A tale of three universities: a summary of my campus(es) life

After weathering the first period at KTH,  I am finally qualified to talk about the experience of being a regular student of these three universities in Stockholm: KTH, Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University! In this blog, I will try to cover the four aspects that a prospective student might consider important, namely education, learning facilities, leisure and restaurants.


At KTH, every academic year is divided into two semesters, which are further divided into two periods.

Within each period, a few courses (usually less than 3) are conducted in parallel, so that most probably there is half or one day free in a week. Each period ends with a reading week (no classes are scheduled) and an exam week (exams only). There is no holiday between two period.

Most exams are graded as A to F,  without sub-grades; and they can be retaken at most three times.

Karolinska Institute

There are also two semesters in an academic year, but the division of a semester is totally dependent on courses, which can vary drastically in duration and credits (from 1 to 16.5).  For this reason, there are no fix exam period or study week.

Partly because it is a medical university, exams are graded as 3 levels: Pass with distinction/Pass/Fail. For certain courses, only Pass or Fail are available.

Stockholm University

Courses are usually non-overlapping: for example, below is an illustration of my last semester at SU:

As you may see, there exists no such reading week or exam week; the final exam is directly scheduled after the completion of lectures.

SU uses the same grading system as KTH, however, a re-exam can only be scheduled if the students failed the first one.

All of them have independent libraries that are open to ALL (including members of the public). All of them hold regular talks and seminars, which can be career-oriented, by an industry leader or an academic professor talking about his/her recent discovery.

Based on the first-hand impression, number of seats decelerates in this order:

Stockholm University > KTH > Karolinska

and so does the length of opening hours:

Stockholm University > KTH > Karolinska*

*The holder of Karolinska University Card have access to the library in the late night and at weekend.

Opening hours of three libraries:

Stockholm University: http://su.se/english/library/opening-hours

KTH: kth.se/en/kthb/besok-och-kontakt/kontakta/oppettider-1.508479

Karolinska: kib.ki.se/en/contact-us/opening-hours

What is the most popular leisure activity in these 3 campuses? Without a doubt:

On KTH courtyard, photo by Divya

But as winter is coming most of the students restricted to indoor area, such as the in-campus fitness centre.

The one that I usually visit is KTH Hallen at Brinellvägen 38. Besides the quantity of fitness equipment, I particularly enjoy the variety of fitness classes they offer: pure muscular training, basketball, badminton, yoga etc. For KTH students, a monthly fee of 219 SEK is charged, including the fitness class. Read the complete price list here.

Zumba Class on Friday

Correspondingly, both SU and Karolinska have independent sport facility for student.

Frescatihallen at SU provides similar services and charges a similar monthly expense as KTH Hallen.

Karolinska seems to be the most generous to students: BASE is open to all of its students and employees for FREE. Sounds perfect, if not take account the fact that BASE is located in Huddinge, approximately 40 minutes from the city.

Detailed information of these 3 fitness centre can be found here:

KTH Hallen: http://kth-hallen.se/en/

Frescatihallen (StockholmU): su.se/english/about/campus/frescatihallen-a-broad-range-of-sports-at-student-friendly-prices-1.313575

BASE (Karolinska): timecenter.se/kihealthpromotion

One fact about Sweden: due to the higher labor cost, eating-out is relatively seldom. But restaurants in the campuses are exceptions: they offer student discount and food are served in fair quality, good variety and large quantity.

It is also worth noticing that the restaurants in the campus only open during lunch time. (It seems that you are always assumed to eat at home  =_=)

The paradigm of a student lunch  in Sweden is:

a main dish + buffet of salad and bread + soft drink + a cup of coffee or tea

To meet the universal need of all students as possible, at least three types of main dish are available: red meat, white meat and vegetarian. Non-glutamate bread are usually offered. This is a typical lunch (vegetarian) looks like:

Lunch at Restaurant Q at KTH, costs 68 SEK


Student restaurants inside campus: Restaurant Q | Syster O Bror | Restaurang Entré – Albanova |  Nymble | Brazilia

Nearby restaurants: kth.se/sci/imaging/content/lunch-1.627038

During lunch time (11.30 – 14.00), there are food trucks parked on the Drottning Kristina Väg which offer quick and inexpensive lunch alternatives.

Stockholm University

There are many lunch venues at SU, but keep in mind that most of them offer light food only : sandwich, salad, yoga etc, which might not be compatible if you have an Asian stomach.

You can find information in this website: su.se/english/about/campus/lunch-venues


There are a few students restaurant or on-campus restaurants that offer 5 – 10 SEK of discount to students: Karolina* | Jöns Jacob | Königs | Nanna Svartz | Mollan Asian Kök* | Den glada Restaurangen

*They offer full buffet

Their prices ascend in this order from 72 SEK to 110+ SEK:

Karolina <  Jöns Jacob < Mollan Asian Kök < Den glada Restaurangen < Königs  ~ Nanna Svartz

To sum up, in terms of number of food choices:

KTH > Karolinska > Stockholm University

in terms of price:

KTH < Stockholm University < Karolinska

Hereby, I declaim that KTH is the winner!

There are so many fun things to explore in these three campuses, and I am sure that I haven’t cover even a third of them; many of the impressions in the blog are from my first-person experience and the objectivity might be lacking.

Anyway, I hope you this trivial work would be a primary guide for whom interested in studying in Stockholm, especially in my programme  MSc Molecular Techniques in Life Science 😉