Erasmus Study Experience in Västerås, Sweden by Riccardo

Why did you decide to go to Västerås, in Sweden?

I chose Västerås because it is a completely different place to my home city, Catania. The most profound difference is the climate a suppose to the systematic or cultural differences.

How long does the Erasmus grant last? How much money did you receive in support?

In my case, the grant lasted 5 months, but the financial cover depends on the availability of funds. Therefore it is possible to be financed for a fewer or greater monthly amount of time.

The financial support is built up of the Erasmus loan, equalling €1150 (€230 per month) and then a contribution from the university of Catania, amounting to €550 (€110 per month)

What is the student life like in Västerås?

The atmosphere is friendly and there is a student association (international committee) that bases themselves on hospitality and organising activities, trips and excursions.

The environment is also extremely multicultural thanks to foreign exchange students following the Erasmus programme.

Would you recommend the city and the university of Västerås to other students?

Yes, without a doubt! I would recommend it to those who, like me, are studying in the department of technology in which Mälardalen University is very well connected with multinational automation, transport, defence and automobiles. Therefore the opportunities to grow and/or work are very frequent. Even if the city itself isn't the most exciting, the atmosphere is definitely very welcoming and the the buildings are all covered in greenery.

What is the food like there?

The food is not bad at all. Obviously there's the need to adapt yourself to the customs of the places and mainly the prices, but the local specialties are not lacking, as well as the occasions to eat for almost no cost at all.

Was it difficult to find accommodation in Västrås?

No, there is an agency, Bostad Västerås, connected with the university, that manages the housing for students. You need just a little bit of luck to be assigned to one the residences closest to one of the centre and the university.

How much are the living costs in Västerås?

The prices in general are quite high, as you would expect from a Northern European country. But with a little bit of attention it is possible to save money on transport, food and entertainment.

The price of alcohol is deliberately expensive. It is definitely worth buying them on cruises (a dirt-cheap prices) from Riga (Latvia) or Tallin (Estonia).

How did you find the language? Did you attend any courses at the university?

The nice thing about a country like Sweden, is that people speak English there anyway, including children and the elderly, so it is very easy to integrate yourself from the very first day (provided that you can speak English obviously).

Additionally, the 3 courses that I attended were taught entirely in English, which is also the case for many other courses at the university.

What is the cheapest way to travel to Västerås from your city?

The only valid option is by plane. It is possible to find some cheap flights to Stockholm Skavsta airport or you can also fly from Catania to Berlin and then to Stockholm Arlanda airport but obviously it is a little more expensive.

Where would you advise for going out in Västerås during the evening?

In the city centre there a few different clubs and pubs. Each plays its own different genre of music and has their own students offers on certain days of the weeks, at particular times.

However in the context of Erasmus, you cannot forget the so-called "pre-party" that take place in the common rooms of student residences. There it is possible to socialise with other students and warm up for the night ahead.

What can you eat in Västerås? What are your favourite places to eat?

My Erasmus life philosophy has always been orientated around saving money, seeing as it is impossible to live in Sweden with just the study loan.

Therefore I haven't actually experienced the most well-know places for quality or for price.

Close to the lake, beyond the train station, there are some bars that offer a buffet at the reasonable price of (€10) and on Friday afternoons, Blue Moon Bar and Sky Bar offer a really convenient buffet, where you pay only for an appetiser or an alcoholic beverage and then you can eat as much as you like from the buffet.

If you're desperate or simply want to rehabilitate after a night in the club, there is always Mcdonalds, Burger King to even the Swedish canteen, MAX.

What do you advise to visit there?

For simplicity but also to be sure, I suggest that you visit the Tourist office website, which has information on all activities available in Västerås:

What advice would you give to future students of Västerås?

Do no be afraid of the cold weather. Cover up enough when you go outside but inside any bar or cafe, you can stay in short sleeve clothing.

Buy a bike (you can find one for €30-€50).

Participate as much as you can in any of the activities that are organised: pre-party, tours, Ice-skating, cruises, buffets, sports, excursions. The more that you participate, the more friends you will make and the more your Erasmus year all be an unforgettable experience!

Good Luck!

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