Like I mentioned in my last entry, the spring semester finally concluded at the end of May. Since we had some significant breaks to account for Easter and a re-exam period, the semester ended nearly a month later than I was previously accustomed to in the US. Here I will be providing a brief overview of what I accomplished over the last couple months of classes for anyone who is interested in my work in the Sound & Vibration program at Chalmers.
My Room Acoustics class was admittedly less time intensive after the opera design competition concluded, but still productive nonetheless. After the opera project, I worked with a group of three other students to conduct acoustic measurements in a bomb shelter at Chalmers. We took impulse response measurements and then processed in Matlab in order to calculate certain room qualities (spoiler: a bomb shelter is not a good listening room). After that, our class built a scale model of a studio control room. We were divided into groups, and each group was responsible for designing and producing different components of the room. My group was in charge of adding furniture and a desk to the room, which primarily increased the amount of absorption in the room in addition to serving as places where people are supposed to sit and work. Other groups had to design the room shell, interior dimensions, and add diffusion and absorption to various surfaces in the room. We then took measurements in the model in order to evaluate how well our design performed in reality.
Taking measurements in a very reverberant bomb shelter. Photo by Brett Seward.
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In typical fashion, I’m going to sit here and tell you that my last few weeks have been busy – and that would technically be true – but now I’m officially on summer vacation and enjoying the slower, self-dictated pace of life. That being said, I hope to be somewhat productive with various pursuits, such as practicing my Swedish, traveling around Scandinavia with my family, and even laying the groundwork to be able to begin my master’s thesis work. I hope to accomplish a lot this summer both academically and socially, but it’s nice to have a little break from classes and have the option to take some days off here and there. Supposedly the entire country essentially shuts down for the month of July, and I’m looking forward to seeing what that looks like (and ironically that’s when I plan on doing the bulk of my academic work).
Through a friend/classmate (shoutout to Johannes!), I was able to sublease an awesome studio apartment in the city center this summer. I’m pretty sure he had to stay on the waiting list for like 5 years to be eligible for this student apartment, so it was nice that I could basically luck into this situation for the next few months. I’m really happy with the location, amenities, and the price isn’t half bad either, all things considered. I’m within walking distance to nearly all of the most popular areas of the city, which is nice after recently living in a more suburban area. Since I don’t have many of my possessions with me here in Sweden, I made the financially motivated decision to move via public transportation right before my last exam of the spring semester. So four bus rides later I was officially moved out of my old place and into the new place downtown. Then I took my exam and departed for the US at 6:00 AM, or 12 hours after finishing my exam. I wouldn’t recommend moving, taking an exam, and traveling overseas in a 24 hour period, but I did manage to pull it off with some careful planning. Here are a few pictures of my new place for the summer:
I actually have an oven now! Photo by Brett Seward.
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Over the past 9 months I’ve told nearly everyone that has asked me about the Swedish language that as far as languages go, it’s easy to learn for a native English speaker… yet I can only read at a pretty basic level and can speak and understand even less spoken Swedish. So what’s the deal? One of the primary problems for me is that everyone here speaks English. Like literally almost everyone. Now this doesn’t mean that everyone here prefers to speak English – far from it – just that they’re more than capable of doing so when the occasion strikes. The only person that I encounter every so often that I simply must (try to) speak Swedish to is my barber, who immigrated to Sweden some years ago from Iran. Thankfully he is very patient with me and through these experiences I have developed a limited haircut-related vocabulary (sax, frisör, hockeyfrilla, etc.). At school, all of my classes are in English, which is also the only language our international cross-section of students has in common. I would say that lunch and fika are the only real times that Swedish is widely spoken in my department, so I try to take advantage of these brief windows of practice time.
But enough with the excuses; I need to make a more concerted effort to learn the language. This summer I’m hoping to find a couple of willing friends who will help me practice. At this point, I need ruthless people who won’t break character and speak English to me. That’s the thing with most Swedish people, they’ll switch to English as soon as they hear you have an accent in Swedish. I think I need to start acting like I’m from Eastern Europe or somewhere where English isn’t as widely spoken, though it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there on an island like that.
I count watching Arrested Development on Netflix with Swedish subtitles as practice. Photo by Brett Seward.
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Fellow blogger Kazem recently wrote a really nice blog on the cost of living in Sweden. He did a great job of outlining all of the essential expenditures for a student in Sweden, and I’ll try to pick up where he left off by providing some tips on how to stretch your krona (or preferred currency) as far as possible. So in a somewhat random, yet itemized list:
Food & Drink
- You’re going to want avoid eating in restaurants as much as possible if money is a big concern for you. I’ve found Swedish restaurants to be expensive. There are many great restaurants in Sweden, but higher quality comes at a price. Learn to cook instead! If you have to eat out for a meal, choose lunch over dinner because a lot of restaurants have lunch specials that offer huge savings over the dinner prices.
- Since we’ve already established that you probably won’t be eating at restaurants as much as you might be accustomed to, familiarize yourself with the weekly ads from grocery stores (i.e. ICA, Lidl, Hemköp, Coop, etc.). These fliers are easily accessible on each of their respective websites, and I’ve found some great specials on various types of meat. Also, it is advisable to buy your groceries in the suburbs or away from the city center if possible. Unfortunately, the most convenient stores are typically the most expensive.
- Alcohol is more expensive in Sweden than in most other countries in the world. If you’re planning on going out to a bar and having more than a couple of drinks in a night, it would be a good idea to have a pre-party somewhere. This will save you a ton of money over the course of time because the prices at Systembolaget are much more affordable than any bar.
- Many museums are either free or have a reduced entrance fee for students and/or youth. In Gothenburg, the Konstmuseum (art museum), Röhsska Museum (design museum), Natural History Museum, and the City Museum are completely free for people who are under the age of 26!
Entrance to the Gothenburg Art Museum. Photo: B. Seward
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