As scholarship recipients in 2020/2021, our tuition fees are entirely paid. In addition to this, the Swedish Institute provides a generous monthly stipend to cover our living expenses, as well as a once-off travel lump-sum to allow us to travel to and from our home country. Receiving this financial support has been a liberating experience – not only do we have the freedom to pursue our dream education and careers, but we also have the means to travel, socialize, try new hobbies, and experience Swedish culture in all its fullness. At the end of the day, how far the stipend stretches is up to your budget, but with an SI scholarship, there will certainly be no need for financial worries.
Although this in itself is already fantastic, it is not the only way in which SI has supported us. In fact, their support started long before we received the first deposit. We were invited to an orientation meeting for admitted students before we came to Gothenburg. This gave us the opportunity to connect with other people who had started on the same journey and become important contacts once in Sweden. We were able to share our excitement with each other, ask questions, and gain insight into what our journey to Sweden would be like. Some of our best preparation and packing tips came from those orientation meetings, like the advice to bring along waterproof shoes, waterproof jacket, waterproof everything... and to pack a good supply of your favorite spices from home! Also, LOTS AND LOTS of socks that are nice enough to wear at your friend’s house since everyone takes their shoes off indoors here! However, the most important thing we took away from those meetings was the friendships we built.
By the time we arrived in Sweden, we already knew that there were friendly faces in this new country that we could count on. And the support didn’t end there! Usually, SI hosts a range of get-togethers and projects that all scholarship holders are encouraged to take part in. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, all of these events had to be moved online. But SI did not disappoint! They hosted several webinar series on leadership, stress management, life skills, and achieving success in Sweden. These were free to attend for all scholarship holders, and we could also host webinars on topics we were passionate about. Nathaly was interested in doing active participation around sustainability so she joined a team to do so. The sustainability team hosted a particularly interesting webinar on Women’s Day where women from various backgrounds and countries share their life experiences.
On a more social note, there have been Zoom calls held to celebrate special occasions like Christmas or Halloween. Although we were disappointed to miss out on physical meetings with fellow scholarship holders, these online interactions have still given us a space to meet new people and the chance to build a professional network in Sweden.
Being an SI scholarship recipient is more than just financial support, It’s about building relationship, networks, and getting to make your mark. So if you are considering your own journey to Chalmers and Sweden, the SI scholarship portal should definitely be on your roadmap.