The Swedish Institute is renowned for its outstanding reputation in all aspects Swedish culture. The summer courses it runs are of no exception; there are a number all over Sweden held in folkh�gskolor (Folk High Schools). Every course is run with the aim of efficiently promoting the Swedish language and culture to the world. The advantages of attending one of these courses are infinite and unique as you can experience every day Swedish life and penetrate the true Swedish culture in a provincial milieu.

The courses are very good value for money. The average length of a course is three weeks and although it is necessary to pay a deposit of around seventy pounds when you accept your place, you are able to pay the remaining six hundred or so pounds as late as one month before your course starts. This total amount of about seven hundred pounds covers accommodation, meals and excursions in addition to the lessons themselves. Of course it is a large amount of money but if you take into account that you receive an inclusive package it is clear that it is great deal for money.

The application procedure is very easy; you simply write to the Swedish Institute and request an application form. Among other questions, you are asked to say why you would like to be given a place on one of the Swedish Institute courses, your personal preference of specific destination and also your level of mastery of the language. It is reasonably competitive as only about a third of applicants are successful but this is no reason not to apply!

The schools themselves are extremely modern and well equipped with all necessary academic and leisure facilities. Moreover, the accommodation and restaurants are within the scenic school grounds and both are of a very high standard which is coupled with the incredibly efficient and friendly staff. The Swedish Institute have decided to serve predominantly Swedish food so one can expect a lot of potatis (potatoes)! To a certain extent the food is quite simplistic, but extremely healthy and well presented, at a push it could be considered on par with some hotel cuisine. Vegetarians are catered to with a separate and varied vegetarian menu with vegan options.

The accommodation is more than adequate being comfortable, study orientated and homely. Due to the busy timetable students don�t spend too much time in their rooms except to perhaps do the appropriate homework set. There are rooms with private toilet and basin, but showers are communal. Some students will have to put up with a room without a toilet or basin and there is the chance that one may have to share a twin room, but the Swedish Institute are in the process of building more accommodation to cater to the increasing demand. It is possible to state that you would prefer a single room and the Swedish Institute do try to accommodate for you if you feel strongly about your privacy. Of course, there is an advantage of sharing a room as you have someone to speak Swedish to in fact for this very reason the Swedish Institute have the policy to place different nationalities together!

The classes themselves normally take place in the mornings and cover a wide range of subjects such as Swedish culture, history, literature, grammar and most importantly spoken language. The one rule is that everyone tries their best to speak Swedish all the time. This is an immense challenge but the end result is incredible as it feels completely natural to communicate fluently in Swedish. The Swedish Institute accommodates for a variety of levels of Swedish. In general, there are about forty students in every course and the majority are eastern European. However, there is a definite cross-section of nationalities who partake in the courses and this creates the possibility to make some very close friends who can teach you about their own culture. Somewhat unexpectedly even during leisure time communication is almost solely in Swedish especially as many students come from backgrounds where there is no English spoken. The age of students also varies greatly, from about twenty years old to sixty years old, and everyone mixes and bonds with one another by making the most of the wonderful opportunity.

The focus on these courses is not to spend all your time with your head in a book but rather to talk as much as possible. This is where the included organised activities are very significant to the package as not only do the excursions allow all students to talk about a specific subject, but all excursions are extremely well-organised and enjoyable. Obviously, the specific excursions are dependant on the location but wherever the course is held the Swedish Institute maintains its reputation of immense enthusiasm and offers the best opportunities possible. Examples of excursions are day trips to central cities, visiting museums, going on boat-trips, canoeing and many, typically Swedish, scenic walks. In the evenings there are organised film viewings and sing-songs of Swedish folk music. There is certainly enough to make sure your evening are varied, lively and exciting.

When travelling to Sweden you will find Stockholm and Gothenburg are the most accessible destinations. In Stockholm there is Arlanda airport, situated forty kilometres north of the city centre. This is the main airport and then there are also the three smaller airports of Bromma, Skavsta and V�ster�s. In Gothenburg, there are two reasonably sized airports which are Landvetter and Gothenburg City. From the UK you can also travel from Newcastle to Gothenburg by ferry which although a long journey is a cheap and direct option. On average the cheapest flights from the United Kingdom to Gothenburg are around two hundred pounds and often have changes, mostly in Amsterdam. Flights to Stockholm are often slightly cheaper. Once in Sweden there is a fantastic and efficient transport service network. For rail travel you can find timetables online at t�gplus and for bus services Swebus operates express coach services.

Swedish Institute Summer Courses have a very credible reputation and many people take the opportunity attend one of these courses to experience the heart of Swedish culture. It is definately evident that Sweden is an incredibly beautiful country and the people are very welcoming and friendly. Although Sweden is known to have many English indentations on its culture it retains an immensely individual identity and a course in their language is one way to get started discovering this identity!

Useful Links

The Swedish Institute runs language courses for foreign students throughout Sweden

SVEFI runs course on Swedish language as well as a whole host of other subjects from classic to contemporary has general tourist advice