During the first two weeks of my stay in Sweden, I did an introductory Swedish language course for exchange students. Every morning for three hours, we were taught by Anders Agebjörn, a stereotype Swede with blonde hair, blue eyes, retro seventies glasses and a guitar! We learned a lot of basics via different songs, like the alphabet or the days of the weeks. He even taught us a song only consisting of numbers (which actually sounded good as well). After those two weeks we finished with an exam for 3 ECTS, which I’m sure all people from Holland and Germany must have passed (a lot of words and expressions are almost identical to the ones in German). Now, I am doing a following up course in Swedish next to my other courses. It is an extra course that is given two times per week in the evening.
The way of teaching here is very informal and personal! Every teacher demands that you call them by first names (the head of the Biology department made it very clear in the first email that although her name was Christina we should all call here ‘Tina’). Some faculties even organized little ‘fika’s’ to meet the new international students. This was the case at the Faculty of Medicine, from which I got an invitation for an ‘informal meeting with the international staff’ which turned out to be a very informal almost high tea-like event with the teachers. This can be quite shocking in the beginning (especially for some other international students) but it gives you a very welcome feeling at the same time. Also the courses are given for groups not bigger than 40 students. All lectures take place in a regular classroom with a teacher at the front who is willing to stop the lecture for a minute when someone has to go to the toilet; ‘just raise your hand’ (quotation of my Australian lecturer in Neurobiology).
Also during practical work there is a lot of personal attention. The workgroups in each practicum are small (for my course only 4 persons per practicum) and the experiments are quite challenging. In the course I am following now, Neurobiology, I have already done work with frogs, insects and even bees! For this one we even had to step into a cage with bees ourselves, armed in a beekeepers suit, to observe their behavior.