This is a question everybody asks me, and it isn’t always quick and easy to answer. For me, there were a number of different factors that influenced me to study in Sweden. So what were they?more
Let’s go back to the beginning. I was born in the Amathole region, an area in South Africa known for its lush, forested mountains. When I was younger, I would spend the summer holidays having fun in the outdoors, occasionally snapping some photos. I’ve always enjoyed photography and nature. Back in the city I grew up in, Port Elizabeth, I’d play football or go skating around the neighbourhood with friends. When I wasn’t on holiday, I really enjoyed chemistry, physics and computer-related subjects in school. Funnily enough, I remember my mom working in Sweden for a short while around this time.
She had great things to say about Sweden. I thought it was an interesting, but a relatively minor event. After high school, I moved to Cape Town and studied a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. I wasn’t 100% sure it was what I wanted to study, but I knew it was definitely in the right direction. In my third year of studies, I took environmental engineering and bioprocess engineering elective courses. That’s when things clicked – this was something I could see myself doing.
When I became interested in pursuing a Master’s, I researched universities with environmental or sustainability focused chemical engineering programs. And what do you know, Sweden came up often! Sweden had a plethora of relevant programs at different universities, in multiple cities, and with lots of them ranking highly. I also remembered my mother telling me about her experience. So I took the leap and applied! A couple months later and I found out I got accepted. To top it all off, I also found out I had been given the amazing opportunity of funding my studies with a Swedish Institute scholarship!
Choosing a university and town/city is mostly about what fits you. There is no universal best university for everyone. You have to consider the program you want to study, the size of university, and the sort of town it’s situated in. For me, Chalmers’ quality of education and research areas appealed to me. Chalmers has many courses with a focus on the environment, sustainability, and innovation. It’s also often ranked as one of the leading technical universities in Sweden in terms of research reputation, as well as career prospects. It also happens to be in a cool city. After asking friends and doing some research on Gothenburg, it seemed like a good fit for me. It’s a nicely sized city with plenty of nature and green spaces around and there’s also lots to do and experience.
Now here I am. I spend most of my time studying Innovative and Sustainable Chemical Engineering. In my free time, I spend my days relaxing next to Swedish lakes or in the forest, still snapping photos. It’s a little colder here, so when I skate or play football, it’s often indoors now. I also spend a lot of time just appreciating what Gothenburg has to offer – from the ease of getting around, to concerts and nightlife, to cosy coffee shops, and nature.
Gothenburg and Port Elizabeth (where I grew up) are partner cities! They share “a joint willingness to cooperate”. The two universities I have attended have the same three initial letters: University of Cape Town, and Chalmers University of Technology, and they were both founded in the same year – 1829. Come on, surely it was meant to be!
Remember the small details – they can be really important and lead to big changes. Do your research on programs, universities and locations to help you choose. Lastly, you might want to listen to your mother’s advice! It may just encourage you to take on an adventure, studying halfway across the world.
Do you have any questions about studying in Sweden? Feel free to email me at usisipho.studyinsweden [at] gmail.com!