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Sweden, English language, foreign students and jobs

October 11, 2008

Sweden, English language, foreign students and jobs

Sweden is one of the countries of the Scandinavia. Until late 2000, it was little known, but her free education and "open door" policy with regards to immigration has made Sweden a destination for many, especially students, most of whom want to study and live better lives. Is the "Swedish dream" therefore a bitter or sweet one for those studying there? Some will talk of "total deception", others will prefer to use the word "average" and some will say it is good. The responses vary according to the number of persons such a question is asked.

The official language of Sweden is Svenska. However, most Swedish do speak and understand English. On the other hand, speaking and understanding English perfectly well may open just too few and often negligible doors for you in Sweden. Just as in all Scandinavian countries, English is the second language after their various official languages. Education is very expensive in other other Scandinavian Scandinavian countries like Finland, Norway and Denmark. but in Sweden, it is tuition free as earlier mentioned.

Despite the free education, most foreign students come to Sweden with the hope of also finding something doing while, studying. It is the case with most developed countries. In Sweden, this has been a deception for many but a reality for some, thereby making each and every foreign student having his or her own impressions of the country.

The beginning is always extremely difficult to the extent that some people want to return home. Sometimes, while the situation gradually changes for some, it remains extremely tough for many even for a whole year, especially for those living in the Northern part of the country where there are virtually no jobs.

On the contrary, in neighboring Norway, Finland and Denmark, foreign students have almost unlimited opportunities to do part time jobs, though they may not understand the official languages of these countries.

It is the typical contrast in Sweden. The question asked by many is, Are the jobs not there? The answer is… There are abundant jobs in Sweden BUT…… The bitter truth is, despite the fact that most Swedish speak and understand English, they hardly ever want to employ people who speak exclusively English. Should they be blame? I personally think, No. Sweden has her rights and duties to protect her language thereby obliging people who want to work there to learn it. When I asked a Finish, Andrea Johansson who has been in Sweden for 8 years, he says the Swedish government is just being complicated. Maria, a student from Uganda who has been here for 4 years, says, she once had a very good job but generally speaking, the job market in Sweden is too close. Natalie Henriksson at the Jobcampus office in the University of Örebro confirms that the opportunities are very limited for those who do not understand or speak Swedish.

According to Andreas, the Swedish government in power had promised to modify the labour laws but, the situation has remained unchanged since they got to power. Maria adds, "I think Sweden is just being conservative." She believes most Swedish feel that, wholly embracing English as a language to work in Sweden will be a serious threat to their language which they are not ready to loose.

Issa Norhstedt, a fellow Swedish says he does not understand why and what is complicated. But as he puts its"to get a job in Sweden, it's often through contacts and recommendations" This implies that if no one recommends you , you may never get a job. That is why contacts are very important in Sweden. But what about those who do not have contacts?. Rita Egowan, another African student says it is the contrast in Britain. There is no connection needed. You just need to register with an employment agency and when there are vacancies you will be contacted. There is no issue as special recommendation. Yan Li from China thinks Sweden needs to open up more to non Swedish speakers given that most of her citizens already understand English.

Early September 2008, a scandal rocked Sweden when the public media revealed that some companies had imposed that cleaning companies recruit only Swedish to work for them. Some cleaning companies had also been recruiting only Swedish or those who understand Svenska perfectly well, despite the fact that cleaning jobs do not necessarily need a lot of talking and writing ,therefore open to most international students. Edwin Fotoh, a Cameroonian student in another city called Jönköping believes the secret to succeeding in Sweden is to study their language. "We must study Swedish to succeed" he retorts. But how many foreign students have that interest? That is the big question. Certainly very few. This view is also shared by Emmanuel, a second year masters student in Örebro University. He says, knowing the svenska language is very good, but again, that does not open all the doors it is suppose to.

A Swedish engineer with whom I flew to Stockholm on September 08, told me that Sweden is far richer than Ireland but, on the contrary students in Ireland are far better off than those in Sweden. Too much use of high technology too has drastically contributed to job scarcity says Rita another student reading IT management. However, it is always good to be patient, and hard working. A few have been lucky to get good jobs.

That is the story of Sweden and foreign students. Above all, it is better to study hard and return home to build our various countries. It must be acknowledged that Sweden is a really conducive environment to learn. Very peaceful and secure.

Free education for non EU students in Sweden is expected to end in 2010. Swedish radio made the revelation saying how a minister questioned why foreign students pay very high in UK, US and other universities but have free education in Sweden. Finland and partly Norway, also offer free education to foreign students

School fees in Sweden is expected to range range between USD 5000 and 13000 per term. But, being a job-locked county, most students will certainly run away.That notwithstanding, Sweden is almost unrivaled in quality education.

Agendia Aloysius

Global Journalism student, Örebro University

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I might be saying things which many would dispute here but in my personal opinion, Sweden is a rasistic country with an "island mentality" that hardly ever lets the foreigners integrate into the society. On the other hand, quite many immigrants are here already and many more are coming. This creates a society split into locals and all the rest. Some of the immigrants, especially second generation, are much better integrated, but others have to face it - we are "second class" even if we are PhD holders. Not even a question about students from the so called third world (although God made only one...)But it seems to me that the situation will be different within 20-50 years time when Swedes will become an ethnic minority :)))Dear Author, you have a misspelling here. Official language in Sweden is Svenska but not Svenka as you wrote :)))

Undoubtedly, in Sweden, problems with job opportunities for students, especially from non-European/western developed countries is remarkably unavoidable, as I have been a victim of such failure. I have been living in Sweden already for 5 years by managing my living expenses by myself, thanks to the greatest financial support of my parents, who found it to be very important to educate me in the West for better sake of my future. Being a lucky son of middle class parents who could provide their children with better education in the West, I had quite comfortable life, during my first years of my studies in Sweden, whereas many other students from the outside Europe lacked. However, after having completed my bachelors degree, situation deteriorated for me as well, because my parent started to throw hints, meaning that it is the time for me already starting to earn money to make my living in there. The emphasis was always put on Europe, being successful and developed enough to treat mankind equally and also offer equal choices and possibilities for people of any kind. However, the situation has been not as realistic as we thought and the life with no money could get sometimes as tough as we could never imagine. Sometimes, we (students from the third world) felt discriminated while asking for jobs in certain organizations, embarrassed from being treated like a child while applying for cleaning works and yet, felt miserable for being highly educated and skilled whereas we left completely useless in this part of the world.



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