Looking through the calendar the other day, I realised two important things. First that it has been a shamefully long since my last post (living in Germany doesn’t really bring the same inspiration). Secondly, that it is the university choosing time – so if you’re in the stage of thinking about starting university next September, now it is the time to get your stuff together and start looking around at your options.
I often get questions about University of Gothenburg and studying and living in Sweden in general. So for all of you considering studying in GU, I collected and answered my top Frequently Asked Questions about my Swedish/Gothneburg student experience.
1. But do you speak Swedish?
Not really – I can manage basic conversation in the supermarket, introduce myself and order at the bar (all clearly life-depending situations :D). I learnt very quickly that literally everyone speaks English no matter the age or profession. I can honestly say that during my 1 year long stay, I have never encountered a situation where speaking Swedish was necessary. My university and all the communication from them is in English so no problems there. Plus, GU offers free Swedish courses so if you want to, it is never too late to learn a new language!
2. But how do you survive the weather?
Honestly, it is not that bad. You need to remember that Gothenburg is located in the western part by the sea. So it doesn’t actually get below 0 often and winter is rather rainy…I think we actually had maybe four days of snow last winter.
When it comes to the lack of sun, I was surprised what it did to the city – November/December were really lovely months where the whole city were lighten up with Christmas decorations and outdoor lighting. I have to admit that January and February were a bit painful – we still got around 8 hours of daylight per day but it was getting a bit annoying. However, after experiencing the Swedish spring and summer I can say it was all well worth it. People somehow tends to appreciate the sunshine way more and when the summer hits, the days are literally endless. So all in all, it will eventually gets a bit dark and cold but I think it is well worth for what comes after!
3. Is it really that expensive?
This is a relative question – yes the cost of living is higher but so is the wage so at the end it all kind of evens out. However, if you don’t have time for a student job, it will of course appear a bit more expensive – mainly when it comes to eating and going out, drinks and services.
However, there is still a huge number of international students living here so of course it is all manageable: instead of eating out, you will actually improve your cooking skills and throwing a dinner parties with your friends will become a regular thing (home made sushi, anyone?).
Of course we still go out – lot of places have student offers and free entry with student cards before midnight. And having pre-party at someone’s place instead of a bar saves you a lot of money and let you meet a lot of other students. And you will build a habit of bringing a duty free bottle every time you fly somewhere 🙂
What I really like about living in Sweden is that living healthy costs the same as living “normally” – wether it comes to the choice of food in supermarket or a sandwich in a cafe that will most likely be home-made on a whole wheat bread with bio tomatoes.
For us, girls, things like clothes and cosmetics are definitely more expensive however I buy almost everything online since I have moved to Sweden so it is quite easily solvable issue. Plus, when the sale season hits, you can get amazing Swedish fashion for a very good price : Cheap Monday jeans on sale & cute Swedish boys on Wednesday night in Yaki-da is what me and Maria are pretty much living for (just kidding of course ;).
On the other hand, there are things that are cheaper in Sweden:
Firstly, the rent. So far, I have lived in student housing in England and Germany and the one in Sweden is definitely the cheapest and the best I had so far. And getting a private apartment in the city is even cheaper option.
Secondly, the education is for free. For me as a Master student, this was a clear deal breaker. Even if the cost of living is a bit higher, it is definitely cheaper overall than paying a high fees somewhere else for the same quality and level of education.
Lastly, GU offers great range of scholarships and support for International students. In my case, I received the travel scholarship for our trip to Shanghai, Hospitality grant for international students and currently having support from Erasmus Grant for my internship in Germany. So really, there is a lot of support when you need it! All you need to do is look around (and get some info here!).
If you read my posts, you know I love Gothenburg and the lifestyle in Sweden in general. Yes, it is more expensive and sometimes rainy and cloudy, but in general it is a good quality life in a country where things work and people tend to respect each other and the environment around them.
So, are you in?
Puss och kram!