Written by Hamzah Dzikri Fadliansyah
In the middle of uncertainty, fate decided that I would study in Sweden, a country that was not my top priority. I could tell you my rollercoaster story of applying for a master’s degree program, but this could be a very long story to tell. Fret not! I will tell you some fundamental reasons why I ended up choosing and living in Sweden for study.
Initially, I struggled to find a master’s program in Media and Communication Studies, which accepts graduates with a bachelor’s diploma in English Language and Literature. Luckily, I found out that many Swedish universities offer interdisciplinary programs in my areas of interest, meaning that I am potentially eligible. In fact, they also provide certain programs relevant to my academic background.
From the interdisciplinary programs, many Swedish universities allow people from various academic backgrounds to choose an area they want to learn. Personally, it gave me a chance to use my skills as transferable knowledge in an area that is new to me. I am learning to use background knowledge so that I can contribute to the discussion in classes.
Moreover, this interdisciplinary system also enables the students to critically examine specific problems that can only be solved using different ways of understanding. It allows the students to integrate different approaches to find innovative solutions. From my experience studying in Sweden, I can confirm that this is true. My classmates and I have learned and shared each other’s experiences and expertise. The discussion in classes is always lively. I can always feel the thoughtful learning environment in my courses.
During my study here, I realized something fundamental and similar from my program of study and my friends studying at different programs and universities. Many teaching and learning activities rely mostly on team working or group projects. I could be placed into two to three different group assignments in each course with different people in each group. This is very unusual in my country, where we mostly did the assignment individually.
This is how the education system in Sweden works. They require the students to work collaboratively to solve the problems, manage the diversity, and develop decision-making and time management. This learning style also simulates the real dynamics of an international workplace. It helps students to enhance their skills working in a global environment. Besides, this also helps me get to know my classmates better, improving my interpersonal skills.
Moreover, I am also really impressed by the education system in Sweden that allows the students to retake the exam several times until they pass the exam. I still remember when one of my friends told me that his teacher said to the students in the class, “We do not teach you to fail; we teach you to success.” This is something I could not find in the Indonesian education system. Even my friend who is studying elsewhere in a university in Europe also told me that there is no such thing as retaking the exam; once you fail, you have to retake the whole course. It is incredibly inspiring.
In addition, most master’s programs in Sweden are in two-year duration, although some other programs are also for a year. I initially thought it was a terrible idea since I could save time and money if I studied in a one-year program. However, I realized that a two-year program offers many more things to explore. Mostly, during the third semester, many master’s programs in Swedish universities provide their students the experiences to take on internships, exchange studies at other universities outside Sweden, or take courses inside or outside their department or university. This freedom provides flexibility to the student to foster their needs, empowering them to take their study independently.
Unconventional Education Culture and System
Most importantly, the student-teacher relationship in Sweden is also flat, meaning that students are as equal as teachers. Students can speak to and are treated by lectures as equals. I was shocked by the fact that students do not mention their professors with a title here. Everyone calls the teachers by their first name. In Indonesia, it is disrespectful, but it is a sign of equality and a nonhierarchical education system in Sweden.
One other unconventional thing about studying in Sweden is scheduling courses arrangement. In most programs, you only study one class for one term. So, you do not take two or more courses at the same time. It allows you to focus on what you are studying right now, rather than splitting your mind to focus on two different subjects at the same time. This way is also good for managing time and reducing stress for students. After one course finished, you then continued with the next course.
Lagom: Study Life Balance
It is noteworthy that the Swedish work-life balance value also extends in its education culture. In Sweden, studying life balance is a fundamental thing. From preserving this Lagom lifestyle, Swedish universities encourage the students to explore life and develop their interests besides their academic obligations. In fact, a normal study per week usually covers up 40 hours of studying. Therefore, you have plenty of time to discover many things surrounding you or simply have a Fika with your friends.
You can definitely do many things with a lot of time outside of studying. For me, I enjoy traveling around the Skåne area in Sweden. Sweden has beautiful natures where I love to explore. Some of my friends also work part-time in restaurants or other organizations. Some others also do an internship at the same time. Sometimes, studying also gets very demanding, depending on the current rolling terms. Therefore, you need to manage your priorities.
Well, those are the reasons why I ended up choosing to stay and study in Sweden. Life has decided to drive me somewhere that is beyond my expectation through rejections. I felt like this is a blessing in disguise. I really enjoy studying in Sweden, and I never regret my decision to study in Sweden. More importantly, I do not experience significant problems living here, including the language barrier.
In fact, many Swedes are fluent in speaking English, so you can communicate easily with the locals. Yes, most of the master’s programs in Sweden are also in English. However, if you want to get to know them and their culture better, I suggest you learn Swedish as well. In that case, you may be interested in understanding what are Swedish Learning Options available to you.
Are you now interested in coming to study in Sweden as well? What are your reasons for choosing Sweden as your study destination? Let me know by leaving some comments below! And, let’s share some insights with others!
About the Author
Hejsan! My name is Hamzah, an Indonesian student studying in a Master of Science program in Media and Communication Studies at Lund University. While I enjoy binge-watching movies and TV series, talking with friends, and everything involving food, now I have found traveling as a new hobby. Before going back to my home country in the middle of 2022, I want to share my stories about my life as an international student in Sweden with you.