Chalmers University of Technology is a university known for her stance towards sustainability and having a vision as an institution to educate students to continually be conscious about the environment in whatever field they pursue in the future. This is particularly so in a country such as Sweden that focuses as a nation and community towards living sufficiently without compromising the resources for future generations. You could read up a little more on what their focus is here: http://www.chalmers.se/en/Pages/default.aspx
The semester started off with two courses, one of which looked at sustainable development and the design professions, and the other a thesis-writing course based on any topic of our interest in the field of architecture that focused on honing our research and writing skills. It was an excellent opportunity through these two courses to understand about the role of our work in our field of studies in relation to other professions such as those in the engineering field, and the impact on our work on the environment.
The second part of the semester consisted of 2 other courses that looked into urban and architectural design and detailed research and design of a contemporary challenge in architecture today. The projects from these courses were conducted on a group-work basis, working with other students to analyze the city of Gothenburg and propose interventions to deal with existing problems and imminent changes in the future.
If you’re currently worrying about printing and materials purchase and all, fret not. The school provides basic materials like greyboard, Bristol etc. which you can purchase at the school workshop. They have a good range of woodwork machinery, laser machines, spray room and experienced staff who can help you out. The best part is they have quite a few printers in school for you to print your own A0/A1 etc. 24/7. Each student gets a number of printing credits courtesy of the school, which you can use. More details will be given during your introduction tour to Archi School, so do head down for it! Really important as well as that’s when they’ll brief you about the course details and any other administrative matters you would need to settle.
Living in Gothenburg on exchange
Eating out can get pretty expensive, close to maybe S$15 (~75Kr+) average for a meal, so you may end up cooking quite often to save on costs. There are quite a few supermarkets there, cheapest being Willy’s and Lidl. (The cost of groceries is pretty decent, almost comparable to cooking in Singapore) So start learning how to cook, or make sandwiches. Transportation: Gothenburg is a really bike-friendly city, so you may want to consider buying a second-hand bike to travel. It’s pretty safe and there are quite a decent number of cyclists over there. There’s a second-hand website http://www.blocket.se where you can look for second-hand bikes, furniture, anything you name it. If you aren’t too keen about cycling, not to worry as the tram and bus system there is really efficient. There are different pass options, like 1 month, 3 month payments and unlimited rides for that duration. However, Chalmers has a student offer you may want to consider, for unlimited rides on bus 16 only, along a certain route that goes past the campus. You will be able to purchase this card at the campus bookstore (more details about it will be given during orientation day).
Having the opportunity to go overseas for an exchange is a wonderful time to really discover more about how others in the world do things and also sort of find our own voice and opinions, and learn a little bit more about ourselves in how we have seen the world. For those going on exchange in the future, here are just some thoughts I would like to share that maybe you could use to mentally prepare yourself before embarking on this journey.
- Firstly, be willing to just try most things, of course within the safety boundaries that you will always be control of.
- Always look out for opportunities, take the initiative, be it talking to others or looking for activities to do. Just be daring and try to be the first one to break the ice. There is nothing much really to lose, but the opportunity to expand your horizon if you had not dared to try. Others are equally eager to make friends and find out more about the rest, just as you are.
- Sometimes if the opportunities don’t arise, create them. Organize your own activities to get to know others more. Don’t stay in the hostel, go out to school, go explore the town you are living in. This is one of the best opportunities to discover how people in other parts of the world function and what kind of lifestyle they live or what kind of environment they live in. Try to experience it less of a tourist but more like an inhabitant of that town or city.
- Talk to different people and always be curious. You gain a lot of perspectives talking not only to the natives but also other international students.
- Expectations. I believe all of us would have high expectations and built up visions of what we hope to gain or learn out of the entire exchange experience, especially since this would probably be the first time most of us would have the opportunity to live and study abroad for a decently long period of time. However, be prepared that there would be some things or expectations that would probably not be met due to circumstances or were just not realistic to achieve in actuality. Yet, embrace these experiences as well or whatever that comes along, for an overseas exchange would probably not be something new if everything we expected came true or happened. Spontaneous is probably the word that might come up often. It’s good to have some expectations of what you would like to learn from this exchange, as it serves as a good motivation point to get you to step out of your comfort zone and discover more about the world and how others do things. However, don’t beat yourself up if sometimes these expectations don’t turn out the way you hoped it would. Just enjoy every moment you are overseas, because that in itself is already an accomplishment and whatever you gather, see and hear during your time there, will probably enrich you as a person at that time and for the future.
Article contributed by Lina Heng