Student urgently seeking experience… (A very, very honest opinion)

As part of my two year master’s, I have the option to pick my own master’s project & supervisor. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in Sweden either so there are plenty of options.

Fear not though prospective Swedish master’s students, you will be able to find a project as your university will do their best to pair you up with a supervisor should you stay in Sweden. There is the opportunity to look elsewhere in the world but of course, that is your responsibility.

My situation, however, leaves me with a little dilemma. I doubt I’ll be able to survive another year financially here in Sweden. I don’t get any scholarship/funding therefore I live off the back of my own savings and it’s safe to say, I’ve spent a little more than hoped during my time here meaning my funds have slowly disappeared. Even though staying here may not be an option next year, this gives me the freedom to look elsewhere as there are EU scholarships available that encourage student mobility.

Personally, I’d been determined to get back to the UK for this project, maybe out of naivety that I’ll be able to acquire some sort of part time job on the side to have some sort of income, but being close to my nearest and dearest was a huge factor also. To get a job in Sweden without speaking the language, well it’s rather impossible. Don’t come out here and expect to sustain yourself financially, unless you speak the lingo, you’ll be left with working in nation bars & restaurants and frankly, they pay many in food and good company most of the time. They say money can’t buy happiness? Well it buys opportunity, that’s for sure.

If I had a penny for the number of hours I’d spent trawling the internet for a supervisor, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.  My friends have been way more successful than I and this has made me ponder on my situation. Trying to go back to the UK felt utterly pointless, I’d get replies but not with the right answers. If someone could take me on, they’d want bench fees in addition to visiting student fees (the latter would be covered by Erasmus but the former stood at around £1,000 a month). How any student could afford this is beyond my understanding – I’m working for you for free and you want me to pay you?! I’m going to struggle to feed myself for a year due to non-existent wages and that’s something I can accept, but to be unpaid and then pay someone for that privilege, well that’s just getting ridiculous.

Luckily, this only seems to be the issue with the UK, my friends have received places in the US and other EU countries with no ‘fees’ required. Their responses have come pretty quickly too considering they’ve been applying for less than a month and I’ve been trying since October – fair to say I’m exhausted.

Now I’m strongly considering other cities in Europe. Erasmus has an excellent scholarship for students who want to perform work experience abroad and as long as it’s not in your home country, they’ll help pay your rent. Should I get a project abroad and a scholarship, well, it’s an incredible opportunity that cannot be missed. Oh and the fact I can experience living in not one but two incredible cities is the space of two years would be fantastic too!

Never mind, I’m excited whatever happens, the fact that Uppsala are giving me the opportunity and flexibility to travel is pretty amazing anyway! I feel I have to keep trying in the hope that something amazing will come alone and if it does, I’ll be sure to grab it by the horns….


Written by Francesca

13 Mar 2015