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Perks of Blended Learning

Like the rest of the world, Sweden has also been adjusting its restrictions and recommendations in response to the status of the pandemic. A very similar situation occurred last year at this time, and I remember wondering how it would impact my studies and student experience. 

Over the Spring 2021 semester, blended learning (when courses mix on-campus activities with digital learning environments) proved sufficient for my area of studies and even had some benefits. One example? Since my classes began remotely, I was able to start the new year with friends on a ski trip while keeping up with my studies.

A Winter Adventure

We headed north from Stockholm to spend one week in Jarvsö, a quiet ski town in the approximate middle of Sweden. After the three-hour train ride, we walked a few snowy kilometres to the cosy rental cabin. Everyone had agreed there was no need for a car — we were staying next to the slopes anyway.

We were lucky with really snowy weather, as well as some “bluebird” sunny days. But our timing in mid-January was also key because the post-holiday weeks are full of good deals and empty slopes. Plus, at a latitude of 61.7° N, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be cold enough for snow.

As expected, the days were mainly filled with varying combinations of school work and skiing. Everyone had different schedules, but it worked out in approximate shifts – Sometimes, I would join the early birds and snowboard for a few hours before coming home for lunch and afternoon Zoom class; other days, the reverse. The beginning of a semester is generally an easy time to pull this off since courses are still being introduced and the workload is usually lower. 

Most of us knew how to ski or snowboard already, but it was a great place for one Portuguese friend to try for the first time since the terrain is more hilly than mountainous. These trips aren’t all about the main activity, though. I’d argue the other stuff is what makes it memorable: Like cooking group dinners (like Falukorv and mashed potatoes, a Swedish staple), ice skating on a snowy lake nearby, playing board games together, and making good use of the in-house sauna. 

Student life + Pandemic = ?

I know some people would choose not to pursue international master’s studies during a pandemic. There’s a lot of uncertainty, so starting or continuing to work is a wise and/or necessary financial choice for many young adults. For some disciplines, remote learning is a less great solution. I’ve also been asked by Swedes here and people back home if I feel my student experience abroad has been compromised by the situation. My honest answer is an emphatic ‘No’.

Beginning a master’s programme in Sweden was the right choice for me at this chapter of life. Even in the context of a global pandemic with a mix of in-person/online activities and a constantly-adapting campus, my learning has continued. As for my lifestyle, Sweden has proved to be so full of opportunities (especially outdoors) to stay healthy and enjoy life along the way. I’ll spare you the list, but there’s much I’m grateful for here.

P.S. Good luck to everyone applying to KTH

Today, 17 January 2022, marks the deadline to apply for master’s programmes at KTH. Good luck to everyone applying, and don’t forget to submit the required documents for your programme and pay the application fee by 1 February.

// Claire