SE – SWEDEN
The Swedish school system.
At Klara Gymnasium in Karlstad, Sweden, there are 271 students. Most of them are girls.
In Sweden we have compulsory school attendance; everyone has to go to the school from seven to sixteen years of age. From the day a child turns one, they can go to a preschool; it’s not compulsory but it gives parents time to work and study even with children. Then you can choose if you want your children to go in preschool class. It’s for six-year-olds until the real school starts, when children are seven years old. Most children attend preschool. First grade to third grade is called primary school; fourth grade to sixth grade is intermediate school. Then there’s high school from seventh grade to ninth grade. When you have finished high-school, you are sixteen years old and don’t have to go to school any more. Since it’s hard to get a job just out of high school, most students go to senior high school (Gymnasium in Swedish). It’s usually a three-year course and you can choose between many different specifications of programs. Some of them are just academic and you have to continue study at the university, but some of them are work defined and you can get a job when you are finished.
The school system of Sweden is kind of different to most other countries. We have a much more relaxed attitude towards both the studies and the teachers. For example we don’t need to say “Ma’am” or “Mrs.”; we just call our teachers by their first name.
At Klara Gymnasium we don’t get any homework, instead we get two lessons a week to finish off assignments and to get deeper understanding about a subject. We do have to work at home if we haven’t finished everything in time. We do have to study if we have a test like in math but the ambition is to have as few tests as possible. Instead we have written comprehensions that we work with in school.
To go to this school you have to be serious and committed to work on your own. The courses at this school are taught in more of a university adapted style; you go to our school because you want to learn and not because you have to. The school is for students with high commitment to their grades.
The teachers are qualified and give us assignments that are connected to our programs.
The students are free to dress however they want. We don’t have any special restrictions about our clothes; school uniforms are quite rare in Sweden.
If you make a mistake, for example, you forget to hand in some assignment or turn it in late, you don’t get detention. Instead, you get warnings and, if you get too many of those, your student grants become frozen.
An ordinary day is usually from 9 am to 4 pm, but on Mondays, all students at Klara Gymnasium get some extra sleep. Our lessons are from about 1 to 1.5 hours long and after every lesson we have at least a ten minute break. We also have a longer break at midday, when we eat lunch. The lunch is free for the students and it is cooked by a restaurant near the school.
The school gives us textbooks for each subject, but study materials like pens and paper we need to buy ourselves. Last year it was decided that every student attending the school would be given a personal laptop used for school work. Our school has a web based working platform called Elevcentra (it will soon be replaced with another program called Hypernet), which is used for handing in and receiving comments on our assignments and for us students to keep track of our grades in each subject. We are allowed to bring our laptops home, but we are not allowed to download things on it which aren’t related to school material.
Nursing Care Program
This program will not exist after this year, the only class is in the third grade (meaning the highest possible grade before university) and will graduate this summer. This program is perfect if you want to be a nurse.
Nature Science Program
Nature Science Program is the most qualifying program in Sweden, and if you want to become a doctor, you have to choose this. The main subjects of this program are Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology. There are two specifications of this program, either you choose only Nature Science, or you choose Nature Science with Social Science specification.
Social Science Program
On our school, we have two specifications, Human Behavior and Europe Program. The students at the Europe program are included in the Comenius Project (along with the students of the Nature Science year 1 and 2). Human Behavior is the most common specification in our school, including subjects such as Sociology, Ethnicity and Cultural Encounters and Communication.
This program is for students who would like to know more about Europe and the world. If you want to work as a guide abroad, this is the perfect program. Unfortunately, it only consists of year 2 and 3, and when they graduate it will cease to exist at our school, just like the Nursing Care Program.
Business and Law Program
Business and law program is new as of this year, and it is very popular. They work a lot with Business, Law and Entrepreneurship. One of the things they get to do is create their own company, and then liquidate it. If you, for example, want to be a lawyer, estate agent or an accountant, this program is a great choice for you.
Media, Film and Photography Program
Is directing, designing or writing something you want to work with? Welcome to Media, Film and Photography. The students in this program work a lot with the camera, both in front of and behind it. In the second year of this program, you are allowed to go to Barcelona. During this trip, the students use the camera, both for photography and for making films with different surroundings.
This program is new and will start off next year. When we presented it, it was really popular, and our specification is game design. After the Nature Science program, this is the most qualifying program in Sweden. One of our sister schools, Klara Södra, which is in Stockholm, and our school will have a contest each year, where the teachers, or a jury, will decide who has made the best computer game.
A couple of years ago, our government decided to make a reform on the “Gymnasium” level, which made it very clear which subjects every student needs to have. In general, it’s Swedish, English, Mathematics and Physical Education for every program. The rest of the subjects are depending on which program you take, for example: the courses for Mathematics are harder if you take Nature Science than the courses studied at Social Science. In Sweden, we are also allowed to choose two (or three) courses for ourselves. They need to be 200 points in all, which means you are have around 200 hours to choose yourself, 100 points (hours) per year. Students study these subjects throughout their second and third year.
In total, we need to study at least 2500 “points”, which correlates to approximately 2500 hours. In Sweden, we recently changed our system for grades. Before, we had IG (failed), G (passed), VG (passed with distinction) and MVG (passed with great distinction). The grade table we have now is from A to F, where F is “failed” and A is equivalent to an MVG.
Kasernhöjden – Location of the School and the City
Our school is located in Karlstad, in the district of Kasernhöjden. Kasernhöjden has been a regiment in Värmland, which is the province we live in. At Kasernhöjden we have a hostel, a gym, apartments and of course, Klara Gymnasium.
In the neighborhood you can find two sports centers, one for ball sports like floor ball and football. The other sports centers are for racket sports like ping-pong and badminton. You can also find an ice rink were you can practice your hockey skills and your skating skills.
Our city, Karlstad, is located on the northern shore of Sweden’s largest lake, Vänern, and we have a river that flows through Karlstad called Klarälven.
The city was founded in 1584 by Charles IX. During that time the city had 150 people and 45 ménages. The small society then changed the name from Tingvalla to Karlstad.
Vänern is the largest lake in Sweden and the third largest lake in Europe. It´s located in the southern part of Sweden and it divides three provinces; Västergötland, Dalsland and Värmland. The lake´s total area is 5 650 km2 and the surface is 44 m above sea level. The maximum depth is 106 m but the average depth is 27 m, the total water volume is 153 km³. This lake was formed during the Ice Age about 10 000 years ago, and when the ice melted, Vänern was formed. There are species fish and other aquatic animals living in the lake which derive from the Ice Age. Furthermore, people have made discoveries at the bottom; in 2009 a Viking ship was discovered.
Vänern’s bio-diversity is very wide and has, in fact, more than 35 different species of fish. Common fish are pike, perch, vendace, salmon, whitefish, stickleback and trout.
The fresh water is important for the life of flora and fauna, and therefore, the water quality is to be regularly studied. Today Vänern’s water is also used as drinking water to more than 800 000 people. Vänern has an important economical significance because it attracts many tourists. The beautiful islands (more than 12 000) which are located in the lake, the ports and boats, the incredible nature, the bio-diversity and the bath possibilities may be contributory factors. During winter season there are opportunities for skating, skiing and ice fishing.
Klarälven is a river which flows through both Sweden and Norway and has a length of 460 km. 300 km of its total length flows in Sweden making it our country´s largest river. Furthermore, together with another river called Göta älv, they compose the longest river in Scandinavia. Klarälven discharges into Vänern and it splits up into a delta in a Swedish province called Värmland. This “mouth” has, since the Ice Age, moved from Forshaga to Karlstad; a distance of 25 km. Klarälven has an important significance for Värmland. Even though it attracts many tourists, it is also important for the nature and the bio-diversity. The clear, cool and fresh water gives possibilities for fishing and canoeing. Various water power stations use the stream water from Klarälven. Nine of all these stations in Sweden produce renewable energy. Water power constitutes half of the Swedish electricity production.
There are lots of things to do in our town. You can go shopping or have a coffee in our biggest mall called “Mitticity” (“In the Middle Of the City”). In “Mitticity” you can find clothes stores, book stores, electronic stores, cafés, restaurants,
shoe shops and more. Another mall (with fewer stores) is Bergvik (Mountain bay), just outside town. Next to Bergvik is IKEA, our big international warehouse!
There are some youth activities in Karlstad too. You can go to a place called UNO if you are over 16. There is a small cinema and a café in UNO. They usually have activities like for example movie nights, and there is often a band playing music live. If you want to party you can visit Nöjesfabriken where you also can go bowling. Also, if you are in the mood, you can visit Leklandet which is a big playground for kids and grown-ups.
Some more tourist activities are for example the museum, the library, the city park, Skutberget, the swimming house and the boat buses. “Skutberget” (The Boat Mountain) is a very popular summer place where you can go swimming, sporting, barbequing and play for example golf or Frisbee golf. We just got our swimming house
renovated and it now has an adventure part in it. People like to travel by boat bus during summer when they go to places near our big lake Vänern.
One of the most attractive things with Karlstad is that it is very beautiful, especially in the summer, and Klarälven (The clear river) flows through the town. In Karlstad you have many opportunities to go jogging or walking because we have many tracks and a lot of nature, so you’re always close to the forest. You might, contrary to expectations, meet a moose in the forest’s tracks.
There are a lot of blueberries, lingon berries and mushrooms in the forest. In Sweden we have a rule called “Allemansrätt” (Every man’s right) and that means you can pick any berries and camp everywhere you want in the forest. You can also make a campfire if you are very cautious and do it in a proper place.
Karlstadbuss is the bus network in Karlstad. If you’re going somewhere you can always take the bus.
On Karlstadbuss you can’t pay with money; you need to have a bus card or pay by SMS with your phone. You can buy tickets at the bus station and small pay points.
You can see the bus times and bus lines in your phone, on the internet or in the city.
Here in Karlstad we have a lot of different sports. We have the famous ice hockey team called “Färjestad”, which plays in the arena “Löfbergs Lila Arena” also called LLA. Here you can go to see the games with “Färjestad”, as well as attend different concerts and events. Of course, there are many more teams and clubs that play hockey. But “Färjestad” is the highest ranked team. There are not many girls’ teams, which is disappointing for girls who want to play hockey.
We also have many soccer teams, different clubs and different age groups. You can start playing soccer on a team when you are 5-6 years old. A lot of people who start playing young continue playing throughout their lives. There are both girls’ and boys’ teams, so soccer is a game for anyone interested in the sport.
We also have floor ball which is also a popular sport in Karlstad. Floor ball is like hockey but without the ice, and is usually played indoors. Even here there are teams for girls and boys. Floor ball also consists of many age groups and teams.
In Karlstad and throughout the whole province there are gymnastics clubs. Gymnastics isn’t a big sport, so the clubs aren’t that big. Mostly gymnastics is a girls’ sport, but there are also some boys in this sport. There are not too many competitions a year, maybe 2-3.
We also have figure skating; there are not that many teams in this sport. Figure skating is like dancing on ice. It’s a tricky sport and you have to often to practice often be good and to know all the different steps.
Of course, there are many other sports in Karlstad as well, such as American football, skiing, karate, and boxing. These are the most popular sports in Karlstad. Here in Karlstad we have many high ranked teams.
There are four seasons in Sweden and a big difference between all of them.
The winter is between December and February. The temperature is everything from plus 5 Celsius to minus 20 Celsius. Some winters have lots of snow, while during some winters there is almost no snow at all. We start to dress a lot warmer with jackets, hats and gloves. Some of us like to go skiing or go and sledding. In this season, when everything is cold, it’s nice to drink something warm like coffee or hot chocolate. The 24th of December we also celebrate Christmas and then we get presents. Some days we only have two to three hours of daylight before it becomes dark again.
This is the season when almost everything changes, the days get longer. The weather starts warming up and we are able to exchange our thick winter jackets for lighter sweaters and jackets.
This is the warmest season. In the summer we can do a lot of fun activities like swimming, hanging out with friends, having barbecue parties with family or even going out into the woods to pick berries. If it’s a good summer we only need to wear shorts during the days. We usually have an overabundance of mosquitoes, especially when we have one of those occasional rainy summers. We celebrate midsummer and some people braid wreaths from flowers that they then place in their hair.
The temperature drops and it gets colder. The leaves on the trees change color to yellow, orange, red and brown. We also start to dress warmer. In Sweden we usually pick mushrooms and berries during autumn. Halloween isn’t that big in Sweden but we still celebrate it a little bit. Some of us dress up in different costumes.
Welcome to our city!