Whilst I imagined studying at a Swedish university would be completely different to studying at QUT, it is amazing how many features of uni life are the same, and how many are different. I am currently studying Environmental Economics at the University of Gothenburg. For those of you that may be wondering what studying in Sweden is like, here are some features of a Gothenburg university.
Firstly, classes are divided into time slots. You may have a lecture or seminar at 9:15-12:15 or from 1:15-4:15. During this time, you will normally have two 15 minute breaks to enjoy Fika, and discuss the subject with fellow classmates; and yes, these three hour lecture slots can be pretty full-on so this is one thing I’m glad QUT doesn’t have. Whilst lectures follow the same format as QUT in that your lecturer will present information and answer questions, the lectures are not recorded so if you decide to skip a class, you do so at your own risk!!
You might also find that you have seminars. Seminars are compulsory and a time for discussion – as an introvert, this type of learning did initially fill me with dread. However, normally the lecturer will give you academic papers to read prior to the class as well as focus questions. The seminars have actually been such a good way to be able to see a variety of opinions in a relaxed environment. It’s also amazing how much more you remember about a topic when you’ve had to discuss it with a group of people.
Secondly, lecturer and student communication is something that is really valued. I don’t actually know if it is just because my lecturer is friendly and awesome, or if this is something all Swedish lecturers aim to do, but in my first few weeks of the beginning of the subject, a meet-up was organised at a local pub for all class mates to meet and get-to-know our lecturer. It’s a chance for the lecturer to learn your name as well as what you want to get out of the subject. It was also a great opportunity for one to meet other people studying the subject and form study groups.
Now we get to the important (and probably my favourite) feature of studying in Gothenburg! Speaking to a Swedish friend recently, the marking system at universities in Sweden consists of either failing, passing or obtaining a high pass. Unlike Australia, students do not have a GPA they have to maintain. Whilst Swedish university marks may play a role with obtaining a job in competitive professions, generally, the individual and the skills they possess from extra-curricular activities are valued more than the standard of marks.
There are so many differences between QUT and the University of Gothenburg – from little things like the doors opening the opposite way, to major differences like three hour lecture times. Both have their rewarding and tedious elements – but it’s all the life of the student!!