- Since my first year of studying in Sweden has already passed, I’ll start this blog with a little review on my experiences during the last twelve months.
Of course, when moving to another country and starting a new program, one is full of hopes, dreams and – I have to admit it – fears. Me, myself, I had not studied for about half a year before coming here, but had done some internships instead. And believe me, after having a little taste of what working life would be like, I felt a fervent desire to go back to studies.
Motivated as I was I started to make physical and mental preparations for my journey, when two days before my departure I suddenly realized what I was doing: leaving my friends and family behind for a trip to the unknown; moving my whole life to a place I had never visited before, to a culture and language I didn’t know.
As mentioned earlier, I was really excited about starting my master program. Of course I’d easily be a perfect student and score the highest grades. I’d become an expert in approaching environmental issues economically and certainly I would also find a great side job related to my studies. Three words about that: IN YOUR DREAMS. But even though I haven’t done as well as I wanted to, I have learnt an awful lot and even more.
Regarding the specialization in environmental issues I sometimes feel more confused now than when I started. The program gave me quite some insights into fields I have never really dealt with before (like fishery e.g. – WTF). Still, I see it as an advantage to think about different aspects of and perspectives on environmental economics before deciding what I want to work on in my individual project (master thesis). I feel like things are starting to fall into place. Something I really wasn’t aware of is that a lot of the classes in the first year are held at Ekonomikum (together with the students of Uppsala University). This was a little confusing in the beginning and there were some administrative hazzles, but in retrospect I see it as something extremely positive, since I enjoyed some absolutely valueable classes as well as excellent company. In a nutshell, I have never studied that hard in my life as during my first year here in Uppsala, but also I have never taken away as much from my studies any time before.
I remember clearly that I was hoping to find at least one or two people to get along with in Sweden. That mission was more than accomplished. Most of the people I met during the last year (in and outside of the university) were honestly friendly and welcoming and several of them even became really good friends that I don’t want to miss anymore.
Uppsala as a major but small and traditional student city offers everything from parties to cultural events (like Kulturnatten or Varlborg) and even outdoor adventures (like hiking trips or berry picking in the nearby forests).
Living here has also taught me several lessons about the Swedish culture. There is the obvious stuff like fika, ABBA, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (seriously, that guy is everywhere) and traditional dinners (nearly every holiday includes drinking a lot of snaps and singing), but then also more subtle things. I discovered the Swedes to be a very friendly and patient people. It takes time to make a Swedish friend, but if you got one it feels very authentic.
However, the conclusion is that in most fields my expectations were overtaken and I would always decide for Uppsala and my program at SLU again.