Studying abroad was my dream since I entered Ural Federal University. I wanted to go somewhere for one term to increase my English language skills, extend my knowledge in the field I study, experience life in a new country. Now it's my 4th year of studying and I finally made my dream come true!
At the beginning I was looking for any country, just trying to find suitable courses which my home university were going to support with a grant. It was a bad idea in fact – they didn't offer courses I studied. Then I changed my strategy and started with deciding on the country. I chose Sweden. I have loved this country since 2009 for its perfect environmental situation, tolerant people and culture status.
Fortunately, my university works with the north2north program which works with Swedish universities too, of course. The north2north website let me find all information about those universities in a few minutes.
I was afraid that north2north wouldn't support me as I study psychology and not environment or something else in natural sciences. I knew that it was an important point for them. However I got approval very fast, so fast that I couldn't even believe it.
I applied for two universities only – in Umeå and in Stockholm. Umeå University had a more suitable program for me and also its international programs coordinator answered faster, so I entered Umeå University.
It was about a year of decisions and getting hundreds of documents. Now it's October and I'm finally studying in the best place ever. I regret nothing and am happy about almost everything.
Sweden is great in its balance. As much as it's cold here, as much the sun shines when it appears. As calm and polite people are, as crazy they are when partying. This is also a fabulous city, streets are totally clean, the air is fresh, and everything is so ergonomic and comfortable. "Everything for people", as we say in Russian.
There are about 900 international students here. Most came through the Erasmus program, also there are a lot of Swedish students (even from Stockholm). People in the university are very attentive, polite, constructive. Even on the street Swedes come to help if I look confused or I am confused.
Teachers here are very friendly in all meanings. We call each other only by our first names and respect each other's personalities. It's always OK to make a mistake. I compare it with the Russian style of education and find it rude and non-respective (from both sides). Also I like that we have a lot of free time and everyone is interested in using it for self-education and making our projects. I like studying, so it's very good for me to have the same kind of people around.
I attend different events each week. They have a lot of musical concerts all the time. Besides, I was on Gay Pride, Fashion Week, Vegovision and many other events. Umeå is a very lively city!
The only thing I could do, and also my suggestion for each student going abroad, is to learn at least the basics of the language of the country you're going to visit. Here everyone speaks English pretty well, they even have a few channels on TV in English with Swedish subtitles. But I would feel more comfortable if I knew Swedish.