Helping Students Make the Most out of their Stay
Coming to a new country as a student, regardless if it is only for a semester or for an entire programme, is a big decision. Suddenly finding yourself in a school system you are not accustomed to and in studies that are not held in your native tongue can prove to be quite a challenge. In addition to that, students also have to find an accommodation, adjust to a foreign culture and find something to do in their spare time.
In order to welcome and help international students, Welcome Services at the University of Gothenburg work hard preparing the Welcome Programme before the start of each term. The programme is intended to, apart from welcoming new students, make sure that they get settled in and to help them find something to occupy themselves with outside of school. The programme before the 2020 spring semester, including the Arrival Day, the Welcome Day and the Welcome Fair, took place towards the end of January.
Annika Berntson is an administrative officer at Welcome Services och works with, among other things, student housing. She is responsible for Arrival Day, when most of the semester’s new international students arrive in Gothenburg. The students are offered a pickup service where they are picked up at the airport, the train station or the ferry terminal in Gothenburg, driven to Welcome Services’ offices. There, they are treated to coffee and “fika” and can unwind after their travels, as well as receive a Welcome Pack which includes maps, University information, a SIM card, a bucket list, information about public transport, and much more. The students who will be staying in the University’s student housing can also get their keys and be driven to their new homes.
“It is important to us that the students get a good reception and that they get a good first impression Gothenburg, as well as the University.”
During the sequent Welcome Day, the students are welcomed by different speakers in the auditorium in the University’s main building in Vasaparken. There, they get information about how studying at the University of Gothenburg works, the different student unions, Swedish culture and the Swedes. They are also given the opportunity to ask questions to experience international students who have already spent time in Gothenburg.
If they enjoy their stay in Gothenburg it can also inspire them to come back, or to stay here after their studies
Nils Pasi Nävert, administrative officer at Welcome Services, explains that it is important that students feel welcome and valued at both the University and in Sweden.
“When they leave the Welcome Day, we hope that they feel that, but also that they leave the room with a feeling of ‘I’m actually here now, I made it’. The first part of the journey, with uncertainty in regards to admissions and stress over moving to another country, is over. Now a calmer and more stable, but at least as exciting, second part awaits. If the students leave the Welcome Day feeling that, then I am happy.”
Studying abroad does not only mean schoolwork, a lot of time is also spent outside the lecture and seminar halls. To help the students use their spare time for something meaningful, the Welcome Fair is held. It is a fair where different organizations, associations, student unions and others partake in order to come in contact with students and to tell them about their respective activities.
“We want to give the students inspiration for their free time and the opportunity to experience the city’s and the University’s range,” says Sara Grevsjö, administrator at Welcome Services and responsible for the Welcome Fair.
“Students who enjoy their free time will of course be happier in the city and at the University. If they enjoy their stay in Gothenburg it can also inspire them to come back, or to stay here after their studies.”