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

Generally, the only qualification required for access to higher education in Sweden is 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 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%.

Programs of Study and Grading

There are two kinds of first degrees - general degrees and professional ones. 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 vary in length by field of study and university program. These degrees can take anywhere from two to five and one-half years to complete. Each 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. The academic year is divided into two periods of 20 weeks each, roughly equivalent to semesters. The standard credit conversion would be one point to 0.75 credit hours.

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.

Visa and Residency

Residence Permits for Students

If you are planning to study at a university or college in Sweden for more than three months, you will need a residence permit.

This application can be submitted to the Embassy in Washington OR to any of the Swedish Honorary Consulates in the United States.

On May 20, 2011, an EU regulation entered into force in Sweden which means that residence permit cards (UT cards) replaced the permit stickers in passports. The permit must have been approved before your arrival in Sweden and it should be presented together with a valid passport document when you enter Sweden.

Many students are also eligible to apply online through the website of the Swedish Migration Board.

When applying for residence permits, please review these requirements:
Doctoral, college/university of adult education studies

This information applies to individuals who need to apply for a residence permit for doctoral or other post-secondary studies at a Swedish college or university.

If you are a citizen of a country which is not a member of the European Union (EU) and wish to study in Sweden your residence permit must have been approved before you enter Sweden.

Please, note that the application must be submitted in two complete sets!

If you are granted a residence permit, the decision will be sent to the embassy. If you have not previously been photographed and had your fingerprints taken, you will need to visit the embassy to do so. Once the residence card is ready, the embassy will send the card to you.

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

The residence card should be presented together with a valid passport document when you enter Sweden.

Please submit 2 copies of the following documents:

  • Residence permit application form , completed, signed and dated, and including detailed contact information.
  • Notarized copies of the pages of your passport that show your identity and the validity of your passport. Also include copies of any other permits in your passport.
  • Acceptance letter from the school or the exchange organization, giving the dates your studies will begin and end.
  • Documentation proving that you are covered by health insurance for the duration of your stay in Sweden (minimum 30,000 Euro or 50,000 USD). The ISEP Student Health Insurance covers this amount.
  • Documentation proving that you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses for the entire duration of your stay in Sweden. You must show proof of currently available funds of at least 7300 SEK (approx. $1100) per month. (For example, if you are planning to stay for 10 months, you need proof of 73,000 SEK.)

This proof can be in the form of a letter or statement from your bank confirming that you personally (not a parent, guarantor or other sponsor) have a bank account in your name with the total amount of required funds; or documentation certifying that you have received either a scholarship or student benefit from your country of origin/residence. The ISEP Letter of Certification and host Institutional Information Sheet should suffice as evidence for documentation proving sufficient funds.

Accompanying spouses or co-habiting partners must show proof of available funds of least 3500 SEK per month for the duration of the stay. For each accompanying child, the applicant must show proof of available funds of at least 2100 SEK per month for the duration of the stay.

How much does it cost?
A non-refundable application fee of $140 (or $70 for applicants under 18).

How do I submit my application?
Applications with all required documents may be delivered in person during visiting hours or sent directly to the following address:
Embassy of Sweden
Attn: Visa Section
2900 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007

OR to any of the Swedish Honorary Consulates in the United States.

Due to the large number of applications, the Embassy will NOT be able to confirm receipt of your documents. If you would like acknowledgement that your application has been received, please use registered mail or a delivery service such as FedEx that enables you to track packages online.
Please note that you might be requested to provide additional documentation.

How long does it take?
An estimated time of 2-3 months is usually required to process your application.

How long is a permit valid?
If the study period is a year or less, you will be granted a residence permit for the duration of your studies. If the study period is longer than a year you will be granted a permit for one year at a time. To obtain an extension of your residence permit, you must be able to show that you have performed adequately in your studies. You must also be able to show that you have regularly received money for your upkeep during the time you have spent in Sweden, by producing a bank certificate or a statement of accounts. In addition, you must be able to show that you have been accepted for further studies and that your upkeep remains assured.


A Note Regarding the Schengen Area

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

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 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.

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

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

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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