Christina Illmayr

The simple reason why it became Sweden and not Finland is that Swedish is a lot easier for Germans to learn and Stockholm University and the University of Regensburg had an exchange agreement within elementary school pedagogy. 

Studying here differs quite much from home, where I took at least 10 courses every semester, each course ending with a presentation, test, or long written assignment. Here, instead, I just had three, of which one naturally consists of more work than one in Germany, but not in relation to the given ECTS credits.

Swedish, Course 4 for international students helped me supporting the language inputs I got and get from everyday life – Olle Poignant taught us traditional songs, practiced pronunciation and revised grammar. With group discussions, presentations, article writing, and readings I can say I really benefited from this course.

Drama in Education was very practically orientated, given by two instructors and closed with two written assignments. The performed exercises and literature provide great practical advice for future work with children and groups and I especially liked the course part focusing on theatre, given by Pernilla Ahlstrand.

Special Education – Disability, Participation and Learning covered different topics of learning disabilities. The lectures given by different speakers (a highlight was a deaf lady and her interpreters) were interesting, and also the school study visits. It was good to get an inside look at the systems here. In this course, though, the emphasis lay too much on group work and writing group papers constantly. The corresponding literature connected research topics in the field of disabilities and special teaching; from an American point of view.

In comparison to what I am used to, studying here means that you are expected to work more independently and have a bigger responsibility for your learning outcomes. At Stockholm University, there are fewer lectures and more emphasis on assignments and preparations at home. The teacher is not your unreachable professor; instead you get to discuss problems where your opinion is desired.

Furthermore I really enjoy that you don’t have a pile of written examinations to study for at the end of the term and still have some free mind for your tasks rather than reciting without thinking about course contents. Thus I already gained an improved sense of self-organisation and self-assurance.

Life outside university is not that different – apart, of course, from meeting new people all the time, getting more and more fluent in a still new foreign language and just being away from home. But I am surprised to find I can do almost all my hobbies here and life just feels kind of normal and settled.

I was asked to write about my average day – well, that I can’t because there is none. But my average week looks like this:

Checking which times I have to be present at university and what needs to be done for it. Doing it. Having fika several times. Meeting friends. Thinking of what needs to be organised for international students, being an Ambassador. Doing it. Trying to get as much sunshine as possible and experiencing new parts of Stockholm and around. Keeping in touch with family and friends from home. Filling all the time which is left making music and doing sports.

Text: Christina Illmayr