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Study Season

Happy autumnal equinox!

If you weren’t counting down the days in anticipation, no worries. It’s not a day I necessarily bookmark from year to year, but my internal clock evidently felt it approaching — Over the weekend, I packed away my summer clothes and swapped in my cold-weather wardrobe to better suit Stockholm’s 11 C / 52 F temperatures.

Quick astronomical refresh: 

The September equinox is one of two days each year when the length of the day is nearly equal to the length of the night. For we northern hemisphere dwellers, it marks the midpoint – the end of summer and the start of autumn – as we progress towards the December (winter) solstice, the shortest day of the year. 

Although I’m not new to seasonal changes (thanks, Michigan!), Stockholm’s seasons are a novel experience for many international students. Those who arrive for the start of the fall semester can look forward to the leaves changing colour, the temperatures dipping, the daylight waning — and I say all this fondly because there really is something special about it.

A building on campus covered in ivy, which is just beginning to change color for the fall.
The ivy is beginning to change colour here on campus too..

I also think fall offers some of the best conditions for being a student:

Gone is the temptation to “finish it later” and run off to sunny parks or swimming spots. Hot summer temperatures, sunscreen, and shorts have had their moment. “Cycling there” is no longer synonymous with “arriving all sweaty”. Jeans-and-a-sweater weather is back, and conditions are ideal for getting focused.

On top of that, it’s also prime outdoor fika season! Autumn here strikes a satisfying balance of warm sun and crisp air, which is best appreciated with a hot tea or coffee in hand. The rainier days call for cosy study spots; I usually hunker down at the KTH library, mostly because I love how the rain sounds on the roof.

A view of KTH Library from outside on a cool autumn morning.
KTH library on a crisp autumn morning. Arriving early guarantees a good study spot…

I also love the back-to-school energy of September. Especially compared to last year, KTH campus feels like it’s buzzing. There are constantly students coming and going to classes, campaigning or meeting in front of KTH Entre or the student union, and taking fika breaks.

After a year of mainly remote learning, I’ve been feeling extra grateful to be back in an in-person learning environment. I missed the collective momentum of a campus, the added feeling of accountability when studying among other students, and the motivation of having somewhere to be.

Although I can’t wait for another Swedish summer, for now, I’m just happy to be here.

// Claire