After one year, my time at our beloved chapter comes to an end. This is a short entertaining story about the lesser known aspects of being an international student.
It is summer break in Sweden - and everybody loves it, except me. It is warm and the daylight lasts almost forever. Why do I hate it? Well, first of all: We don’t really have that in Germany. But most importantly: Well, let me explain…
#1 KTH Accommodation
Let’s start from the beginning. The first contact I had with the chapter was via mail. I was looking for advice, the struggle of finding accommodation was plaguing my mind. Getting a spot at KTH Accommodation is really something where one has to be lucky. I would estimate that around 30 to 40 percent of internationals get one. I know internationals that started their exchange studies based on a campsite.
#2 Personnummer, Bank-ID
Getting into my new room (yes, I got lucky), the first idea that came to mind was buying some used stuff online. That is when you realize that everything is built on bank-ID. As an international student staying for one year I could not have a bank-ID, and therefore cannot even use Swish. Sounds frustrating, however it usually was not a big problem for me personally: At least after some time, I got to know enough Swedes so that I could just ask somebody in META for help.
#3 The International Reception
But let’s stick to the timeline. It was finally time to meet the chapter and get to know other students, and practise my Swedish in real life! At least that was what I thought. Little did I know about the international reception, where capacity is so limited that it is almost impossible to get into the cool events like Oskvik or a Gasque. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the work of the International Reception. But the task of creating a single reception for all new international students at KTH is so big, it seems almost impossible. If there only was something like a chapter reception that could include the international students of their chapter directly…
#4 META’s competitors
I know it sounds stupid, but at the beginning, internationals don’t know that META exists. Or at least don’t know about free coffee and tea, the famous “3-fika” and all of the groups that exist. But after spending a lot of time there, I have to say that META became some kind of second home for me.
But what you might not know: META has competition. THS Main organizes weekly boad game nights, where one can meet and get friends with international students with completely different backgrounds! And they also have cheap food there by the way, so it might even be worth a try if you are Swedish!
Although this is the most notable one, there are also alternatives for the bar evenings, spex, choir, so I can say that I could clearly survive without META. However it wouldn’t be half as much fun. Going to META, being part of groups like the baking committee and attending events of the sports club, in the same social circles, made me have some feeling of belonging here, really being part of a community whilst giving me a huge speed boost with my progress of learning Swedish. I grew a big affection for this place, and it was heartbreaking to sing “jag vill leva, jag vill dö i META” with METAdorerna while closing down META for the summer break.
So what happens now? Now, it is summer break in Sweden, and everybody loves it. Except me. Why? First of all: We don’t really have that in Germany. But most importantly: I have to leave Sweden, and all the nice people that I got to meet here during my exchange year.
I really wish you all the best with your studies and with all chapter activities. My train to Germany goes tomorrow. To Karlsruhe, where there is no such thing as a summer break.