Ask Mile questions about KTH and read more about his decision to study at KTH, thoughts about Sweden, advice to prospective students and his plans for the future.
Hi, I am Mile Krstev, and I come from a small town in North Macedonia. But I did not quite come to Stockholm straight from there. I first moved to Wales (UK), where I finished high school at an international school described as “Hogwarts for hippies”. I then moved to the US and the UK for my bachelor’s degree, after which I moved to Croatia to work in the civil society sector, and only then did I make it to Stockholm. Here at KTH, I am pursuing a master’s in Sustainable Technology at the School of Architecture and the Built Environment (located on KTH’s main campus). My bachelor’s degree was in Environmental Engineering, which I obtained from Tufts University in the US. And as you may already tell from my frequent moving around, I very much enjoy travelling and learning new languages.
Why did you choose this master’s programme at KTH?
The master’s programme in Sustainable Technology is quite interdisciplinary, which was the primary thing that drew me to this programme. I had felt that my bachelor’s degree was too technical and that it did not always address the multidisciplinarity of complex environmental issues, the solutions to which require not only technical but also social and political considerations. This programme precisely addressed my concerns about “mainstream” engineering education. Nonetheless, I still wanted to continue studying at a renowned engineering school because I liked the engineering approach to problem-solving. That is how this master’s programme at KTH turned out to be the optimal choice for me.
What are the best aspects of your programme?
The interdisciplinary approach at the core of the programme is by far the best aspect of it. This is not only felt in the teaching content or methods but also in the makeup of the students forming part of the programme. In my cohort, we have people from a range of backgrounds: engineering, physics, business, law, and even dentistry! Everyone brings a different perspective, which makes the group work and discussions all the more valuable. The lecturers also come from a range of backgrounds. It may happen that in a single course there are 7-8 different lecturers – each teaching about a specific topic that is part of their research or expertise. Another great aspect of the programme is the freedom it offers when it comes to choosing a focus. There are no predefined specialisation tracks. Instead, there are suggestions of course combinations that students might consider depending on the path they are interested in pursuing. There is also room for three courses from outside the programme, which is great for inquisitive students (like me) whose interests go even beyond the already interdisciplinary courses that are part of the programme.
Have you chosen a specialisation track within the programme?
As I mentioned in the previous question, there are no tracks to choose from. Instead, there are suggestions for course combinations. I have selected some of the more technical courses so far because I enjoy the mathematical and data approaches to sustainability. But I have also taken a course in environmental management, which was a completely new area for me. I will take advantage of the elective (i.e. nonprogramme) courses we can take to deepen my knowledge in environmental modelling and spatial analysis.
What are some of your favourite courses so far?
I loved all the courses I took in the spring semester. In the first half of the semester, I took Waste Management and Environmental Modelling. I had taken somewhat similar courses during my bachelor’s, but both of these courses were at a level that exceeded what I had learnt before. A lot of information was packed in them, but the assignments were great for putting this knowledge to use and testing one’s understanding of the material. In the second half of the semester, I took Environmental Management and Natural Resource Management Tools. The former was a new area for me, and I found it of great help for gaining insights into the corporate side of sustainability (which I had often neglected earlier). The latter was a course from outside the programme, but it was very useful and skill-oriented. My group’s final project focused on identifying suitable areas for ecovillages in the suburban areas of Stockholm.
How do studies at KTH differ from your previous studies?
There is a significant focus on group work at KTH. The group projects are often large and require a lot of collaboration and coordination among group members. This is great preparation for work situations in the future as KTH students graduate with excellent teamwork skills. I have also noticed that there is a major emphasis put on the Sustainable Development Goals. And this is the case for most students, regardless of what they study! Finally, KTH offers students with the opportunity to retake certain exams and have them count only if they score higher – this so-called “plussning” practice takes away a lot of the stress students find themselves under during exam periods.
How is student life in Stockholm?
THS (the student union at KTH) offers an incredible amount of activities for students to meet and interact with each other. And this was even the case during the height of the pandemic. It was amazing to see how quickly the student union was able to adapt and offer a plethora of outdoor activities under the slogan of “Stay Well TH(i)S Winter”. A year ago, I would not have imagined myself walking on a frozen lake in Stockholm with a bunch of students from all over the world (while keeping a physical distance, of course). I also made several friends thanks to the THS activities. Another cool initiative that I have become a “regular” attendee is the biweekly “sustainability walk”. Several of us would gather and go for a walk in the nearby forest while informally discussing sustainability-related questions (from a very personal to a global scale). And there would be free fika (read: cinnamon buns and coffee) provided at the end!
What do you want to do after graduating?
I am still trying to figure this out. In the long term, I am interested in entering academia and becoming a researcher and a professor in the field of natural resource management. But I would also like to try out working as a sustainability consultant or planner in the public or private sector. At KTH, I have approachable professors to whom I often come with this dilemma seeking advice. KTH Career has also been a great resource when it comes to this. I have attended many of the lunch lectures with alumni, some of which I have even contacted after the lectures. All of them are very eager to help younger KTH students and alumni!
What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for master’s studies?
Apply. Especially if you want to be part of a values-driven academic community that tries to make the world a better, healthier, and fairer place to live in. Ultimately, both the result (the degree) and the student experience itself will be more than worth it!