KTH StoryTech: Fotspår

I heard about Fotspår through my friend, and I was immediately curious. I met with the founder, Rubén, a student in the autonomous systems master’s programme at KTH about his idea and how Fotspår could make a difference in the fashion industry.

Part of the Fotspår team

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what brought you to start Fotspår?

So I am Rubén, I’m studying autonomous systems here at KTH and I am from Barcelona, Spain. I was studying in industrial engineering in Barcelona, but I always wanted to start my own project, and I knew it had to have some social aspect to it. After going to Kenya and realizing that the fashion industry has some really bad flaws I thought it would be a good field to start my entrepreneurship, so I developed the idea, and Fotspår was kind of born from that.

What is the concept of Fotspår?

The concept is to be a middle-men between clothing companies and NGOs. We would create a limited edition garment with the fashion brand, and all profits of this garment would be given to one of our partner NGOs. This way, people would be able to be more conscious about their consumption choices, and they would feel like doing something positive while buying a garment.

What impact would this have?

We would be the voice of the new generation in terms of fashion innovation, because young people want companies to be socially responsible, thinking about their manufacturing processes, employee benefits and distribution/transportation emissions. We want to unite the new generation and force a shift in the fashion industry through our ideals. I believe that consumers can change the industry, so Fotspår would be a catalyst to this change, giving the tools to fashion brands to be more socially involved.

How has Fotspår developed?

I started officially working on this project last November, and now we are a team of 28 people from 17 different countries and we are working with KTH Innovation. We are all working for free, but we are all passionate about this project. People get involved at different levels of the organization, according to their interest, we even have people that are not physically at KTH, but are promoting the project in their respective cities through social media. We are also looking for more and more people to join the movement, in order to gain traction and get started with our first garment soon!

So that is the story of Fotspår, another great project by an ambitious KTH student. You can follow them on Instagram if you want to see their evolution, or even get involved!

Cost of Living in Sweden – 2020

The first question I asked my seniors and the one question I get asked the most from students who want to study at KTH is

“How expensive is Sweden?”
And the answer I usually give is “Its as expensive and inexpensive as you want it to be.”

So, I thought of writing about my monthly expenses so far that will give you an idea about the cost of living here in Sweden. In the summary, I and Elise have both put in our monthly expenditures so that you would how the expenses change with everyone.  

1. Accommodation: The major part of the expenditure is towards the housing sector. Based on the kind of accommodation that you choose the rates can vary. At Lappis the current monthly rent with a contract with KTH is 4500 sek. This includes water, electricity and internet connection. Next month I would be moving to another room in Lappis with SSSB accommodation and the rent would decrease to 3800 sek.

Lappis during winters; View from my kitchen

2. Groceries and Food: The next contributor to our expenses is the groceries. There are lots of student-friendly supermarkets across the city such as lidl and willys where the prices remain the same throughout the year with frequent offers on selected essential goods. The average monthly expenses on groceries is around 800 sek.

Being a foody, I tend to spend well on groceries and cooking.

3. Transportation: Stockholm has arguably the best connectivity across the city. Students with a student union card get around 30% discount on the monthly and quarterly transportation card (SL card). The best part is the unlimited travel we get with the pass. A monthly student card will cost is 610 sek.
Alternatively, you can buy a bicycle during the summer and save money on the card.

T de tunnelbana - el metro de Estocolmo Foto: Israel Ubeda / sweetsweden.com
T stands for tunnelbana; Stockholm’s metro
Image source: Israel Ubeda / sweetsweden.com

4. Mobile services: The standard network subscribers such as lyca, hallon charge around 100 sek/month. I don’t use more than 3gb of data every month since I had wifi connection at home and on campus. It is up to you to decide your plan and preferences based on your needs.

5. GYM: Lappis has its own gym where they charge 800 sek for a year. There are gyms on KTH campus as well and across the city. The rates differ based on the gym and plan you choose.

Image result for lappisgym
Inside of Lappis Gym
Source: https://www.lappisgym.se/#/

6. Leisure/ Miscellaneous: Occasional outing with friends, or drinking/eating out, or shopping and buying things for your house and other expenditures fall under this category. My average expenses in this section is around 600 sek monthly.

Leisure activities include rock climbing, going out to eat etc.

7. Insurance: For all international fee-paying students the medical insurance is provided by KTH which is included in the semester fee. Since it already covers any emergency medical expenses within Sweden, I haven’t invested in additional insurance policies. However, some students do invest in having home insurance which would add cost around 70 – 100 sek per month.

Activity

Vivek’s Expenditure

Elise’s Expenditure

Housing rent

4500 sek

5500 sek

Groceries and food

800 sek

1600 sek

Transportation

610 sek

50 sek

Mobile network services

100 sek

90 sek

Gym

70 sek

340 sek

Leisure/Miscellaneous

600 sek

1000 sek

Total

6680 sek

 8580 sek

The expenses can vary between 5000 sek to 10,000 sek depending on the lifestyle and preferences of a student. There are a lot of tips on saving money which I will deal with in another blog. Like I said in the beginning, Sweden can be as expensive and as inexpensive as you want it to be.

Do let us know in the comment section tips on surviving on a limited budget as a student. Feel free to comment any queries and questions.

All the ways you can learn Swedish

The particularity of coming to Sweden to study is that it has its own language (spoken nowhere else), but you can still navigate every day life with English. Personally, I think language is a great way to fully integrate a new culture, especially if you will be here for a long time like one or two years. Since Sweden welcomes more immigrants than any Nordics, the government has developped good resources to help them learning Swedish, and most are available to students (or anyone interested)!

Learning Swedish

Learning Swedish is a Swedish-language course offered by the government on many different platforms: online, through a well-designed app, or through a learning document. It is very well adapted to new-comers, adapts well to daily life and most importantly, it’s free! I really recommend it as a first step.

Folkuniversitetet

Folkuniversitetet offer many Swedish classes of all levels, at the rhythm you need. Once a week, three time a week, level A1, B1, you can find something that corresponds to your expectations. Most classes have a fee associated to it, but there are many once-a-week classes that usually start at the beginning of the semester and are also free! Having an actual class to go to will integrate Swedish as part of your routine and you should learn very fast!

Tandem

Tandem is an amazing concept! You a matched with another student which speaks the language you want to learn, and wants to learn your mothertongue. KTH offers the service of matching you with someone corresponding to the criteria and you can plan to meet once a week to discuss in both languages. It’s a great way to put what you’ve learned through apps in practice and get some feedback on pronunciation and expressions, by a real Swede!

*Tandem is also an app where you can meet people who want to share language skills, so you can also try it!

Netflix/HBO Nordic

You know how advertisers pass subliminal messages to the public all the time? Well I think the same strategy can be used to learn a language. By adding Swedish subtitles to everything I watch on Netflix, I see the same words again and again and actually learn without making much effort.

There are also many Swedish movies and shows which you can watch in Swedish and with Swedish subtitles on. It may take you one hour to watch a 30 min. episode by going back and forth to Google Translate, but you’ll learn so many new expressions and still feel productive while binge-watching shows!

Duolingo

I know your first reflex might be to download Duolingo and do it everyday, but I did exactly that and it turns out that I was able to say “The cat is on the table.” but not “Hello, my name is Élise.”, and some other words I was taught were just wrong… I think Duolingo is great for vocabulary, and it can be used as a complement to Learning Swedish, but I would definitely not recommend it as a primary learning app.

How COVID-19 affects daily life at KTH

Now that coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), many countries have taken intense measures to slow down the spreading of the virus. Entire countries like Italy are in complete lockdown, borders are closing to travelers and people are in quarantine all around the world.

Here in Sweden, the government doesn’t seem too alarmed (maybe it should be?) and most commerces are operating normally. To be honest it’s a little confusing, I don’t know if I should do social distancing or just continue as normal. The number of cases in Sweden has come up a lot in the past week and the situation can change so fast it’s pretty hard to follow, especially since the situation is not improving and neighboring countries are taking intense measures.

PC: @dudewithsign on Instagram

I read a lot about the situation, and from what I understand, individual freedom is very important here, and a quarantine would restrict that. It’s pretty interesting in a sociological point of view, but quite confusing when my home (Québec) is closing down everything with only 50 confirmed cases (vs. more than 1000 in Sweden)!

These days, campus is pretty empty, since most classes are now conducted online, or recorded. To be honest it’s pretty nice to follow a lecture in the comfort of your home, lying in your bed or having a nice breakfast. All meetings with faculty or staff are now also digital, but buildings are open as usual. Many of my friends also went home during exam time, and now they are stuck there since most flights have been cancelled, but they can still follow lectures and do the work from there, so it’s pretty convenient.

Large events have been cancelled, so social life is pretty boring these days. Last Friday was also quite intense since Swedes got into apocalypse mode and started raiding shops from toilet paper and non-perishables, making shelves look like this (the situation has come down since):

Overall the situation seems under control, but it changes really fast and can be hard to follow. If you are looking for info, I recommend the following websites, you should find an answer to all your questions regarding COVID-19! English-language news, KTH recommendations, FAQ from Sweden’s public Health Agency and Sweden’s emergency info webpage. Don’t forget to wash your hands often and stay home if you have symptoms!

Startup culture at KTH

When I was researching about which university suits me, I used to dig deep into every universities website and explore the opportunities it offers me. While looking through the homepage of KTH, the one thing that attracted my attention was KTH Innovation. I read more about the start-up culture at KTH and Stockholm and found that the city has a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs. This is one of the main reason to move to Stockholm since it aligned with my personal goals of becoming an entrepreneur.

KTH Innovation

A recent study from Medium.com revealed that 55% of startup founders in Sweden graduated from universities in Stockholm. It states that among the top 60 successful startups in Sweden, KTH tops the list with 24 founders.

24 founders of the top 60 successful startup ventures have graduated from KTH
Source: https://medium.com/the-venture-brief/which-swedish-universities-create-the-most-entrepreneurs-863cb3f8eea8

I have experienced a great community of entrepreneurs in the past 10 months here in Stockholm. Apart from struggling to start my own venture – PLabs, the mentoring, learning and grinding is nothing less than what I expected. I have had to opportunity to pitch my ideas to the Swedish energy board.

If you are the one looking to take your ideas out of the labs, from moving from great research to business ideas, then Stockholm and KTH are one of the right places to be.

Where does KTH rank globally? KTH QS Ranking

I remember this time last year when I was in the process of deciding on which university to choose as my study destination, the first factor in my mind was the International QS ranking. QS ranking was more convenient for me because this method considered universities globally and more importantly, the individual subjects from each university was ranked internationally. Thus, based on the QS ranking I could decide the best masters program and the best place to pursue it.

QS ranking was an important tool for me in choosing a good university.

QS ranking represents the quality of education and research happening in a university. Thus I would always choose a university with a good subject QS ranking.

For example, this year out of 14 subjects at kth, 8 of them are within the top 50 in the world. Mechanical engineering at KTH which is what I study is in the 27th place. Electrical and electronic engineering at KTH is in the 17th position.

Here is the list of subjects at KTH which are in the top 50.

Electrical & Electronic Engineering: 17 (+2)
Architecture/Built Environment: 20 (+3)
Materials Science: 27 (-1)
Mechanical Engineering: 29 (-3)
Statistics & Operational Research: 37 (+2)
Math: 38 (+6)
Civil & Structural Engineering: 42 (+1)
Computer Science & Info Systems: 43 (-2)

In the field of Engineering and Technology, KTH is ranked 30th globally

The results of admissions would be out on April 3rd and it is crucial to decide on selecting a good university as your study destination.