Today, I wanted to touch upon a topic that I myself have been able to experience since I’ve begun university here in Stockholm- and that’s the topic of how to interact with your (Swedish) college professors.
Here at Stockholm Business School, since Orientation day to be exact, it’s been touted by every teacher, course directors, assistant professors, and professors themselves that here at SBS they have an ‘open-door policy’ when it comes to communicating with them. However, it’s not the entire story as I’ve come to learn. Professors here are many times like the stereotypical Swede as many know of- quiet, shy, unapproachable, and seemingly cold- but that’s not the entire case either nor is it always true.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed that you all might like to be aware of while you’re studying here:
- The professor won’t approach you, you need to approach them. Granted, my first semester consisted of lectures with around 250 students, it is then more than understandable. But don’t be surprised if the professor never speaks a word to you during the length of the entire course you’re taking. So speak up!
- If you have questions to ask- be specific! Professors like to answer questions in accordance to how they interpreted it- and that’s fair. But I’ve seen my fair share of wrongly-answered questions by professors and students who accept these answers because they were too shy to tell the professor that they had completely misunderstood the question. Remember: no question is a stupid question in a institution of learning!
- Email them before giving the professor a ring– professors and assistant professors are busy people as you may imagine. I have had much more luck, not to mention much quicker responses, when emailing my questions and remarks to professors as opposed to trying to get ahold of them by phone. Maybe it’s a Swedish thing, the Swedes being a tech-savvy bunch and all? But if you are entirely impatient to the max (as I am in many scenarios), grab them during a break at a lecture or seminar and ask them in person!
- Don’t be shy– professors are people too, so as Swedish as you may try to be with all the shyness and introversion, it might be worth your while to step out of your shell during your college years and get the most out of your Swedish education. Professors here love what they do, what they study, and mostly what they research- so as irrelevant as you may think your question is, I place my bet that your professor will be more than happy to answer your many ponderings.
Until next time,