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A Day in the Life: Valerie

As my fellow bloggers, Claire and Declan, already told you about their typical days, it’s now my turn to give you a glimpse of my life as a Media Management student at KTH. 

My schedule varies from day to day, and in this post, I’ll tell you about my Friday last week, so here we go! 

8.00 Waking up in Östermalm 

I usually wake up a bit later, but today is a busy day, so I get up early and wake up while taking a morning shower. Today, I have a couple of sandwiches for breakfast with some vegetables on the side and green tea with no sugar. 

Sunrise view from my place

9.00 Work stuff 

I’m working part-time in communications at an automotive/IT company headquartered in London. I work remotely from here, and my manager is based in St. Petersburg, so I work both in English and Russian, collaborating with the local team in St. P. and the global team in the UK. December is pretty tough, with a lot of work and several projects to finish. Currently, I’m working on a company-wide event that is taking place in the middle of December, so I regularly meet up with my colleagues from London and St. Petersburg via Zoom to discuss some stuff and make everything work. 

10.00 Time to manage digital transformation 

It might sound ambitious, but it’s actually a class named “Managing Digital Transformation”. It is offered to our programme jointly by KTH and Stockholm School of Economics. During the course, we dive into various cases from the industry to understand current trends and perspectives on digitalisation and how it enables global innovation. The class is based on group projects. In each seminar, 5-7 people present one of the topics engaging our classmates using interactive formats like quizzes, tag clouds and polls. My project group topic was the digitalisation of retailing, so we had a presentation earlier this week, and we rocked! The final grade will be based on the group presentation and two literature case tests, so we’ll see how it goes. 

In case you ever wondered how does a Russian keyboard look like

12.00 Lunch + Dressing up 

After the class I have lunch. Today it’s some chicken stewed in cream fresh and garlic fried rice. 

13.00 Commuting to Södermalm 

It usually takes me around 30 mins to get there. Still, I’m leaving early this time because I am heading to a documentary film shooting. I also need to print consent papers for the people we’re interviewing and grab some matcha latte on the go, which I absolutely love, especially with a student discount. 

14.00 The interactive documentary shooting 

My filming crew of 6 of my classmates and me is filming an interactive documentary on second-hand shopping for our Media Production class. We all have different roles in the project, and for instance, I’m a scriptwriter and a producer for the film. Stockholm is probably one of the best cities to make a documentary on the topic, so we’re trying to convince more people from all over the world to choose second-hand clothing. In our iDoc, we’re giving several reasons for that and talking to people who decide to buy second-hand clothing regularly, telling about their perspective. So today, we’re shooting at Humana, a popular second-hand store, and interviewing a girl who chooses thrifted clothing because it’s better for the environment. 

Shooting iDoc at the second-hand store

17.00 Going home 

The film shooting is done, an amazing job at the set today. I am really lucky with my crew, all of them are professionals. Can’t wait to see the final result, but we have to do a lot of post-production work before that. 

17.30 Some more work 

Yay, more work! My life can be boring sometimes, but I do work a lot, that’s just how it goes. 

19.30 Commuting to Solna 

Okay, my work for today is done, so I better hurry up, as I am already late for the party I have been invited to. 

20.00 Housewarming party

My friends just moved to a 3-room apartment in Solna, so they are throwing a housewarming party. The thing that I love about parties in Stockholm is that you get to meet a lot of internationals from all over the world. Today I had a conversation with a biomedical student from Italy doing his PhD in Stockholm about public transportation in London, as he just returned from the trip. I also spoke to a Russian girl who studied investment law and is dating a guy from California, and finally to a Lithuanian girl and a couple of German guys about fake news. I’ve been here only for a few months, but I have already met many genuinely interesting people from many countries, and I’m always delighted to exchange our perspectives on random topics like this. 

00.00 Time to go home

Unlike St. Petersburg, public transport in Stockholm works well during the nights, especially on weekends. Taking a pendeltåg, which is a Swedish name for commuter rail, and I’ll be home in 30 mins. 

00.30 Evening routine 

A relaxing evening shower and my four-step skincare routine: cleanser, toner, serum, moisturiser. I’m a total nerd when it comes to skincare, can’t really call it a day without it. 

1.00 Goodnight 

That was a looooong day, and that’s it for today! Bedtime. 

If you enjoyed my story, check out Claire and Declan’s blog posts on their days, as their lives are pretty amazing too. 

Stay tuned! 

// Valerie

A Day in the Life: Declan

To give you a little peak into what it’s like to be a student in Stockholm, we bloggers are each going to describe our typical day studying at KTH. Last week Claire shared her typical KTH-day, so this week it’s my turn! Here’s what a normal day looks like as an Architecture student (If a normal day ever existed..).

The architecture studio at KTH

7.30 / Wake up with Music

I wake up early to prepare for the day. Sometimes I’ll join some of my housemates for breakfast, but usually I just grab a quick bowl of cereal and a coffee before I run out the door.  

8.30 / Getting to Campus

On sunny days I like to cycle to campus. It’s a nice, easy journey on the bike and the little exercise is great for waking me up. On winter days (or if it’s rainy, windy, or if I’m a little tired), I can also take the metro. Either way, cycling or metro-ing, the commute only takes about 20 minutes from Bergshamra.

Lecture Hall at the Architecture School

9.00 / Architecture Building

Luckily for me, all of my studies are based in the Architecture building at the centre of campus. Here, there is a host of facilities; lecture halls, studios and computer labs as well as workshops with all the machines, materials, and robots you could ask for. Lectures, meetings & seminars are usually organised for the mornings. Normally we can find time for a fika break around 10 or 11. I have learned that in Stockholm, drinking coffee is a very important ritual for both staff and students.

12.00 / Lunch

Most days I have lunch with some classmates in the studio kitchens. These kitchens are on each floor of the architecture building and have all the equipment you could need. On sunny days we might take a walk to one of the restaurants around campus, and on really nice days we go up to the roof. The view from the rooftop of the building is one of the treats of being an architecture student. Stockholm is quite low-rise and so from this height you can see clearly right over the city.

View from the rooftop of the architecture school

13.00 / Studio 

Afternoons vary, but most of the time you will find me drawing in the studio. These studios are as much a social space as they are a work space, and groupwork happens naturally. They are always a hive of activity, with each group of students focussed on a different aspect of design. Some could be researching the postmodern history of Stockholm, while beside them others are creating point cloud maps from photogrammetry. If I need focus, I usually go into the main library next door, or sometimes I like to find a nice café in the city.

17.00 / After School

The architecture building clears out around 5pm, and so this is the best time to go do some extracurriculars. This could mean club meetings and events in Nymble, the student centre, or it could mean getting in some extra reading, or some days just going grocery shopping!

19.00 / Evenings

I will usually get home around 19 and spend some time cooking food and chatting to some of my housemates. This is also the time I get to chill, watch some movies or play guitar. 

23.00 / Bedtime!

Hosting Thanksgiving in Sweden

As an international student, I’ve learned a lot about my friends and the places they’re from through food. Whether it’s Spanish tortilla, Italian pasta made “right”, Greek Pastitsio, German Spätzle, Swedish falukorv, Argentinian asados, or Portuguese Bacalhau, it is never served without a backstory. 

This weekend though, it was my turn to cook and tell. In the spirit of American Thanksgiving, I hosted some friends for a belated (but otherwise pretty traditional) Midwest Thanksgiving meal.

One friend kindly updated the living room décor. "It's Thanksgiving!"

The preparations

The prep work started a day early. We donned hiking backpacks and headed out to pick up a pre-ordered turkey, buy all the ingredients, and hunt down the right kind of pumpkin to make puree for the dessert. 

In true Thanksgiving fashion, our cooking started early the next morning. At 08:00, a friend helped me dress the turkey, prepare the roasting vegetables, make the turkey stuffing, and get started on the dessert. By 10:00, the turkey was headed for the oven. 

Roasting a 5-kilo turkey takes around 4 hours, so while it cooks, pretty much everything else happens! That includes peeling and boiling potatoes, making the dessert, prepping the greens, sauteing mushrooms, making turkey broth for the gravy, and setting the table.

The final hour before eating is when things can get a bit busy. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from helping my parents host Thanksgiving, it’s that timing is everything. There are so many delicious dishes that go along with a Thanksgiving dinner, and none of them should be served cold. This usually requires all hands on deck. So, by the time I was carving the turkey, friends were helping with everything from whipping up mashed potatoes and whisking gravy to pouring wine and plating.

The feasting

Thanksgiving is served! Full plates are on the table.

The traditions

For most of my friends, the first Thanksgiving they’ve ever celebrated was with me, either this year or last year. They ask a little about the origins; I explain how the story (a shared feast between colonizers and natives) is a bit white-washed. Today, history isn’t a main part of how the tradition of “Thanksgiving” is celebrated, it’s been gradually adapted over time:

To my family, it means a time to gather, cook together, and sit down for a cosy meal. We catch up with loved ones, slow down life for a moment, and most of all, reflect on all we’re grateful for.

One of our traditions to do this is largely thanks to my incredible mom, who is also a Kindergarten teacher. Thanksgiving is for making “hand turkeys,” a simple outline of an outstretched palm, which doubles as great stencil for a turkey with a thumb head and finger feathers. In the feathers, we would write things we are grateful for; the rest is just a colouring canvas to distract hungry bellies before dinner. 🙂

Hand turkey art - a thanksgiving craft - is hung proudly on the apartment walls.

So of course, I also handed my university friends magic markers and papers. They followed through on the instructions and created a set of 2021 turkey art that is admittedly still taped up on our apartment wall a few days later.

It’s these kinds of things that make international friends so fun, and make home feel a little less far..

// Claire

Exploring Sweden: amazing Öland

In one of my previous posts, I already shared with you the story of my trip to the southeast of Sweden. It’s time to finish my story and tell you about the amazing Öland. 

Öland is an island located in the Baltic Sea off Sweden’s southeast coast and is the smallest landscape in Sweden. You can reach the island crossing the Öland Bridge that I already told you about. If you are travelling to Öland by public transport, take the train or flight to Kalmar, after which a bus will take you on to Öland.

Thanks to the open landscape, the wind has always been used to grind grain and fodder. Öland is therefore known for its windmills, today there are about 300 of them on the island. 

I’ve always had a soft spot for lighthouses, so our first stop on the island was Långe Erik lighthouse, a magnificent 27 m tower built in the middle of the 19th century. It is located on a little island Stora Grundet in Grankullaviken bay, connected to the main island by a small bridge, and it marks the northern end of Öland. Although the lighthouse is closed during 2021, and we could not see the view from the top, we enjoyed the beautiful nordic beach and had a great walk around the lighthouse. I would say this lighthouse is definitely a must-see while on Öland. 

After that, we went to the historical trading centre Sikavarp. In the 13th century, it was one of the nodes in trade across the Baltic Sea. Traders sailed there from neighbouring countries to do business with each other and with merchants of Öland. Their voyage continued to other trading sites and to the town of Novgorod in Russia, which was a centre for trading in all types of furs and skins. There was also a chapel, however, currently, only ruins survived from the place, but this was quite enough to take our breath away. There also was another lighthouse next to it called Kapelludden, so we made sure to check it out as well. 

Finally, we went to Borgholm Castle, built in the 12th century and destroyed by fire in 1806, today called the most beautiful ruin in Scandinavia. The castle has played an essential role as a fortress, a border marker, and a gate to the continent. The buildings and culture layers create a historical archive that holds stories from earlier generations’ political and economic ambitions, everyday life, and living conditions. People have lived in that place we now call Borgholm Castle for more than 1000 years, can you imagine that? The surroundings and the castle itself is pretty large, and we took our time walking through the walls and exploring the small buildings. It was a pretty sunny day, and the ruins cast shadows, so we easily felt the medieval atmosphere. And when we climbed on top of one of the bastions, we saw wind farms nearby, and this contrast felt incredible. 

The whole trip was just perfect: we were very lucky with the weather and could see so many places in just two days, with almost no tourists around. That trip was a good start, but more travel stories are coming — stay tuned! 

// Valerie 

A Day in the Life: Claire

For this blog, we often write about life at KTH beyond studies. Studying doesn’t always feel like the most exciting thing to write about, but we sure spend a lot of time doing it! Since we’re at a steady point of the semester, we bloggers decided to share a glimpse into our daily lives as students. And I’ll be kicking things off!

Early morning sun on campus.
A sunny morning on campus near KTH Library.

Claire’s Wednesday

07:15 / Alarm goes off! I hit snooze once, then hop in the shower and get ready. I make my standard weekday breakfast – two eggs, avocado toast – but I skip the coffee since my day will be starting with a little fika anyway.

08:30 / My day kicks off at a coffee shop near KTH campus, where I meet up with my master’s degree project partner. We get coffee, catch up and continue on a few action items related to things like securing a supervisor and partnership with a consultancy for our thesis on urban mobility.

10:15 / I’m back home at my desk with a small window of time to work on part of a group project.  It’s for an urban planning project course where we have partnered with a municipality and are creating a planning programme for an area that has been slated for mixed-use development.  

12:05 / Lunch time! I cook a big dinner every other day so that I have leftovers to reheat. Today it’s roasted veggies, potatoes and salmon. I often eat lunch on campus though, since most KTH buildings have a mini kitchen with microwaves. The 12:00-13:00 lunch break is standard, so I try to go a little early since the lines can get long.

12:45 / Back to work. I meet a classmate at the computer lab to continue working on a GIS project. At this point of the semester, I don’t have as much scheduled class time, but I do have a lot of group projects. Today we map the availability of transport nodes within Stockholm in relation to select socioeconomic factors and prepare for a project supervision on Friday.

15:15 / Time for my only class of the day, for my Transportation and Logistics course. We have a guest lecturer from the Swedish Red Cross; her lecture rocks. She talks about humanitarian logistics challenges and her role overseeing logistics for the second-hand stores (e.g. goods donations and textile recycling), which generate revenue for the humanitarian work. 

17:30 / Back home, and hungry! I cook what I like to call “lazy girl pasta,” which explains itself. I chill out, listen to a podcast by my favourite comedian, then call my Dad to catch up while he’s on his lunch break back in Michigan. 

20:15 / It’s KTH swim club night! I pack up my things and head out to the meeting point; a few of us bike together to the pool in central Stockholm. Swim practice starts a little before nine with the club organizers telling us today’s workout. We swim around 2.5km and end with a 50m time trial. Some head to the pub for a beer, but I head home and promise to be there next week.

22:45 / Another snack, of course. Then it’s time to get ready for bed!

Some days are like today with back to back meetings and classes, but others are the opposite, with consecutive hours of study time, class, or work on a single project. My daily schedule always varies, and I like that. 

// Claire

Architecture Highlights in Stockholm

Walking about the city looking at buildings has always been one of my favourite pastimes. Luckily for me, being an architecture student means I get to call this “studying”.  The city can be endlessly interesting, especially for those of us who are moving to or visiting a new place. Stockholm being a city well known for its long history of design and architecture, I thought I might break down some of the best bits from around the city for you.

Of course, this being a large city full of great design, I can’t mention it all, so instead I’ll break down only a few of my favourites… 

Golden Oldies  

Stockholm's Stadhuset, City Hall
Stockholm Royal Palace

At the centre of the city, you will find a host of important older buildings that have become the touchstones of what Stockholm is known for. The Royal Castle and Stadshuset are two of these wonderfully picturesque buildings sitting out at the water’s edge. Today they give the city a sense of nobility and old romance, full of history and stories that have seen the changes of years.


A view from Skogskyrkogården, Woodland Cemetery
A view of Stadsbiblioteket

The names of the Swedish architects Sigurd Lewerentz & Gunnar Asplund are known internationally in the architecture culture. One of their most famous projects is one they worked together on, at the Woodland Cemetery at Skogskyrkogården, just South of Stockholm. Here they have crafted a huge landscape of graveyards, memorials, crematoriums and churches. The walks around this park are like sculpted experiences. Around Stockholm, Lewerentz and Asplund have also worked on some of the city’s best buildings like Stadsbiblioteket and Markuskyrkan.


The Filmhuset in Gärdet
The Kulturhuset in Sergels Torg

In the years when concrete was cool, some of Stockholm’s architects were playing with it in the best of ways. Peter Celsing’s studio designed the Filmhuset in Gärdet as a spectacle of length and fun. The same team also the produced the Kulturhuset at Sergels Torg, which was part of a huge project including a theater and the Swedish national bank. This Kulturhuset has just been renovated this year and so is looking better than ever. As a side note, the café on the third floor is one of the best places in town for a coffee.

Closer to Home

KTH Architecture Building

The Architecture School at KTH was drawn by the office of Tham & Videgård and won the national prize for architecture in 2015. It’s something special to be studying in an (almost brand new) award winning building and it has lots to be learned from. Its rusty red skin makes it both fit-in and stick-out from the brick landscape of KTH. It’s clever curves squeeze it into a snug place and they also give the studio spaces inside a rounded, continuous view.

There are many more unique buildings in Stockholm that will always stand out, such as Globen and Norra Tornen, but go and see for yourself! Most of the best design in Stockholm can be found by wandering around the city, the parks, and in the tunnelbana (metro) stations. And if you get a chance to go, you can find a great history of Swedish Architecture at Arkdes, the architectural museum.