating the seminars and we were free to discuss and question everything, which seemed incomprehensible or unclear for us.

What would you say to someone who is considering studying abroad and what would you say to a fellow teacher education student from your country?

Studying abroad is a really good experience. On the one hand you learn to handle new and also difficult situations in a different country by your own, and on the other hand you also learn that you are never alone and that help is never far away. Going on an exchange means to experience another country and another culture, wherefore you should be open. Studying abroad is not concentrated on the target to progress your studying but more to have an experience for your life and to improve your English.

For me as a teacher student many courses were extremely interesting because they were more practical and less theoretic than in Germany, but sometimes I wished to go deeper into the context. Moreover, we got used to speak, discuss and present something in English, which helped a lot to improve our English. The topics itself and the courses were not too hard and therefore we had a lot of free time to experience the country.

To conclude our time in Sweden was amazing, Stockholm is a really lovely city with a lot of nature, we will keep it in our hearts!