So my name is Roman, I’m 24yo media professional from Moscow and in mid April it came out that I was awarded the SI scholarship for master’s studies in Sweden. Told it would cover both tuition fees and living costs – hope so :) And that’s great.
And, yes, my life and plans have changed a bit – I didn’t expect this to happen, honestly. I graduated from my university in 2012, so for nearly 4y I’ve had a life full of work – but not studies. This will be a big change – in Russia you go to uni right after school (which for me meant at 16), and now I’m going to study when I’m an adult.
Good thing is that I will study at Stockholm University, and I know Stockholm pretty much – been there around 9 times. Also, I speak some Swedish, which makes everything easier.
A bit about how it goes after you’ve been offered a scholarship. Well, first you just follow all the instructions from SI (guys there are really helpful about everything), sign papers and send them via e-mail. Then you apply for the residence permit (which is also easy and goes online). And then you should take some care about you future stay in Sweden. Which means:
They tell you it is tricky. In Stockholm it is not tricky. It is hell. I’m really really jealous for those who are guaranteed accommodation by their university. It makes your way so much easier. So if you have this option – ALWAYS try it. If you won’t like the place you gonna stay in – you can always relocate then, but at least you know you have a place to live once you’ve arrived.
I didn’t have this kind of option. For about 1,5 months I’ve been checking Akademiskvart (which is hopefully free to use and really helpful one) and BostadDirekt (which asks you to pay for their services – not so much though). I’ve sent about 60-70 replies to ads I’ve seen (both apartments and rooms) and only 5 people replied me back. This is for you to understand the demand on accommodation in the city – they have so many e-mails that most of them they don’t even read.
Then I made my way to Stockholm to see those places. There are always concerns, move-in time issues, restrictions, I ended up with only one suitable option and I’ve taken it. And yes it was really much fun – for the first time I wasn’t that typical tourist going from Gamla Stan to Ostermalm and back every day. I’ve seen the whole city and lots of locals living there, had coffees (was it fika? Not sure) with them.
I will live in Sodertalje which is 35 minutes direct train from Centralstationen. My Swedish friends think I am crazy. SO FAR (do people live there haha?).
And I don’t think so. When I used to live with my parents – and not in suburbs, but inside the city – below is how it was to get to my office.
Half an hour? Forget it. In 1mln city you just dunno what long trips mean.
2. Plan your costs.
Yes – and do it carefully. If you haven’t been to Stockholm before, you’ll be a little surprised by those numbers on supermarket shelves. Each time I think there’s no possibility to raise the prices, and each time I understand I’ve been mistaken againJ
So check the student costs plan at studyinsweden.se – it seems pretty possible to follow if you don’t eat out that much and take all the student possibilities.
What I’ve done – just made my usual weekly menu, went to the supermarket and calculated how much it costs. Good way to understand what’s possible and what’s not.
3. Meet locals and build networks.
I honestly think it’s a good thing to visit Sweden before moving there. Just think about it – you will arrive alone at a place you maybe never been to. Good to know some people beforehand.
I’ve visited my university and had a talk with the program coordinator. Made a walk around campus and met people studying there. Good start to make some friends. If you have this option – do it.
So hope at least some of my tips would be helpful. Honestly, I think my way in arranging everything wasn’t the hardest one – I’ve heard some tough stories from people staying in hostels for some months after they’ve arrived and so on. That’s a good tip for your life in Sweden, I guess – do everything in advance, don’t go last minute with what you’d better have done a week ago. This is definitely not how it works in Sweden. And all the practical issues will definitely be solved.