Studying in Sweden – Round Two

Sarah Wiggins is a masters candidate studying business and management at the Stockholm School of Economics (’19) and a recipient of the joint SSE/Swedish Program two-year scholarship, which is open to all Swedish Program alum. Prior to starting her masters program, Sarah received her BSc in Psychology from Tufts University and completed the Swedish Program in Spring 2016. She’s passionate about diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility.

I occasionally have moments where it suddenly hits me that this is actually my life. That I have moved to a new country and built a life here. I’m overcome with joy, giddy almost. Tonight was one of those nights. I got home this evening around 10pm, noticed the gorgeous remnants of sunset outside my window, and snapped a photo to save the moment.

That view triggered an awareness of what my day had been. I’d gotten up and taken the tunnelbana to work, left around quarter to five, and then met a classmate to coordinate a group project. On my way home, a colleague (and close friend) called to ask what I was doing this evening. Tomorrow is a “red day,” a public holiday here in Sweden. I met her at the park to enjoy the late day sun, stopped at Max for a dinner treat, and stopped at a cheap bar on Sveavägen that was actually the first place I ever went out to in Stockholm. That was over two years ago.

Over two years ago. It hadn’t been more than a week into the Swedish Program before I knew I had to come back to Stockholm. There was something about the rhythm of daily life here that spoke to me, and I had to investigate that further. Before the Swedish Program even ended, I had started plotting out all the steps I would have to take to realize my dream of returning to Stockholm. The ability to take my BSc in psychology a step further by getting a MSc in Business and Management in a city I loved! I knew that it was possible, so I decided to take the steps to make it happen.

Of course, you’re probably thinking that this is a hyper-romanticized account, and to be honest, it probably is. But it certainly hasn’t been all smooth sailing to get where I am. It took me 3 attempts at the GRE, 1 (postponed due to a snowstorm and then thankfully successful) attempt at the GMAT, and pushing myself way out of my academic comfort zone (I’m looking at you, Principles of Economics) to get here.

And then the news came that it was all going to happen, that my fairytale was coming true, I felt like I’d made it. Surely, it would be easy from here on out, right? Nope. Because graduate school is hard. Add on living on your own for the first time, adapting to a different country’s school system, and entering a field that was essentially foreign to you, and you have a recipe for serious challenge. In fact, I didn’t pass an exam for the first time in my life. And you know what happened? I studied more thoroughly, retook it, and learned more deeply than I have in a long time.

Swedish higher education encourages true learning. If you don’t quite succeed, you get the chance to try it again. This took some getting used to, but now I view it as common sense. The wisdom I’ve gained from my master’s program at SSE has quite honestly changed my understanding of life for the better. I’ve learned that it’s impossible to succeed all the time, and often you learn the most from the times when you don’t. The challenges I’ve faced along this journey have only deepened my appreciation for the person they’ve helped me to become. I’m stronger, more independent, more fulfilled, and worse at English than I’ve ever been. For every difficult moment, there’s been a 10pm sunset to photograph. If that’s not lagom, I don’t know what is.