Now that I have officially finished my requisite master’s coursework and have just started my thesis, I feel like this is the perfect time for me to reflect back and offer some of my impressions of the Swedish university system and general classroom atmosphere here at Chalmers. I personally believe that my feelings and opinions are held by a lot of international students, but keep in mind these are still just one guy’s experiences at one specific university.
Anyway… one of the very first things I noticed upon arrival over a year and a half ago is that the hierarchical/organizational structure is very flat at Chalmers – and at most universities in Sweden I would assume. It seems like there are typically only a few levels of administration between the average professor and the university president.
Chalmers – “Avancez”. Source: http://www.chalmers.se/en/
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The last few weeks have seen me finish a Masters degree, say good bye to many loved friends, have a final trip around Scandinavia (Norway to be precise) and move black home! It’s been a rollercoaster few weeks and emotions have been running high! To say I’ve enjoyed this year is putting it lightly it has been one of the best years of my life (possibly the best) a lot of this due to the people I both knew before I arrived and who I met on arrival, (especially one person in particular you know who you are)
Saturdays, ah glorious beautiful Saturdays! A day for lie ins, for cooked breakfasts, for doing nothing (or doing everything), for simply watching the world pass by or for learning about bygone days.
I love the cold! Really I do! Photo: Oscar Eriksson.
Yesterday Oscar and I walked out to Djurgården, one of the fourteen islands making up Stockholm, that homes amongst several famous museums, the Royal Hunting Grounds! I love to walk! I love nature! I love being out in the cold! I love looking at glistening snow! I love pin drop silence! And I love to talk (a lot)! Our walk through the hunting grounds was just that! I’m always curious about what I see! The number of times I asked “Who is that statue of?” “What’s that building over there?” “Where did that come from?”…I’m sure, Oscar, if he wasn’t the nicest person I know, would have asked me to stop talking! Thankfully he didn’t and so I continued asking question after question! What we ended up with was a bit of a history lesson…
What’s that building over there? Well I learnt that it is called Kaknästornet – a sort of television tower. Photo: Oscar Eriksson.
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This week the Fulbright group I am a part of continued its quest to understand and experience Swedish culture by taking a day trip to Uppsala. Lying about 70 km to the north of Stockholm, Uppsala is a relatively small but historically important Swedish city. While it was initially established for primarily religious purposes, today it is probably most known for its university, which is the oldest in Scandinavia (founded in 1477).
Our first stop was the to see the most prominent building in the city: the towering Uppsala Cathedral. This church is actually the largest in Scandinavia and was finished in 1435 after ‘only’ a couple hundred years of construction. Apart from hosting a number of coronations and undergoing a wholesale transformation from Catholicism to Protestantism, a number of very famous Swedes, such as Gustav Vasa and Carl Linnaeus (more on him in a moment), are entombed here. It’s an impressive relic from a time in European history when Sweden was a dominant player in the political landscape – stormaktstiden (‘great power time’).
Uppsala Cathedral. Photo by Brett Seward.
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