Jean-François Exbrayat, 23, from France came to Stockholm University as an exchange student in January. Despite the shock of arriving in the middle of the Swedish winter, he has enjoyed his stay in the Swedish capital.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to be at Stockhom University. I’ve very excited at being at a top university,” explains Jean-François. “I wanted Stockholm on my CV.”

Like many graduate students, Jean-François is aware how important university rankings are these days when it comes to employers.

Stockholm University was ranked 86th by Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s 2007 ranking of 500 universities throughout the world. In the European list, Stockholm University was placed 28th, with Cambridge University taking first place.

The ranking list is published each year by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The list is partly based on the number of scientific articles published in Nature and Science, as well as the number of Nobel prizes awarded.

Jean-François came to Stockholm to undertake an internship in The Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology as part of a Master's in Environmental Studies at Dijon University in France.

“I’m researching and writing my dissertation in Hydrology this term,” says Jean-François.

Although he considered doing his internship in the UK, Germany or France, Jean-François has no regrets about coming to Stockholm.

“I was so impressed when I arrived that all the data necessary for my project was ready,” admits Jean-François. “The Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology had prepared everything for my arrival. It’s meant that I’ve been able to concentrate on the research instead of data collection.”

Unlike many exchange students who live on campus during their stay, Jean-François is rooming with a Swedish student in Solna, a short bus ride from the university.

“My university signed the Erasmus agreement so late that there was little time for SU to give me a place on campus,” explains Jean-François. “But my supervisor in Sweden put me in touch with a housing association and I found a flat-share without much problem.”

Whilst many exchange students tend to stick together, Jean-François’s worked hard to integrate into Swedish life.

“Sharing an apartment with a Swedish student has been a great way to meet Swedes,” he says. “I’ve also taken the opportunity to learn some Swedish.”

As part of their stay at Stockholm University, all exchange students are offered Swedish language tuition free of charge.

“I passed the first level,” says Jean-François, “and now I’m working on level two. Although it’s easy to live in Sweden and just speak English, people really appreciate it if you try and learn the language. I always try and use Swedish when I’m out shopping now, for example.”

With just a few weeks left of his stay at Stockholm University Jean-François is happy he came to Sweden.

“It’s meant a lot to me for my career. I’ve had the chance to work in an international environment and build good contacts.”

So positive has Jean-François been about his experience that fellow students from Dijon University are queing up to come to Stockholm.

“I was the first from my department to come here. Now they’ve heard how happy I’ve been, more students want to come here on exchange,” says Jean-François. “I’ve told them everything here just works!”

Interview and text: Jon Buscall