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Why not learn Swedish?

Learning the Swedish language makes communication much easier in Stockholm. Since I fell in love with Stockholm, I made plans to stay after graduation. Therefore, I decided to learn Swedish for better integration into the Stockholm community. I know a few options on how you can learn Swedish as well and for free!

A short course in August

Some of my friends took the opportunity to participate in a Swedish course in August, before the beginning of the academic year. They said it was a great way to start a student life online! The course lasts around two weeks and a few days. Learning a few phrases will definitely be useful once you come to Sweden. I would recommend not missing this chance!

Swedish courses at KTH

I have great news for you! KTH offer both credit and non-credit courses in Swedish for free!

It is an amazing way to find out more about Swedish history, culture and society. The non-credit course provides knowledge on contemporary life in Stockholm, most common phrases, grammar and basic vocabulary. The course consists of three stages: Introduction course, advanced course and professional Swedish. Each of them runs for one semester, which is around three months. For non-credit courses, you can apply from 15 to 31 August.

Credit-bearing course in Swedish gives 7.5 ECTS and runs throughout the entire course at KTH, plus an intensive course in June and August. This course is provided fully on campus so it’s a great opportunity to meet your peers!

Language cafe at KTH

Would you like to learn a new language and meet new people in a relaxed atmosphere? I am talking about having lunch with students on campus and improving your French, Spanish, or Italian! KTH offers language cafes for you to find out more about new cultures by learning languages!

Did I catch your interest? Why don’t you check what languages you could learn each weekday? On Mondays, you can speak Japanese!

The tandem program at KTH

If you feel like the course is too much for you and you don’t want to spend much time, why not try the tandem – language partner programme? Perhaps you would like to go abroad for an exchange programme or would like to meet someone of a different culture and expand your views. This is a perfect opportunity to get together with someone speaking their native language that you would love to hear.

It is a chance to learn at self-paced and possibly establish a new friendship. Can you imagine a conversation where one person speaks one language and the other half – the other language? Sounds exciting even to picture it! You can find more about how this remarkable conversation works here!

SFI

I chose to learn Swedish at “Swedish for immigrants”. It is a government-funded organisation offering free of charge Swedish classes for everyone! It is a great opportunity to meet people around Stockholm.

Even though the course is quite intense, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the tutors are super friendly! Every Monday and Wednesday, I bike to one of the SFI schools and improve my Swedish skills in a fun way! I guess the best part of learning Swedish in school is that you can practice speaking with your classmates in reality and gather contacts! I have met people from Brasil, the Netherlands, Iran and Australia!

At the moment, we are learning a lot of grammar, which is quite similar to german. So far, I can order a cup of coffee in Swedish, pick up some words from conversations around me, and introduce myself!

I am off to do some Swedish homework now! Hopefully, you will join me in Swedish classes next year or meet my friends at the Swedish course in KTH!

//Martyna

Secret tips on a good architecture portfolio

When applying to KTH, your best skills and knowledge should be presented in your architecture portfolio. When Covid came, I had recently completed my Bachelor’s programme and was looking for an internship. Since it was a hard time for everyone, I was unlucky to get it. Fortunately, I spent more or less a few months on the graphics and layout of my portfolio. So here you can find some essential points for a good portfolio:

Your portfolio’s presentation is just as important as its content

The visual composition can make your portfolio pop up. This shows your grasp of an essential skill: graphic design. Even though your analysis and work in your portfolio are thorough and useful, remember that communicating your ideas is crucial! It is better to show an image rather than a text. It should take a few seconds for a reader to understand the main idea you are trying to convey. Give your friends or family to take a look at the portfolio. Then ask them what they think is translated from an image!

Less is more

A long portfolio does not necessarily mean a better one. The iconic phrase “Less is more”- by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe could be applied to our portfolios. For instance, add as little text as possible. Using images instead would be a great way to communicate! Since the person going through your portfolio won’t have time to read it. Additionally, the use of colour should be deliberate. The colour could take away the focus from your main idea.

Consistency is the key!

Indesign is one of the best software to put your portfolio altogether. You can set a font and size of the font – this creates a coherent portfolio that is easy to read. Keep the layout of the portfolio consistent. This could be achieved by drafting a few page layout variations and repeating them throughout the file. When adding a short image explanation, make it as little as possible. Almost invisible!

If you are using colour, set a colour scheme and stick to it throughout all your projects. Sadly, I used quite a lot of colour in my projects years ago. Eventually, they lacked coherence when I had to combine all the projects since they had different colour schemes. Learning from my own mistakes too!

Other examples

It is very useful to look at other portfolios to comprehend the task of presentation. However, I would not recommend copying! Try to reinterpret what you like in your own way! Some good portfolios can be found on issuu! This was my main source of inspiration.

Good luck with your portfolio, and do not forget to be yourself! If you have questions about a good CV, check Lorenzo’s eye-catching CV post! Tips on the application can be found here!

//Martyna

Support COP27 on campus!

As some may know, this year marks the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27). And the main venue is in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 8 November to 17 November. KTH Climate Action Centre is also collaborating with We Don’t Have Time to host a hub on campus (Vallahallavägen 79), where a series of events will be held and serves as a platform for different stakeholders to share their views on climate change. Follow me and have a glimpse of what is happening in the hub!

The entrance to the COP27 hub on campus!

About COP27

As a global agenda, the UN has engaged almost every country for these annual international climate summits, known as the “Conference of the Parties” (COPs). For nearly three decades, world leaders and negotiators, experts, government representatives, businesses and citizens have been gathered for around one to two weeks of talks to put heads together for the sake of our planet under this special occasion.

Inside the hub where you can find the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals boxes

The KTH COP27 Hub

Being a world-leading technical and engineering university with a strong emphasis on sustainability, KTH is the ideal representative from Stockholm and Sweden for hosting the hub for COP27.

Inside the OpenLab is a space displaying boxes of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. Banners and pamphlets introducing the KTH Climate Action Centre and the organization We Don’t Have Time are also available for people who want to learn more about them. Further inside the building is the hall where the COP27 broadcast of the main event in Egypt is being held, where everyone can take a seat and interact with speakers from all over the globe about different climate change topics.

A live broadcast session is ongoing inside the hub

Apart from the live broadcast, workshops and events are organized simultaneously over the week. For instance, a round table discussion is going to be held tomorrow, and yesterday there was a Climate Fresk workshop. These are valuable learning opportunities beyond the classroom where students can engage in discussions with participants from other backgrounds to brainstorm ideas in the context of COP27.

I hope this blog post lets you know more about COP27 and the KTH COP27 hub, and stay tuned for more event updates on campus from us later on!

//Raygo

My first week in Stockholm

Today marks exactly two months and a half since I’ve moved to Stockholm. So, I thought of sharing my first week in the Venice of the North with you – let’s see if reality met expectations!

A garden seen through a window
The first picture I took in Sweden: a view from my room’s window

My first week in Stockholm was jam-packed, stressful and hectic – but it was also fun, surprising and unbelievably mind-opening! Honestly, I think it was this mixture of positive and scary (?) feelings that mainly characterised my first week in Sweden.

I admit that at the beginning I was feeling quite lost. Indeed, I had never lived alone before, and I had never lived in a foreign country either – so I guess my anxiety was justified. But here comes the first game changer: the International Reception.

The International Reception is a series of activities organised by THS, the Student Union of KTH. It lasts about one month and its primary goal is to make international students feel welcome and help new students to get to know each other better through a series of games, trips, activities and parties. I highly recommend you to participate in the International Reception, not only because of the activities themselves (which are still super fun and pretty varied), but also to get to know your first friends. It also really helps in getting to know the Swedish culture and Stockholm better, and they keep you busy – if you’re feeling alone, they will certainly help you enjoy your first days more.

Picture of Gamla Stan's main square
Gamla Stan is one of Stockholm’s neighbourhoods: a must-visit in your first week!

My first week was also characterised by a ton of bureaucratic activities. I started looking for a Swedish phone number (without much success) and opening a bank account (with even less success) without realising that I first needed to get my personal identity number – which I soon did. But hey, even though running errands is always boring, it can also turn into a chance to explore the city! I walked a lot and started getting accustomed to my new home. Oh, and I also bought a bicycle, had a bath in the Swedish archipelago, and attended the Welcome Ceremony for the start of the academic year at KTH… sooo many things. Trust me, the first one or two weeks can be incredibly full!

A picture of the choir and people with flags inside Stockholm's City Hall
The Welcome Ceremony at Stockholm City Hall

And finally, being Italian, I must admit that I spent A TON (probably too much) time looking for the best shops and places to buy food. And… well, there is a lot of room for improvement, but overall I would say that Stockholm can offer you quite a variety of food and culinary contamination; so, if you’re into food, you may end up not that disappointed after all.

That’s a wrap for today! Thank you very much for reading this blog post. As always, if you have any questions feel free to write them below. Lastly, if you’re also feeling scared by the Swedish Winter, check out Raygo’s last post on the topic!

Coping with Swedish winter

Hey guys, it’s Raygo here again, as the Halloween celebrations have just been over while November is taking over, which means winter is approaching. Being considered the most challenging season in Sweden, if not the entire Scandinavia, I would like to share some tips today that you may consider when coping with the Swedish winter.

This sunset view was taken from my accommodation at Malvinas at 3:30 p.m.: say hello to Swedish winter!

Making good use of the sunlight

Stockholm is located at a relatively high latitude compared to other European cities. This implies, on the one hand, the daytime can be as long as up to 18 hours during mid-summer. On the other hand, during winter, daylight could reduce to 6 hours only. This extreme condition makes the winter in Stockholm is very unbearable for most. Therefore, the rule of thumb to adapt to the Swedish winter is to make good use of the daytime by adjusting your daily routine. For instance, if you were not a morning person, you may have to restrain yourself from waking up after 7 to 8 a.m. when the sunlight first strikes the land. In such a way, you may maximize the time exposed to sunlight, and it is less likely for you to get into winter depression.

Kill time with friends

Another practical tip I would suggest is spending more time with friends during winter. It is normal to feel lonely when facing darkness alone in Sweden. Hence, an ideal way to distract yourself from thinking about the long and seemingly endless nights in winter is to hang out more with friends. During winter, there are loads of such opportunities, like during Christmas.

Enjoy the exclusive winter events and sports

Last but not least, I recommend you try all the exclusive winter events and sports available in Sweden during winter. For instance, during winter at Kungsträdgården, the park near the city centre would transform into an ice rink, where you can spend a lovely day ice-skating. Additionally, skiing is a popular winter sports option for many others when it gets even colder and snows. Immersing yourselves in these awesome activities is another way to fight against stress during Swedish winter!

//Raygo

Let’s go to Egypt for a seminar course!

Architecture students have participated in one-week workshops with Pharos University in Alexandria, Egypt. For the first time, we had an opportunity to apply for a seminar course in Egypt! What an adventure it was…I am not going to lie – it exceeded my expectations.

Egypt seminar course mosque
Visiting mosques with Pharos University students

KTH and Pharos University in Alexandria have organised workshops for students to come together. The workshops aimed to raise awareness about neglected and unprotected heritage buildings in Egypt and the erosion of the coastline along the Nile delta.

I felt like I won a lottery ticket when I found out I got into this seminar course since many people applied…On top of that, KTH covered all the travelling costs…

boat trip the nile in egypt
Boat trip on the Nile!

We heard so much about the rich history of Egypt and the oldest library of Alexandria. Nevertheless, Alexandria seemed so ‘untouched’ and ‘raw’ in terms of vintage cars, old technologies and lifestyle, as if tourism has never reached this ‘corner’ of the world. Local people in Alexandria were so welcoming and always willing to interact with us. Once we asked a person for directions – five more came to help, which felt heart-warming.

On the third day, we reached a small town, Rashid, along the Nile. We hopped on a boat and travelled to see the site we would be developing together! Many activities were happening along the Nile’s coast: people were fishing with nets, boating and producing bricks! What can you ask for more? An iced tea? Well, they had a small cafeteria on the boat…

workshops presentations in egypt
Brainstorming and presenting!

Group presentations on the last day were hectic but so thrilling! Together we worked in a group of four on master planning of fishermen’s houses and a small community. Students and lecturers at Pharos University treated us with traditional dishes and sweets every day – we probably gained a few kilos, but it was mouth-watering!

The experience was mesmerising and unforgetful; it still feels like a dream… I hope they will organise it next year for you to participate!

//Martyna