When I came to Sweden, I didn’t have a clear idea of how my schedule of studies will look like. Based on my experience during my last year of bachelor’s studies with a flexible schedule, I assumed that working part-time will be possible. With that picture in mind, I came here, and things turned out to be different. Despite its flexible schedule as well, students at Chalmers are expected to study or work on university project 40 hours a week, which equals to a full-time job. And although the schedules of the week are varied, we often have many scheduled activities such as workshops, lectures and tutoring that we don’t want to miss. One more new thing for me was group projects, which didn’t allow me to find much time during the day for work as I wanted to be fair with my group mates. All of these made me rethink my plans regarding working part-time.
The first semester I was not able to have any part-time job. I had many things on my shoulder during the first weeks abroad, including adapting to a new environment and my first experience with a group project at school. I also needed time to sort out my new life abroad to find out what I am capable of in terms of possible work. As I heard, finding a part-time job can be challenging especially for an international student. Knowing this, I prepared myself and applied for part-time jobs at the end of the first semester. And guess what? I got accepted as a Chalmers International Student Ambassador.
Here is my rough idea of how much time I spend on studies, part-time work, and my hobbies.
As an International Student Ambassador, I had to commit up to 3h per week and I knew I am capable of it. Half a year later I joined another project named Chalmers Pluggstöd, where I together with other students work as a tutor for high-school students. This position adds 3h of work per week. Together it makes around 6h, but sometimes it can get to 8h/week. It seems not much to tackle, doesn’t it?
I knew that I am fine with working 8h a week in addition to my studies because if you ask my friends, they will tell you that they were always impressed by how organised I am. However, I realize that it requires more than just time management skills. So, the answer to the question ‘how much I can work’ to me lies in my life value: ‘balance in life’. Going to a university that taught me that overworking is unhealthy, I didn’t want to lose this chance to make my life more balanced. I knew that studies are a priority and earning some money is a bonus, but life doesn’t end on this. To stay healthy, I need to go to the gym. This gives another 3-4h per week to the schedule.
You know the saying: ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’, right? I figured, to have higher chances of getting a job in Sweden and to develop myself, I should learn Swedish. It adds 7-8h/week in my schedule. Last but not least, sometimes there are small activities popping-up in my schedule once in a while, including fun stuff to do such as hanging out with friends!
If you calculate it all together, working-part time during studies with the purpose of earning for a living or even for tuition fee doesn’t look that feasible. But for some extra money to go to the movies or eat at a nice restaurant? Maybe, yes! There will be people who will tell you that working part-time for a living is possible, and it possibly is. But the question is – for what price?
To end this blog, I just wanted to underline that if you come to Sweden for studying, it is important to keep in mind that studies should be your priority and working part-time can be just a nice addition to it.