Life at a Swedish University

Having studied in different countries I’ve noticed a few differences in the university life. Here are some observations from everyday life at a university in Sweden!

Academic quarter

The given start time of a lecture might not be the actual starting time. So if the schedule says 9 AM the lectures often start at 9:15 AM. The tradition comes from the time when most people didn’t own clocks and the church bells were used for keeping time. So as the bell rang on an hour people would have 15 minutes to get to the lecture. Some of hour lectures are actually marked to start a quarter past the hour and in those cases that’s the starting time. Seminars and such usually start at the given time sharp. So if you’re unsure whether this tradition is followed or not, you might want to be at the class at the given time sharp, I usually go there early just so I can chill and listen to music before the lecture starts.

Besides the academic quarter, being on time in important in Sweden and arriving late is considered impolite. Though arriving late for a lecture is not the end of the world and you won’t be judged for that.

University life

Long Days

The days spent at school tend to be rather long and most people prefer studying at school than at home. In Umeå University the library is open every day of the week and the opening hours are really good. Some people wait in front of the library before it opens to be sure they can get their favorite study place there.

University life

Especially group work is usually done together at the university. I’ve noticed that in some countries people tend to just split the work and then go home, but here group work actually means working together. I’ve found it nice, since the more time you spend with your group, the better you get to know them and it is often more fun than working alone.

University life

Bring your own lunch

Though there are options for buying lunch around the universities, the cheapest way to go is usually cooking at home and bringing the food to school. Universities have microwave rooms where you can heat your lunch.

University life

Drink coffee

Most Swedes love coffee and drink it through out the day, it warms and keeps  your mind sharp during the dark and cold winter days. Having a “fika” is also a nice way to take a break from work and focus on something else for a little while.

University life

In addition to these observations, the Swedish university culture is laid back. You can refer to the professors by their first names and at least here in Umeå people dress very casually when going to school.


Written by Leonilla

13 Dec 2016