In 2014, Gimmy left Canada for a master’s degree at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Two years later, he’s working at Volvo – and has learned a lot about what Sweden has to offer Canadian students.
Canada and Sweden: Probably the two happiest countries in the world. Both countries provide great social benefits, and both endure equally long winters. Even the landscape in Sweden is no different than what you’ll see in Newfoundland. Swedes often ask me, why would a Canadian student choose to study here? Being an engineering student, Swedish university isn’t teaching me anything special. After all, I’m learning the same theories and formulae taught everywhere else in the world. Even so, studying in a foreign country has its own perks. If you are considering undertaking a master’s degree education, then put Sweden on the map of your study destinations. One thing is guaranteed – you will not be disappointed by the return on your investment in Swedish education. Let me give you two solid reasons why.
When I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I had no clue if I should start working like most of my classmates, who were exhausted by endless projects and exams, or continue studying, even though I’m not particularly academically inclined. Both industry and academia opportunities presented endless possibilities, and I didn’t know where to steer my life.
Some say that college is the best four years of your life, so why not have another two? Master’s degrees offered in North America are commonly research-based, whereas in Europe the degree is more course-based and industry-related. Not knowing what field to focus on and not keen on lab work, the European system certainly benefited me. During the four semesters of master’s education, I spent the first three semesters taking courses well-tailored for me, and I spent the last semester writing my thesis at a local automotive company.
The Swedish academic year is also structured in a unique way. Instead of juggling five courses and struggling with all the exams at once back in Waterloo, we cleared our courses two at a time here at Chalmers. Although stress is still present, frankly this small change actually made my learning experience somewhat pleasant. In retrospect, picking studying over jumping into the workforce was the absolute right choice: The knowledge and skills I took away from the lectures, projects, and labs are invaluable; the courses and the thesis work were an enjoyable ride; and together they helped me get a grip on what I want to specialize in.
Studying in Sweden gives you the chance to learn to become a Nordic citizen. It took some adjustment, but now I can also gulp down cups of tar-like coffee like a Swede. This living abroad experience also highlighted for me some of our wasteful behaviours in Canada.
In the Swedish view, we hardly recycle anything in Ontario. Take note: Swedes separate clear glass bottles from coloured ones! Moreover, why does everyone in Calgary need to drive gas-thirsty pickup trucks to tow two dirt bikes, when Swedes can haul a boat with a Volkswagen Passat? Plus, why drive when you can take public transportation? Buses and trams in Sweden are modern, frequent, on time, and simply great. “Sustainability” is synonymous with “Scandinavia”. The voice of environmental awareness is simply louder here, and it isn’t merely a trendy buzzword: Swedes and Swedish companies act upon it.
Studying in Sweden unexpectedly broadened my worldview that we don’t own the earth, we have borrowed it from our children, and as a result I’m now more actively protecting our little blue planet. I urge you to take inspiration from Sweden, too, and let us also do more to keep Canada beautiful!
It goes without saying that studying abroad has its share of difficulties: language barriers, cultural differences, homesickness, and lack of Tim Horton’s coffee, just to name a few. Once you overcome them, you’ll make unexpected discoveries. I’ve now graduated and landed a job at Volvo Cars. I call “Sverige” home now. Come visit me (with a box of Timbits, please and thank you)!
Read more about Gimmy’s adventures in Sweden at blogs.studyinsweden.se/author/gimmy-liu, and learn about the 1,000 degree programmes taught in English in Sweden at studyinsweden.se. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat @studyinsweden.