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Saba is 24 years old and comes from north-eastern India. She came to Sweden and KTH to study the Sustainable Urban Planning and Design programme. Since moving to Stockholm, she has enjoyed spending her leisure time in museums, attending architectural exhibitions, exploring the city, and swimming in Stockholm’s lakes (but only during summer!).

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

During my bachelor’s programme in Architecture, the projects and courses I enjoyed the most were in my final year, where we had an urban design studio and a theory course on urban development. That is when I decided I wanted to continue in this direction and work on projects beyond the constraints of a singular built mass. In other words, go into a more specialised field beyond Architecture. Regarding sustainability, I realised how important it is when I first came to Sweden in 2019 for an exchange programme. Sustainability in the built environment is hardly stressed upon in my country. Given the current state of the world, among its environmental and societal challenges, I believe it demands more students to specialise in it and apply it in practice. KTH is the only university I found which offers a programme that strictly integrates sustainability into urban planning and design. Moreover, KTH’s global ranking in the field of Architecture and Built Environment and its strong reputation in Scandinavia naturally make it an attractive option for international students.

What are the best aspects of your programme?

Having classmates from different backgrounds is one of the best aspects of the programme. It is the fuel for a nuanced, multi-disciplinary approach to solving design problems and simultaneously considering multiple perspectives on any given challenge. The workflow in every assignment is dynamic, constantly evolving and strengthened by technical, artistic and scientific knowledge. I have peers from all disciplines, including architecture, planning, engineering, sustainability studies, social science and more. It is stimulating to interact with them regularly and participate in the knowledge exchange that comes with it.

Have you chosen a specialisation track within the programme?

I have chosen the Urban Design track mainly because I want to continue working with design projects and be able to do so in a creative studio environment. It compliments my strengths and background in Architecture. For a student like me, who has minimal experience with theoretical subjects and literature seminars, I think this track has the perfect balance of practical project work and theory. Following this track will allow me to get a “major in Architecture” along with my MSc. degree, which will also benefit my career.

What are some of your favourite courses so far?

The studio courses, Textures (AD2867) and Situations (AD2862), were my favourites so far. I like how it demands that we approach design and justify our design decisions through specific urban theory. It is new and different compared to traditional architecture school design. Throughout the programme, I genuinely appreciate the importance given to academic literature and the fact that I get to read, learn and expand my knowledge base constantly.

Introduction to Urban Economics (AD2865) is one of our theory courses which I also immensely enjoyed for similar reasons. Before this course, I had no idea how the economy shapes our urban fabric. It was a deep dive into the field, and I feel much wiser, having learnt about the intricacies behind urban formation processes.

How do studies at KTH differ from your previous studies?

One specific difference I can mention is that, in the SUPD programme, when we have our midterm or final presentations, the setting is much more relaxed compared to the “final jury” or “final crit” that happens in Architecture schools universally. It reduces the stress considerably and allows for more discussions and feedback sessions. We, students, can present our projects as a “work in progress” without worrying about mistakes or incomplete details. We have also had the opportunity to interact with and present our projects to the city planners from different Municipality offices on multiple occasions. This is an excellent initiative by KTH to bring students closer to present-day, real-world issues and allow us to understand how urban development projects get sanctioned in practice.

How is student life in Stockholm?

As an international student, I have been staying in the student accommodations on KTH main campus for almost a year, allowing me to experience KTH and Stockholm student life to its full potential. The campus is beautiful, with its medieval-style architecture and abundant greenery, fully equipped with modern facilities and easy accessibility. The location of this campus is right next to a metro station, and its 20-minute walking distance to the city centre is strategic and perfect for a newcomer. All common services that a student might need are within reach. As for Stockholm, I am a city girl and have immensely enjoyed everything this city offers. There is much to observe in its architecture, urban planning, sustainability initiatives and, of course, the delightful archipelago. People are kind and helpful, there are no judgemental eyes, the city is very safe, and it comes with plenty of freedom. My only complaint is I love driving, but I cannot do that here!

How would you describe your time at KTH so far?

So far, KTH has lived up to all my expectations and gone beyond them. The academic journey has been challenging but also rewarding. Being a master's student is no easy task, so it is imperative to traverse this path in the right environment. The simple things like being able to watch the seasons change across KTH's famous "vines on the wall", grabbing fika at the cosy campus cafes, the terrace of our school building that offers spectacular views over Stockholm, sitting in the very cool library building, having a picnic lunch with my classmates in the main courtyard, visiting Osqvik (the student union's archipelago cottage), and so on has eased the journey and made it a very memorable one. 

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

Whether you have already decided to join KTH or are hesitant, it is natural to have your inhibitions. But I believe you will have made the right decision by choosing the high-quality education and student life that KTH offers. If you are worried about stepping into this country - this is my second time coming to study in Sweden, and I have not regretted my decision. KTH offers many resources to help international students with their academic and otherwise troubles. You will also get many opportunities to network and strengthen your career prospects. It is a diverse, passionate, energetic, and ambitious student community that you will be a part of. And in times of doubt, you will find that the professors in our programme are friendly, kind, and approachable. You will feel right at home!