Thank you, KTH

Done. Finito! As you can imply from the title, this will be the last post I’m sharing with you from this amazing space a.k.a. the international student blog. Two weeks ago I succeeded defending my thesis entitled Carbon pricing and the impacts on financial markets in front of my mom and friends; yes, my mom came all the way from México to watch me present my Master’s project [no pressure, right?].

Me defending my thesis.

The journey till this day has been a very pleasant ride which has taught me so many things. KTH is a leading technical university where you’ll find yourself immerse in a multicultural institution which will give you all the necessary means to become tomorrow’s brightest engineer, architect, scientist, you name it, the sky is the limit. I not only found here my best friend, but it was among its corridors where I grew up as a person committed to contribute positively to the World’s sustainability issues. Furthermore, Stockholm is a city full of magic. Its streets and their beauty displayed during the long summer days and snowy winter nights, will take the breath away from you at every possible moment; but, I’m sure you have read a lot about this in our blogs, haven’t you? 🙂 Nonetheless, you should enjoy your time as a student in this incredible university, as in a blink of an eye you’ll be in front of an audience presenting your 6-months long project as I just did.

Mom + friends after my thesis defense.

Now, walking down memory lane with you peeps, I would like to share with you my top 5 posts; as you remember, my entries in the blog had a special touch as I tried to talk most of times about general topics, while including environmental-related issues. I would have to say, that my top 5 posts are as follows,

5. Sustainability is a lifestyle. My very first post in this space. Wow! Looking back at it made me realize how my writing evolved, and also made me watch one of my favorite videos called “Nature is Calling”.

4. Fernando. Goes. Vegetarian? Unfortunately when KTH migrated from different platforms, the images got lost, but not the content. Despite the above, this post makes me realize that WE can reduce our environmental footprint that nothing is impossible.

3. Look at that Butt and The ballot bin. People and their smoking habits ft. Sweden and its creative waste management campaigns. Number 3 fav-post is a tie between 2 posts which remind me how plastic straws fall behind against the NUMBER 1 pollutant found in our oceans, cigarette butts.

2. The colors of Stockholm and the most recent one Stockholm Pride. Two posts with one year difference apart reminding us how openness and acceptance make Sweden a great place to live in!

1. *Drums rolling* Water Matters. One of the most incredible events I have experienced here in Stockholm, it was here, where I had the chance to listen to Johan Rockström (planetary boundaries) or Jan Eliasson talking about the challenges humanity faces in water-related topics like, water pollution, fresh water shortage, and so. I also had the chance to see Crown Princess Victoria 🙂

I swear I’m not crying haha. I hope you have enjoyed my posts and I also hope I have awaken in you a bit of curiosity about the environmental challenges we are facing, and those we will be facing in the near future. Now, no matter where we develop our professional life, is to us to fix this and contribute to a sustainable society. You may be wondering what are my next steps, and well, after finishing here at KTH I have been invited to join the international financial consultancy where I did my thesis; here, I have been working within responsible investing and ESG research analysis. I do believe investors (from a top-down approach) have a lot of power to drive society towards sustainable development.

Thank you for reading me, and thank you for the journey. Despite I won’t be here with you, new amazing bloggers will keep your feeds updated with the latest news from KTH, Stockholm, and Sweden <3

From Stockholm with love <3

Little [Baltic] Getaway

Hi peeps! Hope you haven’t missed me much. I’ve been a bit off as I took some days off after my master thesis defense. Yes, I’m done! I will bring you an exclusive inside-top-information post on how it went and everything you could possibly would like know a master thesis defense, but not in this post hehe. Today I will share with you some Swedish history and the close relationship this country has with its Baltic cousins.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallin – Estonia.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania three ex-Soviet Socialist Republics small in size but huge in historical information! Just couple of hundred of kms away from Stockholm, you’ll find yourselves amazed by the beauty and historical data that these countries share with Sweden. The Swedish Empire dates back to the 17th and early 18th century when Sweden had major control over the Baltic region; actually, you can read and learn a lot about this in Stockholm’s Vasa museum. I will not enter into details as I ain’t a Swedish/Baltic historian hehe but basically Sweden had control of some parts of Norway, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia; furthermore, as for Lithuania, the history with them is a bit more complicated. Yes, Sweden was huge!

Huvilakatu street, Helsinki – Finland.

After a series of battles against Lithuania and Poland from other empires (Russian empire, for example), these 2 countries (in resume) decided to join forces in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth established in the late 16th century. This commonwealth was once ruled by Sigismund III, who also ruled the Swedish Empire… what? Yes, Sigismund III direct descendent of Gustav Vasa (father of the nation or founder of modern Sweden), was the son of John III of Sweden. John III used to rule only the Swedish Empire until he married princess Catherine Jagiellon from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Nonetheless, Sigismund III ended ruling the Swedish Empire after Sweden went into a civil war.

St Ladislaus of Vilnius, Vilnius – Lithuania.

Fascinating, right? Well, I do believe that it doesn’t matter if you are or not into history, but trust me that these cities will catch your attention. Of course nowadays the Swedish Empire is gone, but not only historic ties remain between these countries, as they also share economic ones, for example. Although this doesn’t concern Sweden directly, an interesting fact (and a bit of more modern information), is about the Soviet Union. Something that I consider incredible is how these 3 countries, formerly part of the USSR, contributed to the fall of it. They managed to do it in a well-organized and peaceful way with the so-called Baltic Way!

Baltic way exposition in Riga – Latvia.

Celebrating its 30-years anniversary, the Baltic Way was a tipping point for these 3 countries into re-gaining their freedom. Around 2 million people from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia formed a human chain, which connected the 3 capitals in a 620+km line. This historical peaceful demonstration took place in August 23rd 1989. The aftermath was the world looking directly at them, the US asking for prompt solutions, a letter to the former UN secretary-general, and finally with their independence in 1990. So much history to tell, so few lines I can write in a post hehe, but well, if you are planning to visit or to move to Sweden, learning about the history of this country and the ties it has with its neighbour countries is a must!

A day of Sustainable life at KTH Main Campus – Events at KTH with a Sustainability focus

If there is anything KTH is widely known for, it’s her push for sustainable development. In fact, KTH was ranked in 2019 as one of the top ten schools in the world, based on UN sustainable development goals. Taking second place for working conditions, third place for innovation and ninth place for climate action. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we have an active sustainability office.

As a student at KTH, I dare say my time as a student at KTH has sure changed my way of thinking and habits into constantly thinking of sustainable ways of getting things done and habits that will help mitigate the effects of climate change.

In this week before lectures resume, there are so many activities going on at KTH (Tip: pay attention to your mails and the events section on the KTH website, you definitely do not want to miss out on these!!). With this in mind, I decided to share all the events happening this week that are focused on sustainability.

KTH ReUse and ReCycle day at Campus Fair – August,21st

I know, I know I did not give you time to plan ahead. Seeing that this post is coming up on the 20th. Sorry for this. I will make up for this with some interesting info at the end of this post (I promise you’ll be glad you read this post in the end 😁😁). Many different things would be happening on this day on campus. If you own a bike or would like to own one (for free), I’ll bet you would not want to miss the bike day program at 10:00 -14:00. Come along with your bikes as you will be able to get some minor bike services FOR FREE.

The same time the bike day program is going on, the pop-up ReUSe is running simultaneously as well. Do you have any item you’ll love to recycle? If you’re not certain about how to recycle an item, bring it along with you and the team in charge will help out! More so, you can check out the items being dropped and who knows, you might find something you would like. If you do, feel free to pick up and ReUSe 😉

Lunch Seminar: Beyond Recycling

One thing we all love about lunch seminars is, FREE LUNCH!!! I mean lunch seminars is the fusion of every student’s wishlist – learning something that will be beneficial to them + free food. In this lunch seminar, the Vice Mayor of Environment and Climate, Stockholm together with the Vice President for Sustainability at KTH will be in attendance. In addition, the underlying topic is one of broad and current interest on the minds of everyone – Sustainable consumption…

I would leave it at this, attend these events and you’ll be glad you made it;)

For more information, on all three events, click here.

KTH Sustainability Office is Recruiting!!!

I told you this post will be worth it!!

Do you have an interest in sustainable development? Do you possess great communication skills? Are you solutions-oriented?

If your answer is yes to all these, why not give it a try and apply for this open position within KTH Sustainability office. For more informatin about the position, click here. The deadline is the 31st August. In my opinion, I would say, you should give it a shot if you’re reading this post because you stand a chance to learn sooo much while working on this very flexible part-time position.

That’s all for the events and my special announcement!

Till next time,

Oluchi

Stockholm Pride

One year has gone by, and here we are again, dear Stockholm Pride! I’ve been able to be at the right place and right time to enjoy different Pride Parades around the World, and let me tell you something, the vibe that the Swedish Parade radiate is amazing. Sweden is a country well known for its openness and acceptance to all races and sexualities; therefore, the vibe found in its Parade is not surprisingly one of a kind. Heterosexual families cheering diversity, homosexual families walking proudly, private and public associations supporting all shades of love, and even the Swedish Church inviting everyone to love and care for one another is what you’ll be seeing in this amazing parade. So how did I spend this day? Well, BRUNCHING is the right way to kick-off!

Amazing brunch at a friend’s place 🙂

But let’s go back in time to understand the origins and meaning of the LGBTQ+ Parade. NYC hosted this year World Pride as it is the city that gave birth to modern LGBT+ rights; moreover, this was the 49th Pride Parade in the city which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Stonewall? What’s that? Well, Stonewall is a LGBTQ+ bar located in Manhattan that dates back to the mid-60’s (formerly a straight bar); it was in 1969 that its name made history for the LGBTQ+ movement. Back in the days it was common that police officers went on a weekly basis to check their pay-offs as establishments sometime lacked of liquor licenses or hosted “illegal” events such a homosexual parties.

On June 28th 1969 around 1:20am, 4 undercover police men already inside the bar joined other policemen that arrived to the place, and performed a raid; nonetheless, it didn’t go as planned as transport wagons to take the illegal alcohol and arrested cross-dressed men took more than expected to arrive. The people who were able to leave the place didn’t actually go and started gathering outside the bar; it is said that by the time the riot began there were already between 500 to 600 people outside. Hell got loose when a woman who had been handcuffed, hit with a baton, and was being escorted to the patrol, looked at the audience and asked “why don’t you guys do something?”. As the riot began to escalate by people throwing beer cans, rocks, and everything they could weaponise, the Tactical Police Force (TPF) was called to the place being able to clear the streets somewhere 3 hours later after the riots began. Although the riots were tamed that day, more riots formed the following days.

One year after the riots took place, the first Pride Parade was held in NYC to demand LGBTQ+ equal rights. It was not until 1998 that Stockholm held its first parade; nonetheless, Sweden nowadays is one of the most progressive LGBTQ+ rights advocate in the World. Here are some milestones,

  • 1944 – Same-sex sexual activity was legalized.
  • 1979 – Homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness.
  • 2002 – Gender discrimination is forbidden by Swedish law.
  • 2003 – Same-sex adoption.
  • 2009 – Same-sex marriage countrywide.
  • 2017 – Transgenderism was declassified as a mental illness.

Asides from the parade, Stockholm offers talks, workshops, and many more cultural activities during “pride week”. If you seek to move to a country that will accept you no matter your religion, color, or sexual preference, then Sweden is for you! Happy pride!

KTH Arrival Days – August 2019

It’s that time of the year again!!! WOW! Time really flies!! Two years ago, my journey at KTH just began. On Thursday, KTH welcomed the new set of students to begin their studies at KTH. If you know me, you would know that any opportunity to give back is something I always jump at. So guess who is part of the arrival service team for Fall 2019!!!

Yes! Yours truly 🙂

One thing I love about KTH is the dedicated interest for students to smoothly transition into Sweden and actually see Stockholm as their new home.

We had the first arrival day on August 1st and it was fulfilling to help out one more time. If you’ll be coming on August 17th &18th, I am looking forward to meeting you! I will be at either Terminal 2 or 5 from 14:00 till the end of the day.

What does the arrival day look like?

At Arlanda Airport

It all starts at Arlanda airport. There will be students wearing the blue KTH shirt at both Terminals 2 and 5. You would actually meet one student waiting at Terminal 2. At terminal 5, there is a KTH booth as seen below (just look at the right-hand side once you come out to the entrance of terminal 5, you won’t miss us :))

The student guides are here to welcome you and answer any of the questions you might have from 9:00 – 21:00 on both days.

Arrival day team at Terminal 5

Bus service to kTH

There is a bus available every hour from 9:00 to 21:00 to take you directly to KTH Entre from Terminal 5. This service is free and the bus takes approximately 40 minutes to arrive at KTH main campus.

Students getting their luggage into the buses at the airport

At KTH Main Campus

Once you get to Entre, there are people to help you through the entire process:

  • First, there is a free luggage storage service. This service closes at 22:00 and you can store your luggage until this time. This gives you enough freedom to do all that you need to do and also, participate in the barbecue organised by THS. For those that live far away from KTH and would actually want to wait for the barbecue, this makes it absolutely possible without thinking of going home to drop all your bags.
  • Second, if you have your accommodation from KTH, you can sign your contract and take your keys at Entre.

For those that live outside the main campus, your bedding kit is in your student room. If you live on the main campus, then you probably have to pick up your bedding kit at KTH Entre. This is not something to stress about because you’ll be notified what category you fall into once you meet up with KTH Accommodation.

  • Third, THS Union representatives will also be available at KTH Entre. With them, you can make payments for the activities you signed up for. Also, you can learn about the buddy system and other social activities (some are free), available for new students. Do not forget to collect the student band that gives you access to most of these events.
  • Fourth, KTH IT Support will be present. This is for you to set up your KTH account and also, connect to the campus Wi-Fi.

Additional tips

The number one question I received on the first Arrival day in August had to do with the transportation system. For those arriving either on 17th & 18th, you have one week before you can enjoy the student discounted price. You can choose to either pay for a week or pay per trip. If you pay per trip, you have 75 minutes of access to all SL transportation before you’ll be required to make another payment.

The SL card costs 20SEK. The prices below are the prices available with the SL card (the single tickets are more expensive if you buy a ticket without the card)

  Adult Price (SEK) Student Price (SEK)
Single tickets 32 22
24-hour ticket 130 90
7 days 335 225
30 days 890 590

You can easily purchase the SL card at the metro stations or 7-eleven or Pressbyrån. An important thing to note is that you cannot purchase tickets onboard buses or commuter ferries or on most trams and light railway trains. To be able to pay the student price as soon as possible, ensure you register with THS once you actually start classes.

I think I have covered all the services available to you on KTH Arrival day. For me, coming on an arrival day to KTH Entre is always a good choice. In this, you get to know what activities are planned for new students and also interact with other students as you get acquainted with your new environment 🙂

I look forward to meeting you on either the 17th or 18th!!!

See you soon!

Oluchi


Grocery Shopping in Stockholm

If there is anything we cannot avoid, no matter how much we want to save, it is grocery shopping. In Sweden or better still, I should say, Stockholm (my personal experience is within Stockholm), optimal grocery shopping is a skill. I am not exaggerating – two students can write the same item list for shopping and in the end, one spends way more than the other just because of missed opportunities or choice of grocery store. Also, as a new student, who might miss the local food from home and you want options of places that you might find these items, read till the end 😉

This post will be based on personal knowledge as I feel it is the best approach knowing that a simple google search would let you know the closest grocery store once you arrive at Sweden. To make it interesting, most of the different stores are not exactly far from each other. This is where the question of choice really comes in. Also, as students, we are trying to save money in different ways, so you might find this helpful 🙂

On my first day in Sweden, I had no idea of which grocery stores existed or which I should even go to. I was living in a corridor room and thankfully, met someone I could ask and he directed me to the closest Lidl. There are five main supermarkets in Sweden. These are:

  • Lidl
  • ICA
  • Hemköp
  • Willy:s
  • Coop

Living in Stockholm, all these stores appeal to me at different times. I live very close to a Coop and an ICA – two and four minutes walk from home respectively. With this convenience, I still find out that my grocery shopping still takes me to all five stores mentioned above.

I would give my short description of the observed differences and this can help make your choice or if you’re like me, end up going to all stores depending on your needs.

LIDL

In my opinion, Lidl sources for their items with the mindset of ensuring you have the lowest price possible. With this, you’ll find items that you like but in unfamiliar brands, with the aim to achieve the lowest cost. Does this ruin the quality? No! (I would like to point out that for selected items, you might find them cheaper at other stores, therefore, the aim is not fool proof). Also, Lidl supermarkets do not offer services such as self-service or any extra convenience. I guess this is also one of the ways they try to maintain the overall price of goods. From my personal observation, most students shop at Lidl as it is very accessible and students love a good deal always!

ONLINE STORE OPTION: You can check for available week deals through the Lidl website

ICA

You’ll find ICA almost at every corner in Stockholm. It is a chain that consists of ICA Kvantum, ICA Nära and ICA Maxi. ICA MAxi is the cheapest alternative of all three. However, you’re most likely not to find a Maxi in the middle of the city. In ICA, I always find brands that I am a bit more familiar with and they do stock a wide range of options. You’ll find a good mix of foreign and premium brands at ICA. Also, ICA has the option of owning an ICA card which can be used to obtain bonuses from time to time. Students who use the ICA bank, have their cards as also ICA cards for bonuses (quite convenient in this way, I must say:)

ONLINE STORE OPTION: you can shop online directly at ICA’s website and have it delivered to you or you come pick it up at the store.

COOP

Coop is popularly known as the ecological supermarket. If you’re looking to buy more eco foods, Coop might be your easy pick. Also, they seem to have a specialty in the fruits and vegetables sections. Coop is a bit more expensive than the other alternatives.

ONLINE STORE OPTION: you can shop online directly at Coop’s website and have it delivered to you or you come pick it up at the store. Also, they have this service in which you can shop a certain recipe and have the items for that meal, delivered to you.

HEMKOP

Hemkop is very similar to ICA in my opinion in the range of products and brands that they both stock. One thing I love about Hemkop is their buffet selection. You can always get a good lunch from Hemkop without breaking the bank 😉

ONLINE STORE OPTION: You can shop online here as well with the option of home delivery or store pick-up. Also, if you they deliver to you very early in the morning, you get a reduced delivery price.

WILLY:S

Everything I mentioned about Lidl, being a store with low prices, this goes for Willy:s. Willy:s offers a good range of products and brands at the lowest prices possible in Sweden. In my first year, there was no Willy:s close to me,so I did most of my shopping at Lidl. Now, I have Lidl and Willy:s close by and I tend to do the bulk of my shopping between these two. Plus, the convenience of self -service is available at Willy:s. Furthermore, they offer the point service in which you gain points as you buy stuff and there are certain items that are are on discounts for their members.

ONLINE STORE OPTION: you can shop online directly at Willy:s website and have it delivered to you or you come pick it up at the store.

Online Shopping

All the five offer the option of online shopping except Lidl and you can decide to pickup from the store or available delivery options. Pick up from the store is the cheaper alternative 🙂

I would like to use this heading to mention another interesting point about Sweden. Online pharmacies. Sweden has this great option of ordering stuff from the online pharmacy and getting it delivered to your doorstep with no extra charge. To make this deal very good, these online pharmacies have a good range of skin and hair products at very good prices :).

Where do you go when you miss home?

I remember my shock when I found out I could not just walk into any supermarket and buy plantain!! Haha! Yes, there are supermarkets that cater to the African and Asian continents. So, do not worry, you can still have a taste of home, far away from home. Asian and Indian supermarkets are scattered well around now.

For African supermarkets. You would find at Hötorget train station, Skärholmen Centrum , Kista. Close to KTH, there exists Taj Mahal and I think they cater to pretty much to all the countries in the two continents mentioned (same with Kista Grössen at Kista).

Useful Tips…

  • For first time shoppers, “google translate” will be your best friend. Do not worry after a while you’ll get used to the Swedish names. Plus, take it as a good way to learn Swedish 😉
  • Always take your shopping bag with you. In Sweden, you’ll pay for both paper and plastic bags (good way to promote reusable bags 🙂 ).
  • I am not very good at this last point but I know some students who plan their week menu by downloading the apps of these stores to always know the deals for the week and save money by meal planning around these deals.

That’s all about the “shopping that we cannot avoid” . Feel free to ask any questions or let Fernando and I know the things you would like to know more about as you plan to move to Stockholm:)

Till the next post,

Oluchi