As the home of the world-famous Nobel Prize, Sweden is renowned for its tolerance, inclusiveness and society that promotes equality between sexes and races. The Swedes are also known for making significant investments in research and development in areas such as medicine, technology, the environment and social research. Experience the northern lights, midnight sun and a hotel made of ice in a modern country where most people speak fluent English.



Languages Spoken:

Swedish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

Generally, the only qualification required for access to higher education in Sweden is the completion of at least two years of upper secondary school education or the equivalent. More than one third (38%) of students continue on to study at the post-secondary level. The term "higher education" (hogskola) includes various professional colleges and special programs as well as the traditional university studies. 

Most universities and post-secondary institutions in Sweden are state-run and are located in more than 20 towns and cities across the country. The number of students in higher education has increased substantially during the last decade – since 1991 by approximately 50%. 

There are two kinds of first degrees - general degrees and professional degrees. Professional degrees are awarded upon completion of studies of varying length leading to specific professions, e.g. University Diploma in Education for Upper Secondary School. 

The general degrees are: 

Diploma or certificate (högskoleexamen) after studies amounting to not less than 80 points (2 years of full-time study) 

Bachelor's degree (kandidatexamen) after completion of at least 120 points (at least 3 years of full-time study), including 60 points in the major subject including a thesis of 10 points 

Master's degree (magisterexamen) after studies amounting to not less than 160 points (4 years of full-time study), including 80 points in the major subject including one thesis of 20 points or two of 10 points. 

The duration of degree programs varies in length by field of study and university program. These degrees can take anywhere from two to five and one-half years to complete.  

 

STUDYING IN SWEDEN 

Courses 

You will be able to enroll in courses in a wide variety of academic disciplines, depending on your host institution. The language of instruction for ISEP programs is English, though you may be able to enroll in Swedish language courses, or in courses in Swedish or Swedish and English, depending on your institution and level of Swedish. 

Registration 

Registration will likely occur on campus during your orientation period, though be sure to check with your specific host institution in the event their course registration occurs prior to arrival, or in case your desired courses require prerequisites.  

Course Load 

Each academic year consists of 40 points, with each point representing one week of study. Classes are sequentially scheduled, meaning that a student takes one class for four to five weeks, rather than four to five classes per semester as in the United States. 

Swedish universities have a system of credit points for studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels. One and a half point corresponds to one week of full-time studies, which for the student means approximately 40 study hours per week, which is the amount of time a full-time student is expected to devote to lectures, seminars and individual studies. Lectures and seminars will normally constitute only a small part of the total time. The student is expected to take a great deal of responsibility for his/her individual studies. One academic term comprises 20 weeks, or 30 hp/ECTS credits. One academic year (40 study weeks) of successfully completed full-time studies gives 60 hp/ECTS credits. 

Exams & Grading 

As each degree varies in length, so do grading practices. The most common system is the pass system. A student may receive a fail, pass, or pass with distinction. If a student fails, he or she is required to take the final examination as many times as necessary to pass. Thus, no failure is ever reflected in a student's transcript. There are no numerical values assigned to the pass/fail system, although some schools provide numerical grades from 3 (pass) to 5.5 (pass with distinction). Students are not ranked on the basis of their grades. 

Transcripts 

Students should check with their host institution as they may need to fill out a transcript request form. Students should make sure that he/she has cleared all financial arrangements with the host institution in order for the academic transcript to be sent to ISEP Central. The student should also make sure that results have been registered before returning home.  ISEP Central will forward the official transcript to the student via the home university coordinator upon receipt. 

Visa and Residency

Please note that students should ALWAYS check the website of the embassy/consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence first, as the information in this handbook regarding visa application instructions is subject to change without warning. 

 

RESIDENCE PERMIT

Type of visa for Semester or Full Year: Entry Visa (if applicable) + Residence Permit

Visa fee: SEK 1,000 (residence permit only)

Expected processing time: 1-3 months, pending requests for additional documentation (residence permit only)

When to apply: after you receive your acceptance letter and any admission documents from your host university, and no earlier than three months before your program start date (residence permit only)

 

APPLYING FOR A RESIDENCE PERMIT

All ISEP students will be required to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of studying as an Exchange student for more than 3 months (90 days). You can apply online through the website of the Swedish Migration Board. Once you have been granted a residence permit:

- If you need an entry visa for travel to Sweden, visit the Swedish embassy or consulate-general as soon as you have been granted a visa, to have your picture and your fingerprints taken. This is so that you can be given a residence permit card and travel to Sweden. You need to do this even if you have previously had a residence permit card, as the information is not saved. Not all embassies or consulates-general have the possibility to take your picture and your fingerprints. Contact the embassy or consulate-general before your visit for more information.

If you do not require an entry visa, you can also travel to Sweden without a residence permit card, but you must be able to show a decision from the Migration Agency to enter Sweden. In that case you do not have to go to the embassy to get your residence permit card. You instead hand in the documentation for a residence permit card to the Migration Agency once you have arrived in Sweden. However, your permit must be granted before you travel to Sweden.

See the link above for more information, as well as the List of foreign citizens who require Visa for entry into Sweden.

 

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

• ALWAYS USE THE MIGRATION WEBSITES FIRST. The information located in this guide may not be as up to date as the official Immigration Service and Enter Finland websites. 

• You may apply online (e-service) or using a paper application.

• The permit must have been approved before your arrival in Sweden.

• Sweden is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

 

RESOURCES

- Migrationsverket - Swedish Migration Agency website

- After a decision has been made - more information on what happens after you receive a decision from the Migrationsverket regarding your residence permit application.

- Time to a decision site - Click here for more information on how long it takes to receive a decicion from the Swedish Migration Agency

 

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Updated April 2019

Culture

THE CULTURE OF SWEDEN

One of the key characteristics of Swedish culture is that Swedes are egalitarian in nature, humble and find boasting absolutely unacceptable. In many ways, Swedes prefer to listen to others as opposed to ensuring that their own voice is heard.

When speaking, Swedes speak softly and calmly. It is rare that you would witness a Swede demonstrating anger or strong emotion in public.

In terms, Swedes rarely take hospitality or kindness for granted and as such, they will give often give thanks. Failing to say thank you for something is perceived negatively in Sweden.

Behaviors in Sweden are strongly balanced towards ‘lagom’ or, ‘everything in moderation’. Excess, flashiness and boasting are abhorred in Sweden and individuals strive towards the middle way. As an example, work hard and play hard are not common concepts in Sweden. People work hard but not too hard, they go out and enjoy themselves, but without participating in anything extreme.

Due to the strong leaning towards egalitarianism in Sweden, competition is not encouraged and children are not raised to believe that they are any more special than any other child.

THE FAMILY

The family in Sweden is extremely important and as such, the rights of children are well protected. The rights afforded to Swedish families to ensure that they are able to adequately care for their children are some of the best rights in the world. Anyone traveling to Sweden will notice the family-friendly environment of most restaurants and other such establishments. Even trains have a toy and play area!

THE ROLE OF HOSPITALITY

Although Sweden is a largely egalitarian and relaxed environment, hospitality and eating arrangements are often a formal affair.

It is more common for guests to be invited to a Swede’s home for coffee and cake as opposed to a meal, but, if you are invited for a meal then ensure that you:

  • Are punctual as it is considered extremely impolite if you are rude. In the same essence, do not arrive too early. It is not an uncommon event in Sweden for guests to sit in the car until the last minute or walk around the block until the expected time of arrival has arrived!
  • Do not ask to see the rest of the house as Swedes are general very private and it is likely that the only room (other than the dining / sitting room) that they would expect you to go to would be the bathroom.
  • When eating, keep your hands in full view, with your wrists on top of the table.
  • The European eating etiquette should be adhered to with respect to knife in the right hand and fork in the left.
  • It is important that you do not discuss business at the table as Swedes try to distinguish between home and work.

ETIQUETTE IN SWEDEN

If you are invited to a Swede’s home then it is suggested that you take the same type of gift as you would give at home e.g. a bouquet of flowers or, a box of chocolates.

If you choose to give flowers, then ensure that the bouquet does not include white lilies or chrysanthemums, both of which are typically given at funerals.

Since Sweden is such a child-centered country, it is always recommended that you take gifts for any children who may be part of the family who you are visiting.

If you are personally given a gift, then it is customary to open it upon receipt.

Daily Life

THE CULTURE OF SWEDEN

One of the key characteristics of Swedish culture is that Swedes are egalitarian in nature, humble and find boasting absolutely unacceptable. In many ways, Swedes prefer to listen to others as opposed to ensuring that their own voice is heard.

When speaking, Swedes speak softly and calmly. It is rare that you were witness a Swede demonstrating anger or strong emotion in public.

In terms, Swedes rarely take hospitality or kindness for granted and as such, they will give often give thanks. Failing to say thank you for something is perceived negatively in Sweden.

Behaviors in Sweden are strongly balanced towards ‘lagom’ or, ‘everything in moderation’. Excess, flashiness and boasting are abhorred in Sweden and individuals strive towards the middle way. As an example, work hard and play hard are not common concepts in Sweden. People work hard but not too hard, they go out and enjoy themselves, but without participating in anything extreme.

Due to the strong leaning towards egalitarianism in Sweden, competition is not encouraged and children are not raised to believe that they are any more special than any other child.

THE FAMILY

The family in Sweden is extremely important and as such, the rights of children are well protected.The rights afforded to Swedish families to ensure that they are able to adequately care for their children are some of the best rights in the world. Anyone traveling to Sweden will notice the family friendly environment of most restaurants and other such establishments. Even trains have a toy and play area!

THE ROLE OF HOSPITALITY

Although Sweden is a largely egalitarian and relaxed environment, hospitality and eating arrangements are often a formal affair.

It is more common for guests to be invited to a Swede’s home for coffee and cake as opposed to a meal, but, if you are invited for a meal then ensure that you:

  • Are punctual as it is considered extremely impolite if you are rude. In the same essence, do not arrive too early. It is not an uncommon event in Sweden for guests to sit in the car until the last minute or walk around the block until the expected time of arrival has arrived!
  • Do not ask to see the rest of the house as Swedes are general very private and it is likely that the only room (other than the dining / sitting room) that they would expect you to go to would be the bathroom.
  • When eating, keep your hands in full view, with your wrists on top of the table.
  • The European eating etiquette should be adhered to in respect to knife in the right hand and fork in the left.
  • It is important that you do not discuss business at the table as Swedes try to distinguish between home and work.

ETIQUETTE IN SWEDEN

If you are invited to a Swede’s home then it is suggested that you take the same type of gift as you would give at home e.g. a bouquet of flowers or, a box of chocolates.

If you choose to give flowers, then ensure that the bouquet does not include white lilies or chrysanthemums. The reason for this being that both types of flowers are typically given at funerals.

Since Sweden is such a child centered country, it is always recommended that you take gives for any children who may be part of the family who you are visiting.

If you are personally given a gift, then it is custom to open it upon receipt.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

 

Detailed information about Sweden can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and SecurityLocal Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

 

Currency


MONEY MATTERS


Currency

Sweden, although a member of the European Union, has not adopted the Euro at this time. The Euro became the official currency of 12 European Union member nations on January 1, 2002.

Sweden still has its own currency, the Swedish krona and öre. The following notes are available: 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and the coins are 50 öre, 1, 5, 10 krona. 1 krona = 100 öre, the lowest value coin is 50 öre.


Banks are open Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. Many branches have extended opening hours at least once a week (until 6:00 pm in larger cities). Banks are closed on weekends. You will normally need a national registration number, personnummer, to open a bank account. There are no restrictions on the import and export of money.

It's a good idea to check whether your bank at home has a Swedish banking partner. Some banks may be willing to let you open an account even if you don't have a Swedish identity card. You will need to show a valid passport, a receipt for your Student Union membership fee and a letter stating that you are a visiting student.

Credit cards are widely accepted in Sweden. Commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard and American Express. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from ATMs. Traveller's cheques can be used as well.


To compare your currency to the Swedish krona, see http://www.xe.com.

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