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Sweden

For a sparsely populated country in the far north of Europe, Sweden has done remarkably well in establishing and maintaining an outstanding reputation abroad, based on many and varied commercial, technological, cultural and political achievements.

Swedish consumer goods are household names the world over. Swedish cars move people and freight from Alaska to Adelaide. Abba and Pippin Long stocking took the world by storm and continue to enthrall people on all continents. The Nobel Prize is an institution that needs no introduction.

Sweden is a Scandinavian kingdom of 9 million inhabitants
which almost 2 million live in and around the capital, Stockholm. Urban Sweden is modern, stylish and safe. Rural Sweden breathes tranquility and natural Sweden harbors some of the largest uninhabited expanses in Western Europe. Sweden is a country where winter is winter and summer is summer. Although the northern tip of the country lies above the Arctic Circle, its climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream.

A leading country in environmental conservation
The Swedish Institute grants hundreds of scholarships every year to help foreign students make their stay in Sweden more affordable. Currently, tuition fees for everyone are fully subsidized by the state. Sweden’s public spending on education is the OECD’s highest, at 4.9% of GDP. And because it costs to live in Sweden, foreign students can work while studying.

Despite its natural riches, Sweden is a country built on people.
Over the last century, Swedish dependence on timber and iron ore has given way to an emphasis on human resources. Today, knowledge is Sweden's prime asset, with education kept in the public domain and developed to a standard that ranks consistently among the highest in OECD statistics.

Every country has its own distinctive characteristics. What you find most peculiar about Sweden will obviously depend on your own cultural background. Sweden has long been an open and accepting society and international influences have shaped and enriched Swedish culture. As in all cultures, however, many old customs and usages remain; foreigners may at times find these unusual, puzzling or even amusing.

Swedes are generally held to be punctual, law abiding and respectful of rules and regulations. Smoking, for instance, is not permitted in public places such as restaurants, banks, post offices or in shops. These restrictions are respected. When Swedes wait for something they form queues.

Queuing systems have been installed in many larger shops and most banks and post offices. Customers take numbered tickets from a dispensing machine and wait until their number comes up on a display. Bank clerks will simply ignore you if you don't have a queue ticket. If you're in a large store and there is no queue, look for tickets and a number display. This may seem strange at first but it usually ensures quicker service.

The habit of forming queues may in part stem from the importance attached to egalitarianism in Swedish political thought and practice which, in turn, has permeated most aspects of Swedish society. This is reflected in the large number of women represented in parliament and government but is also apparent in everyday occupations.

For example, people are normally expected to pay for their share when eating out with colleagues or friends, and tend to calculate the exact amount they owe. As a foreign woman you may be surprised to find that your Swedish date does not offer to pay for you. By the same token, Swedish women may insist on paying for themselves. However, many Swedish women still respond positively to a bit of old-fashioned courtship. On the other hand, it is not unusual for men and women to form friendships without being romantically involved.

At first, you may find Swedes a bit difficult to get to know. They may seem distant and reserved. But they can also make loyal friends once you get to know them. As a student living in a student dormitory with access to various student activities, you will have ample opportunity to make friends.

Swedes generally like hobbies and activities and pursuing them together with others is probably the easiest way to meet and get to know new people. If invited to someone's home it is customary to take off your shoes, especially in winter. This custom is upheld more strictly in smaller towns and rural areas. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, it may be a good idea to ask. It is also customary to be on time when invited to a dinner party. Eight o’clock means eight o’clock.

Most people moving to a new country usually find many things confusing or strange at first. This will probably be true of your first time in Sweden. Remember, however, that if there is anything you are unsure of the best thing to do is to ask someone. Swedes are informal and willing to help. This is especially true of young people and students, many of whom have travelled widely them.

Social life
Your options for leisure activities will depend on where you choose to study. Bigger cities and towns will inevitably have more to offer than smaller ones. On the other hand, the latter may have resources not available to bigger cities, including opportunities for outdoor activities.

Where you choose to study will obviously depend on your personal preference. However Swedes tend to be active and sporting activities are popular among students. Sporting clubs and societies organize a wide range of activities on campus at most universities and university colleges. Taking part in these activities is probably the best way to meet new people and take a break from studying. Other natural meeting points are clubs and pubs on and around campus. Many of these serve drinks and food at affordable prices. The legal age for drinking in Sweden is 18. Some establishments – mainly in the bigger cities – may only admit people over 20 or 23.

A lot of people go out for a drink at the weekend, and there can be long queues from early on outside the more popular places. Some nightclubs charge an entrance fee, usually ranging from SEK 50 to 150. To find out where to go just ask a fellow Swedish student or pick up a copy of your local newspaper. As a student, however, you have an invaluable social resource in your local student union.

A note on equality
The considerable degree of independence enjoyed by Swedish women may come as a surprise to students from countries where conditions in this respect may be very different.

Swedish law strictly forbids conduct deemed offensive to women on sexual or other grounds. Equal rights for women are well protected, both by law and in practice, and their violation will not be accepted.

Sweden is also a diverse society with a history of international solidarity. A generous refugee policy has turned Sweden into a medley of different cultures, a process that has enriched its own culture along the way. All world religions are represented in Sweden; in most cities you can buy food from virtually anywhere in the world. Newspapers and other media from many different countries are also widely available.

Moreover, as Swedish society has grown more diverse and tolerant over the years, other minority groups have become more assertive. Homosexuals live openly and self-avowed gay people occupy responsible positions in public life. While pockets of ignorance and discrimination may remain, they are few and far between. Sweden is a tolerant, modern society that for many years has made it a key priority to secure minority rights through legislation and in practice. Gay students are highly unlikely to encounter offensive behaviour or other problems during their stay.

Successive governments have worked hard to cement tolerance as a key value in Swedish society. The government has created the Office of the Equality Ombudsman (DO), whose task it is to actively oppose unfair or offensive treatment on the grounds of race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, religious faith, gender or sexual orientation.

All universities and university colleges are able to provide some form of assistance to students with disabilities. Many of them have also drawn up special programs aimed at helping disabled students pursue their studies, regardless of their handicap.

There is a person responsible for matters relating to functional disabilities on the staff of every university and University College. It may be a good idea to contact this person before leaving for Sweden. You will find a list with contact details here. For more general information please see the National Agency for Special Educational Support. For European exchange students, additional information can be found here.

On March 1, 2002, the Swedish parliament passed a law aimed at combating discrimination in institutions of higher education. The law affords protection to all of the above groups. If you have reason to believe that you have been unfairly treated, you should contact your local student union, which will advise you on how to proceed.

Who can work in Sweden?
If you are enrolled at a Swedish university or university college you can work in Sweden during the course of your studies without a work permit. You do, however, need a residence permit if you stay for longer than three months. You can read more about residence permits and visas here. Nordic, EU and EEA citizens are allowed to reside and work in Sweden without a work and residence permit, but need to register at the Swedish Migration Board.

More liberal Swedish lab or migration laws came into force in December 2008, making it much easier to move to Sweden for work for non-EU citizens. This also applies to students. If you have received a job offer after you have finished your studies you are allowed to stay in Sweden to work.

More information about working in Sweden if you are a non-EU/EEA citizen can be found at www.workinginsweden.se

Practical details
Moving to a new country can be a confusing, even trying, experience. The impressions of a new culture, new friends and new ways of life will fill your first few weeks. These weeks will also affect the way you feel about the rest of your stay. The following information aims at making settling-in as easy and comfortable as possible.

The first step is to prepare. Before leaving your home country, it may be a good idea to study some guidebooks and read up on Sweden. You may also get ideas and tips from the international desk at your university. Set out below are a few practical points you may find worthwhile considering prior to your departure. The more prepared you are the better your stay will be.

Banks and post offices
Banks are generally open from Monday to Friday, between 10.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. Many branches have extended opening hours at least once a week (until 6.00 p.m. in larger cities). Banks are closed at weekends. You will normally need a national registration number, “personnummer” (See Civil Registration below), to open a bank account.

It’s a good idea to check whether your bank at home has a Swedish banking partner. Some banks may be willing to let you open an account even if you don’t have a Swedish identity card (see below). You will need to show a valid passport, a receipt for your Student Union membership fee and a letter stating that you are a visiting student.

Credit cards are widely accepted in Sweden, much more so than the rest of Europe. Commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, Euro card and American Express. Traveler’s checks can also be used.

The Swedish Post Office has recently been restructured. Mail and packets can now be picked up at a number of places, including gas stations, supermarkets and kiosks. Look for the blue and yellow sign above or by the entrance of outlets providing this service. You can also buy stamps and conduct most other errands at these outlets, many of which stay open late in the evening and on weekends. There are also traditional post offices offering the full range of services. They are usually open between 9.30 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. and may have extended opening hours once or twice a week. Yellow post boxes are for national and international letters and blue for regional letters.

Civil registration
If you intend to stay for longer than a year in Sweden, you can register with the civil registration authorities at your local tax office, “Skatteverket”. You will then be given a ten-digit national registration number, or personal identity number (personnummer), based on your date of birth plus four extra digits. For example, if you were born on May 25, 1982, it might look like this: 820525-1045.

To apply, take along your passport, a letter of acceptance from your educational institution, documents from the Swedish immigration authorities and, if you are married, your marriage certificate. On registration, you will be entitled to medical benefits through the Swedish National Health Insurance System. When seeing a doctor, for instance, you will be asked for your personal identity number (see Medical insurance and medical treatment below).If your residence permit is valid for less than 12 months, Skatteverket may issue a co-ordination number, which however does not entitle you to the above medical coverage. When your stay in Sweden comes to an end, you should notify Skatteverket with the help of this form. One reason for doing this might be to reclaim any income tax you've paid while working in Sweden.

Currency
The Swedish krona (plural kronor), is denoted by the international currency symbol SEK. One krona contains 100 ore. Bank notes are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 kronor, coins in 50 öre (to be phased out by September 2010), 1, 5 and 10 kronor. All major bank and credit cards are widely accepted throughout Sweden. (1 Euro = approx. SEK 11).

Drugs and medications
Prescriptions can be filled at local pharmacies called "apotek". These are open during normal shopping hours. 24-hour service is usually available only in the major cities. If you take medication, it is a good idea to make sure that you have an adequate supply before leaving for Sweden. Over-the-counter medicines may additionally be available at supermarkets or gas stations.

Emergencies and SOS calls
In case of emergency, dial 112 to contact the police, fire brigade or medical services. Emergency calls made from payphones are free of charge.

ID cards
An identity card, or an ID card (legitimating), is a card on which the bearer's photo and personal number are registered. Having an ID card will help in any contact you may have with Swedish authorities. It will also make it easier for you to open a bank account. To obtain a Swedish ID card you must be registered as a resident (see civil registration, above).

ID cards are issued by the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket). Detailed information about how to apply for an ID card is available in this pdf brochure issued by the Swedish Tax Agency. The application fee is SEK 400.There are also national student cards which give discounts on domestic travel by air, train and bus. More detailed information on discount offers will be sent along with these cards, which you will receive about one month after you join a student union.

Local transportation
Public transport – buses, commuter trains, trams and (in Stockholm) the underground – is available almost everywhere in Sweden and provides a convenient, fast way to get around. Passes are usually valid for unlimited travel on the local network such as the underground (T-bane), local buses and commuter trains. A monthly pass for public transport costs SEK 690 in Stockholm and often less in smaller cities.

Miscellaneous — a few practical things to keep in mind
Alcohol, Systembolaget is the government-owned wine and liqueur store. It is generally open Monday through Friday between 10.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. and on Saturdays between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm. Some stores stay open longer.

The age limit for buying wine and spirits in Systembolaget is 20. If you are under 25, you will probably have to present some proof of your age when buying. In bars and restaurants the legal drinking age is 18.

Allemansrätten, or the right of common access, gives everybody the right to use private as well as public land and waterways for certain activities such as hiking, jogging or boating provided that no damage is caused to the land. You must also show consideration to other people and animals and respect the wishes of private landowners.

This means that you cannot walk or sail too close to houses and private gardens. It is also a good idea to ask the landowner if you plan on pitching a tent for more than a short period of time. Dates are often written in the order: year, month, day. E.g. October 12, 2003 is written 2003-10-12 (or just 031012).

Driving.
Sweden, like most European countries, has right-hand traffic. The legal driving age is 18 and you are expected to have your driver's license with you when driving. A foreign driver’s license is valid for a maximum of one year. The laws on drinking and driving are very strict and such behavior is generally not socially accepted.

Drug laws are very strict in Sweden.
Foreign citizens in possession of any type of illegal drug may be arrested and expelled from the country. What are sometimes referred to as soft drugs, for example marijuana and hashish, are illegal in Sweden. Electricity is standard European 220 volts and 50 cycles (Hz).

Time zone. Sweden has Central European Time (CET), GMT +1. Daylight saving time (GMT +2) applies from the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October. Clock time is written according to the European system, e.g. 1 p.m. is written 13.00.Tipping (in restaurants and taxis) — Service charge is included in the price. But it is normal practice to leave a small tip (around 10%) if you feel you have been treated well.

Opening hours
Shopping hours are generally between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. Shops close between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays. In larger towns, department stores remain open until 8-10 p.m. and some are also open on Sundays between 12 noon and 4 p.m. Shops generally close early on the day before a public holiday.

Telecommunications
Most international students in Sweden choose to use Skype and mobile telephones with pay-as-you-go SIM cards from companies such as Talia, Tele2Comviq, Telenor (in Swedish only), 3 (in Swedish only) and Hale bop (in Swedish only), that can be easily topped up online or at newsstands. If you don’t want to buy a mobile phone in Sweden it is often possible to use a phone from your home country with a Swedish SIM card. Make sure that the phone is not locked to your previous operator. Another option is to subscribe to an mobile phone contract, but this is rare for students and usually requires a Swedish personnummer (see Civil registration above).
Why study in Sweden

Bachelor / Master Programs Available
•    Maximum no of Universities are Govt.
•    Programs Available in Feb & August Intake
•    Currently, some 30,000 foreign students are studying in Sweden
•    Part Time work allowed for students - 20 Hrs / Week
•    International Students are allowed to stay back for Job search Visa
•    Sweden has three universities in top 100 and eleven in top 500 of the 2010 edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University
•    Strong links to research; Sweden is one of the world's most committed investors in basic research.
•    Sixty percent of university students are women.
•    Many students studying in Sweden come from abroad – approximately 20% of new students – making Sweden one of the world’s most inclusive countries for education.
•    Sweden has a number of large multinational corporations, such as telecom provider Ericsson, automotive companies Volvo and Shania, household appliances corporation Electrolux, bearing manufacturer SKF, and high-tech engineering groups Sandvik and Atlas Copco.
•    Sweden has a long and proud history of academic excellence, with outstanding universities dating back to the 15th century. Sweden is the home of the Nobel Prize, the world's most prestigious academic distinction.
•    Swedish universities offer around 600 masters programs in English, ranging from human rights law to mechanical engineering.
•    Many students studying in Sweden come from abroad, making Sweden one of the world’s most exclusive countries for education.
•    English is spoken by all, Many Swedish companies use English as their official working language.
•    High Visa Success for Genuine Students
It is a big step to study abroad, and the options are almost limitless. So what makes Sweden stand out as a study destination?

Innovation and creativity run deep Sweden is a safe and modern country in northern Europe, and it has accrued a spectacular reputation as an innovator and creative force. Sweden’s famed corporate brands — like Volvo, IKEA, Ericsson, H&M and Saab — complement its cultural brands — like Ingmar Bergman, Abba, Astrid Lindgren, Bjorn Borg, August Strindberg, The Cardigans and Greta Garbs.

Standards are high
Sweden has a long and proud history of academic excellence, with outstanding universities dating back to the 15th century. Sweden is the home of the Nobel Prize, the world’s most prestigious academic distinction. Today, Sweden’s reputation for innovation is built on close cooperation between industry and academia. Swedish universities are renowned for their investigative research and independent thinking, and this reputation is cemented with rigorous quality control and nationally certified degrees. Sweden has one of the most ambitious educational evaluation programs in Europe, aimed at maintaining this competitive edge.

Choice
Swedish universities offer around 600 master’s degree programs in English, ranging from human rights law to mechanical engineering. Programs are structured in response to student demand — the result is a student-centric education system, with open, informal relations between students and teachers, and where personal initiative and critical thought are prized.

Foreign students are welcome
Many students studying in Sweden come from abroad — 8.5% of the student body, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — making Sweden one of the world’s most inclusive countries for education. But there is room for more: the number grew by over 80% over the last 4-year period. There are now PhD candidates from some 80 countries working towards their degrees in Sweden. Sweden’s educational policy is based on the recognition that a multicultural student body is a resource. Competition for places is keen, but students of all nationalities may apply, given the right credentials; and degree equivalency for past studies is granted on a flexible basis.

Scholarships are available
The Swedish Institute grants hundreds of scholarships every year to help foreign students make their stay in Sweden more affordable. Currently, tuition fees for everyone are fully subsidized by the state. Sweden’s public spending on education is the OECD’s highest, at 4.9% of GDP. And because it costs to live in Sweden, foreign students can work while studying.

English is spoken by all
Almost all Swedes speak fluent English. Many Swedish companies use English as their official working language. Foreign students find that this prevalence of English makes adapting to their new surroundings much easier.

Accommodation
For many people, studying abroad will be their first experience of living away from home for a longer period. This can be a daunting prospect for anyone, especially in view of the demands associated with being a full-time student while trying to gain a foothold in a new culture. It is therefore important that your living environment is comfortable and affordable; you should give yourself plenty of time to make all the necessary arrangements before leaving for Sweden.

Exchange students
If you are an exchange student in the Socrates/Erasmus programs you will receive assistance with accommodation arrangements from the host academic institution. Be sure to confirm this with your contact person before you leave for Sweden.

Free movers
If you are a free mover, i.e. a person applying on an individual basis, or if you need to arrange your own accommodation for any other reason, you should keep a few things in mind: There is no national system which handles requests for student accommodation. The local student union at your university fulfils this function, though it is not required to guarantee you accommodation, and may not in fact be able to help you.

The availability of accommodation varies considerably from place to place. Usually, there is plenty of accommodation available at schools located in smaller and middle-sized cities or towns. Unfortunately, the situation is more difficult in the larger cities, especially in Stockholm and Goteborg, and in the traditional student cities of Lund and Uppsala. Often, the number of students exceeds the number of rooms that universities and university colleges have on offer and waiting times are long. However, there are alternatives.

In addition to contacting your student union, you can also try contacting student housing providers directly. Associations and companies that provide student housing have set up a website for locating local housing providers.
If you are a student or guest researcher at Stockholm University, Karolinska Institute, KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology) or Stockholm School of Economics, The University Accommodation Centre offers furnished apartments and rooms.

To sign a lease for student accommodation, you must be able to prove that you are already studying or that you have been admitted to an academic institution. When you want to move out you must give at least one month's written notice. Other rules may also apply.
You can rent a flat in the private market. Though usually more expensive, it is a viable option for some students. It is not uncommon for students to share a bigger flat with several rooms. You may also be able to rent a single room privately. Other sources of information are local newspapers and message boards at your university.

Whether provided by student unions or by third parties, accommodation catering expressly for students is often the preferred option, however. Student flats or rooms tend to be less expensive than private alternatives; they give you a chance to meet fellow students and participate in social activities, and they are often close to lecture halls, libraries and other facilities.
Depending on availability, you can choose to live by yourself or in a shared student flat where you will have your own room but share a bathroom/toilet. Flats can be furnished or unfurnished.

Student dormitories
Many students prefer to live in a student dormitory. This can be an enjoyable experience as it gives students from around the world an opportunity to get to know each other and make friends.

But it can also be demanding. Students living in the same corridor may have very different cultural backgrounds, different habits and ideas about how to do things. Most dormitories have 10-15 single rooms in each corridor. A kitchen is shared by 4-15 students. Female and male students live in the same corridor. Often there is also a communal television room.
A single room must not be occupied by more than one person – a rule which is strictly enforced. Students are responsible for cleaning their own rooms and the communal kitchen. Although rooms are let with basic furniture, there are no blankets, pillows, sheets, towels or light bulbs.

Some utensils may be available in the communal kitchen but you will usually have to bring your own plates, cutlery, pots and pans, etc. Some student unions rent these. Most student housing areas have launderettes. There is a booking list and a small fee is payable for the use of a washing machine. Rent for accommodation must be paid in advance.

How much do I have to pay?
Below are some examples of the average monthly rate for student accommodation (Prices in SEK at 2007 levels. 1 Euro = approx. SEK 10). Please note: due to the shortage of student housing in the older university towns/cities (Uppsala, Lund, Stockholm and Goteborg) prices in the private market are likely to be higher there.

For universities located in smaller towns, accommodation prices range from SEK 2,000 to SEK 3,500 for a room. For universities located in medium-sized towns, accommodation prices range from SEK 2,300 to SEK 4,300 for a room.

For universities located in cities, accommodation prices range from SEK 2,500 to SEK 4,500 for a room. To find out the precise availability and prices for student accommodation, contact the student union at your university or University College.

A few tips regarding accommodation
The situation with regard to accommodation for students is problematic in many parts of the country, sometimes very much so. There are simply not enough rooms and flats to go round. Fortunately, there are still towns and cities where conditions are better and where all or most students do get accommodation in time.

If you are not guaranteed accommodation as part of your exchange program or through some other agreement, it is vital that you approach your local student union as soon as possible. Remember that the situation will vary according to where you choose to study. Some universities or university colleges have more rooms than others. At some schools, the student union will guarantee you accommodation if you apply in time; others have special queues for newly arrived students. A good tip is to check for special offers for foreign students with the international desk at your educational institute.
Documents to be submitted in duplicate:
1.    Application forms duly completed and signed (Form No. 105031).
2.    Two photographs according to the instructions.
3.    Valid passport along with two photocopies (of pages 1, 2 and last).
4.    Admission letter from university/college. Study should be fulltime.
5.    Fee confirmation receipt from college / University
6.    Photocopy of all educational documents.
7.    One must be able to show a minimum of SEK 7300 per month for 10 months in a year. Applicant is requested to show proof of financial support for the entire planned study period. Documentation certifying one's own bank assets (in the form of bank certificate and statement of accounts for the last six months) or documents certifying that one has received a scholarship or in some other similar manner must be provided, (if course is longer than needs to show for every year).
8.    Accommodation must be arranged for in Sweden,
9.    A comprehensive health insurance is required.
10.    Any Date of birth proof is required i.e. 10 th certificate or any other birth proof.
11.    Application fee INR 7,000 to be paid by demand draft favouring Embassy of Sweden (Visa), New Delhi.
The application is forwarded to the Swedish Migration Board in Sweden for decision.

Other Information:
1.    Processing time-: 3 months
2.    2 sets of photocopy of documents are required but visa form should be in original in both the sets. And along with this all documents in originals need to shown.
3.    Balance certificate is required & bank statement should of last 6 months & only in the name of student itself, nobody can sponsor.
4.    Applications for residence permit can be submitted to the Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi on Monday, Thursday & Friday from 9AM to 11AM, & on Tuesday from 2PM to 4PM.
5.    No prior appointment is required.
6.    Student has to appear personally for file submission.
7.    Spouse, children’s can also apply.
8.    Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi   
     Nyaya Marg Chanakyapuri  
110021 New Delhi India  
Phone: +91-11-24197100  
Fax:     +91-11-26885401  
Fax visa Section:+91-11-24100834  
Email: ambassaden.new-delhi@foreign.ministry.se  
Email visa Section: ambassaden.new-delhi-visum@foreign.ministry.sepage  
Website: http://www.swedenabroad.com/Start____21488.aspx

 

9.    Useful links:
•    Sweden.se
Website :- http://www.swedenintouch.se
•    Swedenintouch.se
Website :- http://www.swedenintouch.se
•    Workinginsweden.se
Website :- http://www.workinginsweden.se
•    Embassies & consulates
Website :- http://www.swedenabroad.com
•    Visitsweden.se
Website :- http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden/