The largest Scandinavian country has a lot to offer study abroad students. Beautiful cities, efficient public transportation, peaceful foreign relations, clean air, high-end design, and world-class academics are all a part of the Swedish experience. The country that brought the world Pippi Longstocking and Greta Garbo is now one of the most sought after places to study abroad.
With crime rates among the lowest in the world, the capital city of Stockholm is a treasure for students. Situated on 14 islands, Stockholm is one of the world’s most beautiful capital cities. As one of the leading nations in environmental preservation, Sweden is a great place to enjoy the outdoors, and there is never a lack of breathtaking scenery. Although the country lies so far north that it reaches the Arctic Circle, it remains relatively warm thanks to the Gulf Stream. Most Swedes are extremely active and enjoy being outdoors. Thanks partially to a recent increase in amateur sports activity, Swedes now have one of the longest life expectancies in the world. In the warmer months, swimming, cycling, tennis, soccer, canoeing and hiking are popular activities, as are skiing and ice-skating during the long winter. In the summer they bask under the midnight sun, and in the winter Swedes enjoy the beauty of the Northern Lights.
Sweden is also the home of the Nobel Prize and, consequently, has always taken academia seriously. Standards of achievement remain high. Universities work closely with industries to give students practical experience and the independence they need to be competitive. All courses taught in Sweden are subject to rigorous quality control every six years. In addition to the government, universities are also very receptive to the student’s opinions on academic standards. The result is an education that is sought after the world over: Sweden has one of the highest percentages of foreign students studying on their soil, and the number of foreign students traveling to Sweden has drastically increased over the years. Most universities fully subsidize tuition costs for students, regardless of their nationality, so nearly anyone can afford to study here. There are also over 200 Master’s programs being offered in English, so foreign language should not be a barrier. In fact, many businesses use English as their official working language.
The Swedes also have a reputation for being peacemakers. Political science and international relations majors might find this Nordic country a particularly interesting case study. The country has not participated in a war for almost 2 centuries, remaining neutral throughout World Wars I and II. Throughout history, Sweden has maintained a policy of “non-participation in alliances in time of peace, aiming at neutrality in the event of war.” This policy has been coupled with a strong domestic defense system in order to uphold their neutrality. Recently, with Sweden’s full participation in the EU, this policy has been slightly altered to promote global cooperation for peace while still sustaining as much neutrality as possible. Sweden often plays the role of the mediator on the world political stage. The country is active in the United Nations, NATO’s Partnership for Peace, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and their foreign policy rates human rights, conflict management, and the environment among their highest priorities. Economics majors can experience firsthand what the Swedes call “the home of the people,” in which all citizens are guaranteed certain basic institutions such as health care, education, and housing, while still promoting entrepreneurship and inventiveness.
In fact, the many inventions that have come from Sweden are major source of pride, and a major contributor to Sweden’s export boom. Sweden has long been on the cutting edge of technology. The inventors of dynamite and the ATM were Swedish. The country is also home to world famous brands like Volvo, Ikea, Saab, Ericsson and H&M. The Swedish market is considered so trendy that it is often used by international companies to test new products. Some other inventions that have come out of this country are the pacemaker, the Celsius thermometer, chlorine, the adjustable wrench, the roller bearing, and ultrasound diagnostics. Engineering, research and development, information technology and biomedicine are some of the most heavily-funded of Sweden’s business sector, putting them in the top percentile of countries in the world for published research and inventions. Inventors, engineering majors, scientists, computer programmers, and anyone interested in cutting edge technology will find this small country a world of inspiration.
In addition to inventions and engineering, Sweden has recently seen a boom in the “experience industry,” which is composed of, among other things, creative design, music, culinary arts, and tourism. Specifically, design has increased so much that Sweden has emerged out of nowhere to become the world’s third-ranking leader in product and interior design, and 2005 was declared “the Year of Design.” This ambitious undertaking has spread throughout all of Sweden, and designs students can benefit from several programs and institutions devoted specifically to their design expertise.