Hej! My name is Wei Ying, and I’m an EPD junior year student on the GEXP program to KTH Royal Institute of Technology. At the point of writing, Zhou Zhi and I are on a weekend trip to Malmö and Copenhagen, Denmark. This blog post was written in a cafe in Malmö, Sweden. We took a 5-hour train to reach here and weather here is considerably warmer compared to Stockholm, perfect for sightseeing and visiting.
Flight to Stockholm
My exchange experience started with a bang by getting stuck in Doha, Qatar, for around 14 hours due to a misconnection flight. It happens. Nonetheless, Qatar Airlines got hotel accommodation with meal credits for us who missed the flight for more than 6 hours hence we were rather well taken care of.
Prior to the flight, I met up with an NUS student, Milton, who was also going to KTH for exchange and happened to be on the same flight as I was. We ended up spending the next close to 30 hours or so traveling together. Temperatures in Doha was about 35 degrees at night and can hit above 40 degrees during the day. The dress code in Doha also meant that we did not really get the chance to leave the hotel. Nonetheless, the prolonged layover in Doha was still an interesting experience.
We met a Russian lady in the Doha hotel who was on vacation in Singapore and had also missed her connecting flight back to Copenhagen. We talked about the differences between Europe and Singapore, on the cultural norms in Sweden and many other things. What a way to kickstart exchange. I guess this is a good testament as to why an individual should make it a point to reach their exchange destination at least a week in advance.
Settling down in Stockholm
After the numerous hours of traveling and having my sense of time ruined, Milton and I finally touched down at Arlanda Airport at 8.45pm, just in time for the last chartered bus to KTH.
Apparently we have the largest Ikea in the world in Stockholm so we went there to do some form of necessities shopping. I was privileged enough to be offered a room in the KTH main campus itself, which is near the city area, allowing me to travel around easily. It is possible to live in Stockholm with the same amount of money we spend in Singapore, just that proper planning and grocery shopping is required. I found a very good way to judge if a place is worth grocery shopping is to compare the prices of strawberries. One box of strawberries could range from 15 Sek to 80 Sek. Extreme differences. However, if time does not permit one from traveling to the desired place for grocery shopping, frozen food is often a godsend that is often cheaper than Singapore’s frozen food.
During this period, I got to explore Gamla Stan, T-Centralen etc, went to the Swedish Migration Agency to get my Sweden ID card made. Perhaps what amazes me the most in Stockholm is how they merge the modern and the old together, as well as their lack of space constraints when designing buildings.
Zero/First Week of School
KTH had a welcome reception for its new students in the Stockholm City Hall. Apparently the Nobel Banquet is held in this hall as well.
School started in a hilarious way as well. Took a 1-hour train ride to reach the other KTH campus at 8 am just to see the professor not appearing for two hours. Reminded me that the reason why I chose SUTD was because of its committed professors and lecturers. He later apologised saying that he had to make an emergency visit to the veterinarian. Oh wells, it is a pet’s life after all.
On the first week of school, the student union of KTH had also organised a pub crawl in the KTH main campus. Essentially, each chapter (think of it as each school) has its own pub in school and this pub crawl was a rare opportunity for students from each school to visit the other chapters’ pubs. I gave this event a miss because I don’t drink but I guess people did have a wild night because I woke up the next day to see my window in questionable shape.
Thank heavens for the double-layered fancy windows of Europe, else I might be in the hospital by now after being hit by shattered glass. Drink responsibly, everyone. Maybe this is why we shouldn’t have pub crawls in universities.
Apart from the various mishaps, KTH and Stockholm seem to be a good place to study and live in, being a living embodiment of how a place can both be at the forefront of technological advances and cultural preservation at the same time.
There will be more later, see ya!