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Benefits of studying abroad

Studying abroad gave me more than a foreign language, more than international relationships, and more than a bright spot on my resume. Living and studying abroad proved that I could be successful in a foreign country by overcoming language and cultural barriers. After my year abroad I was confident that I could live, work and be successful anywhere. It’s easy in Madison to get caught up in our college bubble, and studying abroad is a great way to regain a sense of the world outside of this campus.

Julia Byers

Honors in Psychology, German, Certificate of European Studies
IAP Freiburg, Germany



Major Advising Page - Scandinavian Studies

Questions to Ask    Identifying Programs That are Right for You

The Department of Scandinavian Studies strongly supports the opportunities afforded to students for studying abroad in all the Scandinavian and Nordic countries. The department covers a wide array of teaching and research pertaining to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and it warmly embraces the interchange between what is taught at UW Madison and what can be experienced “live” in the relevant countries.

The Scandinavian countries are in the forefront of many international topics, for example political science, the environment, health care, and architecture / design; this fact is clearly reflected in the classes offered to both Scandinavian Majors, Scandinavian Certificates, and students in general. Participating in a UW study abroad program supplements and enhances these classes, giving the students the added benefit of authenticating their theory with practice.

As a Scandinavian studies Major and Certificate you can choose to study abroad during any term of your college career, and the Departmental Undergraduate Majors and Certificate Advisor will be happy to help you decide the optimal time for your study abroad experience. Planning ahead will help you solidly integrate your international experience with your Madison classes, providing you with concrete benefits and giving you an edge in your subsequent entry into the labor market.

The information below will help you plan your study abroad experience.

Prospective Scandinavian Studies Students

If you plan to major in Scandinavian Studies, the first step is to talk to your Undergraduate Majors or Certificate Advisor.

There are no prerequisites for studying abroad, but, with the Advisor, you are encouraged to plan out the succession of your classes, including the study abroad semester or year. You are also encouraged to talk to the Advisor even before you formally declare the Major or Certificate if you plan to study abroad in Scandinavia.

Furthermore, it is highly recommended that you attend the Study Abroad Fair or visit the Program Search on the International Academic Programs (IAP) website to get an idea of what programs are available to you. Finally, it is important to schedule a meeting with advisors at IAP to learn more about your study abroad program options.

Regardless of whether you choose a Scandinavian Major or Certificate, the study abroad semester or year will count towards your degree, and the credits from the classes will transfer.

Scandinavian Studies Course Considerations Abroad

Keep in mind that if you are planning to continue studying Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, or Swedish abroad, you must still adhere to the sequence of classes determined by UW Madison, completing 5 semesters for your Major. However, it may be possible for a semester’s language study abroad to be equated to two semesters of language study in Madison as you may be able to make giant strides with the language while you are in the country. If it is not possible to maintain the sequence of language courses while studying abroad, you should discuss it with the Advisor to find a solution. Most courses in Scandinavian Studies taken abroad will equate to similar courses at UW Madison, and the Scandinavian Advisor can help you with questions you may have about course equivalencies. There is a considerable flexibility in the equation of classes abroad with classes at UW Madison as the Department actively seeks to foster both breadth and depth in the students’ experience while studying abroad.

Studying abroad offers you as a student a unique perspective on the educational system of another country. Therefore, the Scandinavian Department encourages you to take classes that cover cultural, national, and local topics to gain an invaluable comparison of different approaches to functioning as a country. It will also add to the cultural immersion when you experience how another country teaches its students, how the classes are structured, what kind of exams are given etc.

Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Scandinavian Studies Major

Freshman Year
If you're considering declaring a Scandinavian Major or Certificate, this may be a good time to earn some breadth credits or electives outside of the major to confirm your resolve to declare. You may study abroad as early as the second semester, but it is generally recommended to wait until your Junior year as your level of language skills, then, will enable your immersion into the culture of the country to be easier and more beneficial.

Sophomore Year
Second semester of your sophomore year can also be a good time to study abroad as you will have taken 3 semesters of the language and possess a working knowledge of the language and culture of your chosen country.

Junior Year
This is the most popular year to do a study abroad as a Scandinavian Major or Certificate. You have potentially taken 4 semesters of the language and several other classes preparing you for the optimal benefit of your time spent abroad.

Senior Year
It is still possible to study abroad in your Senior year, and your classes taken through IAP at UW Madison will also count towards your Residency Requirement. However, you will need to ensure that any classes you still need in order to graduate are offered at the international University, so it is possible to equate your credits.


Questions to Ask

Your Academic Advisor

Your Study Abroad Advisor


Identifying Programs That are Right for You

Studying abroad, regardless of the program, provides intrinsic benefits for any Scandinavian Studies major through exposure to new cultures and ways of thinking. It is natural that a student interested in Scandinavian Studies would choose to study in the native country of the language he/she is studying, but other countries could be possible as well. In identifying programs that would be a good fit for your academic and personal interests, consider programs that will allow you to explore subjects, places, cultures, and languages that are appealing to you.

Denmark, Aarhus: University of Aarhus Exchange
Denmark, Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen Exchange
Denmark, Copenhagen: Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)
Denmark, Copenhagen: UW Scandinavian Studies in Denmark
Iceland, Reykjavik: University of Iceland Exchange
Norway, Bo: Telemark University College
Norway, Oslo: HECUA The New Norway: Globalization, National Identity, and the Politics of Belonging
Norway, Oslo: University of Oslo International Summer School (ISS)
Sweden, Stockholm: UW Scandinavian Studies in Sweden
Sweden, Umea: Umea University Exchange

Search all IAP programs
Research all programs using the IAP Program Search page. The above is not an exhaustive list of all programs that offer Scandinavian Studies courses. There may be other programs that are a better fit for your individual needs or interests.