Language requirement:

No language requirement when taking English-taught education. For Swedish studies at least Swedish B2 level in CEFR needed

Exchange places available:

Swedish: 2 places for fall semester
NOHA & Euroculture: around 4 places for a semester per agreement
CIS: 1 place for fall semester
History: 1 place for spring semester

How to apply?

Possible grant for selected student: Erasmus

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Interview with IRIO student: Pieter Zijlstra

What was your motivation to go to your study destination?

I wanted to practice and improve my Swedish.

What were your expectations before leaving?

A similar experience to Groningen. The university is ranked similarly and the city is also of similar size.

Did you find the application procedure difficult? Do you have any tips?

Yes, at first the exchange office told me it couldn't be done. But I wanted to go to Sweden at any cost. I even considered going as a freemover. There was a lot of mailing back and forth, to both people at RUG and people at Uppsala University. Eventually, I managed to acquire a spot for Uppsala that the RUG had reserved for History students yet remained unused by then. A very stressful journey but it worked out in the end.

What were the requirements for doing your semester abroad in that country and university?

All my courses only had "general requirements", so basically none. Two of my courses were in Swedish so I did need a sufficient fluency level for that (B2).

Were there any initiatives supporting Erasmus/international students throughout their stay?

Yes, they had a "buddy programme" where a local student organised activities with a random group of new students and there were a lot of activities organised by the "student nations" (a typical Uppsala thing), especially in the first few weeks.

What did/do you think of the university? (The location? The buildings? The study programme? The teachers?)

Good quality in all aspects! Similar experience to RUG. Many libraries where you can study.

Did you like the way of teaching and studying?

A big difference is the grading system. In Sweden you get a fail, pass, or pass with distinction. I personally like the 1-10 grading system more. Also, for many courses, the examination was made up of having to write 2400-3000 word essays in, say, 72 hours, rather than the three-hour exams we do. Those examinations are a few stressful days usually.

How was the workload compared to IRIO?

Similar, the difference was that I only had 1 or 2 courses at the same time rather than 3 per block like in Groningen. Those courses were more intensive though.

What about the people? Did/do you meet many international students? Did you rather stay with locals or other Erasmus students?

I met many many internationals, nice people, and way less Swedes. I would have liked to meet more local people though. My last course was in Swedish though, so there I only met Swedes, which I liked.

How did/does it go financially? Did you acquire a fund? Did you have to experience a difference in lifestyle compared to living in Groningen? Was it hard to find accommodation? Was it affordable? What about spendings on food, public transport and leisure?

I got Erasmus money and I got some money from DUO for not using my OV-chipkaart. Sweden is so expensive though. The supermarket prices are so high. And if you drink alcohol, just know you're gonna spend a lot of money. The fika culture of doing a coffee break every day is another money drainer. Housing was offered by the university, so it was very easy to get, but it was not cheap.

Did/do you go out a lot? Where? Can you give any recommendations?

Yes, while NL was locked down I was going ham. I loved going out at the student nations; Snerikes on Tuesdays, Norrlands on Wednesdays, Stocken on Thursdays, Värmlands on Fridays. (Not in the same week though.) Stocken and Värmlands are great. Snerikes plays a bunch of Swedish music as well, I personally liked that.

Did/do you practice any sports there?

I went to the gym only once. Many people went more often. I did sing in a choir for a bit and was briefly in an orchestra.

What was/is your favourite place there?

Café Linné/Güntherska konditori/Kalmar nation's pub/Ekonomikum (to study)/Kantorsgatan

Were you able to do some sightseeing and/or travel within the country?

Yeees, went on a bunch of trips, even outside the country. Stockholm is only 45 minutes by train, went to Helsinki by nightboat, drove to Gothenburg, bus trip to Lapland, and ended with a roadtrip to Copenhagen, Malmö and some other Swedish cities.

What was/is your favourite local food there?

Toscabulle, or any Swedish pastry really!

What was the most surprising thing about this new culture?

The fact that people don't say their age but instead refer to their birth year; I am not 21 years old but a "noll-nollare" (2000 kid).

What is the most funny word you learned in the new language?

Many words, I have a whole list, but if I have to say one thing, I like how everyone uses "jahaa" to say "uhu".

How is the Covid situation? Are there typically strict restrictions?

Sweden has generally been one of the least strict countries of Europe.

Do you have an interesting story to tell about your stay?

I got to see the Northern lights when I was in Lapland on New Year's Eve! Though 30 minutes later I was cleaning my friend's puke. Life is a journey of ups and downs.

Something you have learned/grown with thanks to the experience?

I mainly got to improve my Swedish skills! Which was my goal from the beginning. And even got the improve my French through hanging with Francophone people.

Were there any notable things you didn’t expect?

Public transport is quite expensive, just like groceries. And the bread sucks hard.

Is there something you want to tell students who will go to that place in the future? Is there something you wished someone had told you?

See all the nations! They elevate the experience a lot. And learn at least the basics of Swedish out of courtesy. Also, read something on Carl von Linné, Dag Hammarskjöld, and Sankta Lucia.

Is there something else you like to share with us about your study abroad experience?

Five months fly by so fast. By now I am broke but I had a great time.

Grading (scale from 1 to 5)

Points of interest in the area (museums, sights, etc.) (few -- many): 4

Food (few choices -- many choices): 4

Nature (few -- many): 3

Recreation/sport (few choices -- many choices): 5

Social activities (few -- many): 4

Size of the university (small -- big): 4

Relationship students-professors (informal -- formal): 2

Language requirements (English suffices -- local language essential): 1

Study programme (uninteresting -- interesting): 4

International students (few -- many): 5

Students from Dutch universities (few -- many): 3

Location of the university (hard to reach -- easy to reach): 5

Funds (easy to acquire -- hard to acquire): 3

Accommodation (easy to find and affordable -- hard to find and expensive): 3

Living costs (cheap -- expensive): 5

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