Studying at Chalmers, I can spot a list of difference in student culture compared to what I had back home and these differences really changed my way of life.
Everyone is welcome!
One of the most important culture I felt since day one is the sense of inclusiveness. Everyone has the right to speak their mind in a forum. The study process at Chalmers always includes discussion or seminar session where we discuss almost about everything! Most assignments also contain group work. Even though sometimes there are one or two individual assignment, at the end they are always discussed in a forum. This experience has changed the way I study as it made me realize how these discussion processes can lead to so many fresh innovative ideas. During bachelor years, I am used to work individually almost all the time. It made me nervous at first just to speak my mind in the forum, but it was part of the exciting experience. I needed some time to be brave enough to express my opinion but now I am becoming more confident to share my ideas and thoughts. I also feel like these experiences have helped me to practice my speaking skills, especially because English is not my native language.
We love lunchtime!
Another culture that I love so much about studying at Chalmers is the lunch culture. The awareness towards sustainable lifestyle has given a big impact to how people live in Sweden, including (or especially) students. Many students cook and bring their own lunch. Lunchtime has become an important time of the day as it is an opportunity to socialize, make new friends, and discuss interesting stuffs. The most common thing to happen is to share food and recipe to other friends which is very fun, especially because of the international environment. We can learn about each other's culture from different countries. Some people who are not very fond of cooking usually buy their lunch in Chalmers' restaurant or cafeteria. A unique thing that you will find at Chalmers' restaurant is the carbon footprint information on the menu. As this university encourages sustainable lifestyle, it is your right to be informed about what you eat and how much carbon footprint does this food need to get on to your plate. Chalmers' restaurants always have choices for vegetarians as well, which is great!
Being organized is key.
The time management at Chalmers also taught me a lot to work effectively. As I have mentioned before that Chalmers encourages a sustainable lifestyle, this also applied for working or studying lifestyle. Everything is organized in a well-structured schedule where we are given the working hour time to study and finish all assignments while still having free time on weekends to have a relaxing life outside school. I learn to manage my time wisely and work as effectively as possible between 08.00 and 17.00 and then still have time to relax, prepare food, and make time for my hobbies. Of course in some cases I will have to add extra working or studying hour after 17.00 but I can say that it is quite normal, especially during deadline weeks! However, most of the time, the time given in the schedule are just right to finish all of the given assignments.
Last but not least: the fika culture. Having a break takes a great part in the working habit, and Swedish people know it best. In order to reach the maximum outcome of our work, we need to feel happy and inspired. To feel happy and inspired, our brain and body needs a break once in a while. Fika is a Swedish culture to take a break while having warm drink and sweet snack. The most popular one in Sweden is the combination of coffee and cinnamon bun. However, there are lots of choices of tea and other sweets which people love as well. Fika time is also a great opportunity to refresh our mind by socializing with friends and talk about anything. Usually, bright ideas come after fika!
So, what is your favorite Swedish culture? For those of you who aren’t in Sweden yet, what Swedish culture that you’re most curious about? Application to Swedish universities is opened now, hope to see you soon at Chalmers! Don’t forget to check out our videos about application to Chalmers on our youtube channel: Next Stop Chalmers.
Text and image by Alberta Maria Titis Rum Kuntari