Expenses in Stockholm

Hey all!

Lately, I have been receiving a lot of questions from the prospective students about how much I spend every month. The expense is definitely an important thing to consider to plan your masters budget accordingly. Now that I have been living the student life for half a year already, I seem to have kinda figured out my spending pattern and also the general pattern of the people around me. So, here is how the money gets spent, I will write everything in SEK and I hope you will not find difficulty in converting them to your currency.

ACCOMMODATION:

Rent is definitely the biggest expense you would incur every month. But, the magnitude of the word “BIG” really depends on your preferences. For example, a studio room on campus costs about 6800 SEK, which is being the highest, while a  shared corridor room a bit away from the campus at Farsta, costs about 2500 SEK, being the least.  I love at Lappis, which is just about 15 mins away from campus and it costs me about 4300 SEK. I have a corridor room with a shared kitchen. So, you can basically select an accommodation that would fit you well with respect to cost, distance etc.

I personally prefer staying near the campus because life becomes a bit easy. You needn’t have to consider the bus and metro schedules while staying late at school cause you can simply walk back home. Staying late at school is something you will find yourself often times in 😀

Also, usually, electricity and Internet prices are included in the rent. There is a 24/7 supply of hot water in the tap. The tap water is potable and make sure you drink it cold. It is super fresh that way 🙂 And, every room comes with a space heater. You might have to invest on an extra one during the winter and they are not expensive. Click the link here to check out the various KTH accommodations, their locations, size, and prices.

FOOD:

Food is the next big expense that will eat your pockets. But this again depends on the person that you are. If you opt cooking at home all the time then your monthly food expense wouldn’t go over 1000SEK. I am indeed including the chips, biscuits, and chocolates you’d buy as part of your weekly grocery. Below are some pictures during my grocery shopping.

It is kinda an art to even choose your grocery store here. For the reason that there is no standard price of stuff at every store. Lidl is my usual shopping place, Willy’s can be a good store as well. But, there are other stores like Coop and ICA, well they are a bit on the expensive side, might not be a good option for people on a student budget 🙂

And, if you’re someone like me who loves a “Pick-a-Deli” box at 7-eleven, it will cost you about 70-100 SEK every time, which is super expensive for a meal. So, if you eat out a lot then you will end up spending too much. I can give you an approximation of my common eat-out prices.

Pick-a-Deli – 80 SEK

Coffee + Cinnamon Bun – 15 SEK (Student price)

Croissant – 15-25 SEK ( depends on the shop as well)

Subway – 35-75 SEK

A meal at campus – 68 SEK

Semla – 25 SEK

One nice thing to remember will be to ask for student discount where ever you go. You never know! I have got crazy discounts at really really unexpected places. This will help you save a lot. Another good thing to remember, for the good of your mind is to stop converting. Never convert SEK to INR or other currency when you buy your food. It puts a lot of pressure. Always know your budget in SEK and make sure you stay within the limit in SEK. Conversion eats your brain! I am sure my friends here would agree on that one.

TRAVEL:

Travelling inside Stockholm is super easy and every place is extremely well-connected by the public transport. A 550 SEK SL card, which is the public transport monthly pass, will give you access to the busses, ferries, metros, light rails, trams, and rails that are operated by SL, which is the company that operates public transport in Stockholm. You might wanna check out their website here. Oh yes, there are student prices at SL a well, which is 550 for a one month pass. You can also buy individual tickets or weekly passes.

Apart from this, if you live close by, you can also choose to walk or bike. Swedes love biking even when it is snowing. So, totally up to you to choose.

The above are the big things I spend my money on. Yes of course, when you’re in Stockholm, its inevitable to avoid shopping. Especially, when you have brands like H&M, Vero Moda in every corner. But that is definitely not something you will do always and it depends on your lifestyle as well.

So, to sum it up, My monthly expenses are below

Accommodation – 4300 SEk

Travel – 550 SEK

Food- 1000 SEK

Junk food – 800 SEK

Phone bills – 145 SEK

Clothes and other shopping – 800 SEK

Total – 7500 approx (which is my budget for a month)

I do try to avoid junk food every now and then and keep shopping to a minimum.So, I am of course not that bad, so to say. 🙂 But it takes some time for you to settle down. Don’t be concerned when your expenses skyrocket in the initial months. You need to make a few one-time investments in the beginning. And, expenses on washing liquid, bathroom and cleaning stuff don’t occur every month. You will figure out all of these when you come here. As you can see, I am a spender. You can live in Stockholm with just half the budget as mine depending on what choices you make. Anyway, you have the picture now 🙂

The final golden thumb rule is : Always have a budget and stick to it. Let me know if you want me to write about anything more. 😀

 

Are You Considering KTH For Your Masters Degree?

If you are someone who is thinking about applying to KTH and haven’t yet applied then this post is for you and you need to immediately apply because the deadline is on January 15th, which is in two days from now.

Well, I have exactly been in this situation last year, wondering if I must apply to a particular university, wondering whether I stand a chance, wondering if I must invest in paying the application fee, wondering if this was indeed the place I wanted to study in. You know all those questions that bombard your head, yes I have been there and gone through it. Today, I thought I would share with you my experiences studying at KTH in Stockholm, basically, trying to convince you to apply. And trust me am very genuine here and I will not be exaggerating anything a bit!

Last year around this time, or perhaps earlier, I was super involved in trying to list out the universities I should be applying to. Once I decided to do my master’s abroad, I had a list of countries, USA, Germany, Sweden etc and a list of universities in these countries. It took me a lot of time to research about each country and each university, trying to analyze their pros and cons to prioritize the ones I should be applying to. I applied to about 7 Universities I believe and I did get a couple of admits in few others but I chose to go to KTH for the obvious scholarship reason. Now I can tell you that I am so very glad to have made that decision. Even if it wasn’t for the scholarship, KTH is the best choice one could make. One of the major factors we all start by looking at are the rankings. But, there is so much more to your master’s degree abroad than the rankings,  and I will tell you why…

1. QUALITY OF EDUCATION

This is perhaps the first criteria one must consider. The education here is of top-notch quality! Very practical, very much industry oriented and up to date as per current industry requirements. KTH teaches you engineering and the skills, that you will need, to work in a company or start your own business or whatever that is. You will learn the art of the subject and not just pages of the textbook. If you have read my previous blogs, then you might already know that many courses here don’t even have an exam and you can even carry your textbook or a summary sheet to your exam if you have one. They don’t test your ability to mug things up. They teach you to do it and test you through your projects and assignments.

The courses at KTH so close knit with the industry. Some courses are designed in collaboration with the companies, that you might find half of your lectures be given by people from the industries. Sometimes, you get to visit the company to see your theory in action. All that simply ignites your interest in the subject. The professors at KTH are often so involved in creating a conducive learning environment for you, they are very considerate so much that they can even extend a deadline if you have a valid reason. They want you to become a quality engineer and they will give their full support in the process. I truly feel that KTH loves me and that sense of belonging and a sense of being cared, that warm feeling like home, is not something you will get everywhere.

2. A TRUE INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE

I think one of my major reason behind my decision to study abroad is to gain the international experience. Every country has the best grad school that one can study in, but some of us want to explore beyond. True education is certainly knowing about things that are beyond the books, it is about exploring the world, places, people, culture and eventually, in the process you will find your true self. It is a way of self-exploration I would say.

KTH in that way will give the true international experience. Unlike my friends who live in other countries where 40% of the class are Indians, 40 % being Chinese with the rest being the natives and often they end up hanging out with their own tribe, kinda ending up losing a significant point behind the abroad studies. There is a very healthy mix of people here at KTH. Name a country in the world and I bet you would find a student from that country in every class at KTH. Since the Europeans are so fond of exchange programs, one can spot a lot of Europeans at KTH, a handful of Indians, few from the USA, China, Australia, Africa, a handful from the south-east Asian countries. The point is, the mix is very healthy. You will end up making a lot of International friends just like I have now.

Especially if you happen to be a part of any student project team, like the KTH Formula Student team that I am in, then there is no one that can stop you from your international experience. It is quite interesting to know people, their culture and value systems. It is a very mind-blowing and eye-opening experience when you get over your stereotypes and begin to feel that togetherness. it is sometimes funny to pick up accents and more fun when you have this one friend in the gang who switches between accents when a storm like french girl walks by. ROFL!

3. A SAFE, RELAXED AND SERENE COUNTRY

Sweden is a cold country indeed but the people here are super warm and welcoming. It is true that Swedes are very difficult to gel with because of their shy nature, but once you have successfully broken the ice you would have made a friend for your life. I have some amazing Swedish friends here. I wouldn’t be surprised if you found your true love of your life here. That would be interesting! 😀

Sweden is a country that focuses on its people. It is a social welfare model here that believes in a healthy and happy living standard. Sweden has strict rules against firearms and weapons. I have walked from the garage to my apartment at 3 AM when it was dark as a dungeon and it was super safe! You will feel very safe in Sweden!

There is so much nature around. The forests, pristine lakes, beaches, the lovely winter snow and shimmery summer sun,  Sweden is undeniably one of the most beautiful countries one can be in. Every season is a work of art by nature and will make you feel like you’re living in heaven. Ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, running! OMG! There is so much to do in Sweden!

4. JOB OPPORTUNITIES

So, now we’are talking. Let me be fair and Honest. Stockholm is a costly city and it is quite expensive to study here if you don’t have a scholarship. So it is very natural that we want to stay here a bit longer to gain some work experience and finish off that heck of a student loan that each of us has. The good news is, it’s very easy!  Of course with a bit of an effort.

Sweden has abundant job opportunities. There are start-ups sprouting everywhere and they want to hire talented people. If you are talented then it is not at all difficult to find your dream job in Sweden. No, Swedish language is not mandatory to know, but it helps. Why not learn a new language when you’re going to stay in this country for that many years? Finding a job in Sweden is all about networking. If you’re someone who can initiate a conversation at those job fairs and expos. Then,  fear not you’ll have a Job before you even start your Thesis.  Also, as a KTH student you will always have that edge over others. You don’t need to have A grades on all your paper to find a job btw. Companies will be willing to hire you even if you have few papers remaining and will also let you take a week or two off at work to give your exams. They are super chilled out and relaxed. Btw, there aren’t any strict VISA procedures to stay here, it’s quite easy if you’re a genuine student staying here for a valid reason. Also, no queue or lottery-like mess too 😉 It is pretty straightforward.

There are a couple of part-time jobs as well. As a Research assistant or teaching assistant at KTH, or as a food delivery person, or a customer assistant at Saravanaa Bhavan, there are many part-time jobs that you can do. All these jobs will pay you quite well actually. I know a lot of people who cover their total living expense and also travel around Europe by only using their part-time job salary. Also, traveling around Europe is so easy and less expensive. Therefore, A degree at KTH is an investment and not an expenditure. It will open the windows to a new and better world. So, don’t over think. You have got it in you to handle this 🙂

The above are the four big buckets I can think of to categorize my experience here at KTH. If I have missed something, do let me know in the comment section and we can discuss a bit about it for sure 🙂

Here are few more reasons why you should apply to KTH

Want to know how to apply? Click here! 

Some of the programmes might have an extended deadline to submit your documents. Please check that. So do apply within the two days now if you haven’t yet. I assure you that you will appreciate yourself for this decision you make today. 🙂

Good luck! Cheers!

Hoping to see you all at KTH this autumn! 🙂

Peace,

Sindhu 🙂 <3

Winter Break Fun! – Ice Skating Experience!

Hey all Fellows!

Wish you all an amazing, fun-filled, ultra-productive and mega healthy 2018! This winter break has been so much fun with a lot of nice activities that I have been doing.

When the winter is here one thing every person residing in Sweden must try is the Ice Skating. Frozen ice skating rinks are there all around the city and one can rent the ice skates at an hourly price for the must to do fun sport. Today, am gonna share my ice skating experience with you all. 🙂

The most famous ice skating rink in the city, I think, is the one at Kungsträdgården, primarily for the reason that it has the fence. I will tell you why this is so so very important. When I stepped in the rink the first time, I was only falling. Yes! I did nothing except slipping down, over and over and OVER! Please don’t expect anything else. It is wise to mentally prepare yourself to fall. Perhaps layer up so that you have a bit of a cushion when you kiss the ice every now and then! And, the fence is the only hope. Your only lifesaver that you can hold on to, tight. Yet, you might still fall! Cause I did! ROFL.

I was perhaps the ultimate comedy of the rink that day. I had some random people helping me out and yet I was very determined to go head over heels, in the literal sense! 😆 Do you know how kids hold their parent’s hand on either side and go for a swing? I had people holding me exactly the same way and I swung too, hit the ice right away and laid flat! It was an eternal love I had for ice that day! OH MAN!😂

Now imagine ice and a terrified face!

My first time was an utter failure and I learned that ice skating wasn’t an easy thing to do. But I had so much fun and much more body aches the following days! 😛 So, when I got home, the grad school student in me asked me to watch some Youtube videos. Strangely and Gladly they helped me! I saw some tutorials and when I went the second time (Oh yes, I dared to do that! 😉 ) I started off by practicing the techniques mentioned in the videos and voila! I did manage to pull it off! 😀 I started with penguin walks and then made good progress.

TIP : Tighten your ice skates! It can be super difficult and your almost frozen fingers might hurt so badly while you try to tighten your skates’ lace in the rink. But, you must do it. If the skates are not tight enough on your feet then you’d fall!

Don’t you dare underestimate ice skating by seeing the little Swedish kids skating like a pro. These kids have been doing this for a while. The skill is probably in their blood…well. The key is to practice and to love the activity, which is the case with any new skill if you want to acquire. Trust me, Ice skating is so much fun!

After, managing to skate a bit, although I did fall down twice in my second time I decided to buy my own ice skates. It costs 70 SEK to rent the skates, and I managed to find a good deal for a pair of new ice skates at the Decathlon store for 250 SEK. And, this one is so much comfortable and easy to put on than the rented ones. So, if you think you might like ice skating then buying a new pair of skates is not a bad investment. Also, you can get good deals at Blocket for the second-hand ones. And, Most of the rinks are free if you have your own ice skates, which is awesome!

I had so much fun and am gonna go ice skating at least thrice a week till they close the rinks at the end of the winter. Apart from ice skating, skiing is something am eyeing next. I will write about it if I happen to try; which I think I would, mostly. If you haven’t tried ice skating yet, just go find a rink near you and yes, don’t forget to make sure it has the fence, it saves the life. 😀

 

Take care and happy skating!

Sindhu

PS : It helps if you have some experience roller skating! 😉

 

 

Idly! Dosa! Vada! – The Taste of South India in Stockholm

Hej Hej!

You read it right. Hotel Saravanaa Bhavan opened in Stockholm a couple of weeks back and it was only last week I got the chance to try it out myself. Man! oh Man! It was very emotional for me to feel the softness of idly after so many days! Idly -the food that I survived on all my life, Idly- which was usually my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Idly- the now forgotten routine, and I finally got to have the taste of it! Heavenly!

The smell of home invited me the moment I stepped in. The sounds of steel tumblers and plates, the amusing chatter and laughter vividly reminded me of the amazingly noisy crowded restaurants back home. Bubbling with so many people and life, Saravanaa Bhavan here is a mini India in Stockholm. It was quite interesting to see a lot of non-Indians in the restaurant trying out Indian cuisine.

The customer assistants in the place were very warm and friendly. In fact, most of them were students working part-time. Few familiar faces from KTH, too. So, I must say, the environment was super cheerful. I started my dinner by ordering a plate of “Mini Idlies” that arrived so quickly at my table, two minutes perhaps. The lovely Idlies floating in a pool of Sambar with a dash of coriander leaves and a lavish splash of ghee on it, is something to die for! One spoon into my mouth and it filled me with such a joy that I have been deprived of for quite some time. The aroma of Sambar and the softness of the Idly totally took over my soul! I don’t think I have enjoyed Idly so much in my life. What is that they say? you know the value of something only when you don’t have it. certainly!

Mini Idly Sambar

It is such a sin to have Idlies without having the “Medu Vada“. So, I ordered them! The vada was golden and crispy on its outside, while soft and tender on the inside. One can almost see the steam while biting it, so hot and so fresh! The feel of biting the peppercorn in the vada is what is the definition of ecstasy! A dip into the white chutney, and then into the Sambar, and off it goes into your mouth! Beauty!

Medu Vada

If you thought that I was gonna finish my dinner here, then you’re so very wrong. We just got started! There was no stopping me from this feast! My next order was “Mysore Masala Dosa“, a dear dish from Karnataka. Another crispy golden beauty, well, a bit crispy, a bit juicy with that spicy red chutney on the inside, stuffed with yummy semi mash potato stir fry, served with a range of chutneys, just the way it is served back home, hot, amazing and divine!

Mysore Masala Dosa

On to my next order on the menu, hmmm, very difficult, everything seemed inviting, my tummy wasn’t so ok with that apparently. Haha! I went on to order “Rava Kichadi“. The comfort food of every south Indian. No this is not the Kichadi that the north Indians make with rice and lentils. This is RAVA KICHADI! The Kichadi was amazing, it wasn’t soggy, it wasn’t dry, it was perfect, just how my mom makes it 😇

Rava Kichadi

My tummy was now almost full and I had no space in it for anything more, sadly. Although I did wanted to try a lot many. You know, it wasn’t just enough for the mind and the soul :D. But then, one cannot finish this scrumptious meal without a proper south Indian filter coffee, or can I? No! I always believed that I make the best coffee and the best tea in the world, I still do stick to that belief. I don’t even like my mom’s coffee. I can call myself a connoisseur of coffee and tea. Saravanaa Bhavan actually lived up to my expectations. The coffee definitely didn’t disappoint me. The perfect blend of decoction, milk, and sugar. Impeccable!

Filter coffee

My amazing dinner time, finally, finally came to an end. I couldn’t leave the place without meeting the man who ran the show, Mr. Arun Mohan. I truly appreciate the way they are doing such an amazing job by giving us Indians in Stockholm the taste of home. The best part is that every dish preserves its authentic taste. Very interesting and very commendable indeed! Can’t appreciate the whole team enough!

Happy Me!

 

Now to end the blog post, let’s talk about the expense. It definitely wasn’t cheap and at the same time, I wouldn’t call it expensive. Considering the fact that Sweden is an expensive city to live, and a meal anywhere would cost around 100 SEK, this was pretty decent. Besides, getting to have a meal that felt like home, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay that price. It might not be an everyday place. But, once in a while, every now and then, if you want to feel home and taste home, then you must head to Saravanaa Bhavan. And to all those who are considering moving to Stockholm for your studies, don’t think much about home food. We have it all here! Be it the raw ingredients or the yummy restaurants, Stockholm has it all!

I hope you loved reading this one, because I really loved writing this 🙂

See you soon!

Sindhu <3

Celebrating Lucia with lussebullar

Hey Folks!

Well, it is that time of the year when it is all celebrations around. Time to celebrate light and warmth while forgetting the cold and darkness of the time. Last week, on December 13, Sweden celebrated St. Lucia’s Day on the winter solstice. Although not an official holiday in Sweden, it is still an occasion that is celebrated across the country.

Legends say that this day is celebrated in the memory of Saint Lucia, a Sicilian saint believed to have been killed for her Christian faith. The name Lucia means “light”. It is said that when the Romans tried to kill her by lighting her up, the fire didn’t kill her. Another story says that Lucia would secretly bring food to prosecuted Christians who were living in hidings. To use her hands to carry more supplies instead of holding the candle, Lucia would wear a wreath on her head with candles attached to it.

In Sweden, and across the Nordics, ceremonies are held everywhere to celebrate Lucia. A girl is chosen to portray Lucia. She wears a red sash and a wreath of candles on her head. She leads a procession of boys and girls dressed in white, holding candles. They sing the famous “Sankta Lucia” song throughout the procession, a melodious and visual treat! Did you know that Swedes even elect their national Lucia? The video above gives a quick intro to the Lucia tradition and the video below is the Lucia procession held at KTH library.

This season is generally celebrated with Lussebullar or Lussekatter (Saffron buns) ,Pepparkakor (ginger biscuits) and Glögg (mulled wine, there is a non-alcohol version too). The oldest daughter in the home is often the Lucia. She brings lussebullar and pepparkakor to her parents, dressed in white, wearing the candle wreath, singing the Lucia song while her siblings might line up in the procession. A beautiful tradition indeed!

Being the eldest daughter in my family, I guess I have all the reason to bake some Lussebullar this season 😉 Although my parents live in India, they were so happy with me trying to have fun on Lucia day.

So, here is how I baked my Lussebullar, it wasn’t an expensive thing to do and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I followed the recipe online but tweaked it a bit to my taste. I added raisins to the dough and doubled the butter to make it softer.

Saffron butter mix

Raisins! ’cause I love them

The man behind the process – Yeast mix!

It’s all coming together! The dough!

Rolled up and ready to bake!

Beauties in the making!

The feast is served! – Lussebullar and Glögg!

It is an amazing feeling to be able to accept and appreciate the cultures across the globe. My saffron buns turned out to be very tasty and the time was well spent while this is something I’ll cherish forever. Being in an international environment really does open our minds to think and act broader. I am planning to bake ginger biscuits for Christmas. I’ll definitely keep you all posted about that!

 

See you soon!

Sindhu