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Av Frida Lindh - 29 januari 2012 20:45

Today we put together all the statistics. We made three graphs; one is about the most popular countries to go to as an exchange student (the United States), the next one is about the amount of girl compared to boys that choose to be exchange students (60 % are girls, 40 % are boys), and the last one is asked to previous exchange students if they would like to go back to the country after the year has passed.

For the first graph it was easy to find information; we got it from most of the interviews that we had with the organizations, and we also made some research on the internet. For the second graph it was pretty much the same. But it was a little bit harder for the third one, because statically we did not ask enough people; but we still think the answers would be the same if we could have asked more people. Something that really makes us happy is that most of the students we asked said that they didn’t only want to go back to visit the host family and their friends, but that they were actually thinking about moving there and start to study at the university!

So it would be wrong to say that the statistics are 100 % correct, but they are still correct enough to get the bigger picture of reality.

Av Frida Lindh - 25 januari 2012 20:45

The presentation of the handbook is done. We just wanted a small presentation of what we are hoping to achieve with this handbook; that more students want to experience the life of being an exchange student. We think that a lot of students actually are thinking about it, but that they are unsure of how to proceed. And they don’t know who to ask, because everyone doesn’t know anybody who’s been an exchange student.

We also made the list of contents. As we have calculated the handbook will include 20 pages, but that can of course change. We will include some statistics that can be interesting, like which country is most common one to choose and how many boys / girls that are exchange students. There will also be some statistics about how many that would like to go back after their exchange year has ended. Another part of the handbook is presenting the 4 major organizations in Sweden (YFU, EF, STS and Explorius) so you can compare them and see which one fits you the best. There will also be a part with some information about the year, like what you can expect, the school, the family etc. This is important, because you have to know what you are getting yourself into, and you have to be aware of that the year wont be a dance on roses throughout the whole year, because there will be periods that are tougher than others. Then we will include the interviews with the previous exchange students, so that you can get a point of view of how others experienced their years. After that we will go through the scholarships, so it’s easier for those who need financial support to apply for them. The last part will be questions and answers; common questions and worries that most exchange students have before they leave for their year abroad.   

Av Frida Lindh - 22 januari 2012 20:45

Today we made the front page of our handbook. It was very exciting because now it really feels that we are starting to get somewhere with the actual handbook. We are doing the handbook in a program called “Adobe Indesign CS3” which is a very advanced program used by the major printing and advertising companies in the world. But if you want the best result you have to use the best software, right?

It was kind of hard to find a picture that was suitable for the front page, because we both wanted a picture that symbolized friendship, but that also showed a country far away from home. But finally we found the perfect picture; a picture of a couple of friends, running around and smiling on a beach. We were also thinking about the headline; we believe that the first impression of the book will be very important. We agreed upon that we should write “the handbook for exchange students” but we wrote the world “the” extra large; with that we want to say that this is the one and only handbook for exchange students. No one else as good as this one is available.

We also started with the layout of the handbook. Planning this wasn’t the easiest thing in the world; we know exactly what we want to include in the book, but we still don’t know how much space each and every part will take. So we made a rough sketch of it, but as we go along and discovers that there’s not enough space we can always rearrange and put in some more pages, so that wont be a problem.   

Av Frida Lindh - 18 januari 2012 19:00

Today we continued with what we were doing last time; trying to find scholarships that are supporting exchange students. We haven’t found as many as we hoped for, but here comes the last ones. “Axel och Sofia Alms stiftelse”; they give away scholarships for students that are studying in high school, but not at the university, and you have to be less than 23 years old. Perfect! Their only requirement is that you have passing grades.

For the next one we called to Kommunhuset in Partille to ask them what they have to offer. They told us that almost every commune in Sweden might offer financial support to students; but for different purposes. They recommended us that the easiest way to find out if you can get financial support where you live is to call the local office and put forward your mission. But they also said that it wasn’t very usual that they supported these kind of things, because there are people who need the money for “more important things than studying abroad” – (her words), but that you should at least give it a try.

The last scholarships we looked into were the ones that YFU offers; there are 3 different categories that you can apply for. The first one is for students that are going to Europe; the scholarship is for 10 000:- and the only requirement is that you have chosen a European country for your exchange year. They give away one (1) of these every year. The next category is South America and South Africa; the same concept as above, you have to have chosen a country in South America or South Africa itself in order to be able to apply for this scholarship. This is also one (1) per year, and it’s for 10 000:-. (Frida actually got this one when she went to Venezuela with YFU 2010 / 2011). The third category is for students with financial problems; it doesn’t matter what country you have chosen. They give away two (2) of these every year and it’s for 25 000:-.  We thought a bit about why they only had “special” scholarships for Europe, South America and South Africa, and not for United States that is the most common choice. But after thinking about it, it was pretty obvious; about 80 % of all students choose to go to United States, and therefore they are trying to make more people choose other countries by offering these scholarships. Kind of a smart trick!

Now we’re done with the research about the scholarships. We’re actually done with all the research what so ever for this project. The scholarships were our last “assignment”. So what’s left now is to start to put together the actual handbook, to make it easy for the reader to compare the different organizations. We also believe that the design is really important! And when we are done with the handbook we only got one small mission left; finding a printing office where we could print it in high quality!   

Av Frida Lindh - 13 januari 2012 19:00

Back in Sweden! Today we started to look into what different options you have if you want to apply for a scholarship. This wasn’t as easy as we had thought; most of them have some kind of restriction or demand that you don’t achieve through studying abroad as an exchange student!

The first one we looked into was “Folke Bernadotes Minnesfond för internationallt utbyte”. This one doesn’t really apply for exchange students, because it says that there has to be a return visit to Sweden from someone who lives in the country you were staying in. So we could skip that one. The next one we checked out was “Olof Palmes Minnesfond”. Their purpose is to promote young people’s opportunities for international exchanges and studies, to support efforts to combat racism and xenophobia, and in other ways promoting international understanding and common security. So this one apply better for exchange students! We also found out that you can get a scholarship of 3000 – 1000 kr. The third one was called “Internationella programkontoret”; it’s a government agency that are supporting schools, universities, businesses, organizations and individuals to participate in international cooperation. Their purpose is to increase the cooperation and exchanges with the world and it can be anything from international cooperation projects in education and skills to practice and study abroad. They also state the exchange of teachers and students are an important part of business. That means that this one also fits us pretty good!

The fourth one we looked into was “Prins Carl Gurtafs Stiftelse”. This one failed almost directly because it is intended for individuals that by artistic, sporting or cultural reasons have an opportunity to succeed abroad. Then it’s not suited for an exchange students, more for a football player that want to attend some kind of football university somewhere. The fifth one was more successful; “Svenska institutet”. This one is also a government agency and their purpose is to disseminate knowledge about Sweden abroad and to conduct exchanges with other countries in culture, education, research and life in general. The sixth one “Tage Erlanders stiftelse” would have been perfect for us, but there was only one detail wrong; the exchange country had to be a developing country. And as an exchange student, that’s not an available option.

Av Frida Lindh - 28 december 2011 11:45

This is officially the last updating for 2011! And therefore we will not write anything significant, just that in a few hours we are going to London to spend New Years Eve there. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!  

Av Frida Lindh - 20 december 2011 11:45

We just got back from the meeting, and we thought it’s better to write now when everything’s fresh in our heads. The meeting went well, however there weren’t as many people there as we had expected! Hopefully more people will be there next year when they have read our fabulous handbook for exchange students!

Anyway, there were 8 girls and 5 boys there, and 2 girls that represented YFU and were in charge of the meeting. The 2 girls were previous exchange students (one from United States and one from Peru). They started out by presenting themselves and gave a briefly presentation about the organization YFU. Then each one of them told stories about their exchange years, what it had been like, what they had experienced and learned etc. After that they started to ask the boys and girls where they wanted to go and why. 10 of them wanted to go to United States, and their major reasons where because they wanted to learn English! They also said that going to United States was a dream because they had seen a lot of series and movies from there on the TV. They also hoped to run in to someone famous. The 3 others that didn’t want to go to United States, they wanted to go to South Africa, France and Argentina. The boy that wanted to go to South Africa also wanted to learn English, but he didn’t want to go to United States because everything is pretty much “the same” as in Sweden. “There’re only many more fat people there”, he said. South Africa felt different, and more like an experience, he said.  The girl that wanted to go to France said that her family was originally from there, but that she had never really learned to talk French because she had lived in Sweden her entire life. So her major goal was to learn French so that she could talk to her grandmother that doesn’t speak Swedish. And the last girl, she that wanted to go to Argentina, said that she wanted to go somewhere completely different to Sweden and learn an entire new language; Spanish. She was also temped by learning about a new culture and by the dance, because she loves to dance.

So we pretty easy found out their reasons to why they wanted to study abroad. But to find out the rest of our questions (what they are expecting from the year, what they hope to experience and their doubts and worries) we just started to talk to them, one by one. Most of them said that they expected that when they got home from the exchange year, they would talk the language fluently. They also said that they hoped that they would make a lot of friends during the year and that they would connect with the host family. The girls that wanted to go to France and Argentina had some worries about the language and the school; they knew it would be hard in the beginning to make friends and keep up in the school work when they didn’t know the language. The ones that wanted to go to United States asked if they could choose themselves in what state they wanted to live in, and if they could choose their hostfamily; all of them wanted to have host brothers-and-sisters. But unfortunately you as an exchange student can’t select either of that; but the organizations always do their best to find a host family that matches your wishes in a safe place to stay.

There was also one girl that was worried about her money situation; she said she didn’t have enough money to pay the whole sum. She asked if there were any scholarship that one could apply for, and yes of course there is! But we will go through that more ferly later on. She also asked if the parents were allowed to go and visit her during the year, and they are but it’s recommended to do it at least when half of the time has already past; this is due to the emotional state the exchange student can be put into.     

Av Frida Lindh - 19 december 2011 11:45

Okay, so what do we want to achieve during the meeting tomorrow? We want to know their major reason to why the have almost decided to study abroad for one year. We want to know what they are expecting from the year, what they hope to experience. We want to know if they have any doubts or worries. Yeah, that’s pretty much what we would like to achieve during the meeting tomorrow!


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