Study in Sweden: What's it really like?
There are many reasons why Sweden might be dream destination for your studies. First of all, studying in Sweden is free. Yes, you read that right. They also have a wide range of Universities that are ranked among the top schools in the world. Sweden is generally known as a clean and calm country, with the Swedes themselves being polite and friendly. Most of all they love their "fika", which is a lunch break often involving lots of coffee and lots of friends coming together. What are you waiting for?
European students in Sweden
Citizens of EU as well as EEA (including Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) can study in Sweden for free, and do not require a visa. Note that fees have been introduced for non-EU citizens.
You will probably be happy to hear that you do not necessarily need to know Swedish before applying to a university in Sweden. Especially Master's programs are often taught in English, though you should research this closely before applying. In any case you must show a certain level of English skills. To demonstrate proficiency in English you will normally undergo internationally recognised tests, such as TOEFL, ELTS or the equivalent. Read more about these tests here (other article).
The best thing is to check with your chosen university what their specific entry requirements are, as they can vary some.
The top five universities in Sweden are Kungliga Tekniska högskolan in Stockholm (East), Uppsala Universitet in Uppsala (East), Linköpings Universitet in Linköping (Mid-East), Lunds Universitet in Lund (South) and Umeå Universitet in Umeå (North-East). Beyond the ranked institutions, two schools are particularly regarded within their fields; the Karolinska Institute, a specialist medical school, and the Stockholm School of Economics. Note that it is generally harder to get accepted into higher-ranked schools, as there is more competition regarding the admission.
Sweden is proud of its economy fueled by technology and science, and is also a country to count on when it comes to developmental studies and "peace" studies. Art and design studies are also highly regarded here, for instance at Umeå Institute of Design or Konstfack University College of Arts, Craft and Design in Stockholm.
Living in Sweden
Whereas there is no student fees at Swedish universities (unless they are privately owned), one must remember that the cost of living in Sweden and the rest of Northern Europe is generally higher than in the rest of Europe. Almost all Swedish students take up a loan (with parts of it acting as a grant) from the government to be able to live while studying. Rent is generally more expensive in the cities, where most of the universities are located. Food and drinks (especially alcohol) is also a big source of expenditure.
If you wish to apply for a student loan, the most normal thing is to apply within you own country. In order to get into the Swedish system, you have to have lived there for a minimum of two years while supporting yourself.
Though living in Sweden can be somewhat expensive, do not let that scare you away. The country has a lot of exiting things to offer, not to mention great nature that is absolutely free to enjoy. Cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg have a lot of culture on display, with hip music venues, theaters and independent shops sprinkled across town. And of course, you and your new Swedish class mates will definitely be enjoying a regular "fika" (coffee) together.
Anette Lien is a recent journalism graduate and an avid traveller. Hailing from a small town in Norway, she went on to study in India before settling down in London, UK. She has previously worked for a local newspaper, at various music websites and as an Expedia blogger. When she is not travelling, or writing about travelling, she enjoys going to small gigs with quirky, underground bands.