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 classes are now all 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, and access to campus buildings has been removed to all students. 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.

 

Winter in Stockholm: a Canadian’s perspective

So one of the things about coming to study in Sweden is the weather. You’ll be living in Scandinavia, the Nordics, North Pole, etc. etc. and might be scared of living in the snowy and cold city. Well, let me reassure you, it’s not as bad as you think, to my deepest regret.

Actual representation of winter in Stockholm. PC: cheeseweb.eu

I love winter sports and I was looking forward to skating, cross-country skiing, winter running, etc., but I think I was pretty much the only one around here. I almost brought my cross-country skis to go in the forest behind campus, but I’m glad I didn’t because it snowed a total of three times 😅. Temperature has been above zero almost every day, which left me daydreaming of home where my friends were out skiing/snowshoeing basically every weekend.

The good thing about this non-winter is that I could keep using my bike throughout the colder months and me not bringing my “real” winter jacket was not a problem. February was quite sunny, which meant lots of walks around the city, and lots of bumping into Swedes stopping along their way to feel the sun of their faces.

Camp Ripan, Kiruna. PC: ripan.se

It is also possible to see true winter by travelling up north, in Lappland. Just a night-train away, Kiruna or Abisko are places where you’ll be able to go dogsledding, see the Northern Lights (if you are lucky!), play around in the snow and experience super-short days! I’m definitely going to go next winter 🙂

Climate change might bring more and more of these warm winters, so let’s hope next year is going to be more normal! But until then, you’ll be okay.

How to plan moving out of KTH accommodation

Good news: When you get admitted as an international student, you get access to KTH accommodation!

Bad news: You can only stay one year in your KTH accommodation, so you need to find a new place before the end of your contract.

Good news: There are many ways to find a new flat, and here is a quick guide for you!

PC: lostinspainblog.wordpress.com

SSSB

SSSB stands for Stockholms Student Bostäder, which roughly means Stockholm’s student housing association. They own many buildings around the city with many, many, many rooms/apartments/studios for students only. In order to get a flat from them, you need to get in queue, and apply for an accommodation you like. The person with the most days in the queue “wins” the bid and gets the place. To get in queue you need to be a member of THS, the student union at KTH, and simply sign up (as early as May before starting your degree!). It is rather simple, and you get choices from many different types of flats for any budgets.

Facebook

After SSSB, I would say your best chance is to look on Facebook groups such as this one. People post available flats and you can contact them through comments or direct messaging. You can also post something about yourself and people will contact you if they would like to rent something to you. For this option, I suggest looking up all the time, and visit A LOT of places, since the student housing market is quite saturated. With patience and a little work you should find something.

Blocket

Blocket is the online second-hand store, where you can find pretty much anything, including a flat. Some people advertise rooms in flatshares, studios, etc. It’s a good place to start and look for prices and locations.

ByggVesta

ByggVesta is another organisation that owns buildings, including some with student-only accommodations. They are pretty new, but very competitive, and the sign up is only in Swedish, so Google Translate will be your bff for this one.

PC: 9fail.com

For all options, I suggest starting to look earlier than later. This way you won’t end up in panic mode in the middle of summer because you can’t find a flat. I also suggest asking second year students you might go away for their thesis and could give you their rooms! Also beware of people asking you to pay money before signing an actual contract. You can also ask a friend to go and visit with you if you are not comfortable going alone :).

~Stockholm Nightlife~

Stockholm may not be famous like Barcelona or Berlin for its nightlife scene, but there are still many options to enjoy a night out in the city. Here are some suggestions! If you come from Europe, you might find Stockholm prices for drinks and beer quite expensive, but for the Canadian that I am, it’s not that bad. There are still places that are more affordable for students like us 🙂

Chapter pubs

As the school is divided by chapters for the different subjects, each chapter has a pub and opens once a week. Chapter pubs are a great place to get really cheap beer on campus, and might be a good pre-drink option if you plan on going out after. If you are on campus on a Thursday or Friday, just follow the music and you will find them!

Nymble Parties

Nymble is the student association building. Most weekends, THS organizes a party in the building, featuring a huge dancefloor, DJ and bar. If you live on campus, it’s the perfect place to party since you can sneak out when you are tired and go to bed 🙂

Bars

Close to campus are quite many After Work bars that offer happy hour deals on beer and food, such as AW, or Bar International which is less cheap but very festive, in Östermalm, and the Flying Horse, close to Odenplan. The. A little further away from campus is a very “mysigt” place called Bron, which offers a nice view over Kungsholmen and the river below. There are also the Baras franchises (Backe, Enkelt and Ställe), situated in Södermalm, which have quite cheap beer, good music and really cool decorations.

Clubs

Stockholm’s clubs are quite nice, they are usually very big with different rooms with different music, so it fits most styles! Most of them have a cover charge, but some offer free entry before 11pm or midnight. There is Café Opera, a pretty famous one, as well as Sklakthuset, close to Globen. Closer to KTH campus are Ohlsson Skor and Bar Solidaritet, both cool places with good music.

There are many many more places to discover, depending on your music preferences and vibe, but these suggestions show that there is plenty to do to enjoy a night out in Stockholm!