Jönköping University | Semester Exchanges Blog

It’s the middle of my sixth week in Sweden and I love it! I am an exchange student studying at Jönköping University in Jönköping, Sweden. The week before classes started, all the new students participated in an orientation program complete with overalls (uniforms that specify what students are studying based on color), games, and groups. Think Fish Camp minus the Texas standard of appropriateness. The week was a well planned sequence of events that helped me meet people and learn about Swedish culture.

The second week I started my classes at the business school called JIBS or Jonkoping International Business School. There are a few blatant differences between JIBS and Mays:

1. We call our professors by their first name
2. Classes are at least 2 hours long
3. There’s a 15 minute coffee break in the middle of class
4. Class times are different every week
5. Courses are taught by a team of professors

Things that are still the same:
1. Tons of group projects
2. The professors are knowledgeable and excited about their subject matter

The semester is broken into quarters here. People typically take two classes each quarter. I’ve chosen pain and enrolled in three so that I can graduate on time. I appreciate that the classes here are focused on practical knowledge. In my entrepreneuring class we simulate the process of launching a business by creating a product, a pitch and lots of feedback sessions. In consumer behavior my incredibly enthusiastic South African professor does an excellent job of introducing new, controversial, topics. She never reveals her opinion, so we are free to explore and critically evaluate the new material. Finally my industrial distribution class keeps me on my toes. I hear everything from the “evils” of Walmart to the strategy behind Swedish grocery stores.
My favorite part about attending JIBS is that every day I interact with people from all over the world. My dorm of approximately 24 people houses over 10 nationalities, and classes are just as diverse. Seeing the world through another country’s perspective is a privilege more powerful than a textbook. Two weeks ago I grew frustrated when my international teammate did not seem to listen or participate in a group discussion. A few minutes after the event, he asked me what life was like in Texas. I was caught off-guard but I explained the incredible glory that is life in Texas. Then I asked about his home. As I explained and listened, my frustration faded. The event was not any less aggravating, but in that moment my teammate’s curiosity and willingness to share reminded me of his humanity. It reminded me of the capacity for humans to care about and appreciate others as an individual. We have more in common with our global peers and our neighbors than we realize.
My time in Sweden has made me desire that my American peers would take time to remember that we do have more in common with each other than we have different. I wish everyone in America would intentionally consider one another first as people with meaningful lives. I wish that we could shirk the fear of the differences that our global neighbors or our nation has. It breaks my heart to read the New York Times every morning and see the strife of race relations as headlines day after day. Yet it scares me even more to think that we might be waiting for the government or legislation to take care of a sensitive issue that neighbors can fix.
My classes here have given me the freedom to explore new subjects and the privilege to learn from global peers.

 

Jönköping Business School

Jönköping Business School

First day of school at Jönköping University.

First day of school at Jönköping University.

My Swedish family!

My Swedish family!

Jönköping University in the fall.

Jönköping University in the fall.

Categories: 2016, Reciprocal Exchange, Sweden

I’ve been in the moderately sized town of Jonkoping, Sweden for about two weeks now. I honestly cannot describe how amazing, beautiful, exciting, and fun it has been. I had heard many stereotypes of Sweden before my journey, and I was hesitant to believe them. “Sweden is just freezing cold and the sun sets at 3:30 PM.” “Everyone in Sweden is tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and beautiful.” “Swedish people just club all of the time and listen to DJ’s play House music.” Well I hate to say this but all of those stereotypes are so true. The weather started off in the 40’s but the temperature is dropping and snow is starting to fall. I can’t complain though. I love the snow and cold especially coming from Texas where it snows like once a year. And the people are all beautiful, dressed well, and fit (and blonde). And I have been in new student orientation (like Fish Camp) for the past two weeks and our group leaders have taken us to a different club every night. Yes they play house music everywhere.

My backyard!!!

My backyard!!!

Anyway I live in a dorm overlooking Lake Vattern, the second largest lake in Sweden. I live with 60 international students, only 3 of which have grown up speaking English. The language barrier is sometimes an issue but it is mostly just humorous. Living with people from other countries is actually my favorite part. The Italians are teaching me how to cook and the Mexicans are helping me with my spanish. The multitude of other nationalities are influencing me as well but in other ways.

some new friends downtown!

some new friends downtown!

 

welcome dinner

welcome dinner!

I must say that the Swedish lifestyle is very different from that of a Texan. Everything here is so clean, simple, environmentally friendly, and safe. Everyone rides bikes, but no one locks them because the crime rate is so low. The Swedish standard of living is very high so every establishment is nice, clean, and sophisticated – even gas stations. You get money from recycling bottles and cans, and the printer at school prints on both sides of the paper (resourceful). I would never eat at a 7/11 or a McDonalds in America, but I would go there whenever here! All 7/11’s have bakeries and gourmet food.  Coffee shops are very prominent because Swedes spend time in the afternoon to meet friends and eat coffee and pastries. This time is also known as “fika.” No one needs to worry about the calories though because we walk everywhere! Now I just need to figure out how I can spend the rest of my life in this country… next time you hear from me I may be married to a Swedish boy. Fingers crossed!

Thanks and Gig’Em,

Bronwyn

Categories: Sweden