Sweden in a Nutshell

Kia Ora everyone! My name is Will (on the left), I’m from the North Island of New Zealand, and studying a Law degree. I love to stay active, try new experiences and see new places – routine is overrated! I have a large interest in sport, playing Rugby and Tennis back home, as well as trying to keep up with activities like skiing, hiking and water sports as much as possible. I also love the boating scene back home – there aren’t many moments that can top a fine day on the water with a fishing rod and beer in hand!

The Viking days of traditional Sweden are well past – I hope this blogpost will illustrate the unique subtleties that I’ve picked up on in Stockholm – ones that this amazingly progressive country is so renowned for. It may be a small country in population, but it is big on practicality, innovation and beauty.

Voice Your Thoughts – Theory Becomes Practice

The large contrast that I have noticed between the educational habits of Sweden and New Zealand is that this country is largely driven by preparing students for the actual workplace. The skills required to succeed in the professional realm are a long departure from the cramming and regurgitation that becomes so engrained in typical tertiary study. I have found myself in very close contact with the actual legal industry – already I have attended seminars and case presentations at Mannheimer Swartling, one of the most impressive and reputable commercial firms in Scandinavia. The Swedish classes focus on a less formal group setting, reflecting the workplace and advancing skills that may be lacking back home.

Mannheimer Swartling

Mannheimer Swartling

Both this educational culture and the local one encourage you to embrace your individuality and speak your mind. Open discussions, respectful debates and challenging old assertions with bright revelations are all important factors in the way that Sweden targets individual improvement academically and through their sense of self and identity.

Innovation and Progress

There is no surprise that Sweden is the home of the Nobel Prize. Before I departed for Stockholm, so many friends and family had the same comment for this country and its people: “they’re good operators”. From a student perspective, being home to H&M and IKEA is a feat that other countries can only imagine. But let’s not forget Spotify, Skype and Bluetooth. While we’re at it, throw a world class car manufacturer like Volvo or Saab in the mix. The opportunity to study here exposes a trailblazing research environment – anyone reading this could be the next mastermind behind Sweden’s next break through.

Part of this astonishing progressive trend can be attributed to diverse networks of both friends and colleagues as well as the crushing of language barriers. A major reason why I chose to study abroad was to learn some of a foreign language. Swedes are so competent with English, however, that their native tongue is simply not needed. In any case, I have noticed that attempting the language is graciously appreciated. I’d definitely recommend taking a university course to aid the motivation!

Breathe in The Natural Beauty

Studying amidst the backdrop of beautiful green and white scenes is such an appealing factor of studying abroad in Sweden. Long hikes, river raft rides, ski weekends and archipelago cruises are all at your disposal as a student. There is always a surplus of outdoor pursuits! Alternatively, it is just as satisfying to bask in the beauty of nature, whether it be in a city centre or just outside.

Stockholm's spectacular panoramic view

Stockholm's spectacular panoramic view

The government seems to pride itself in its entrenched tradition of stringent environmental control. With its ongoing recycling revolution, less than one percent of Sweden’s household waste ends up in a rubbish tip. Compare this to another modern country – the United States sees about 40% of its waste in a dump. It is these monumental efforts behind the scenes that give exchange students such a stunning playground.

Additionally, Sweden gives you a convenient platform for excursions to the rest of Scandinavia. Almost unbelievably, Norway is even more scenic.

Sweden is different and exciting, with remnants of its heavily historic past giving it a special charisma, and one that I have grown to love as an international student in a very short amount of time indeed.

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No comment on the prices – you get the good with the bad.