My study abroad semester at Halmstad University in Sweden

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1 1 My study abroad semester at Halmstad University in Sweden 1. Motivation First and foremost, I am very interested in foreign countries and their culture. So studying abroad was an optimum chance for me to broaden my horizons and to gather new experiences. In my time in Sweden I was a part of the local life and saw the lifestyle and the habits of the locals up close. Also it was great to study and live together with people from all over the world and see how they prepare for college issues such as their final exams or coped with their studies in general. All this was in the content of studying abroad. Another reason to study at the Halmstad University was the challenge to be by myself in a foreign country without help from my parents and family. As a result of this I rounded out my personality and boosted my self-confidence. Furthermore, it was very enticing to get to know something about the study system in Sweden and the different way of holding lessons. A huge point of my motivation was, of course, to further improve my language skills because this is a key figure in our future business life. I was known that most Swedes speak good English and all classes at university for international students are offered in English. I expanded my social skills during my stay in Halmstad and this is very important for doing a great job when working in an international company in the future and being part of an successful team. Accordingly, I was always interested in the education system of Sweden and the different main focus of teaching. Secondly, I never was in the north of Europe before and thought so it s a good possibility for me to get to know something about this country. The experiences I made are beneficial for my life because of all the many impressions. But the main point I chose Halmstad University was the course selection which allows me to specialize in my studies. The fact that Halmstad University is a partner university of Ludwigshafen was another benefit because the paper work was not as much as it would be as a free mover. My wish was also based on meeting new people from different countries because I am very sociable and open-minded. In my time in Sweden I built new life-long friendships over the whole world. Another reason for my decision was that to stay abroad is nearly impossible in our working lives. You would not have the holidays to stay abroad when you get a job and 30 days off. So this was for me the optimum time to do it.

2 2 2. My courses Halmstad University offers a couple of courses and classes in the field of business and economics. After a long decision process I picked the courses Introduction to Organization, Business Information Technology, Swedish as a foreign language and Marketing. The academic year in Sweden is divided into four study periods; each semester is divided into two study periods. During these periods you have lectures, labs and fieldwork as stated in stated in specific course schedule. The study period usually ends with a written or oral examination. All courses were counted with 7.5 credits. I would like to explain my lectures more precisely in the following. 2.1 Introduction to Organization The focus of this course was the understanding of organizations and organizational theory. Central concepts within organization-theory were introduced and the application of different perspectives in specific organizational situations was trained. Ingemar Wictor was the instructor and he was really interested in our opinions and views. This was the reason why we had a project work at the end of the class, which we had to prepare for. We had also three case study s in the beginning and one final exam. The three case study s count ever 0.5 credits, the group project work 1 credit and the final exam 5 credits. Introduction to Organisation was overall an interesting class and I would definitely attend again. 2.2 Business Information Technology The course deals with organizations and their use of information technology (IT) in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency. We handle topics like the IT strategy and business idea, business processes and office information systems, management information systems and databases and communications. Torben Svane was a tough, fair, highly educated instructor whose goal was to bring us the closer to the real sense of Business Technology. He answered the questions from us students in every lesson and additionally to that he was always available after class. It was an interesting course and I can definitely recommend this one. 2.3 Swedish as a foreign language Swedish as a foreign language was a beginning language course for students with no background and skills. In this class we learned how to write, speak, read and listen to Swedish. Our instructor Matts Jernmark was a nice and helpful guy who was really interested in teaching

3 3 us a wide range of vocabulary. I had lots of fun in the class because we had so much group works, role-playing games and individual tasks. Also we had final written exam and an oral exam in the end. We had to do weekly homework. The workload for this class was in relation to the other lessons lower. 2.4 Marketing Marketing includes topics like the marketing strategies, consumer influences, decision-making models and impacts of design. My instructor Venilton Reinert was a friendly and helpful man and he was always ready for questions. The mark contains one group work with a presentation and the final exam. Overall, I was very satisfied with my choices and the way of holding lessons. 3. Life, Leisure time & workload in Sweden Afterwards, I can say there was no day in my whole time in Sweden when I was bored. You have so many opportunities to spend your free time in particular when you like the outdoors. The Halmstad university offers also a lot of indoor activities like basketball, soccer, volleyball, squash and an own gym. As you can realize from the activities above, sport is a big point in Sweden. I spent a lot of my free time at the gym. Hamstad is located on the southwest coast of Sweden. It s a beautiful city of about 85,000 inhabitants. Known as one of Sweden s top vacation sites, the city has an abundance of open air restaurants, outdoor concerts, windsurfing, golf and sandy beaches. A must-see in Halmstad during winter season is the frozen and snow-covered beach. You can watch the sunset on the arctic beach a once in a life time experience! Halmstad is in close proximity to Malmö, Göteborg, and Denmark. I spent a lot of my leisure time for travelling. I made trips to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, Göteborg and Riga. It s very easy to reach these cities by bus or train. One of my favourites was shipping from Stockholm to Riga. But the highlight of my stay in Sweden was definitely a trip in the north of Sweden, to Lapland in the beginning of December. It was a 24 hour bus ride to go there but it was worthwhile. We were dog sledding, enjoyed the wonderful countryside and were swimming in the frozen sea after we took a sauna. The area of Swedish wildlife is one of the largest in Europe. Sweden offers a diverse and very varied nature. While my stay in Halmstad I lived in a dorm with another German girl from our university in Ludwigshafen. We had one room and one bathroom together and shared us one kitchen and a living room with 8 other students. The furnished rooms were not very personal, so we decorated

4 4 them first to make ourselves feel more comfortable. The dorms are close to the campus and to the city centre as well. A good thing to have in Halmstad is a bike. From our residence it was a 10 minutes ride to university and to the centre and 20 minutes to the beach. The best thing in living on campus was that you get in contact with others easily. In my time in Residence there was a big community who spend their free time together by doing sports, going out or just hang out. Along with some Swedes, there were so many different nationalities living under one roof. People from Spain, Turkey, Austrian, the USA, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, South Korea, France, Brazil and many more. It was a great multicultural mix that gave us the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to get to know different cultures. There were some more residences in Halmstad for the internationals, and even further nationalities. Some of these people became very close friends of mine and always will be. Another highlight was the Nollning, the introduction week in the beginning of the semester. It was ten days full of fun activities that aim to let the students make new friends and to introduce the students to their new lives as students in Sweden. Nollningen is a Swedish tradition for new students before they start their studies at the University. It was not mandatory but it is a great opportunity for everyone to participate in a Swedish tradition, to meet new friends and to get to know your new classmates, the University and the city of Halmstad. It was a great experience. The university s Student Pub had parties every Wednesday. On weekends, we went to different clubs in the city centre and meet other foreign students. The Swedes are very friendly people, but many of them are shy and reserved. If you wanted to get to know and talk to them, you usually have to make the first step. 4. Costs The living costs in Sweden are higher than in Germany. In particular groceries and liquor are extremely expensive. Furthermore, the rents are higher than in Ludwigshafen or Mannheim. The rent for my apartment in the student residence was around 2,300 SEK per month for a double room. I think I spent about 1000 Euro per month for shopping and living, with travelling it was a bit more. I know it s a lot of money but you have some opportunities to get support. For example BAFÖG or PROMOS. I got a grant (200 Euro per month) from ERASMUS, because I was at a partner university and within Europe. You find all the information on the homepage of the international office. The last hint I can give is that you apply for all possibilities you have.

5 5 5. Conclusion I know the costs are really high and it was the most expensive semester I have ever had. But I have never regretted my decision for Halmstad and Sweden. I met interesting, friendly people with different backgrounds from all over the world. During that time I could build some long-life friendships and found new places to go. Swedes are always helpful, interested in your background and people with a big heart. From my first moment I felt welcome in Sweden. The people trust each other a lot and sometimes I was astonished how they behave. Sweden is a land of beautiful nature, friendly people and a nice living atmosphere. I would definitely recommend a study abroad semester in Sweden especially if you love nature, wildlife and outdoor sports and activities. Studying at the Halmstad University was a little bit different than I am used to it back home. The workload during the semester was a lot more than my usual effort in Germany. They attach importance of a lot of group work, presentations and assignments. The experience abroad always depends on what you make out of it. If you are sociable, like to have fun, like to travel and are interested in meeting new people and their way of living, then this is the right thing for you to do. Don t hesitate, go abroad! It s an experience you will never forget and you don t want to miss that chance, do you?

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