An exchange decision can be difficult for some people. It represents uncertainty, adventure, and meeting new friends. As an IT student, I kept a “Just do I.T.”(guess what I am studying?) attitude in mind and choose Sweden as my exchange country. Why Sweden? You may ask; my answer is that Sweden is a distant and mysterious country to me, yet everyone in Sweden speaks English better than me (unlike most other European countries). Another reason is because of the university – KTH. I want to study subjects that are not offered at UTS, so naturally I will find a university that offers them.
I know many people will not start their exchange straight away; some travelling before uni is always a good idea. I am no exception to this, I’ve travelled to a few European countries including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland and others.
Unlike Australia’s brief historical timeline which only takes a few high school history lessons to cover; European countries have their history dated back to a few thousand years.
During my travelling, I learnt that many empires and kingdoms believed building churches would cause their country to gain prosperity. It is common to see many gigantic churches that took more than 200 years to build. Unlike many other ancient buildings and landmarks, most churches were preserved after WW2 as they were excluded from bombing targets during the war. I have also included few photos I have taken during my adventure in this blog.
By the time I arrived in Stockholm, I had already gotten used to European countries. So transitioning into Sweden was not a difficult part. Although I have to buy all the groceries and get used to living without a car at my disposal, it is still very convenient due to Sweden’s advanced transport system. I must say that subways are different from the trains in Sydney, they are more frequent and also less comfortable. You get to experience some sudden, dramatic accelerations and decelerations in Stockholm’s subway system, which is very different from the slow yet comfortable double-story trains in Sydney.
One important characteristic of Sweden that is very different from most of the other EU countries is their English speaking level. So far everyone I have met in Sweden can speak English probably better than me. If someone speaks Swedish to you and you look awkward, they will change into perfect English the next second and makes you think that you are back in Australia.
As an exchange student, you will have the opportunity to meet other students from different parts of the world. Living in student accommodation offered by KTH, I met different exchange students from countries that I never heard of before. That’s when you will have the chance to talk to them and get to know them, perhaps for the rest of your life.
The weather in Stockholm in August and September is very pleasant. So I’ve travelled around Stockholm in my free time. It can be difficult to get into the history of this country if you are travelling alone without any tour guides. Nevertheless, I still took some photos of this beautiful city.
One place that is worth visiting is the Nobel Prize museum. I learned a few tips on how to get the most of a Nobel Prize – the trick is to aim for a prize in literature 😊 as prizes in other fields such as physics are shared between a few dozen other winners. One thing that baffled me is that they don’t have an award for information technology, ehhhh.
I choose KTH as the partner university for my exchange mainly because its name. There is ‘technology’ in it, so it must be a great university. The reality is often somewhere in the middle – KTH feels somewhat like UTS taking over Sydney Uni’s campus. The main campus of KTH is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year. Having classes inside very old buildings certainly feels very different from the modern buildings and facilities back in UTS. One strange thing about Sweden’s university academic structure is that they have 4 periods in a year. The two semesters we are familiar with in Australia are divided into 4 periods, and each period usually contains 2 subjects that sums up to 15 points. This is all well and good until each subject has fixed schedules. That is, every week may have 2 – 3 lectures and seminars/labs for each subject, and the location and time of each class are fixed without any alternative. To make things even more interesting, every week has slightly different schedules and locations for each class. In another word, there is no timetable for you to choose, and you just have to choose the subjects that are not held at the same time to avoid clashes.
This tight schedule can be a challenge for students that want to travel frequently during teaching periods – unless you don’t mind missing a few lectures. That being said, I am looking forward to doing some travelling in the north part of Sweden and taking some photos of the aurora during this winter.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions~
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Sheng (Johnny) Han
Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT)
KTH – Royal Institute of Technology