Before moving to Sweden, I didn’t spend much time thinking about learning Swedish. In my mind, Sweden was the most international country I’ve ever heard of, everyone was telling me that all Swedes speak English anyways. In addition, my study programme was supposed to be in English, so why thinking about learning Swedish? First things first: it is true that in Sweden nearly everyone knows English, the master’s programmes at KTH are completely conducted in English and you can survive very well without knowing a word of Swedish.
However, already on my arrival day, I realized that I was missing something. I was not even able to thank a person in their own language, and I have to say, I felt quite naive to not have looked into this earlier. I picked up some words quickly, so that I was at least able to say “Hej” (Hi), “Hejdå” (Bye) and “Tack så mycket” (Thank you very much). I also signed up for the Introduction to Swedish Language and Culture course at KTH that teached me some basics in Swedish and explained the culture of the country. For quite some time, this was enough for me, as I was studying in such an international environment, that I barely recognized that I don’t speak the language of the country I’m living in.
Studying Swedish at SFI
Last summer, after living in Sweden for one year, I decided that I want to learn more Swedish. As the Swedish A1 course at KTH gives you 7.5 credits and therefore has the corresponding workload, I felt that this might be too much for me to take on, while already having other courses with 30 credits in total. Therefore, I informed myself what other possibilities I have, and I signed up at SFI (“Swedish for Immigrants”), where I took part in a beginner course twice per week for about half a year. The courses at SFI are free of charge and you can choose how often and during what time of the day you would like to participate.
Are German and Swedish similar languages?
You have to know that German and Swedish are quite similar languages. From the moment I came to Sweden, everyone told me “Oh, you gonna be fluent in Swedish in no time – German and Swedish are practically similar languages”. I guess at this point, I need to blow up the dream bubble that started building itself in every head of the German readers now. Yes, German and Swedish are quite similar, you might notice that quickly when for example reading advertisements in the subway. But no, unfortunately, it is still a completely different language and you will also need to learn everything from the very basics. It might be easier and faster than for people having other language backgrounds, but it stays a new language.
Why do I tell you all of this? Well, it’s because I heard this so often, that I actually hoped to know Swedish after some weeks already. And this is not how it works. Especially speaking a new language can be very difficult, and you need to find someone who is willing to practice with you. And this is the challenge here in Sweden: as everyone knows English, the Swedes want to help you and automatically start speaking English with you, when they notice, you’re missing words, you don’t understand, or similar. This is where it’s important to be consequent and keep on trying to only speak Swedish. KTH offers a database for tandem partners, where you can try to find someone that wants to help you with learning Swedish (or other languages).
Swedish A2 at KTH
You wonder how it went on with my SFI course? As all my courses are finished now and I’m only going to write my thesis in the spring semester, I decided after 6 months to quit SFI and apply for the Swedish A2 course (LS1512) at KTH. Overall, I think everyone needs to know where and how they can learn best. For me, SFI fit perfectly for the time I had to deal with many other courses at KTH. Now that I have a bit more time, I am happy to study Swedish at KTH in a more university-like environment. The course started last week, and I’ll keep you updated on how my Swedish is improving! If you want to learn more about language courses at KTH you can click here.
Last semester I have been taking the course “Advanced Project Course” (DM2799/2584) that is a mandatory course in my programme. At the beginning of the course, we were able to choose from many different research projects and were then assigned to a group. Some of my fellow students chose the research project “Supporting International Students in the context of the Pandemic”. This is such an interesting and important topic, as we’re all involved in the changes that covid-19 brought to our daily lives as students, that I talked to the group about their project and would like to share their findings and ideas on how to support internationals with you today.
The group consists of the 5 students Xiaowei, Agnes, Sara, Vilma and Aleksandra. Already the group itself is very international as they all come from different countries: China, Sweden, the US, Finland and Poland.
The survey and in-depth interviews
To start off the project, the group has conducted a survey where 124 international students took part in. They came from all over the world, in total 36 different countries. The most represented countries were China, Germany, Russia, France and Spain. The group found out that 79% of the participants prefer on-campus education over online lectures. As we all might have experienced ourselves as well, two thirds mentioned in the survey that they experienced major changes in their social lives when the pandemic started one year ago. The group asked the question “How much of an effect has covid-19 had on your social life?” and even 35.5% chose the answer “drastic”. After conducting the survey, the research group decided to do in-depth interviews. During these interviews the students discussed with the group about social, study and covid-19 related measures.
Developing a solution – “Study Mood”
Universities, like KTH, have managed to adjust quickly to the new situation by providing online lectures and platforms to help improve online learning. However, the situation is still not the same as on-campus learning and especially discussions and interactions between the students are hard to implement. It’s important to focus on the question: How can we bring the campus home to the students? Thus, the group developed their conceptual prototype “Study Mood” which is a potential solution to address the current needs among international students in Sweden. This prototype allows users to remotely experience studying on campus through a “virtual library”. The students have three different modes to choose from: study with a random peer (1:1), form their own group (squad) or choose the 24h study room. Through this, students are encouraged to network with each other.
A project from students for students
I also asked the group how they feel about being students themselves that are researching about a topic they are involved in at the same time. They said that it was an important part of their study to also evaluate their own needs and concerns as students at KTH. For them it’s important that the students’ needs are continuously investigated, and new ideas developed to help increasing study motivation and reduce the feeling of social isolation. For this process it’s crucial to involve students in the process of designing and testing. They would like to see more shared learning resources and social support especially for international students. They believe that their prototype could be used to create more advanced systems that allow socializing with other students in a safe way.
If you want to stay updated about the measures KTH is taking to reduce the spread of covid-19 and make the campus safe, you can click here.
In early December last year, Ivan, who is the curator on our KTH Instagram account, asked you what you would like to read on the blog. You could choose between places in Stockholm and Swedish food. Since the vote was in favour of places in Stockholm last Saturday, my fellow blogger Vivek, Ivan and I met up to take you with us to some of our favourite places in Stockholm!
Järnpojke – Gamla Stan
The Järnpojke, or Iron Boy, is the smallest monument in Stockholm with only 15 cm height. It was built by the Swedish artist Liss Eriksson in 1954 and brought to its current place in 1967. Especially in winter people are knitting scarfs and caps for the little boy to not be cold. Throughout the year, many tourists are coming to leave gifts at the statue such as money and sweets or to rub the head of the boy as it’s said to bring luck.
I think it’s such a sweet sculpture and despite its small size, there are always people visiting the little boy. In addition, the statue is situated in the courtyard of the Finnish church which is a very calm place that lets you forget easily that you’re in the middle of Stockholm.
Mårten Trotzigs Gränd
Mårten Trotzigs Gränd is the narrowest street of Stockholm with a width of only 90 cm. The alley is named after a German merchant who immigrated to Stockholm in 1581.
The curiosity of this small street attracts many tourists (of course only during “normal” times) and sometimes, going through the street can become difficult as people are passing through from both sides. But still, if you’re up to seeing Stockholm’s narrowest street, this is your place to go!
In general, I can say that I always love to wander around the streets in Gamla Stan. There are so many pretty, coloured houses and there is always something new to be discovered :). So it’s definitely worth a shot to just stroll through the streets in this part of Stockholm.
Of course, we have been visiting more places on our tour, starting off at Monteliusvägen where you have a great view over Stockholm, going down to Riddarholmen and then Gamla Stan, the old town. If you want to see more of our adventure, check out tomorrow’s blog post and our Instagram account!
Stockholm is a city that is so beautifully vulnerable to every season that it offers different shades on the city canvas throughout the year. It would be hard to grow bored of Stockholm when it is filled with bright colours in the spring, summer is warm and long days on the beach, autumn arrives when the city colours itself in the orange sunset and winter is dark and gloomy until the white snow brings back the child in every adult.
I have been lucky to find spots in every corner of the city that I can get lost in, blending like any other colour of those buildings. Stockholm is one of the best “storyteller” I have come across. The narrow street, a randomly shaped emblem on a random building with a random colour tile has a story to tell. The bridges, the palaces and the statues that had stood the time and witnessed the city grow through centuries teach the art of storytelling. The hills, the deep urban woods and the blue water bodies bring nature close to people.
Located on the top of a small steep cliff, Monteliusvägen offers a magnificent view of Stockholm. It has been my weekly ritual to visit this spot and watch the city from a bird’s eye view as time flies by. In the spring, you can watch the sunset across the horizon, painting the city on a canvas of orange. From here, you can catch a glimpse of the city hall, lake Mälaren and the church Riddarholmskyrka (which is the resting place of most of the Swedish monarchs).
Streets of Old City
Walking on the clobbered stoned narrow streets of the old city lined with the colourful medieval building is a treat to a traveller’s heart. There are cafes and bookstalls that could be explored. Take a turn on any street and you will be faced with a story from the medievals.
City hall is special to me because this was the first monument I visited when I moved to Stockholm. It is where the Nobel banquet happens every year and KTH organises the student reception in the same building. You can get a beautiful view of the city hall from Riddarholmen.
Stockholm as I said is not just a city metaphorically filled with stories, it has a beautiful library for all the book lovers in the city with more than 50,000 books. Stadsbiblioteket (Stockholm Public Library) is the main library of the Stockholm library public system. The library was designed by the famous Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund in 1922 in Nordic Classicism Style. Standing in the centre of the library and watching the 360° tower of books is a sight that makes one fall in love with a library. I have rented more than 20 books in a span of 6 months. Do visit to enjoy the ambience of a Hogwarts library.
Do check out Maria’s blog on her favourite spots in the city here and Ivan’s on the Instagram account. And leave a comment below with a suggestion of your favourite place in the city.
More than 900 students attended the webinar on the application process at KTH and we received more than 950 questions about the application process. You can watch the webinar here again. In this blog post, I summarize the most frequently asked questions during the webinar that you might have too.
What are the two deadlines on 15th January and 01st February about? The first deadline on 15th January 2021 is the last day to rank and prioritize your master’s programme and university. The ranking cannot be changed later. 01st February 2021 is the last date to upload all the necessary supporting documents and pay the application fee (if applicable).
Will I get a confirmation mail if I have submitted all the supporting documents? No, It is the responsibility of the student to verify that you are uploading all the supporting documents and you might not get a mail if there is any document missing which can cost the admission result.
I have already written my motivation letter for the application. Should I apply separately for a Scholarship? Yes, the motivation letter for the scholarship is different and should be uploaded on the forum on the kth website. Note that scholarship application will be considered only if that master’s programme is your first ranked on university admissions.
I am currently in my final year of bachelor’s degree and do not my degree certificate yet. What is the alternative? If you are pursuing your bachelor’s degree, you are still encouraged to apply. You will need to submit a document from your bachelor university that you are an active student in the final year. You will later have to submit your final degree certificate once you graduate.
The medium of instruction for my bachelor’s degree is in English. Should I still take up the standardised English tests such as Tofel and IELTS? The answer would depend on the country you are pursuing your bachelor’s degree. Kindly refer to the country-specific information here.
I do not have a passport yet. Is there an alternative? The passport can be replaced with a national identity card that is acceptable by university admissions.
There are two tracks in my Master’s Programme. Should I apply to both of them or only to the one I am interested in? The tracks from the same master’s programme have completely different learning goals and courses. Thus it is important to decide on which track to pursue and apply specifically to that particular track.
The summary sheet also has the option of entering my motivation for the specific master’s programme. Should I also attach a separate letter of motivation? To be on the safer side, I would upload a separate copy of the motivation letter as another attachment along with typing it in the summary sheet.
Can my referee submit the letter of recommendation themselves online? Currently, there is no means to upload the letter of recommendations by the referee themselves. Either the student has to upload the LOR as a supporting document. The other alternative is that the referee mails the letter to the university through a postal mail.
When is the scholarship results announced? Usually, the scholarship results would be announced a week before the final results on 9th April 2021 are announced.
I hope these answers provide you with clarity on the admissions processes. Feel free to post in the comments below if you have further questions. We would be happy to answer them for you.