American University vs. Swedish University

Patrik Goethe

Lyndsay compares her post-secondary institution at home with her Swedish school.

I’ve been in higher-education institutions for six years, so I understand the normalities of how college works. You pick your classes, you go to them, you take a test and then praise the gods for summer vacation. Simple, simple.

Except in Sweden it’s completely different.

The first thing to notice is their scheduling system. In the US you (usually) choose to take 12 credit hours a semester. This is considered a full-time student, with classes going on once or twice a week for 12 weeks. For example, I am taking: Swedish Language, Journalism, Inter-Culture Encounters, and Communication Perspectives.

If I was in the US my schedule could look something like this:

Monday: Swedish

Tuesday: Journalism

Wednesday: Communication Perspectives

Thursday: Inter-Culture Encounters

Friday: No Classes

I would have a specific time, classroom and teacher, which would stay the same throughout the entire semester.

It's the total opposite of my classes here in Sweden.

When I registered for classes I was given a choice to choose four classes, which each ran for a month. The classes meet a few times a week and at the end of the month, you take a final exam. My first final exam is tomorrow morning. I’m gonna need some coffee.

The entire class structure is different, too. We meet in different rooms for every class, listen to lectures from a variety of instructors and guest lecturers, and engage in group work rather than individual projects.

On a day-to-day level the classes are very casual. You call the professors by their first name and every hour or so you get a fika (coffee break). The lectures are engaging and the instructors provide us with real-world experience. While learning about public access to information in Sweden, we were given a list of information to find out about people through government websites. Another assignment had us race around town collecting official government documents.

So do I like it?

Well, it’s different. It’s nice to focus completely on one subject, however it feels like I just started the class when in reality I’ve attended 17 different lectures taught by seven different presenters. Due to the sheer number of students at my American university, this structure would never work. However, I think it works very well here in a small school.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Lyndsay Burginger

Lyndsay Burginger is an American student studying Mass Communication abroad in Jönköping, Sweden. She holds an AAS in Culinary Arts and plans on engulfing herself in Swedish food and culture. Follow Lyndsay's adventures in Sweden!


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