Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is William Marechal and I come from Toulouse, in France. I’m in Sweden to study atmospheric science and oceanography, and I’m in my first year of a master’s programme. Right now I’m not studying. Instead, I’m doing a traineeship with a professor in the Chemistry Department.
In my free time I play basketball, but otherwise, I have no particular hobbies. I enjoy spending time with my friends, listening to music and reading. I didn’t used to enjoy reading, but now I’ve borrowed some books in French and it’s more fun. I’ve been here since August and I’ve found I like Sweden. Except for the weather…
Coming here was not my original plan. I knew I wanted to go abroad during the first year of my master’s. First, I wanted to go to Prague on an exchange. But then the teacher who is in charge of the Erasmus students came along and gave a presentation, and afterwards I hung around to learn a bit more. She saw that I was highly motivated and she told me that our university and the University of Gothenburg have excellent exchange programmes, and that studying abroad is a very useful experience. So she said that if I was sufficiently motivated and had good grades, I should apply to the University of Gothenburg. I listened to my teacher’s advice and came here. I hope this is more valuable than the university in Prague, because it’s something different. Here, exchanges between universities are more serious. I had expected a year of partying — that’s how exchange students are supposed to be. But it’s wonderful here — all of the courses I’m taking are extremely interesting and I’m learning a lot! I definitely do not regret my choice.
I’d never heard of Gothenburg before my teacher talked about it. I actually never looked for other places in Sweden to study at — I just went on what my teacher said.
What are the differences between studying in France and studying in Sweden?
There are many differences! The first difference I found was when I filled in the study plan that the Erasmus students are given. In France, we have many more courses and we take them simultaneously. Not all, but four or five courses at the same time; in Sweden, we take only one course at a time. I really like the way you study here. I think it’s much better than in France, because you can really focus on a subject, and I feel there’s less stress here. That’s the biggest difference, I’d say. The rhythm is another difference. In France, in my last year, I had classes from eight in the morning to five or six in the afternoon. Here I might have classes from 9 in the morning to noon. If I had to choose what style of education I prefer, I would choose the Swedish style, without a doubt.
Another difference is that there is less theory here in Sweden. Since I came here I’ve hardly done any maths or similar work. In France, there is a lot of theory in the first year of a master’s programme. So, it’s better in Sweden.
What are your plans for the future?
To go back to France to do the last year of my master’s. But I have to apply to do that, so I’ll have to hope I get accepted for next year. In France we don’t have a master’s thesis. Instead, we have a half-year-long traineeship. So the ideal solution would have been to be employed at the place where I do my traineeship. I would also like to travel, go to South America and practise my Spanish.