Looking back on my UISS, the session reappears as a very pleasant return to “school”. Irrespective of the fact that I had to wake up very early in the morning, attend very intensive classes, prepare homework, etc., the session was far from an ordinary school. I could not help but enjoy completely voluntary, friendly, informal and pressure and stress-free environment each and every single day, which served as a source of energy to me.
Thanks to the rather intensive nature of the classes, consideration for the students by the teacher and the staff and very friendly, supportive attitude among the participants, I was able to start “speaking” already by the end of the very first week. As a matter of fact, I had never actually had conversations in Swedish before and I have to admit, it was a bit scary discovery that it was true: the classes would indeed be held in Swedish (for which I am extremely grateful).
As for the afternoon class, in my case Arts in Sweden, the post-language class fatigue rarely affected my readiness therefor since, from my point of view, it was a highly valuable educational, free discussion and excursion-based setting. Generally speaking, teachers as well as the staff of the session are very friendly, student-oriented and reliable. Most importantly, they are nice not because it is their job to be so, but simply because they genuinely are. Trust me, one night out or extracurricular activity with them and you will see it yourself.
My only regret after the session is my inability, due to unrelated objective reasons, to attend a longer session and socialise more with the participants. Therefore, I would strongly encourage you to seize the opportunity of meeting nice people from all over the world and to have interesting conversations, accompanied by a beer or two/coffee/whatever, or just the most random fun with them.
Also, there is no reason to be shy, let alone ashamed of the inability to speak Swedish or the mistakes: first of all, speaking Swedish is the only way you can practice and improve your speaking skills in Swedish, which everybody knows; second of all, there is no room whatsoever for judgmental attitude as everyone has the same goal, that is to learn Swedish or help you to do so. On the contrary, you are encouraged by both the staff and the participants to try to speak Swedish as much as you can. Last but not the least, be prepared for leaving your comfort zone and doing things you would never expect from your own self, e.g. singing and dancing to Abba, as was in my case.
To wrap it up, UISS is a school which is anything but a school in the classic sense. I would strongly urge not only those who need Swedish for various purposes, but also those who look for an international experience with an educational aspect or just for a new hobby, to experience the upcoming UISS sessions.