Tobias - Stockholm University

B Arts
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

When I was working on my study plan for my exchange semester at Stockholm University, I had some difficulties finding courses which were relevant to my degree and felt I would not be experienced enough for quite a few of them. Luckily, when expressing these concerns with the UQ Abroad team they suggested I apply for a reduced study load which gave me the opportunity to choose courses which intrigued me more despite not being very familiar to me. I studied Global History, Performance Activism and Social movements, and two beginner Swedish language courses. 
Surprisingly, I found while researching potential courses in Sweden that they structure their semester differently to us. They have two main periods and instead of doing all the courses at once they teach them sequentially. This was interesting and an effective form of teaching I believe; however, it did make choosing my courses harder as I had to select courses from both period 1 and period 2 and found that I couldn’t choose a few of the courses I was interested in because their timetables conflicted with other ones I wanted to do. 
Most of the issues I had was with creating my study plan and it required a lot of work and planning, however it was necessary and certainly worth it for the experience I was able to have.

Personal experience

For me, travelling in Sweden was very much a time to discover more about my own heritage, as my mother was born in Sweden and has cousins living there. I had actually already met a few of my second cousins before when they visited us in Australia and was able to stay with them for the Christmas holiday period. I chose Stockholm University for exchange so I could experience Swedish culture and challenge myself to see how well I could do in a new environment. My link to the country really helped me embrace my time there, which was lucky considering I chose to go over the winter period, something I was not entirely prepared for having lived in Australia my whole life. The bitter cold made it a real effort to leave the warmth of my bed but it also gave me a chance to experience all the outdoor activities I had wanted to do in a colder climate; building snowmen, having snowball fights, tobogganing and walking on top of frozen lakes being just a few of the fun things I would get up to. Being able to have a white Christmas with my second cousins and some of the friends I made was probably one of the most special things about my whole trip.

Accommodation

I applied for student accommodation in ‘Lappis Campus’ which was only a ten-minute walk away from Stockholm University and the underground rail station which connects all of Stockholm. When I first arrived, I was a little bit shocked at how small my room was, I was on the ground floor and remarked that it seemed almost like a sort of dungeon to a friend of mine and the empty room made it seem a bit like a prison cell. I soon came to really appreciate how cosy it was and personalised it to my own tastes which was very enjoyable. The campus was also really beautiful, it is located right next to a forest with lots of walking tracks and right next to a beach since Stockholm is actually a large Archipelago made up of many connected islands. I even ended up going for a swim in the beach, luckily before the water froze over. The campus accommodation I stayed at was also one of the more social ones, especially as each floor’s corridor had a shared kitchen that we all used and often people would host parties in them. Mostly other exchange students from around Europe stayed at Lappis Campus so it was a very diverse area.

Costs

It is no secret, Scandinavia is an expensive part of the world to live in, however I was able to keep expenses down to a minimum throughout my exchange. I certainly had to learn to cook for myself far more than eat out which did actually make going out into a special occasion for me. The supermarket chain ‘LIDL’ is one of the cheapest places to get groceries from and most of the exchange students I met would make the effort to go there instead of the more expensive supermarket on campus. Public transport is reasonably priced and certainly worth the money, the subway rail system connects Stockholm very well and the underground is full of really amazing murals and art pieces.

Challenge

Figuring out my study plan for the semester was my most challenging experience but I just had to work hard to complete it.

Professional Development

Spending time in Stockholm really helped me develop my networking and social interacting skills, I feel much more confident about myself in a professional capacity than before I went to Sweden. Going on exchange can really help open your mind to your own possibilities, before I left Australia, I didn’t even have a vague idea of what to do with myself after I finished my studies, now I have a much clearer picture in my head and am in the process of making it happen.

Highlight

I had such a wonderful time in Stockholm and truly value so many of the experiences I got to have and even appreciate the challenging times and the lessons I learnt from them.  The highlight of my trip though was probably getting to be a part of my extended families Christmas traditions and being able to connect with them while being so far away from home.

Top tips

•    Plan as much as possible
•    Mentally prepare yourself for the cold weather
•    Make the most of every moment you can
•    But occasionally take time out for yourself