"Stockholm is a very organised town, very clean and with an excellent net of public transportation "
João comes from Olhão, Portugal. His home university is the Faculty of Science and Technology at the New University of Lisbon. He loves playing basketball and watch any sport.
What made you choose KTH and your master's programme?
After finishing my bachelor’s degree in Portugal I decided to do a postgraduate course somewhere in the world, forcing myself into a new experience that I was sure would improve me as a person. My bachelor's degree was in nanotechnology and I wanted to keep myself in the area, learn more to allow me to contribute, in the future, to this emerging area that represents an entry in a new exponential growth of technology. I started looking for universities around the world that were strong in this area and I found KTH with impressive positioning in the rankings (especially in the area) and located in one of the best countries to live, filled with new opportunities and experiences.
What are your impressions of Stockholm and Sweden?
The impressions have been great! First, Stockholm is a beautiful city and we can recognise it after some few minutes in Gamla Stan (the old town of Stockholm). When we hear about the Nordic countries we hear about the auroras, and although they are not usual in Stockholm (but often seen in the north of the country) I had the luck to experience such a beautiful sight in the first days after my arrival.
Stockholm is also a very organised town, very clean and with an excellent net of public transportations (a few of Stockholm's metro stations are considered some of the most beautiful in the world). Everyone speaks perfect English which is great for integration (but not helpful if you want to learn Swedish!). Although things are generally much more expensive than Portugal (and relatively more expensive than other countries in the world), basic but vital services are actually cheap, just like transports, food in supermarkets and even a gymnasium monthly fee.
What do you like most about KTH?
My experience at KTH has been short so far, however, what impressed me the most was the small amount of time we pass in a classroom compared to Portugal. Here it is rarely more than four hours a day, and although we have to work a lot by ourselves, we can do it on our own rhythm which is great for learning.
The proximity with professors, especially in a programme like Nanotechnology, also amazed me. Since we are with them almost every day we start to know them and they start to know us.
KTH is also impressive due to all the events that are always happening and being shared in the campus. It is impossible to go to all, but it is a great way to fill some free time we may have after classes.
What do you like most about being in Stockholm?
The opportunity to improve myself due to the new people I meet and the new culture I face. Learning in one of the best universities in the world is an amazing opportunity (especially if we are speaking in the area of nanotechnology), but it is the experience of being here that I like the most. The number of opportunities in KTH and Stockholm are impressive, not only in an academic point of view, but also for leisure and free time activities – and we can enjoy a bit of all that.
What is your best memory so far from your time at KTH?
My time in KTH has been short so far and I am sure that a lot of great moments will come. Even though, the time passed in Stockholm was already sufficient to experience different great times. If I had to specify one so far, I would have to describe the great moments that the student union (THS) of KTH offers at Nymble (THS’s building), where everybody wants to meet new people and make new friends. Many of my closest friends were met there so I keep great memories from it.
What do you think are the differences between studying at KTH and your home university?
Fortunately, my university in Portugal had all the conditions needed for a proper study in the nanotechnology area (which is expensive), but KTH laboratories not only are enormous but also have all the equipment needed. I believe the biggest difference is related to the amount of hours of lectures we have – much less than in Portugal – that allow us to study by ourselves after classes. We have all the support and counselling from the professors for this study.
What also surprised me was how much KTH is prepared for international students compared to my home university. Everyone speaks English and you have all the information you need also in English. Since KTH joins lots of different cultures, you have rooms prepared for prayers or other cultural needs. You can also find rooms prepared for project preparations that can be used for free (with different equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, etc.) where you can plan and develop your ideas and all the different campuses are equipped with several computers – a true technological university.
What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for master's studies?
Coming to KTH will be a big step in your life. It is not only because of the quality of learning or the amount of opportunities that KTH and Sweden have to offer - you will grow and improve as a person. If you come from another country you will leave behind your friends, your family (although they are within a distance of a phone call!) and everything you know. And change is not easy. But the hard things and hard choices are the ones that make us bigger as persons, not the easy ones.
Choosing to come was not easy, but I am confident that it was one of the best decisions I made in life. Here I have the best teaching, the best conditions, the best life experiences. Here I made new friends and found out new cultures. So come and join us at KTH and give a step towards a better future and life.