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Travel report KTH Royal Institute of Technology o Teun van Schijndel o Real Estate & Housing, Faculty of Architecture o Delft, The Netherlands o KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm o From 01/10/2010 to 31/12/2010 o Composition of study programme: subjects Preparation and contact with your own faculty To fill the 17 ECTS free space in the Msc3 semester of Real Estate & Housing, Faculty of Architecture, I decided to take the opportunity and get these credits abroad. My first choices concerning the aimed locations were Singapore, Melbourne and Stockholm, it turned out to be Stockholm where my plane would arrive in the middle of September. I have done three self-chosen courses at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, which I will elaborate later on. The information for my study was before making my choices obtained by mainly checking the websites http://uitwisseling.tudelft.nl and http://buitenland.tudelft.nl. After being nominated for going to Stockholm, the sources of information changed to the KTH website (www.kth.se) and documents given at information meetings or send to my by mail. Everything was pretty clear for me and information was gained on time. At this moment of writing this report I do not have my study results yet, so neither any recognition of the study results. I do not expect problems here since the KTH University also works with ECTS; the difference however is the grading system, where the KTH works with an A-F grading system, and TU Delft with a 1-10 system. But regarding other travel reports, and the signed Learning Agreements, I do not expect problems between the KTH and TU. The supervision by the faculty was good before I left, but a bit more supervision before leaving would be handy. Thereby I forgot to sign the Statement of Host Institution before returning to the Netherlands. A small reminder could be a good thing here, because I only received mails from my host institution about important documents to hand in before leaving, so after those documents I expected to be finished. But this issue is in fact a small one because within one day the Statement was mailed to Sweden and back. Overall, the supervision was good. When I changed my Learning Agreement in Sweden (because of double courses in my schedule) and mailed it to the Netherlands to get a signature it was, again, send back to me in only some hours. So you will normally get response on short notice, which gives some confidence during your stay in case problems may occur. Study programme My study programme abroad consisted of three 7.5 ECTS courses, so in total 22.5 ECTS. This is more than normal regarding the norm of 15 ECTS per quarter. Because my free space was 17 ECTS, I like challenges and all courses seemed really interesting, I decided to do a bit more than standard. Because every course had to be finished with essays and other products, it took me some hours in night in the last weeks, but it was combinable with still enjoying some free space with your ERASMUS-family and weekends with friends coming over to Sweden. I really wanted to do some courses abroad, mainly because of the simple reason that it is possible and thereby gives an enormous opportunity to do once in your lifetime. You will break with all your ‘obligations’ and direct contacts, for example the weekly rehearsals with my bands, sport appointments, drinks, and meetings etcetera. This will provide a lot of space making it possible to just focus on the things you are doing abroad at the moment and making it easier to try totally new things. The level of the study programme fitted well with my expectations. Most lecturers were really interesting and I had a perfect combination of different courses being: Project Management and Construction Processes (AI2803) Sustainable Rural and Urban Development (AG2143) Social and Cultural Issues in Planning (AG2120) Project Management and Construction Processes was in my opinion the best course I ever had in my study, besides “Project Management” given by Spiro N. Pollalis in Msc2 of D&CM, Real Estate and Housing. The professor, Örjan Wikforss, has an amazing experience as project manager containing more than 300 projects, and a history of being CEO of the biggest firms in the construction business in Sweden. This course perfectly fitted in my study program because it partly repeated things I already learned in a different way and taught me totally new things. For example, every week a big name from the local industry came to explain a case study and you were free to ask everything. I can really, or am almost obliged to, recommend this course; you will enjoy it. Sustainable Rural and Urban Development focussed more on the combination of Millennium Development Goals and development, in a theoretical way. I expected this course to be a bit more practical, but it gave me good insights in for example human rights, the role of development and urban poverty. Social and Cultural Issues in Planning was an amazing course, maybe because it did not feel academic due to the level of creative freedom in the course. Thereby, this course made my study programme as a complementary set. I am really pleased by the host institution as a whole. Everybody is very nice, and immediately after the first two weeks you can feel some kind of a personal confidential relationship with the tutors. Besides this, the KTH works with personal cards with a security code, which gives you access to certain rooms like computers rooms and meeting rooms 24/7. This system really wonderful, but could feel like a gated community because in some cases I had a lecture in a room in which the key did not allow students to get in. My study period was just long enough, but could be a bit longer. At the moment I left Sweden after 3,5 months it still felt like some kind of long study holiday. I suppose, when I would stay longer, this feeling would change a bit to feel more like a real KTH student than ‘just’ a exchange student. Regarding the climate and darkness, I do not know if I would have enjoyed a longer stay in winter, because in my last weeks in Stockholm is was getting dark at 3pm-3.30pm and temperatures around -20 degrees Celsius were not accidental. So when stay longer than three months, I might recommend leaving in February till October. But the months September and October were totally lovely and sunny, so the combination of the two types of weather (and landscape) I experienced in Stockholm were very very nice making it both a must see and ‘must experience’ once in your lifetime. Funding and prerequisites I applied for a ERASMUS scolarship, which was successful. Anounced was the limited amount of scolarships, so when the possibility arose to apply (when I got my letter of acceptance from the KTH) I immediately applied. It was pretty easy to apply. When the moment was there to do the paperwork, a good meeting with my supervisor Shirin Musa was arranged where everything was explaned very clear. I recommend you to fill in the paperwork immediately after the meeting, so you can hand everything in the same day of the meeting or the day after. I got a scolarship for 4 months of stay (800 EUR) of which 75% was given before I left. Since my courses started later than expected (in October), so I in fact studied about 3 months, I don’t expect to get the extra 25% of scolarship afterwards. The costs of living in Sweden are higher than in the Netherlands, especially products containing alcohol, entrance fees in nightlife and meat. The prices of groceries are not that high or in some cases even lower than in the Netherlands, so after some time when you know what the prices are it is possible to cook very well with a low budget. Here you can safe a lot of money if you would like to experience the nightlife of Stockholm. For example normal entrance fees are between 100 – 180 SEK and a beer usually is around 55 SEK. (The currency is around 1 EUR = 9 SEK). My insurance was arranged by having an all-in student insurance by Izio, and my own medical insurance. Payments in Stockholm were mainly done cash and using maestro. But don’t forget that cashing money in Stockholm costs some money (about 2 EUR). I can recommend to have a credit card in Stockholm, because in some cases, for example when buying study material like books, it is only possible to pay by credit card. Also in clubs it is common to pay by credit card, but just cash is also allowed. Accommodation € +-400 (3600 SEK) Food € 300 Insurance € 100 Local travelling costs € 50 Textbooks/course material € 50 Entertainment € 250 Language course € - Other (phone) € 10 Total € 1130 Accommodation Acommodation: 3 x 3 corridors with 8 rooms Enough space in your room for 6 guests! Preparing our corridor for a party The accommodation was arranged by the Host University, from the 1st of October, which in fact was perfect for me because all my courses were in the second period. However, I decided to leave to Stockholm in September to experience the city in the end of summer, so I spend half a month in a hostel. In this period I explored the whole city, so when I got my own room, I already knew Stockholm pretty well. The accomodation consists of three newly build connected houses, containing 3 corridors with 8 rooms per building. I can describe the accomodation as almost perfect to just perfect. The accomodation is directly in the campus, so I was able to walk to my lectures, which is very convenient when it is dark and cold outside. (For example, some students living in the South of Stockholm have to travel about 50 minutes by metro and bus to the KTH, so about 2 hours of traveltime per day). All rooms are equiped with an own bathroom, and you share a kitchen and space with couches/television/dining table. So in short, the accomodation was perfect. All corridors become families, because only exchange students are living there, and it is just up to you and your roommates how quiet and clean your corridor will be. Because the roomdoors are really thick and heavy you almost won’t anything when a (small) party or drink is going on in the corridor. Language and Culture All lectures were in English, which usually means at the KTH, nearly perfect English. If you think dutchmen are speaking English well, you should go to Stockholm. Even the older generations in the less expensive neighbourhoods of Stockholm speak and understand English pretty good, which I experencied during performing interviews there. My knowledge of English was pretty good in advance. To improve my academic level of English I followed an English course at the TU Delft in advance. These courses are offered by the TBM faculty and really help upgrading especially your level of grammar. To speak English fluently and loose your Dutch accent, you just have to do it as much as possible, not being afraid of making mistakes and listen critically to yourself. In fact, next to the Swedish students, Dutch students are one of the better English speaking persons. One of the best learning experiences of going abroad is living together with all diferent cultures. I lived together with two guys from Argentina, two from France, a German student, a Spanish and a guy from Chech Republic. For example, I tried eating together with my housemates as much as possible because I am used to doing that in Delft. But once you notice that the guys from Argentina simply eat at 9.30pm (and will not change that habbit), and I get hungry at 6pm, interesting cultural barriers appear. Other cultural differences between Delft and other cultures are the level of directness and irony of Dutch people. This can lead to very funny moments, where some cultures experience it as an awesome level of humor (especially students from South America) and others as being just that strange dutchmen. However, this altogether creates a very nice mix of cultures with a guarenteed high level of joy and eye-openers with an important need for enough self- reflection. Making friends with local students was kind of difficult because you don’t really meet local studenten that much besides your lectures. All the ERASMUS students are living in seperate accomodations making it very easy to just stick into the ERASMUS scene with enough parties and dinners everyday to enjoy yourself. Although, I really tried to get more into the world of the local student, organising and attending drinks where local students meet exchange students. However, in common Swedish people are very nice and correct, but closed. Even more to each other than for example tourists. Also an interesting contrast with Dutch people is the level of avoiding conflicts, which also reflects in our directness. Swedish people are used to avoid conflicts, and thereby are very nice, but also very careful and gentle. Free time I spend my free time in Stockholm, which was mostly in the first month without courses, by going into town and exploring ‘big’ Stockholm with my camera. It is possible to go to travel really far with your Stockholm public transport card (SL-card). Thereby I really recommend buying a 90-day student card immediately when you arrive. It is an investment (about 150 EUR) but just worth it because of the freedom you will experience using the extensive public transport system of Stockholm, containing a very good metro system, busses and ferries going to small islands and going in the inner-city. To build up a circle of friends I did not really do special things, different than in Delft. I attainted many parties and drinks, especially in the first month. When you know some people you feel connected to also the power of Facebook becomes clear, where you will get invitations to dinners, parties, drinks and other events. After some weeks I knew for example enough musicians in Stockholm to do some jams and attending nice concerts together. Of course, also your housemates will provide you with a lot of new faces buy inviting people to the corridor, which is possible the easiest way of meeting new people. Your network of especially ERASMUS students will grow fast. Places that I can recommend are mainly in the South of Stockholm and Gamla Stan (the Old Town). In the first weeks I spend a lot of time (and money) in the more expensive part of Stockholm with clubs looking like fashion exhibitions. This part of town is called Stureplan. It is a nice place where you should have been once, but my overall opinion about this area (and also the opinion of many local Swedish students) is that the area is very pretentious in being rich and glamorous. Entrance fees are high here (180 SEK is normal), and they love to make queues outside on red carpets while it is empty inside. I can recommend places in the south better, mainly in the part ‘Södermalm’. Many clubs here, like ‘Debaser’ and ‘Marie Laveau’ are more alternative where drinking beer in stead of champagne and wearing a t-shirt + sneakers is normal. The overall atmosphere here is better. If you want to go to just a nice bar I recommend Gamla Stan, especially ‘Stampen’, with live jazz every evening (if you like jazz of course). If you have some friends over, I recommend taking a coffee during lunchtime in ‘Gondolen’ with an amazing view over Stockholm, perfect service and a surprisingly normal price (28 SEK). For dinner I recommend to eat in ‘Kvarnen’. Here, you can eat very nice traditional Swedish meals, like reindeer, for a reasonable price (two courses 150 SEK). Travelling I, and all the persons coming over, travelled by using Ryan Air, departing from Eindhoven Airport. This is a low priced flight, and nobody percieved any problems. You will arive on Skavsta Airport where a bus will take you to Stockholm, taking about 80 minutes and 100 SEK. In Stockholm you will arive on T-centralen, the Central Station of Stockholm. I recommend to buy the busticket already at home, because everybody has to buy tickets and I faced some problems with my maestro-card, because strangly enough not every cash machine accepts every card. So having a credit card in Sweden is also recommendable in these kind of situations. You can use this webiste to buy a busticket: http://www.flygbussarna.se/. Public transport in Stockholm is very good, as I already mentioned at free time. But although the sysem is very good, when arriving in spring or summer, I recommend you to buy a (second-hand) bike. You will enjoy it. I arrived a bit too late, so just borrowed bikes from housemates. In winter when it becomes cold and slippery, just use the public transport system. Other After my studies, I will probable not look for a job or graduation programme in Stockholm, just because I would love to live there in summer, but not in winter for more than one year. Although, I really like the Swedish attitude and culture. It is very clean, well organised and the combination between nature and buildings is perfect. I sure will go back to Stockholm in summertime soon to visit some friends and again enjoy the beautiful nature/city. The added value I gained from being abroad is on the first hand a lot of self reflection and new influences. For example I usually do enough activities in the Netherlands to keep me busy for about 70 hours per week. From now on I want to try to take some more free time and focus more on less things. In one sentence I would describe my exchange period as an amazingly refreshing and inspirational period.
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