Amanda Goes to Sweden: Intro to Stockholm

02/07/2014

Okay, so, this is my first time blogging and I honestly have no idea where to start. I guess maybe with the basics?

Hej! I’m Amanda. I’m technically a senior in mechanical engineering, but I’ll have one more year at Illinois after my semester here in Sweden. I’m studying abroad in Stockholm at The Royal Institute of Technology (also known as KTH or Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan in Swedish).

My goal is to take most of my technical/MechSE electives here; the program I’m in focuses on alternative energy and I’ve interned for the past two summers in the energy industry, so that’s pretty awesome. Being able to take technical classes in English was one of the main drivers for me choosing KTH. The catch? Classes in English are only offered here at the graduate level, so they are a lot different than at the U of I. And even if they are exchange students like me, a majority of my classmates are master’s students.

A striking view of snowy Stockholm.
A striking view of snowy Stockholm.
School life here is pretty different in so many ways. They don’t really have dorms here, so even though I’m living in student accommodation, I don’t have to share a room again (booyah!). I live in a corridor instead; it’s kind of the best of both worlds of dorm and apartment living. It’s essentially an apartment building with four floors, each floor having two corridors. I have my own room and bathroom, but I live in a corridor with 12 people and we all share the same kitchen and living room space. The kitchen is more like two kitchens in one, so I only share my ‘side’ with five other people. I got really lucky, too—my corridor is awesome. We eat and cook dinner together, have movie or game nights, and almost every night there is at least one person hanging out watching TV.

Another thing I found really funny, in student accommodation in Sweden, you don’t live with people only going to your school. Student accommodation is for all universities or colleges in Stockholm. So some of the people I live with go to different schools, some are exchange students and others go here full-time. It’s been really awesome having a mix of people; it’s not just international exchange students, there are Swedish students as well.

Classes are also really goofy. Instead of the normal M-W-F one-hour lecture schedule, lectures here are all over the place. You’ll have one week with class only two days a week, but you’ll have anywhere from two- to four-hour long lectures. One week, class will be on Tuesday and Friday, the next week maybe it’s Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. There’s really no rhyme or reason, and the room assignment almost always changes, so you have to be careful. I was running to class late one day, ran into lecture, sat down in the normal lecture hall for my energy class and suddenly I was being taught F=m*a in Swedish and realized…. Oh, crap. The longer lectures are kind of nice, there are 10- to 15-minute breaks every 45 minutes so it doesn’t seem so bad, and it’s nice to have it all in one day. That free time is great for studying outside of class or just taking an afternoon to explore Stockholm.

Anyway! That’s probably enough for this time, I’ll talk more about this later… but until then, I will close with one random thought about my week:

This week I learned a funny thing about snow on the sidewalk that’s been walked on for days. After about day 4, it starts behaving like sand. Grey sand. So when walking to class, you feel like you are walking on a beach—a cold beach. It’s kind of unfortunate. But I guess it will be spring soon, right? :D 

Read more from Amanda >>