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Where to study abroad in Scandinavia?


Mar 1st, 2014, 06:23 PM
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Where to study abroad in Scandinavia?


I would like to get people's opinions about which Scandinavian country to study in as an American student (male). I am planning to study abroad for a semester and want to make the most of it. I want to have fun while also learning about a new culture (academics are secondary). I apologize if I sound shallow or ignorant but here are my main concerns:

1. Decent party scene.
2. Country that is relatively safe and open to Americans. Pretty sure this won't be an issue as Western Europe is pretty developed and most people are open-minded to foreigners in today's society but want to ask anyway. I want to really immerse myself with the culture and people.
3. Cost of living.
4. Food. I would love to taste new dishes and cuisines.

Thank you.
wheretostudyabroad is offline  
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Mar 1st, 2014, 06:38 PM
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Those are 3 of the most expensive countries in western Europe to live in.

I hope you like fish, a lot of fish. And ham.
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Mar 1st, 2014, 06:46 PM
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Scandinavia is VERY expensive - think twice the cost of living as the US.

If I were you I would check:

Which countries your university has arrangements with (if it's not a real school you won't qualify for a visa)

Look into costs of school and of living - and be prepared for a shock

All Scandinavian counties have night life in larger cities - but what school will you be going to in what town?

As for food - be sure you like fish - especially herring. There is a lot of good food in Scandinavia - but it's not like Belgium or Italy where one goes largely for the food

Not sure what you mean by relatively safe and "pretty developed". Everyplace in western europe is much safer than the US (they don't allow roving bands of armed lunatics and would be shocked by our rates of crime) and technologically they are probably ahead of us in many ways.

I think you need to do a lot of learning - and develop some attitude adjustments - before you go.
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Mar 1st, 2014, 07:54 PM
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You might google the IIE-Institute of International Education or CIEE-Council on International Educ. Exchange
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Mar 1st, 2014, 08:06 PM
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Thanks for the response and sorry if I offended you. I know Scandinavia has a high cost of living but which country is more expensive in comparison to each other?

"Pretty developed" was a poor choice of words. I should have simply stated it was developed. Yes, I know that US has a high crime rate compared to Western Europe (hence, one of the stereotypes that some of my international friends told me about - Americans are violent). I admit that I don't know a lot about Western Europe, which is why I am asking and part of the reason why I want to go (for the experience). What I really was concerned about is the existence of anti-American sentiment. A couple of my friends who are from Western Europe (not Scandinavian) have informed me about such feelings (and racism against non-Caucasians). Like I said, most places in general have gotten past such issues.

In my opinion, the most important thing when going abroad is being open-minded and willing to learn. Once again, I apologize as my post seems to struck a nerve.

Btw, my school has exchanges with schools in Oslo, Lund, Stockholm, Uppsala,and Copehagen.
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Mar 1st, 2014, 11:55 PM
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I spend a lot of time in Sweden & Denmark and have a very different viewpoint.

There is not a lot of good food in Scandinavia. Yes there are great restaurants in the major cities but outside of that a decent meal can be hard to get. Scandinavians do not have the culture of good food & going out.

I wish fish was as easy to get as implied above. Outside of fishing villages & major cities the only fish I can buy in the supermarket is in the frozen section or vacuum packed or in a can/jar. Even in Gilleleje in Denmark which is a fishing village where they smoke fish, a lot of the smoke houses have closed & offer limited lunch options.

I have not noticed any nightlife in the large town we lived in for a year - aside from cinema & a small theatre. I think this is pretty typical & we lived in a university town which had an expat community working at various large companies. If they can't find nightlife there is none. You'll find nightlife in the capital cities, away from that you might find little or none.
It's hard to say if one country is more expensive than the other, as we find some things cheaper in one country compared to the other, for example supermarkets are better & less expensive in Denmark than Sweden, buying alcohol in Sweden is only possible from a state run store called systembolaget which has limited opening hours.

I haven't been to Oslo but Norway is one of the richest and most expensive countries in the world
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 02:17 AM
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Oslo is seriously expensive so I think you need to abandon that as an option. I mean a pizza is at least $30. As in Sweden you can only buy alcohol from a state run shop. There is also a big drug problem in Oslo which you should be aware of.

Copenhagen is probably the cheapest of your options, but they are all expensive.
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Thanks Odin and Hetismij2.

Keep the posts coming.
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 10:08 AM
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I would agree that I actually think Copenhagen fits the bill the best-it is a young city with lots of night life and to me it seemed a bit more like the place where a college student would have lots to do and a place where you could meet other young US and Europeans. Since the advent of budget airlines, access options have changed, but Copenhagen I think has a bit of an advantage over the over locales in terms of reaching the rest od Europe-certainly by train. Stockholm is more central to the rest of Scandinavia perhaps.

You might want to check cheap flight options from the places you are considering using whichbudget.com if you will be wanting to travel a bit while you are there. My experience with other students of your age who have done a junior year abroad is that they would like to see as much as possible as they can while they are there-but it needs to not cost an arm and a leg
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 10:21 AM
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To be honest, if you want to make the most of your study abroad pick somewhere else. Scandinavia is beautiful, but judging by your priorities (low cost of living, food, party scene) it might not offer you what you're looking for to live there. It's expensive, and while the nightlife can be decent if you look for it, it's naturally expensive as well, and the cuisine isn't the best. While in some areas the cold, depending on where you are from, I'm guessing your exchange will be done during the typical University semesters (fall, winter) rather than the summer semester, and spending a summer there is far more preferable than the other 8 months. Pick somewhere else and make a trip to Scandinavia during a month in the summer another time.

There isn't an anti-American sentiment, but judging by your comment about those countries being "pretty developed" you might get a few negative reactions if you make comments like that abroad.
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 10:26 AM
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Denmark and Sweden are very expensive but Norway is by far the worst in terms of costs. Also, IMHO, has the least to see and do except for fjords. I much prefer Stockholm and Denmark in terms of number of things to see and do.

But do understand that each of these is a VERY small country compared to the US. I'm not aware of any virulent anti-american movement in any of them - but you are going run into people who don;t like you anywhere - including at home. Have no idea of any racism in the society. Typically this occurs when there is a local minority and mutual ill-feeling. Not sure what "non-caucasian" you are - but not sure if it makes any difference.
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 11:01 AM
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Thanks for the info about the cost of living. It appears that the consensus is all three countries are relatively the same in terms of cost of living and none of them are known for the cuisine.

Thanks jpie for link. I will definitely do some research into the costs. You are right that I will want to travel as much as I can while I am there.

For the record, I know not to make comments like "pretty developed" when in the country. It's just a phrase that I use (albeit a bad one), including describing the US when talking amongst my friends from different countries (some of them also used the same expression when describing other countries but not as an insult). It wasn't meant to be disparaging.
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 02:17 PM
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Wondering if any Western Euros would be upset by that - seems demeaning - your mea culpa was probably necessary.

Norway is preposterously expensive; Sweden and Denmark are horrendously so. If you really want a place that has a decent cost of living (we'll skip the cuisine issues - lutefisk is considered a delicacy, google it and you'll consider switching to Spain or Italy . . . ) then don't go to Scandinavia, where a typical TGIFriday's meal costs 2.5 to 3 times what it does in the US.

Given those costs, as a collegian with limited funds, that will also cut into the party scene (which is good in Gdansk, Krakow, Prague and other Central European destinations that have much lower costs of living than Scandinavia).

As for the racism issue: the notion of tolerant Europeans is nonsense on stilts (two words: monkey chants - they're an all-too-frequent occurrence at soccer matches in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Poland, Greece, and more), but ultimately you would probably not feel any overt racism you're not, as an unfortunate fact, already accustomed to. You'll get as much of that in Boston . . .
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Mar 15th, 2014, 03:34 PM
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Sounds like you'd like Lund, Sweden. I spent a semester there last year and it was fantastic.

As for your requirements...
Party scene - check. Students pretty much run the city so there is at least one club night/party going on every day.

Safety - absolutely. I had no trouble at all walking home alone in the dead of night, and I'm a tiny girl. As for race issues, there are lots of international students so they're used to having people from everywhere. Language isn't an issue either; pretty much everyone speaks English.

Cost of living - it can be expensive, as everyone else has said. But students find a way. If you live in one of the student dorms people usually have communal meals, and if you go to the student associations ("nations") you can get a pretty decent buffet for under $10.

Food - I wasn't particularly impressed by Scandinavian cuisine. If not for the student nations (see above) I would have eaten ham sandwiches for 6 months!
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Mar 15th, 2014, 04:02 PM
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Where to study abroad in Scandinavia?
Posted by: wheretostudyabroad on Mar 1, 14 at 9:23pm Posted in: Europe Tagged: Denmark , Norway , Sweden
I would like to get people's opinions about which Scandinavian country to study in as an American student (male).

Short answer -- none.

Ditto all of the above about the high cost of everything, especially anything with alcohol in it. Plus the utterly bland food, except for raw herring which is good but not what I had in Holland.

What languages do you speak? What subjects are you studying? Do you actually have tinted skin or is this item a red herring?
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Mar 16th, 2014, 11:06 AM
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In Europe the bigger the city, generally speaking, the better the chance of getting a variety of food and that applies to Scandinavia as much as anywhere else. As the EU allows free movement of citizens to work in any EU country there has been a trend for example, for people of Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin from Britain to set up ethnic restaurants in other European countries. There are probably some 30 or so Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi restaurants in Copenhagen and there are certainly Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican and South American eateries etc. as well. Some will have been set up by Danish nationals who know the country concerned and like the food, and obtain work permits for staff, others by those who have landed up in Denmark for any one of a number of reasons - as an employee, refugee or student for example, and have stayed. Stockholm is doubtless about the same. Food prices are higher where goods are imported, alcohol is pricier because of taxes. So you'll probably end up drinking beer like the rest of your age group in the country.

As for prejudice, well there's a bit of prejudice everywhere in all of us. Generally speaking if you're living like other students then you'll get treated the same as other students. Scandinavians have a very equal society and have been used to students from all over the world for at least 50 years as I know from my experiences living in Sweden in the early 1960s. Learn some of the language so you can communicate. Sure most people will be capable of speaking English but if you're buying a bus ticket, paying for your shopping in a supermarket or simply knock into someone by mistake it is a simple matter of politeness to try and speak the local language. And you'll get more out of the experience of living in a foreign country if you do.

I'd cut Norway out of the equation for financial reasons- no exception there!
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Mar 16th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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The comment about western europe being developed to a western european is just a good laugh, like a lot of stuff on the web. In terms of the racial focused chanting at football, yes football has its problems and in many countries it is being worked on but really not an issue in the countries you mention.

If I was looking for what you are looking for I'd focus on Denmark and Finland. The Finns may have a crazy language but their education system is second to none and I don't think I've met a Finn yet who cannot speak three languages very well of which one will be English which they seem to speak better than a native.

Norway is just too expensive, last time I was there I took my own food!

Prejudice about Americans, well only because they lack a world view, and that can be resolved by travel.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 02:56 PM
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Thanks everyone for the input. I do appreciate it.
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Jun 29th, 2016, 07:32 AM
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If you have USD it's a good time to come to Stockholm. SEK is pretty weak at the moment and has been so for a while, and more so after Brexit. Compared to New York which is were I was last in the US (in April), Stockholm is definitely not expensive. I don't even think it's expensive compared to Paris or Milano (although drinks in Milano are cheaper). I wouldn't go to the smaller cities which are mostly ugly and boring in my opinion.

The only prejudice against Americans may come from the far left.
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Jun 29th, 2016, 07:38 AM
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ticino: the thread is 2 years old . . .
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