Ryan - University of Stockholm

B Business Management / B Law
Semester 2, 2014

Academic experience

Whilst studying at Stockholm University I studied only two courses; EU Internal Market Law and Comparative Law. Both of these were credited as electives to the law side of my dual degree for four units each. Interestingly, my two courses were taken consecutively, which resulted in all attention being able to be focused on one course at a time. This allowed me to completely immerse myself in the content of each course and avoid the distractions inherent in taking three other concurrently running courses.
My two courses were instructed by no less than 16 different specialist lecturers. Whilst this enabled an impressive array of skilled and accomplished speakers to deliver informative lectures on their respective topics of interest, it did create some headaches when trying to attain a high grade. One could not merely tailor exam answers or written works to the particular taste of any one person; as may be the case in some courses offered at the University of Queensland.

Personal experience

My girlfriend of a few years is from Stockholm and despite the fact I had visited the city on numerous occasions before the commencement of my exchange, I had never had the chance to live there. 
Unsure how the beaches of my hometown Noosa would shape up to the dark winters of Stockholm, I had my doubts about what exactly I was doing heading to the Scandinavian Capital. However, as I write this six months later from the couch of the new home I have recently moved into with friends I met on exchange in Stockholm's south side, I have found myself a new hometown. 
My exchange semester was the last semester of my degree, I now endeavour to live and work in Stockholm and continue to improve my Swedish.

Accommodation 

I lived off campus in a private rental with my girlfriend. We had a great place at an affordable price (10,000 Kroner per month, including all bills) in a nice neighbourhood to ourselves.  Whilst I loved our apartment, it did make socialising with students in student accommodation more difficult. 
Also, prospective exchange students looking at comparative places by themselves might find it expensive paying the rental price alone and if seeking affordable private accommodation options may have to look into shared housing or housing far from the city centre. 
Prospective exchange students should also note that finding private housing can be much more difficult for non-Swedish nationals.

Budget

Coming from Australia, the notorious prices in Stockholm should not scare you off as they are largely comparable. Whilst some things such as haircuts are surprisingly expensive, other things such as public transport can be very good value. The cost of living is fairly comparable to that in Brisbane unless you are inclined to eat or drink out on a regular basis.  Such a lifestyle would be rather expensive anywhere but especially in Stockholm.

Professional development and employability

Due to the fact that my exchange represented the final semester in my 5.5-year dual degree, I thought I had mastered a methodical approach to acquiring knowledge and attaining high grades.  I learnt from my exchange experience however that academic achievement and the art of learning cannot be grasped by a static, rehashed methodology. 
Though I still achieved high grades at Stockholm University, I could not gain them through my traditional means, it required a more challenging, adaptable and intuitive personal undertaking which I believe represented an important stage in my academic development. When at Stockholm University I also had the chance to write two theses which were directly relevant to the area of law I wish to work within.  I now plan on using these theses to assist me in my pursuit of a job in my desired area of law.

Highlight 

During my exchange in Stockholm the Swedish general political election took place. Through people I had met in Stockholm I was able to be to attend the winning party's (Socialdemokratiska) election night party and be only a couple meters away from the party leader when he gave his victory speech.  Meeting the mayor of Stockholm and Copenhagen on the same night wasn't half bad either.

Top tips

  • For exchange students to feel at ease in their new adopted home, they should do all they can to branch out and make real connections with others.  The easiest way to do this is by ensuring that they engage in activities such as language cafes, student societies, University organised events or perhaps join a local sporting team. 
  • Whilst there is a vast array of things students need to get in order before embarking on their exchange, one thing is often overlooked by students: what is the least costly manner to access cash in their new found home? Citibank offers a debit card that has no fees when using any international ATM and also charges no currency conversion commission on any currency. Get it!
  • Most importantly, have fun, I know I did, hopefully, you will too.
Ryan - University of Stockholm