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. Education and accommodation in Sweden 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 of all, 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 really rarely drops below -5, but the street is still very cold, very windy and very wet. So warm and waterproof clothes and shoes and a good umbrella are a must have. But at the same time, it’s very clean everywhere, which is very nice after the Yekaterinburg autumn-spring realities. Well, besides, it’s also cold in the houses in winter, so warm clothes and shoes are needed at home.

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Secondly, it is important to understand the housing rental system. According to the rules of my university, undergraduates, unfortunately, are not provided with housing (by the way, students are given dormitory rooms at other universities). In my case, I had to look for and rent a house myself. In general, there are two ways. The first is renting a room or apartment from private individuals (the so-called second-hand contracts). There are usually about 50 applicants for one such proposal. That is, the landlord will have to greatly impress, telling about himself and his 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 according to friends for several weeks after the start of training, simply because no one considered them the best candidates. The second option for renting housing is the queue for first-hand contracts. This means that you will not rent an apartment or room with a private person, but with some company that owns residential buildings. This may be an organization that provides housing only for students, or a common line for all. To get in such lines, you need to register on certain sites and sometimes still pay a small annual fee. The main problem here is that the minimum queue for waiting 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 the competition: which of those who showed interest have more days in the queue - he wins. For apartments of different sizes, the queue can be from a year to many years. There are some loopholes. For example, in the organization that rents housing to students in Gothenburg, contracts such as last-minute offer sometimes appear, and they will be received by the first who, for example, calls this company. I now live just in the room in the student dormitory, which I received after saving about 8 months. And I can say that, despite the shared bathroom and kitchen, for me personally it turned out to be much calmer and more comfortable than renting a room with 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 studying last year, I actively participated in the association of students receiving scholarships from the Swedish Institute. Together we organized various events for scholarship holders. For example, we went to the UN office together, visited the Volvo plant, listened to a lecture from an Ericsson employee, went to a company that specializes in car software. Many scholarship holders study 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, as I think, is to have realistic expectations and awareness of our own responsibility for what is happening. This applies to literally all areas. I mean, for example, not to expect that it will be easy and interesting to study, that the program itself will open unprecedented prospects, that finding a job is a matter of a couple of months, and learning a language is easy, or even not necessary, since there is English. It is possible that some of this will turn out to be true for you - excellent, another reason to be glad for the right decision! And if not, then preparedness for difficulties will help to maintain the presence of mind and find a solution faster.

Secondly, if you intend to work while studying or stay in your chosen country after the end of the program, I would advise you to start learning the language of the country before you leave there. Learning a language, by the way, was one of my illusions. Having experience learning several foreign languages, I thought that the process would go quickly and easily. It turned out not at all. So, as soon as you find out you got a seat, it's time to start. Despite the fact that in Sweden the vast majority of the population is fluent in English, fluency in Swedish is a must 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 in conclusion, a few words about the sweet Swedish tradition. One of the first and most important Swedish words is fika. It means a break (for example, at work) to drink coffee, usually with something sweet and very tasty. Almost any event or meeting will include such a break. Some people (like me) just go to events for the sake of it :)

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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