Raúl Monzón, one of our students, shares with us his great Erasmus+ experience in this nice writing. Don’t miss it!!
I am Raúl Monzón, a student enrolled in the 4th year of the Architecture Degree. Before coming here, I didn’t know much about the place, food, people or habits. What I knew was the stereotype that many people can have about people from the North… hard workers, stuck in their routine, serious, well-organized…in a way, we are not wrong. What encouraged me to come here, besides the University “KTH Royal Institute of Technology” which welcomes students from all over the world, was the idea of experiencing architecture, life, weather, people from this country… ultimately discovering Sweden, a European country but seen from Spain as a remote country with cold weather and reserved people always in their homes.
Well, Stockholm is quite a big city even though its centre is not that big, very important aspect in my opinion. It is completely different from Valencia, it is formed by various islands connected by bridges, building facades are always painted with warm colours (different shades of red, yellow, orange, ochre…), different cultures and languages meet because it is a migration city and of course it is very well-organized against massive snowfalls and winter temperatures of around -5ºC.
The main disadvantage of the city is accommodation, both for foreigners and for Swedish people even if for them it is easier because they are playing at home. I recommend student housing because it is easier to get to know people and normally their location is advantageous, very close to metro stations. Unfortunately, my University didn’t provide me with accommodation so I had to look for it on my own on the Internet, on websites and social networks such as blocket.se, SSSB o Facebook. It is important to be careful because there are people taking advantage of the situation, trying to defraud students and for this reason I came here before the beginning of the course and I stayed in a hostel in order to visit in person all the houses. It was not the most comfortable solution but it was decisive, it took me more or less a week to find an accommodation.
About mobility, it is possible to go around the centre on foot and this way you discover the most characteristic part of the city. Moreover, the city has all the facilities of a modern city: a large metro, bus and suburban trains network. In my opinion, transports are very effective: for example, I live in Brandbergen, southern part of Stockholm, where I live with an Hungarian family and to go to the city centre I have to take a bus and two different metro lines. It seems a lot; to be clearer, it takes me more or less one hour, by car it would take around 35 minutes.
Something interesting for us all is “How much do things cost?” Of course the living cost is higher than in Spain. Stockholm is a city with a high purchasing power and for this reason prices are adequate: a beer costs 5-7 € but there are places where it can cost 2,50€ – 3€. Buying in a supermarket is not much more expensive than in Spain if you know where to buy…in my opinion Lidl is the cheapest supermarket.
The Architecture School is a building built in 2015, namely completely new. It has all the services an architecture student needs and a very attractive design. There is no such a course timetable as in Spain but one day per week is dedicated to corrections and the rest of the time is up to you, you can work on your projects or on what you think is appropriate, sometimes there are conferences. Talking about important facilities, every student has their own desk and locker to keep their material; each floor has a kitchen with fridges, tables, chairs, microwaves etc.… Normally all students eat in the School and for me it is the best moment to get to know other students. There is also a fantastic studio with many tools and machines and you can even buy the material.
It is important to know that the Architecture Degree has a different structure than in Spain. Here they have three courses called Bachelor and two Masters, the most interesting courses for us. The two Masters are divided in different studies. Before starting the course you have to choose in preference order the course you’d like to follow. There are more or less 8-9 courses with different subjects. You can make your choice without stressing out, they give you information in advance. People from the first and second year, without distinction, form classes.
I think that I haven’t got used to the naturalness with which Swedish people use different languages yet. They are really used to learning a second language and in many cases of a third one, from an early age. Well, wherever you are, in a bar, supermarket, clothes shop, on the street do not hesitate to ask questions in English, everyone has a very high level. KTH Royal Institute of Technology is an International University where all masters are taught in English so if you need any help with English or any other language, the University provides free language courses. Moreover, once a week they organise meetings and language exchanges, you learn and teach.
As a general piece of advice, I recommend that we all leave our comfort zone… first days can be really hard but later things come out well. This kind of adventure gives you the chance to experience and see how other people, in my case, see architecture. You will see that there are different ways to face challenges and for me this is what really enriches you. I would recommend that you come to this University most of all because of the international environment with people from all over the world and with a flexible university schedule.
To sum up, even if winter is hard we can’t fool ourselves, people go out, go for walks, of course stopping sometimes to heat up drinking coffee and then keep going. We have to leave aside the image we have of a cold country with extreme temperatures and people always at home. Moreover, distance from Spain is manageable; the flight from Barcelona takes 3h30, nothing insane.