It's the small details that make the big difference!

Getting to know the small things like lighting candles at dinner; that fika is a ceremony; mushroom and berry picking and so on, made the experience fun for me. It was then, that I started feeling that Sweden is my new home.

Carlos is a Mexican student pursuing his masters in Structural and Building Technology at Chalmers after having received the Avancez scholarship.

I have a long name!

Hey! My name is Carlos Eduardo Mora Juarez. I know! I have a long name.

I am from Leon, Mexico. Just like Gothenburg, the symbol of my city is a lion. It is a 4 hour drive north from Mexico City and is an industrial city. Leon is famous for its leather. About 70% of the leather business in Mexico is from Leon - shoes, belts, hats, jackets and so on.

I did my bachelors in Civil Engineering from Universidad Iberoamericana "Society of Jesus" and I worked for 2 years after that. At work, I was part of many challenging projects, and one that I will never forget was a 40 million dollar project for a German company which built transmissions for cars. That was challenging I can tell you!

After 2 years I'd decided to upgrade my education adding to it a masters degree. I looked only in Europe because I wanted to explore "the old continent"! I wanted to do my studies abroad. It was not just about studies but also about knowing cultures, people and travel.

My master programme brought me here!

People usually ask me "Why Sweden?" and I say, "It was the master programme that brought me here." I searched for programmes pertaining to sustainable buildings. I made my applications and eventually, I was offered a scholarship by two universities. Chalmers was one of them. I chose Chalmers because the programme content was more to my liking and all the courses seemed very interesting. Furthermore, I saw that there was a lot of research going on in Chalmers with a strong focus on sustainability in all the fields of study. Now that I am here, I see that it is real. Chalmers has a big concern about a sustainable future. I study Structural Engineering and Building Technology. I specialise in Building Technologies. It's about energy efficiency in buildings, so we look into building physics, installations, heating, and ventilation.

The programme at Chalmers is what I was looking for, the programme here is completely engineering based, whereas at other universities they are sometimes a combination of architecture and engineering. The courses here are more innovative, more state of the art and aimed at the sustainability angle which turned me in favour of Chalmers.

My programme has knowledgeable professors and they are all very highly competent in their field. In any course I attend, I receive lectures from different people specialised in the topic in focus and also from consultants from private companies. Additionally, I am thankful that the master programmes are in English, I think that Chalmers and Sweden have taken a great decision by having English as the official teaching language in their master programmes. In this way Chalmers becomes more attractive for international students and at the same time the Swedish students also become more international.

I am looking forward to a nice job!

Chalmers has good contacts with industry, so there are good chances to do your thesis in collaboration with other companies. Currently, I am doing my thesis in the department of Building Technology, and I get advice from my supervisor who works at the Swedish technical research institute (SP).

I'm happy to be here and I'm a proud Chalmerist. Chalmers has a lot of things that makes you proud to be a Chalmerist. They build that spirit into you with their traditions like, cortege, spex, hats, choir, and so on. I have attended two times to Chalmersspexet (a funny theatrical play) and I had a lot of fun, the characters were Christopher Columbus and Bellman, everything was great, I liked the songs, the dances. I think Chalmers is a very nice university with a very good brand. It is a strong symbol for me.

Gothenburg is a green city

The view through my window is a little forest. I like so much that wherever I look I see green places. Even in the city center there are big parks like Kungsparken and Trädgårdsföreningen. There is no need to go far away to find nature, the nature is just within the city, there are many nice forests where one can go running and there are these big lakes where one can row or swim in the summer and ice skate in the winter. I have even seen wild deer, it was very nice!

People here practice many interesting outdoor sports that I did not know before. I have seen people playing frisbee-golf in the parks, some others do orienteering that is about running in the forest following tracks in a map. It is also very common to see your Swedish friends carrying their innebandy stick, then you know they have a game after class.

Culture and traditions

One of the reasons I chose to come to Sweden was to get to know a different culture. And to be honest I found Swedish culture very remarkable, much different than I expected. I would say that nature and climate have a lot of influence on Swedish traditions. An example can be midsummer which is a big ritual. People go to the countryside, they dance and sing around the maypole, and then they have this special dinner and stay awake to see the midsummer sunrise.

One of my favourite days is Saint Lucia's day, I like it because you start feeling the Christmas mood! This day you see Lucia and her crew coming with candles and singing very nice songs. And after the show then it is time to taste glögg and saffron buns.

My advice to the new students would be to get involved in the culture, I think Sweden has a very interesting culture and traditions which date back centuries.

The Language

I had never heard Swedish before I came to Sweden so I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought probably Swedish would be similar to German. Actually there are many similar words but the pronunciation is very different. I like the Swedish language. It sounds like a melody with long and short sounds. I would like to speak someday with a Göteborgska accent.

At the moment, I understand more Swedish than I speak. I took the Swedish course for international students at Folk Universitet course and I have now started at SFI. I think it is very nice that you can learn the language for free, since the courses at SFI are supported by the government. It feels very nice when you are able to understand and communicate in Swedish even if it is just an easy conversation. Swedes like it when you try to speak their language, they appreciate that, and they are willing to help. I am trying hard to speak, read and write I try to speak Swedish as much as I can with my Swedish friends

Talking about Swedish friends, Swedes are not the type of people who initiate conversations. Usually you would end up making the first approach. But once you get to know them they are great people.

I worked with one such guy. Initially, he came across as a very serious and shy person. But then I worked with him on a project and then I saw that there were other sides to him. Today he's one of my closest friends.

So to everyone reading my post here, look no further. This is my story as a Chalmerist and a Chalmerist is who you should become!

Carlos Eduardo Mora Juarez - My Bio:

Text: Abhilash Ram
Photo: Abhilash Ram

Related links

Master's Programme in Structural Engineering and Building Technology
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Avancez Scholarships
Chalmers Cortége
Chalmers Choir
SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden
Swedish for Immigrants (Sfi)

Published: Wed 17 Jul 2013. Modified: Wed 16 Dec 2015