Studying in Sweden on a scholarship. The story of Alena Seredko
09.07.18
Studying in Sweden on a scholarship. The story of Alena Seredko

 

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Studying in Sweden on a scholarship. History of Alena Seredko

Read the story of Alena Seredko, a student of the International Master's Program in IT and Learning at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Studying and living in Sweden is covered by a scholarship Visby program scholarship from the Swedish Institute. 

Why did I decide to study abroad?

I was born and raised in Yekaterinburg. There she graduated from the Ural Federal University with a degree in Translation and Translation Studies. After that, she worked as a translator and English teacher for several years. Until I met the Global Ambassador, my idea of ​​studying abroad was limited to the experience of traveling to language courses in London during my student days. At Global Ambassador, I began working as a manager for language courses abroad, and then for higher education abroad. It was there that I learned that it is quite possible to get an education abroad without serious financial investments, and about the opportunities this education provides in terms of career prospects and personal development. Then I decided that I want to further develop in the field of education, and therefore I decided to go on to study further and enter the magistracy. And the skills and knowledge that I received at Global Ambassador helped me to correctly approach the issue of choosing a program and to prepare documents for admission in a high-quality manner.

By what criteria did I choose a country and a training program?

First, I chose several countries for education in which I could get a full scholarship covering study and living. Then I went through a lot of different programs at different universities, and studied the entry requirements. And according to the results, it turned out that it was the IT and Learning program at the Swedish university that most of all corresponded to my interests, and at the same time I was quite suitable for the requirements.

How was the admission process?

The filing process took place in two stages. First, you had to submit documents to the selected university until mid-January. The first criterion for submitting documents was a bachelor’s or specialist’s diploma, and the specialty was not important (people with a previous education in the field of pedagogy, design, programming, journalism, etc. study in our course. In addition, I needed to confirm my knowledge of English, which I did by sending them the result of the TOEFL exam. I also sent online my resume and motivation letter.

The second stage was applying for a scholarship. In early February, it was necessary to send a resume, another motivation letter and a letter of recommendation from the teacher or supervisor. Eugene Efremova, the academic director of Global Ambassador, wrote me a letter of recommendation, and I am very grateful to her for her help and support. Answers also came in turn in the region of April: first I found out that I entered the university, and then that I received a scholarship.

From the point of view of the organization, the very process of submitting documents for both the program and the scholarship is quite transparent. There are no tricky requirements for certifying documents or sending them. Most of the time it took me to write motivational letters. It was necessary to explain my interest in the field of education in a capacious and logical way, despite the lack of a specialized diploma, and to tell how exactly the chosen program will help me achieve long-term goals. And for the scholarship, I was also required to talk about the problem that exists in society (in particular, in my home country), and how, with the help of the knowledge gained on the selected program, I can contribute to solving this problem.

Life in Sweden

I would highlight several practical aspects of life in Sweden, which, it seems to me, are useful to know in advance.

First, the climate. Before leaving, I looked at the average winter temperatures in Gothenburg and was delighted: only -3! Yes, after our Ural winters - sheer nonsense. So, practice has shown that nothing of the kind. The temperature rarely drops below -5, but it is still very cold outside, very windy and very wet. So warm and waterproof clothes and shoes and a good umbrella are a must. But at the same time, everything is very clean everywhere, which is very pleasant after the Yekaterinburg autumn-spring realities. And besides, it is cold in houses in winter too, so warm clothes and shoes are needed at home too.

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Second, it is important to understand the rental system. Unfortunately, according to the rules of my university, undergraduates are not provided with housing from the university (by the way, in other universities students are given dorm rooms). In my case, I had to look for and rent housing myself. In general, there are two ways. The first is renting a room or apartment from individuals (so-called second-hand contracts). There are usually about 50 applicants for one such proposal. That is, the landlord will have to be greatly impressed by telling about yourself and your reliable financial situation. The whole process of finding housing can take up to several months, and some students are literally forced to live on the street or by acquaintances for several weeks after the start of their studies, simply because no one considered them the best candidates. The second option for renting housing is a queue for first-hand contracts. This means that you will not rent an apartment or a room from a private person, but from some company that owns residential buildings. This can be an organization that provides housing only to students, or a general queue for everyone. To get into these lines, you need to register on certain sites and sometimes pay a small annual fee. The main problem here is that the minimum waiting line for a regular dorm room is about 8 months. Moreover, you do not receive housing automatically after reaching this deadline, but within the framework of a competition: whoever has shown interest in more queue days wins. For apartments of different sizes, the queue can be from one year to many years. There are also some loopholes. For example, in the organization that rents housing to students in Gothenburg, sometimes last-minute offer contracts appear, and they will be received by the first who, for example, calls this company. I now live in a room in a student dormitory, which I received after about 8 months. And I can say that, despite the shared bathroom and kitchen, for me personally it turned out to be many times calmer and more comfortable than renting a room from private individuals.

Features of studying in Sweden

The master's program is divided into two years, i.e. four semesters. The first three semesters include two courses each, and the last semester is devoted to writing a dissertation (Master thesis). If in Russia every semester students simultaneously take several courses at once, and then pass all the exams into the session, then in Sweden students take only 1 or 2 courses at the same time, then an exam or other test work, then the next course. I personally like it, because I can concentrate on one subject, and not be torn between several tasks.
There are not many full-time classes, we meet only 2 times a week. Each lecture has a reading list, that is, in the lesson, the teacher does not read out new material, rather we discuss a topic that is already familiar to us and analyze the issues that we have. In addition, for each lecture, you can download the presentation with all the key points. Within each course, we conduct some research individually or in groups, which we then pass in writing and present to the whole class. Moreover, we always choose the topic ourselves, which means that everyone can personalize the program and learn exactly what is interesting.

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In addition to my studies last year, I was actively involved in the union of students receiving scholarships from the Swedish Institute. Together we organized various events for the fellows. For example, we went to the UN office together, visited the Volvo factory, listened to a lecture from an Ericsson employee, and went to a car software company. Many fellows study in technical specialties, and for them these events are a real chance to find an internship, a project for a dissertation and further work.

Advice for applicants

The most important thing, I think, is to have realistic expectations and an awareness of your own responsibility for what is happening. This applies to literally all areas. I mean, for example, not expecting that it will be easy and interesting to study, that the program itself will open up unprecedented prospects, that finding a job is a matter of a couple of months, and learning a language is easy, or even unnecessary, since there is English. It is quite possible that some of this will turn out to be true for you - great, just another reason to be glad for the right decision! And if not, then being prepared for difficulties will help you maintain your presence of mind and find a solution faster.

Secondly, if you intend to work while studying or stay to live in your chosen country after the end of the program, then I would advise you to start learning the language of the country before leaving there. Learning the language, by the way, was one of my illusions. Having experience in learning several foreign languages, I thought that the process would go quickly and easily. It turned out not at all. So, once you know you've got a job, it's time to start. Despite the fact that in Sweden the vast majority of the population is fluent in English, proficiency in Swedish is a requirement in most jobs.

Thirdly, again in relation to Sweden, the sooner you get in line for student housing, the better. Even if by the beginning of your program you have not yet received a contract for student housing, after six months or a year, your thoughtfulness is likely to pay off. Or, when choosing a university, pay attention to those universities that provide students with housing.

PS

And finally, a few words about the sweet Swedish tradition. One of the first and most important Swedish words is fika. It means taking a break (for example from work) to drink coffee, usually with something sweet and delicious. Almost any event or meeting will include such a break. Some people (for example, me) just go to events for this :)

That’s probably all. Thanks for attention!

 

 Alena Seredko

International Master's Program in IT and Learning, Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden

Visby Program Scholarship, Swedish Institute

   
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