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Zhixian comes from Kaifeng, China. She has a bachelor's degree in Water and Wastewater Engineering from Southeast University in Nanjing, China. She is very into cooking and trying hard to become more of a green thumb.

Why did you choose this master's programme at KTH?

There were many reasons combined that made me feel that I was so sure about going to KTH.
I learned a lot about water treatment theories and technologies in my bachelor's courses. It was fascinating for me to think about the complexity of the problems related to water. More often than not, I found that technology is not at the core of solving the problem, but people and society. I felt that I need more knowledge on the social science side to help me understand the issues and better use the technical skills that I already obtained. This programme from KTH perfectly fits my intention, with a flexible curriculum and a great mix of technological and social science courses.
On top of that, I was very impressed by the pursuit of sustainability in KTH. Stockholm is also a lovely city to explore. 

What are the best aspects of your programme?

Environmental engineering is usually an extremely wide topic, with many possible directions for us to explore. The master's programme at KTH is quite flexible and covers a great mix of choices. For example, I could focus on water-related courses and look into economic aspects of sustainability and GIS. The courses feel more concentrated than what I was used to, which means I will direct more energy into the topics and dig deeper. 

What are some of your favourite courses so far?

All the courses I have taken so far are interesting, and it is hard to choose one favourite, so I only narrowed it down to three. 

I enjoyed Political economy for environmental planners in the first semester. We looked into many aspects relating to environmental issues and a little economics. I was exposed to ideas and concepts that were new to me, and we had lots of lively discussions in the class (even though we did everything on Zoom, it was still a great experience).
I enjoy Applied hydrology and Hydraulic engineering in the second semester. These are technical courses with a focus on the application of the theories. We spent most of the time doing assignments and projects, and it helped a lot to grasp the concepts we talked about in the lectures. I also made good friends with my teammates.

How do studies at KTH differ from your previous studies?

For me, there are two major differences worth mentioning. 

The first one is the flexibility of the programme. In my bachelor's studies at SEU, the curriculum was much less flexible compared to KTH. On the one hand, it builds up my knowledge comprehensively and systematically. On the other hand, I cannot choose the courses based on my interests. While at KTH, I am free to choose whatever course I think is interesting and benefit me the most.
The second one is the amount of group work. I did not have as much group work experience in SEU as in KTH. Here for every course, I have had, almost all assignments were done within a group. We learn better as a group, and we learn from each other. 

How would you describe your time at KTH so far?

I found something that I did not know I need. Growing up in a highly competitive and fast-paced learning environment, one can easily lose sight of what one truly wants. Because of the pandemic, we had fewer social activities and could spend more time on our own, combined with the fact that Stockholm is a city surrounded by beautiful nature to enjoy. I realized that slowing down to have more fun and think about life is an ability to learn.
I also had a great time with friends. My friend circle here is incredibly international. It is a valuable experience for me to learn about each other's culture.

What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for master's studies?

I know that it can be confusing when deciding on where to go next, and it can be scary thinking about living abroad or moving across the world. But trust me, you will not regret it.