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Stockholm’s Woods and Waters

I’ve found that most students that come to study at KTH choose the university for its career opportunities, its reputation, its campus facilities, etc.. If you ask students living here what their favourite thing about Stockholm is though, the answer is often “I love how close I am to nature!”

Map over Stockholm

It’s definitely one of my favourite things about life in Stockholm, how easy it is to get into the nature reserves and forests around the city. When you move over and get settled in the city you’ll find that there is a close connection between the city and the wild natural areas. People love getting out to go hiking, camping or picnicking. At different times of the year there are festivals and activities that people go the countryside for, such as Valborg in the spring, Midsommar in June or mushroom picking in the autumn.

A view in the forest

With Stockholm being stretched over 14 islands, and over 70% of Sweden being covered in forests, it’s no surprise that the water and the woods play a big part in the Swedish lifestyle. Boating and swimming are very common here in the summer time, or ice skating in the winter. There is also a law here called “Allemansrätten”, which ensures that the public has the right to camp, hike, swim and paddle basically anywhere.

Another forest view

The city is planned so that everyone has easy access to green spaces. The suburbs I have lived in have felt like house blocks within forests. Since I’ve moved to Stockholm I have always lived walking distance from parks, woods and lakes, or just a short bus ride away from nature reserves and wild landscapes.

A view across a lake

I’ve added some of my favourite photos from my trips around the parks in Stockholm, but check out Valerie’s post here or Claire’s post here to see some more pretty photos and stories!

~ Declan

Apps that make student life simpler

In Sweden, digitalisation is seen as a key way to increase efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of society. KTH is a big believer in this mission, which is why digitization is actually one of its pillars. Throughout my time as a student, the number of apps in the “Sverige” folder on my phone has only grown, but it’s made my life here easier to manage. Here are my top suggestions:

Apps for: Swedish

Välkommen till Sverige! If you’re like most international students, you won’t know much Swedish upon arrival, and that’s alright. 

  • Google Translate – still an essential app for me. The scan-translating function is really useful.  
  • Folkets Lexikon (“the people’s dictionary”) the most accurate Swedish <> English translator, though you can only search individual words. It’s a great tool for Swedish class.
  • Duolingo – For learning Swedish on your own time, this can be an engaging (and free) starting point.
Screenshot of apps

Apps for: Transport

While living in Sweden, I’ve rarely ridden in a car. Planning my path from A to B has never been easier, thanks to a few apps and Stockholm’s infrastructure.  

  • Google Maps – In my case, for determining whether taking my bike is faster than jumping on the metro.
  • SL app – Short for “Storstockholms Lokaltrafik” or Greater Stockholm Local Transport, this is Stockholm’s public transport app. I buy tickets in the app and then scan the QR code to access any SL bus, tram, metro, ferry, or commuter train. (See SL ArtGuide for learning about the history and art installations in the metro stations along the way).
  • SJ – Short for “Sveriges Järnvägar” or Sweden’s Railway, this is your app for booking a longer-distance train trip. 
Screenshot of apps

Apps for: Staying informed

This is the catch-all category of apps I use to manage my life and stay informed about everything from classes to the weather.

  • Canvas – Canvas is the digital learning platform used by KTH. Although it has a web version too, I use the app to keep an eye on my coursework, updates, and communications for studies. 
  • The Local – A popular news outlet in Sweden which writes informative articles in English, though the free version has limited access. 
  • Naturkartan – For finding everything from hiking trails in national parks to local swimming spots, this app is one of my favourite guides to the outdoors.  
  • Aurora – An app for keeping an eye on the geomagnetic conditions (especially from September to April). Earlier this year, we saw the northern lights from Stockholm.  
Screenshot of apps

Apps for: Discounts

These apps are a good foundation, but for more tips on saving money as a student, check out other blog posts.

  • Mecenat; Studentkortet; ISIC – Once you have proof of registration for your first semester of studies, you can activate your digital student card in all of these apps to access all kinds of discounts. When people ask for verification of student status, Mecenat is what I usually show here, as it’s specific to Sweden.
  • Too Good to Go; Karma; OLIO – Apps like these are great for reducing food waste while saving money on things like produce, bakery goods, and takeout.
Screenshot of apps

Apps for: Finances

One thing that makes my life simpler is having my credit cards in my phone’s digital wallet; contactless payment is very normal here. As for the apps that fall under this category – most of them aren’t necessary until you’ve registered for a personnummer and bank account. But still:

  • Your bank’s app – There are many banks in Sweden, and most have an app. I use my Swedish bank app for a lot of things, like paying my rent or transferring miscellaneous debts to friends. 
  • BankID – It’s basically an authentication app that can be used for many things, from verifying payments to signing documents. You can read more here
  • Swish – An app for making instant transfers or payments directly from your Swedish bank account to someone else’s, requiring only their phone number to do so. BankID is used to authenticate and confirm the transaction.
Screenshot of apps

For even more information on how to prepare for studies in Sweden, be sure to check out the upcoming KTH webinars. Good luck with your digital, and other, preparations!

// Claire

Excited for Sweden? Series, Films & Books

Want to get to know more about the Swedish culture? Interested in getting an insight into the life of Stockholm? Want to find a new series to pass your time? I think I can help…

I remember getting accepted into KTH, being so excited but knowing very little about the place I was travelling to. I found that watching films and series and reading books helped me to get into the culture and made Sweden a real thing. So I’ve put together a collection of some of my favourite films, series and books to help you get in the mood.

Scene from Young Royals TV Show
Scene from Young Royals

Series

Watching a show on Netflix can be the easiest, most accessible way to get a glimpse into a new culture. These few were all made around Stockholm and aside from giving a sense of the place, they’re just quality entertainment.

Quicksand – This was the first show I watched when I was thinking about coming to Sweden.

Snabba Cash – Drugs, gang wars and violence, the Swedes like their shows dark. Although this might show otherwise, I swear Stockholm is actually a very safe place to live!

Young Royals – It’s not easy being a prince… This is the series I’m currently obsessed with, watching it in Swedish to try learn at the same time.

Scene from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film
Scene from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Movies

In the film world, Sweden is known as bit of a powerhouse.

The Girl with the Dragon TattooNordic Noir films have been popular around the world, and this one is especially famous.

You, The Living – This is one of those wonderfully artistic films, almost feels like theatre. It has a brilliant aesthetic and dry humour

Mamma Mia – Okay, maybe not art-house film, maybe not even a Swedish movie, but if you haven’t fallen in love with Abba yet, now’s the time.

Pippi Longstocking Illustration
Pippi Longstocking Illustration

Books

If you rather cosy up with a nice book, this part is for you. Although they’re written in Swedish, you can usually find these as ebooks translated online.

City of My Dreams – This is a classic about moving to Stockholm. Although it’s a teenager in 1850 and not an university student, you might relate. It’s a great historic view of Stockholm and just stuffed full of great stories.

A Man Called Ove – This one is a bit more contemporary. It’s one of those heartwarming books about a cranky old man, and it’s also been made into a film.

Pippi Longstocking – You’ve probably heard of this one. Pippi is one of the most famous characters to come out of Sweden, and the books are lovely to read, even if they are written for kids.

Enjoy!

~Declan

Why I’m learning Swedish (and how you can too)

So, you’re moving to Sweden! How much have you thought about… Swedish? As you know, all master’s programmes at KTH are taught in English, and there’s a generally high level of English spoken by Swedes, young and old. In your day-to-day life in Stockholm, you can manage quite easily without knowing Swedish. 

So, why learn Swedish?

Where it becomes more relevant is your personal life. If you learn the vocabulary around you, from grocery store goods to public transport instructions, you’ll save time at the very least. But socially, the Swedish community is tightly knit, so the language can be critical for integrating in the long-term, for example, if you plan to work in Sweden after studies. 

In addition – like English, Swedish is a relatively simple language (grammatically). For example, verbs are conjugated according to verb tense, but not subject. As a Germanic language, many words have the same roots as the equivalent in English. So, if you speak English (or even better, English and German), you’ll have a foundation to build off. 

Options for learning Swedish

1 | Introductory course at KTH 

When I first arrived in August 2020, I enrolled in the introductory Swedish course at KTH, which you can take to earn A1 level certification. But, it was still early in the pandemic, the course was fully online, and the format didn’t suit my learning style for languages. It’s now back in a normal format, and more details can be found here

2 | “Osmosis” 

This is the approach I took for most of 2021, and I recommend it – to an extent. After dropping the KTH course, I embraced a more organic form of learning by trying to get as immersed in the language as possible. I befriended Swedish classmates, played with a Swedish women’s club soccer team, watched Swedish Netflix with subtitles, and made an effort to learn a vocabulary of things I encountered regularly. This approach was key for developing an ear for the language and distinguishing the vowel sounds I initally struggled with. But overall, it’s difficult to practise Swedish through daily interactions and spontaneous conversations; most people here will default to English if they notice you’re not fluent. It’s courteous, but not great for learning.

3 | Learn online with Learning Swedish

This is a free online course provided by the Swedish Institute (SI). I studied several of the online modules during 2021 as well and found it beneficial as an introduction to structured vocabulary and grammar basics.

4 | Swedish for Immigrants (SFI)

By the end of last year, I wanted to get more serious, so I enrolled in classes at a local school, which is possible through the organisation SFI for free with a personnummer. I study 5 hours per week, in-person at a school 10-minutes away. It’s taught entirely in Swedish, and the class is dynamic, with a variety of lecturing, writing exercises, online trivia, and conversation practice. The pace is steady but designed for long-term learning, so I’ve considered switching to an intensive course for academics once I’m done with my thesis.

In review… you do you!

For me, learning Swedish has been really rewarding and insightful, even though I’m still far from fluent. Language is always intertwined with culture – it shapes the way we think and articulate our feelings. I have gained a lot of perspective on Swedish culture, events, and people by devoting a little time to the language. As a longer-term student, it’s been a positive part of my experience. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you. Whether you decide to pursue resources for learning online, in-person, or not at all, you will still live a relatively normal life while in Sweden as an English speaker. 

// Claire

Newly Admitted to KTH? Check out these upcoming events

Today is the day!

Admissions results were officially sent out this afternoon. To those of you who have been admitted, congratulations! 

To those who weren’t, I hope you have other paths for personal growth to look forward to. I pursued other interests and short term jobs between my bachelor’s and master’s studies; sometimes extra time or experience ends up shaping you into an even more prepared (and attractive) candidate. 

In anticipation of getting organised, moving to Sweden, and beginning studies at KTH, let me suggest that you keep a close eye on the “New at KTH” webpage – today, and for the next few months. 

Live chat – tomorrow!

Do you have questions? Get them answered! There will be a live chat available tomorrow, Friday 8 April from 9.30 – 16.00 CET. Directly from the KTH website, you can message with KTH staff and students in real-time.

Mark your calendar for the KTH Webinars

Check out the webinars and events that KTH offers, and be sure to register for them. You won’t want to miss the first one, “New At KTH” on Tuesday 12 April at 16.00 CET. After that, there will be other webinars covering topics like tuition payments, accommodation, and arrival. 

Get connected with your peers

This is also a prime time to start getting connected to your future classmates and community. You can find links to join the KTH Admitted Students 2022 Facebook Group or QQ group here. This page also includes links to other social media channels, which are updated regularly with timely information.

This is just a highlight of some of the resources available to you as a new student. Be sure to check out the links and find details for other exciting opportunities — like connecting with a KTH student, programme-specific events, and regional networking. 

Again, congrats!

// Claire

Admission Results are out today!

After all the waiting, the researching and the applying, now at last the time has come. The admission results arrive today! 

A sunny day in Stockholm

Thinking back to when I got my admission results email, I remember it as one of those important life-change moments. For me, it was in April of 2020 and the pandemic had just hit. It really was a strange time, the whole world was a bit upside down. In the middle of Ireland’s first lockdown, I had just lost a job and moved back in with my parents. Getting the news that I could go to study in KTH was such a boost of good energy and made me so excited for the future!

I remember running down the stairs in ecstasy and saying to my family “I’m going to Sweden!”. I’m sure I sounded a bit mad. Although I had never been to Sweden before and knew very little about the place, I was really looking forward to go experience it. The thoughts of this new adventure brightened up the rest of my summer. It was the start of the great journey that has been my KTH life for the past two years.

I did receive some more offers from other universities, but none were as welcoming or seemed to have the same level of quality as KTH. Between the possibility to talk to current students, the webinar events and the social media channels, I felt that I could already become a part of the KTH school community before I arrived. 

I hope you feel the same excitement if you have receive your admission results today! If you are one of the lucky ones, this is the most important website for you right now: New at KTH. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the Upcoming Events Page.

And finally, congratulations! or in Swedish, grattis! It might be a bit overwhelming and may take some time for the shock to sink in, so in the meantime, here are a few links to find out more about KTH and about Sweden…

See you in Stockholm soon!

~ Declan