Study Abroad – Basic Info and Tips

If you’re reading this, you’re joining us this summer in Scandinavia. Welcome to what will be a fun, meaningful, enriching and unforgettable adventure!

This page is designed to answer some frequently-asked questions about this particular program and will complement (not replace!) the information provided by the Office of International Programs. In fact, my first tip is: always read oIP’s emails carefully!

What happens in the spring?

Sometime in January, you will receive an email from me about scheduling our one-credit PSYC202 prep course. The goal is to find a time that works for everyone, and we will work around your other spring classes. Also around that time, you will receive an email from the psychology department to add the class via an override. The prep course will begin after spring break and will familiarize you with basic course concepts and with one another. We’ll discuss the course project and the logistics of travel. Previous years’ students will also pop by. A lot of your questions will be answered during this time.

What kind of suitcase will I need?

People have different philosophies on this and there is no one right answer. But know this: wheeled suitcases can be a pain to drag over cobblestone sidewalks and up and down subway staircases. Heavy backpacks can be a pain too, literally and figuratively, but many students prefer them to a suitcase (choose one with an internal frame to save your shoulders). Know that: 1. you will be responsible for carrying your own luggage, 2. we sometimes will be walking many blocks with the luggage, 3. stairs may be involved, 4. you’ll have to get your luggage onto trains and buses.

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We always pack too much (myself included).

What should I pack?

Based on the above, you may be able to guess my answer: as little as possible. You can see a packing list here. You will be able to do laundry at the dorms in Malmo, which makes a huge difference. Travel expert Rick Steves offers advice on packing smart here.

What will the weather be like?

The average temperature in May will be in the mid-50s to mid-60s. We will likely see a day or two of rain as well. Note the layers from previous years. I’m always cold so I bring a light puffy coat like this.

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Should I pack my passport in my checked bag?

No.

You also shouldn’t pack any necessary medications in your checked bag. Nor should you pack anything super-valuable (like a laptop).

When should I book my flight?

There’s a lot of talk about when the optimal time is for booking flights. (Six weeks out? Two months? A year?) My advice is, when you know for sure that you’re coming and when you’re pretty certain on your other travel plans, you can go ahead and book. However, if you wait until our class begins in March, you may be better able to coordinate schedules with your classmates.

Will I have a roommate?

In Malmo, you will have your own room and bathroom. In Stockholm and Copenhagen, you’ll have a roommate whom you can choose.

What about cell phones and wifi?

Scandinavia is very wired. The Malmo dorms will have a wired internet connection (Mac users will need this). Our Copenhagen and Stockholm hotels will have wireless internet. It can be spotty at times, but it does the job.

Cell phone options: 1. You can get a short-term international cell phone plan through your carrier. 2. You can buy a local SIM card once we arrive. 3. You can turn off cellular and just use wifi, which costs nothing. (I have AT&T and use a combination of 1 and 3. I have the basic international plan for emergencies, but I usually just have my cellular and roaming options turned off.)

For more on international cell phone plans, see here and here.

How can I learn a bit about Sweden and Denmark?

So glad you asked!

I’d suggest getting a guidebook, such as Lonely Planet, which will get you pumped in addition to being informative. And check out The Local Sweden and The Local Denmark for news in English.

How will we meet up at the airport when we arrive?

As you know, you are responsible for getting yourself to Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport (ARN) on Friday, May 12th. Once your flight is arranged, you will let me know your arrival time. If you plan to arrive in Stockholm earlier than May 12, we’ll arrange an in-town meeting spot.

How will we be in touch with one another?

Last year, we set up a GroupMe and it worked really well. Other ideas (Facebook group, WhatsApp, other fancy things you guys know about) are welcomed, too.

How will I get money?

A few ways: 1. I will give you cash for meals about once a week, which is yours to ration and use as you wish. 2. ATMs are everywhere, and I would recommend just getting any extra cash you want when you’re over there. Don’t bother trying to get local currency in the U.S. 3. Sweden is moving towards being a cashless society, so you can use cards pretty much everywhere.

But beware credit card and ATM transaction fees. And put a travel notice on your accounts before you leave so you’re not flagged for strange foreign transactions.

What will I do with my free time?

You will be given a Stockholm Pass and a Copenhagen Card which will give you access to numerous sites and experiences. I recommend you check out their websites and scout out the areas of interest ahead of time!

You will also use free time to work on your personal projects and do the course readings and activities. Don’t worry: you’ll never be bored.

What happens on the last day?

You are totally free. Some of you have early flights so will need to be up and out very early. Others may linger, or even spend a couple more days. Joe and I will stay an extra day in case you need us.

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