Two hands holding up two passports
Credit: Spencer Davies

Why study abroad, and why go to Sweden?

I decided to spend my year abroad in Sweden as during some of my modules at Birmingham, we learnt about how progressive the Swedish justice and social systems are. I thought it would be interesting to see what the country itself is like. 

When I received the details for my placement, I was nervous. Sweden was a place I had never been to before, a new culture and a new language that were all different from England. Alongside feelings of nerves, I also felt excited to be able to live and study in another country.

The summer before I left, I was apprehensive but also looking forward to doing something different. Though I was going to miss my friends and family, I knew that going on the Year Abroad would be an unforgettable experience. I was scared about making friends, getting lost, settling in; the usual thoughts that every new student has when starting at a new university.

Cupcakes and sandwiches at a Swedish bakery
Treats at a Swedish bakery

Finding my feet in Växjö 

After a few months of preparation, travel time came around quickly, but I felt prepared. I'd done some research on how to get to the university from my accommodation and into the city. I also made sure that I had everything packed so I could have a homely feeling in my new room.

I landed at Växjö airport on 21st August. For the first few days, I spent time setting up my room and exploring the town. The international society had organized many different activities and events, which I really appreciated. It was the perfect opportunity to discover the campus, meet other international students and immerse myself into my new student life.

One of my favourite parts of the welcome week was a Swedish dinner party called a Sittning. This is where everyone sings, eats, and plays games. It was a great way to discover a part of Swedish culture. We sang a Swedish song called Lambo where everyone downs their drinks. We also played some general knowledge and guess the song quizzes.

Another part of Swedish culture and day to day life is a fika. A 'fika' translates to 'to take a break.' This is where people have coffee and eat pastries, most commonly a cinnamon bun or as they call it, a kanelbullar.

A girl swimming in a lake, before a sunset
Swimming in Växjö

Immersing myself into Swedish culture has been amazing, but I have encountered a few challenges. I found the Welcome Week quite overwhelming and tiring. In the first few weeks, I missed my friends and family. Settling into a new place is always hard but over time I've found my feet and made great longterm friends.

What's it like to study Sociology and Criminology in Sweden?

Here in Sweden, you do one module at a time for five weeks and then take an exam afterwards. I’ve been doing a lot of group work where we answer questions together and give presentations in front of the class.

As subjects, sociology and criminology have less focus on sociological theories and more of a focus on historical and worldwide views of sociology. At the moment I'm studying Intercultural Perspectives on Health. It has been good so far, especially as the class has people from all over the world; it’s interesting to hear about their countries. My next module is Music and Visual Art in Sweden, which I'm looking forward to as I've never done any music or art studies before!

Since I arrived in Sweden, I haven’t been able to put my camera down. Växjö is the greenest city in Europe and everywhere you go, you are surrounded by massive lakes, trees and forests, which is so beautiful.

During the rest of this term, I'm planning to travel around Sweden more and to its neighbouring countries.  I'm also looking forward to seeing my family at Christmas. One of the benefits of doing my year abroad closer to home is that travelling back home is easier. 


There are lots of Study Abroad options at the University of Birmingham. You can find out more about studying abroad here.