Healthcare in Sweden

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As Covid-19 continues to spread, there might be a few questions regarding the healthcare system in Sweden and curiosity about what student experiences have been like. As a student coming from the U.S. where healthcare can often feel like the Wild Wild West, my experience receiving healthcare here in Sweden is a bit different from what I am used to back home.

As an international student at LiU, you are covered under FAS+ which includes disability and death benefits, emergency medical and dental care, home transport, third party liability, legal expenses, and coverage for personal property. FAS+ does not include health insurance, which honestly confused the heck out of me considering this is usually the primary insurance you obtain as an American, usually through your employer or parents.

Your healthcare as an international student (w/ a permit of 12 months or longer) is actually the same as any other citizen or resident of Sweden as soon as you have received your personal number from the Swedish Tax Agency. This gives you all the same access, ability to schedule appointments, receive treatment, etc. and for the low cost of around 200 SEK (~€18/$20) per appointment.

To obtain an appointment at a vårdcentralen (city health center) in Norrköping, you must call the reception number AS SOON AS THEY OPEN in order to receive a spot on the calling queue. This is literally the most important step, as missing this window will eliminate your chance of scheduling an appointment that day. Upon calling you will be asked to provide your personal number, and you will be notified that a staff member will call you back within the next hour or so after. Once the receptionist or nurse calls you back, they will ask you about your reason for calling, symptoms, etc. and determine a time for you to come in for an appointment.

Once you have an appointment scheduled, it’s fairly smooth sailing in terms of receiving treatment. You then show up to vårdcentralen, check-in with the front desk, pay for the appointment, and then go to the corresponding waiting room until a nurse arrives to meet you.

Boom, bam, done. Before you know it you’re feeling in tip top shape again ready to conquer the rest of your studies!

P.S. This process is a bit different with the current situation regarding Covid-19. For information on what to do if you are experiencing symptoms, please view the Covid-19 information page here.

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Voting From Abroad

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Yesterday marked Super Tuesday in the U.S. for primary elections. Although my home state of Ohio has its primary election on March 17th, I filled out and mailed my absentee ballot a few weeks ago and received confirmation yesterday that it was collected. As an international student it can feel daunting to stay involved in your country’s political process from thousands of miles away but really in the 21st century it couldn’t be easier*. This post is a step by step process on how to make sure you can have your voice and cast your ballot despite the distance between you and your home country.

* Disclaimer: This is only applicable to American citizens, but every country has a different process for expats and foreign nationals to stay involved in their country’s elections. Look on your country’s embassy website in Sweden for more information!

First and foremost, if you are a U.S. citizen living abroad, you have to apply to receive absentee ballots every single year. For example, if you applied in 2019, it does not automatically guarantee that you will receive your absentee ballots in 2020 as well. You must REAPPLY every year!

You can find the application for absentee ballots on the US Vote Foundation website. Once on the website, click on “Register to Vote Absentee Ballot” shown below in the red circle.

Once you click on this link, you select “Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request” for overseas citizen voters, and then click continue.

This leads you to a page where you fill out your personal information including your last U.S. residence, and a form which you sign and then can submit to your local board of elections in the U.S. You can opt to receive ballots throughout the calendar year for all elections or just the general election in November. Additionally, you have the option to either obtain your ballot via email or through the mail.

I chose to receive my ballot through the mail, because opting to receive your ballot through email requires printing the envelop out and then sending it in via post. I find it to be easier to receive the envelope via post rather than find someway to print it out.

Once you receive your ballot in the mail, fill it out, follow the instructions for sealing the ballot, and then send it back to the U.S. via postnord at your local ICA grocery store in Norrköping or Linköping. WITH THE PROPER POSTAL STAMP ATTACHED!

Included in the ballot sent to me, was a website and pin code in which I could track the status of my ballot, similar to tracking the status of a package. The overall process of submitting my absentee application, having the ballot sent to me, receiving the ballot, and sending it back to the U.S. took just under a month. This timeline is important to keep in mind as most absentee ballots MUST be received by the election day of which you are voting.

Happy Voting! #YayDemocracy #Vote4Change

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Getting a lil’ Technical Here

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One of the main reasons I was interested in getting my master’s in the Intelligent Transport Systems & Logistics program at Linköping University, was because of the serious emphasis this program places on the future developments of transportation technology and city infrastructure. Before applying at LiU, I did various grad school tours at different universities in the US and applied to multiple universities in Europe, but the curriculum in each of these programs were failing to prepare transportation planners for a future in which automation, connectivity, and technology lead the way.

Regarding Transportation Systems Engineering, the differences between LiU and these other universities were quite clear. This program not only provides an understanding of more traditional traffic planning, it also incorporates elements that are largely focused on the integration of IT and telecommunications into how transport and logistic systems will operate in the future. The focus on this within my program is what solidified my decision in coming here.

Within the curriculum, you can find an array of different topics that would normally be left out of a more traditional transportation systems engineering master’s, such as Smart Cities, Internet of Things, and Mobile Communications & Networks, to name a few.

This period in particular, I have been working a lot within my Smart Cities course. This course provides lectures with more general project ideation activities and technical seminars on sensors, but the main focus has been regarding the project work. In the labs, our projects utilize software such as Java, SQL, and QGIS, to experiment in different ways with the collection of sensor data to develop applications that can be utilized by citizens in a hypothetical “smart city”.

One project that I found especially interesting so far is this geofencing lab (seen in the image above) we have been working with over the past week. The idea of this project is to design a frontend application for an android phone in java that is able to collect GPS data, and then send this data to a database via a backend application, where it is manipulated and plotted on a graph. Within the backend application, the main objective of the project was to determine if a user of the mobile device was within a certain distance of an established geofenced area, in this case the bus stops on Kungsgatan in Norrköping. In a smart city, this triggering of a geofenced area could prompt a specific action to take place on a device that could give useful information to a nearby user.

Someone who see this and is interested in the program might look at this and think – omg, I do not know how to program in Software X … or work with Software Y. But this is okay!

The first semester of the program students are exposed to general programming logic in MATLAB and other content with GIS. For this course specifically, we operate in Java which I just started learning (through self-study) this past February! The takeaway of this course is to understand how device sensors can be utilized to collect data, store this data in a database, and then process this data into a usable application. Being a naturally great programmer in this program is just a plus ;), you will do great if you are curious, want to learn, and work hard!

Where else could studying transportation be so exciting? See you in the courses next year 🙂

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Stockholm Can Feel like a Getaway

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Sometimes the grind of university life can really get to you. The constant routine of studies, classes, more studies, more classes, and the Friday & Saturday night student parties can feel at times like something that is more of a chore than a passion. After one has spent the first few months of their time exploring the cities of Norrköping and Linköping, they might start asking themselves is there something else?

Luckily, THERE IS! Situated only an 1.5 train ride to the capital of Sweden, getting away from student life at LiU could not be any easier.

Tickets from Norrköping and Linköping to Stockholm can be purchased through SJ Railways, and they run on average right around 200 SEK (~20 USD, 19 EUR). The most important thing to remember, is that as a young person (25 or below), you can purchase tickets at this price under the youth listing! If you are older than 25, you usually pay a bit more. Once you’re in Stockholm, you can get around pretty easily by using the Tunnelbanan (Subway) that takes you to the various parts of the city.

In Stockholm, you can find an array of things to do and see, including restaurants, museums, parks, and nightlife. As someone who wants to work with city planning, and enjoys the hustle and bustle of city life, I really enjoy checking out the public spaces and parks on sunny days, and taking walks around the water. My favorite experience in Stockholm so far has been checking out the Christmas markets this past December in Gamla Stan.

Although I could go on and on about the adventures I’ve had in Stockholm, I find it to be a bit like ruining the plot of a good movie someone has never seen. I’ll leave you with a few photos of my experiences there instead. Until next time! 😉

 

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My New Favorite Spot at Campus Norrköping

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When I first toured campus Norrköping at the start of my studies, I always appreciated the incredible study spots throughout the campus. In Kåkenhus, the main building in Norrköping, there are great areas to sit and work that give you a view of the rushing water in Motala Ström and the ability to hear the falls. When you’ve exhausted yourself studying for an exam or reading class literature, the sound and view of the water helps ease your mind and refresh.

One downside to my first semester; however, was that my laptop had crashed and I was restricted to working within the engineering computer labs in Täppan, the building opposite to Kåkenhus. These computer labs contain all of the necessary analytical software needed for the ITS program, and they are open until 23:00 if you need a place to focus and get work done. I have a majority of my classes in Täppan, and overall I am so grateful for the ability to complete my assignments without a working computer, but I really missed out on the nice views that the rest of the campus has to offer.

After returning back from the break I purchased a new laptop, and now it feels as if I am rediscovering the whole university all over again! With my new found mobility to study throughout the campus, I have found one spot particularly nice – sitting on the blue booth tables on the lower floor in Kåkenhus.

In this study area, there are 5 booths with tables that make you feel secluded and in your own space. You have enough room to layout everything you need to study, and anytime you need a break from your studies, you can let your mind wander by watching the water flow past the university and underneath the Kungsgatan bridge. If you want to snag a spot, I recommend going and getting a table early, as this really is a favorite place to study on campus (and for good reason)! Plus, the the best views of a wintertime Swedish sunrise can be found here.

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