Tag Archives: bilainsweden

Good guys Swedes – Why Sweden was ranked 1st in the Good Country Index

Well, there is a bunch of positive things you can say about Swedes: they are polite, educated, tolerant and have a low risk of interrupting you when you are speaking. Now there is one more thing you can add to that list: they are the good guys. Apparently, the best. At least according to this year The Good Country Index.

via GIPHY

There is no need to look far for the scary news and global problems. It is enough if we turn the TV on during any news program: international conflicts, environmental disasters, incurable diseases. In face of these dangers, we all need a place to feel safe. And we all need to work together to make the world a better place. That’s why the Good Country Index was started to measure how different nations contribute to common well-being of humanity.

via GIPHY

The Good Country Index is a an annual index of how much each country “contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away, relative to its size”. The data measured by the index are provided by various international organisations and is concerning only the deeds the country has done that affect global population, not the nation itself. The data is relative to the size and often divided by the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). And according to this year’s results… Sweden is currently the most altruistic country on Earth (surprised? I’m not!).

via GIPHY

The overall ranking is divided in 7 main categories: Science &Technology, Culture, International Peace & Security, World Order, Planet & Climate, Prosperity & Equality and Health & Well-being. Sweden not only holds the first place in the overall ranking but also is the biggest contributor when it comes to the two last categories. This is due to very high factors assessing food aid, pharmaceutical exports, voluntary excess donations to the WHO, International Health Regulations Compliance, FDI outflows and Development assistance. Other things Sweden is exceling in are: Nobel prizes (duh), patents, press freedom (woo!), freedom of movement and low CO2 emissions.

via GIPHY

Anyone already irritated by this this seemingly ideal country? Good news for those of you who hate perfection – there is also a couple of factors Sweden was rated BELOW AVERAGE. Shocking! Out of total of 23 factors that were taken into consideration, only 3 have results that position Sweden below the average. International violent conflict, arms exports and… number of international students relative to the size of economy! I am not sure how is that possible since it feels like it is THE LAND of international students (trust me student parties are actually spot the Swede contests) but… That just means there is place for more! Simply by becoming an international student you too can help Sweden to become even better at being good.

via GIPHY


Here you can see all the results and check out how does your own country compare to Sweden!

Featured photo: No, it’s not Swedes celebrating winning the Good Country (although I would like to think so). It’s just a normal crayfish party. Yes, you have read that well: a CRAYFISH PARTY. Just Sweden being Sweden. Nothing to see here. Credits: Carolina Romare/imagebank.sweden.se

4 things Swedish spring consists of

Brace yourself, spring is coming! There is a few Swedish things you can’t miss in May:

Credits: Aline Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se

  1. VALBORG

Valborg, also called Walpurgis Eve, is the event of the forthcoming spring! At the last day of April Swedes leave the safe quiet harbour of their homes to greet and celebrate Spring in the most Swedish way possible – through bonfires and choirs.  It shouldn’t come as a shock: Sweden actually has a highest number of choirs per capita in the world. As for the bonfires… well let’s just face the fact that it is not the warmest country ever. Valborg is an especially popular celebration amongst students (fire, music, booze and free next day – anyone surprised?) and if only you are in Sweden you should definitely make plans. I know I would – after all you should gratefully cherish the rare opportunity to mingle with Swedes in their natural environment.

Credits: wikipedia commons, David Urdingio

  1. EUROVISION

Soon after the bonfires evening’s excitement wears off Swedes have another event to get all worked up about. EUROVISION. This year’s European song contests will broadcast the grand final on 13th of May. While in most European countries this event tends to pass unnoticed (or at least without a big fuss), this couldn’t be further from the truth in Sweden. It is an event of a national importance and a typical Sven already knows all the performers and their songs. First talks about group viewings appeared in my group of friends a month before. It would be hard to beat the famous performance from 1974 (winning ABBA’s Waterloo) but Swedes still try! Here you can check out this year’s Swedish contestant but if you are only listening to pop ironically (duh!) better see this song about how to make an Eurovision song.

Credits: Magnus Liam Karlsson/imagebank.sweden.se

  1. THESIS

Thesis. Thesis everywhere. As you may have noticed, recently some posts about thesis writing appeared on our blog. That’s because it’s THIS TIME OF THE YEAR. Every conversation starts with excessive whining on your thesis work. Students around are negotiating on who has less work done. And sun becomes just an abstract thing with the only purpose of reflecting on your screen. Many two-year degrees at my university have also a one-year degree option which results in the obligation of writing a thesis paper at the end of each year. So… everybody is writing!

Credits: NRK TV

  1. SKAM

However, distractions are an inevitable part of studying. I’m pretty sure that your interest in TV series is depending proportionally on the length of the paper you are supposed to write. And SKAM is not just any other TV series. It is THE Scandinavian TV series. The Norwegian teen drama became a huge hit not only in Scandinavia but also entire world. Apart from having a uncanny ability to bring you back to your teenage years it has a very distinctive timeline. During entire week you can follow the characters through their social media accounts and a website in real time. That means you can read Eva’s texts with her friends on Tuesday evening, see what her boyfriend posts on Instagram on Thursday and then see the summary of entire week in one TV episode on Sunday. Every season follows different character and since the begging of April season 4 started. Everyone in Scandinavia seems to be discovering Sana’s life this spring… are you in?

 

Featured photo credits: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Swedish stories: Kevin from USA on education structure, apartment hunting, safety, and a big-small world

Swedish stories is a series of interviews with international students from Malmö University. Following up on the interview with Raya from Bulgaria, I had a Sunday brunch and a chat with Kevin: a 23-year-old student from Texas, USA. This is what Kevin had to say about student life in Sweden.


 

A: Let’s start from the beginning. There is a long way from United States to Sweden. What made you come here for your Master’s degree?

K: Actually, since high school I have always planned to study in Sweden. I just wasn’t sure when it was going to happen. I have some family here and a dual citizenship, so I wanted to take advantage of that since European Union citizens don’t have to pay a tuition fee for studying in Sweden. But it’s not just that, I wanted to go out of US and experience something new and different.

A: And how is life in Sweden different from what you are used to?

K: Stuff is slow here. I mean, the pace of life is very slow in comparison to US. If I would walk into a bank in Texas and wanted to open a bank account, their answer would be something along the lines of “Yes, we want your money!” Here it was: “We need your personnummer, source of income, occupation, passport and we will contact you in a week.” An hour event in the US was made into 2 weeks of bureaucracy. On a more positive note, I simply love the Swedish architecture and urban planning. It’s so different. In Texas everything was too far to walk and in Malmö it would be hard to find something that is not in a walking distance.

 

 

A: What about academia? Does the university life differs from American one as well?

K: From my understanding, based on what my cousins that went through high school and university in Sweden told me, here you only study your major. Your courses are all connected to your degree. But back during my Bachelor’s in the US, I took Anthropology, Linguistics, Human Sexuality, Native American History, 2D & 3D Game Development, Suicide in Japan… All those different things on top of art history and design education.  What’s also different here is the scheduling. Every day in every week is… kind of random. Because in America when you register for courses you would have them at exact same time, exact same day every week. I never have to check the calendar. Every week is exactly the same. Here every week is different. I have to pay more attention to what the schedule is.

A: Are you happy then with your Master’s in Malmö if it’s so different from what you are used to?

K: Yeah, I am. It’s completely different from what I expected. It’s a lot more… tangible. I like that. It’s not just the courses but the class. Everyone is just so different. It’s not just another Master’s program with different courses but also 17 other people from all over the world that I can learn a bit from.

A: Glad to hear that you are happy with the program. What about what is after the education? What do you think about your career opportunities? Is it a valuable asset back in US to have a degree from Sweden? Are you considering staying in Sweden after finishing your degree?

K: As far as Master’s Degree in Interaction Design, I think it could be valuable. The interaction design discipline is evolving, especially in places like Austin, New York, Silicon Valley. However, I suppose what matters is the work experience in the long run. I am doing the education more for myself. I am considering a career in Sweden too.  I don’t intend on going back to the US immediately after the degree.

 

 

A: Oh, let’s talk about the logistics of such long-term stay. You already mentioned that setting a bank account was a bit of a hustle. What about the apartment-hunting?

K: Well, with my family we had this idea that buying a place in a long run would be cheaper than renting or living in the student dorms. Prior to me moving to Sweden, my family here was looking around. I took around 2,5 months to actually move to the place from the point when we started looking. There was quite a lot of paperwork involved like sorting out the issue of source of income in another continent. The neighbourhood association was doing background checks. Even though we started signing in mid-October, I didn’t move in until November.

A: One question I get a lot as a digital ambassador is how safe Sweden is. My first answer always is: “depends on a person”. What is your opinion? Do you feel safe in Malmö?

K: It’s weird to compare safety here and back home. Austin and Houston are a lot bigger cities than Malmö but also… it’s Texas. People are allowed to carry guns everywhere. It’s weird to go into grocery store and see people carrying guns. That does not make me feel safe there. Here I do feel fairly safe. But then again – it is a smaller city. When I read about things that happen, I know where they are. There was a shooting that happened around 2 weeks ago at a place that I passed in a bus 5 minutes before. I walked out of the bus and saw helicopters in the sky. I didn’t know what it was. I came home to discover there was a shooting and I had just passed by this place. Although, at the same time I know that these events are related to one another. It is like gang in-fighting or something. More often than not, these are not random occurrences like mass shootings that have happened in America.

A: Yeah, I get what you mean. So… to sum up. How would you describe this experience of studying in Sweden? Did it turn out to be what you expected it to be?

K: Not sure what I expected. Honestly, I was just really excited… maybe a bit nervous. But I am really happy about where I am now: doing this Master’s program, learning what I am learning with the people I’ve met here. This is just so cool. I think the biggest change is that I feel both at the same time: the world is so big and the world is so small. It’s just that America is huge, Texas is huge and where I went to school everyone was from Texas. But now I am studying in Malmö, Sweden with the most lovely people from Denmark, Poland, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Bulgaria, Romania… This is a little microcosm where everyone has a different background. Still even though we know each other for 8 months, some of our conversations are: “back home is like this” “oh, that’s really different, we do things like this.” The world is so big. But here we are all together and it is so small. This is simply awesome. I am so glad I’m here and not sitting in an office in Texas.


If you have any additionals questions to Kevin feel free to post them in the comments!

5 tips for writing an academic paper

How to write an academic paper and not die out of panic in the process?

It’s the middle of night and the panic slowly overtakes you as you struggle to write the next sentence of your first academic paper. For a non-native speaker writing an academic paper can be a nightmare – but it’s also a requirement at many of Swedish universities. Here are tips and tricks that help me when I am stressing over the deadline looking at a blank screen.


1. FIND BACKUP

I always start with finding as many relevant sources as possible. I try looking briefly through them to get the main idea of the content (eg. just reading abstracts). I read a few that seem the most important. Only after having a general idea of what has been already said I look back to my own project and try to establish what do I want to say that could contribute to the discussion. Then I create a working title that I will look back to during my work – to remember what is going to be the essence of my paper.

2. STRUCTURE

I never start writing before I create an overall structure. For writing a report-style paper I may use generic one: introduction (with aim and research question), theory, state-of-art examples, method, process, results and findings, evaluation, conclusion, references. But it may be a bit harder if you are trying to write a more original paper, focused on specific idea. What I do in this situation is to write down the keywords for all the most important things I want to say, most characteristic positive qualities of the project, new ideas for the field… Then I look at them trying to find connections and figure out a logical flow. Arranged keywords create a structure of the paper, each representing one paragraph.

3. COUNT YOUR NUMBERS

Another thing I do before I start writing is to count the number of paragraphs I plan to write according to my preliminary structure. Then I divide the average number of words from requirements by the number of chapters. For instance if I have to write a 2000-4000 words essay that I written down 20 paragraph keywords for, I know that I should write about 150 words per paragraph, which allows me to focus on one at a time.

4. CALL A FRIEND

Ask a friend for feedback on your work. Possibly proof-read it by a fluent or native speaker. Just make sure that it all makes sense in someone’s else head too.

5. PUBLISH THE GOOD WORK

You got a really good feedback from a teacher? Do you think that the idea behind the paper was really valuable  and contributes to the field? Don’t be afraid to submit your work to a student conference! Since you have the paper already written it won’t take you much time and you can gain valuable experience of presenting your work at a conference, getting feedback and an exclusive look into the world of academia. A published work will look great on your CV, but most importantly will give you an immense level of satisfaction! (And a good reason to celebrate!)

 


 

Those are a few rules I follow when writing an academic paper. They seem to be working just fine: this week I am presenting my first individual paper at a conference! But if you need a step-by-step introduction instead of just tips and tricks check out this video course from Lund University, that explains the process in greater detail.

all images via GIPHY

 

Living in the dorms

Dorms enthusiasts talk about new friendships, sense of belonging and busy social life. Their opponents complain about messy kitchen and constant noise. One thing they all agree on – living in the dorms is an experience itself. But how is it really like to live in a Swedish University housing?  What are the pros and cons? What is actually the dorm-life experience? And is it something for you? Let’s take a peek into Malmo University Housing and try to answer these questions.

In Malmö we have 4 types of student dorms:  Swedish Rönnen , International Rönnen, Celsiusgården and Malmö Studenthus, so you can choose depending on your needs. Swedish Rönnen (associated with university) and Malmö Studenthus (private) are more like mini-apartments, rented unfurnished, where each room has their own kitchen. Since you have to buy and transport your own furniture, they are rather a long-term option. There are no common areas there, so life there is diametrically different than the one in International Rönnen and Celsiusgården. The latter two are “typical” dorms – with shared kitchen and lounge area, thriving with life and full of Erasmus students. This is what I will describe in this post.

In Rönnen International we have 4 floors, each hosting around 20 students. Your magnetic key gives you access only to your own floor though, so most of your time is usually spent there. Life of the floor revolves around shared kitchen and lounge area – and in my case it is thriving! Of course it depends on the semester and specific group of students, but in my experience living in the dorms is a very social situation. No matter what time the clock shows when you go to the kitchen – if it’s not the middle of the night you can be sure to find somebody there (well, sometimes also in the middle of the night!). Students hang there cooking, working, gossiping and watching movies. Several nights a week there is a group movie screening. Every Sunday we have a shared dinner. Every weekend different floor hosts a theme party. Often with costumes, decorations and beer-pong. Usually this includes a lazy Sunday morning/noon with conversations about nothing and everything while laying on a sofa.

The life in the dorms is best described by moments. The moment when you come home exhausted after a long day of hard work, only to discover an empty fridge and your floormate cooks spaghetti for you two to enjoy together while chatting about your day. The time when you bike through the city with a gang of your girls, shouting secrets and confessions to each other over the shoulders, on your way to bake some Semla with student organisation. It is never having to wonder whether you are invited to a party and always starting a day with a cheerful Hello. But also it is about the moment when you are hesitant to leave your room, not to get distracted from your massive amount of homework. The spark of irritation over all the dirty dishes in the kitchen and noise in the weekend.

I have been living in the dorms, or as they say in Sweden “in a corridor” for a bit over a month now. Before I have lived in a shared flat for a while and have been renting a room for about 3 months, so I can easily compare different types of student accommodation.  I can admit without much thinking that dorms are definitely my favorite. I like having a lot of people around, but at the same time having the possibility of locking myself in my room (which is very soundproof, I admit!). University housing is by far a best option for exchange students. It saves you a lot of trouble of looking for accommodation and places you in a middle of  the social life of your university.  If you are coming to Sweden for longer, for example entire degree, I would still recommend dorms as a start point if you have this opportunity. Stay there for the first semester, while you get to know the city and make friends. Meanwhile you can look for a shared flat with your best friends. I personally don’t see University Housing as a long-term accommodation: it’s actually more expensive than renting a room and you may notice that your lifestyle as a full-time student varies from the one of exchange students. Also a very practical reason – I already know I will miss the people who are going to leave Sweden in a few months! I am not sure I could bear the disappointments of goodbyes every semester.

 

As you can notice I am extremely happy with my corridor – but I also tried to list some of the cons of living in the dorms. Feel free to ask any questions about University housing or accommodation in general!

 

Swedish stories: Raya from Bulgaria on birdwatching, learning Swedish and coming back to school after a career break

Swedish stories is a series of interviews with international students from Malmö University. Following up on the interview with Bianca from Italy, I managed to talk to Raya: a 27-year-old student from Bulgaria. Find out student’s opinion on studying in Sweden.


A: Let’s start with the beginning of your journey to Sweden. What had been your thoughts on Sweden before you came here? Did you have any expectations about being an international student here?

R: Well, I expected very polite people, extremely organised country as a whole and everything being stylish. You know, famous Scandinavian design. When it comes to the studies, I’ve been hearing only good things about the education in Sweden and I was very curious about it. I expected it to be more practice oriented than in Bulgaria, where we focus more on the theoretical knowledge.

A: And were those expectations fulfilled?

R: If I think about it… yes. Well, maybe the organisation is a bit different than what I expected. Seems like the stereotype of organised Sweden working like a clock is not so true after all. I discovered that in some aspects Swedes seem surprisingly laid back. For example I had to remind the dorms to assign me a room. In other areas, it is completely the opposite – they even have law on the maximum amount of time you are allowed to leave your dog at home alone! On a completely different note, I was positively surprised by the weather. It is much warmer than I expected, especially in the Autumn.

A: Looks like you moved to Sweden with a lot of positive expectations. What about fears? Moving to another country can be quite stressful… What stressed you out the most when you were preparing to come here?

R: My biggest concern was that after a few years of working professionally I’ve gotten rid of my student habits. So I was a bit worried that it would be hard for me to go back to the student lifestyle.

A: Ah yes, coming back to being a student after a career break can be a challenge. How is this transition going for you?

R: It’s not easy! I miss having rigid working time: that moment when you walk out of the office and you are free. Being a student means always having something connected to university on my mind and on the neverending to-do list. My biggest pain though is getting back to the “poor-student” economy mindset. I became used to living on a certain level and now I kind of have to take a step back. That has been a great challenge for me.

A: Ok, let’s take our minds off of the university then. How is your life like after school?

R: To be honest, I am used to have quite busy private life in Bulgaria, so when I came to Sweden I saw that as an opportunity to step back, do less and relax. However, old habits die hard apparently. I was feeling a bit lonely at the beginning of my stay, not knowing many people yet, so I decided to fix that by enrolling in various activities. Learning Swedish, going to Språkcafe (language exchange cafe), enrolling to a mentor program, finding a swing dancing course and birdwatching. Birdwatching was a hobby of mine even back in Bulgaria. There is a birdwatching centre next to Malmö, so I can bike there enjoying Swedish landscape on the way. I am surprised though, that here it’s mostly old people that practise birdwatching, in Bulgaria it is a hobby for youth. However, everyone is very nice and I enjoy time spent there.

A: Wow, that seems like you found a lot of interesting things to do in Malmö!

R: I think life can be interesting wherever you go, it’s up to you. That being said, Malmö offers quite a lot of possibilities so it’s easy to enjoy life here.

A: One of your extracurricular activities is Swedish lessons. How did you arrange them?

R: Since I don’t have a personal number because I am doing one-year Master degree, I could not enroll in the Swedish classes organised by the city. Instead I signed up for the classes provided by the university. They are being held only once a week though, so it is not an intensive course at all. It isn’t what I initially wanted but it ended up to be perfect because the master program turned out to be much more time consuming than what I thought it would be.

A: A lucky coincidence! Do you find Swedish a complicated language to study?

R: I am a person that generally enjoys studying languages and I regret not having more time for it. Swedish is no exception. I don’t think it is a hard language though. Swedish is actually classified as one of the easiest languages to learn. It just takes practice. Which, frankly speaking, can be hard to find here since everybody speaks English. Fortunately! It makes living here much easier.

A: Summing up, how would you describe the difference between your education in Bulgaria and Sweden? What are your thoughts on being an international student in Malmö after the first six months?

R: The entire way universities work here and there is totally different. The format of my current studies is very open with a lot of seminars during which you talk whenever you want. There are no grades! This is due both to cultural difference as well as to the differences between disciplines. I changed my field of studies. Now I study design, but I am used to much more rigid format specific for software engineering. What’s more I am not used to an academic approach. It has been quite a challenge for me, especially because of the characteristic academic language. I have been feeling out of my comfort zone for a long time after I came. It was hard for me. I wanted to participate in this open format, but I was feeling insecure. Both because of the difference in the approach and because I felt I was lacking some experience due to change of studies. But now, I have to admit that I am really happy I came to Sweden especially because of this long period of being out of the comfort zone. It challenged me in many aspects. Actually, in all the aspects. It challenged me when it comes to what I think about myself and life in general. I feel like I grew a lot as a person. I would say that this is the most valuable thing for me about coming to Sweden. And I like the place where I am right now.

 


If you have any additionals questions to Raya feel free to post them in the comments!