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Coffee, cardamom buns and cold lake swims – KTH Sweden

Hej Hej from Sweden! Jag heter Shasha and I’m currently undertaking my exchange at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. If you don’t know much about KTH, it is one of the top technical universities in Sweden. Many Swedes and other students from Europe study really hard to get into this uni, so consider yourself very lucky if you have the opportunity to study here!

Let’s talk about what it’s like to live in Sweden. First of all, it is freezing here and its only Autumn but if you love the cold, then this is definitely the place for you! Despite the weather, I still managed to be able to swim at one of the lakes located close to Stockholm University.

Sweden also has a great coffee culture. If you love coffee and having an afternoon catch up with your mates, Sweden has coined a term for this and it’s called “Fika”. I often like to enjoy Fika eating these amazing pastries called a Kardemummabullar (cardamom bun) and I can already see myself having withdrawal symptoms when I return back to Sydney. There is also this amazing reuse/recycle culture here in Sweden, so there are second hand and vintage shops everywhere, especially in the Slussen and Södermalm area.

Although Sweden is located in the Scandinavian region and is apart from central Europe, it is still super cheap and convenient to travel all throughout Europe. I even flew to Poland for only $33 (with Ryanair) and since meat is quite pricey in Sweden, I binged on pork knuckle and sausages! I also travelled throughout Italy for 3 weeks before coming to Sweden and I’ll shortly be leaving to experience Oktoberfest in Germany!

Now what is KTH like? I am currently undertaking 5 subjects on my exchange, these include a Swedish language course for beginners and a Swedish Culture and History course! If you’re planning to study at KTH, I would definitely recommend taking the culture and history subject as you get to learn a lot about the culture and political atmosphere, but best of all, you get to go on free excursions and city walks! As for the language course, it’s a super fun atmosphere to learn Swedish, however everyone in Sweden speaks fluent English, so it’s not necessary to learn the language. My other subjects are centered around human-computer interaction/interaction design and innovation. The workload at KTH is a little intense, so definitely be prepared to hand in the odd assignment every week! Even though there’s a pretty big workload, this university is amazing and KTH graduates are considered some of the most employable graduates in Sweden.

Some handy tips about studying at KTH/Sweden:

  • You’ll need a student residency permit to study for 6 months or more in Sweden, this usually takes around 2-3 months to get processed, so be sure to apply for it as soon as you get accepted.
  • KTH has a great student society called THS International. They are essentially a society which organise events for international and exchange students studying at KTH. Be sure to register as soon as you get accepted (registration is free) as they hold a lot of events before the semester starts. I would also recommend joining the buddy program through THS International as it is a great way to meet new people!
  • If you’re studying in Sweden, join the SSSB accommodation queue as soon as you can. They’re essentially own and run many student accommodation places all around Sweden and this can give you more freedom around your choice of accommodation when studying here.
  • There’s only around 5-6 hours of sunlight during winter in Sweden, so be sure to stock up on vitamin D tablets! I would also recommend starting to take your vitamins around the end of summer/start of autumn, so you’re not depressed during the winter.
  • Eating out in Sweden, especially Stockholm, is quite expensive, so try to shop at Lidl as often as you can (it’s the European version of Aldi).

Even though I’ve only been studying for around 3 weeks, being in Europe and having the opportunity to study in Sweden has been the best experience of my life so far and I would definitely recommend it!

Shasha Chaicharncheep
Bachelor of Information Technology Co-op
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Sweden

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au

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