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Practical tips and advice for a successful time abroad

During your stay abroad you might be posted there by a Swedish organisation, get a scholarship or become a local employee at a foreign university or research institute. Your employment form exerts a major impact on your rights and your insurance cover but SULF have compiled some practical tips and advice that may be of general help.

The key to a fruitful, secure stay abroad is to plan well in advance with a realistic timetable. In addition to this the following may be worth thinking about:

Approximately 1 year before:

  • Think of where you want to go and for how long.
  • Get in touch with possible universities and institutions.
  • Visit interesting universities/institutions as a guest lecturer.
  • Consider what type of housing is best? Compare the cost of storage/renting/relocation.
  • Examine employment/grant conditions, wage levels and the impact of the planned stay abroad on your pension.
  • If you intend to travel abroad on a scholarship: find out application deadlines for funds and foundations.

At least 6 months before:

  • Establish and keep in touch with your future host institution/employer.
  • Establish first contact with a moving company and plan for the move.
  • Begin the visa application process.

At least 1 month before:

  • If possible: travel to the host country and seek accommodation before your final move.
  • If you are travelling with family and children – get in touch with schools.
  • Open a bank account in the host country (often a requirement to pay rent and so on).
  • Check the Tax Agency in the country as to whether you should pay tax. Request a written statement.
  • Get a Social Security number or equivalent.
  • Contact movers and give your final address.
  • Arrange insurance. Foreign home insurance can be linked to Swedish home insurance. The cost will be lower than in the host country where you have no credit history.

While abroad

  • What else should you consider?
  • Continue applying for scholarships from smaller scholarship funds in Sweden. These funds can finance travel to/from Sweden.
  • Try to create social contacts in the host country with both permanent residents and guest researchers.
  • Get to know the host country, travel around and get to know the customs and habits.
  • Stay in contact with friends in Sweden. You will return to them eventually.
  • Monitor your holiday days. Your form of employment will determine the number of days you are entitled to. If you are on a scholarship, you can argue that you should have holidays according to Swedish tradition.
  • Follow developments in the labour market at home.
  • Plan your return move to Sweden in time: apply for jobs and submit research applications when the opportunity arises, even though you are staying on in your host country for some time.
  • Remember that you may need to submit a tax return in Sweden for a number of years.

After your stay abroad

  • The road back and readjustment to Sweden
  • Be prepared for reverse culture shock, Sweden has changed since you left.
  • Stay in contact with colleagues and friends in your host country.
  • Do not forget to submit a tax return in your host country after your return.
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