September 18, 2011

Relationship with Chalmers and Architecture department


Chalmers and I were in love at the first sight. Online, of course.
I woke up one day, typed “Sweden, architecture, university” in google search and voila! Guess I was extremely lucky, since Chalmers was the first hit on the internet, studying in Sweden was for free and I loved everything I read. I felt very positive about what is going to happen in the future and I rushed into this relationship with an open heart.

It has been a year and a half since that morning. A lot of things have changed - location to begin with. And I am out in the public with my University “love”: writing about it, showing off… A lot of “single” people send me questions how to find that perfect other (where to go out, how to dress, whom to talk to). The reason for this post is that I cannot write any more individual emails on this topic. I would like to try to answer all of them once and for all.

Two big changes happened when it comes to applying for (architecture) studies in Sweden.

First I should mention that being in a relationship with Architecture is really expensive. Especially after a new decision from Swedish government that non-Europeans should pay tuition fee. All in all, for two years you would need approximately 60 000 euros (30 000 per year more or less). Finding a scholarship or some similar sort of funding sounds like a good idea, no? I must add that being in love while working doesn’t necessarily create a happy union.

There is one more change and it is for the better. A new site for all the questions you might have about studying in Swedenhttps://www.universityadmissions.se/intl/start. From personal experience I know how complicated this all may look to a person searching for information, but the site is very good and simple.

In the beginning, there is one thing nobody ever asks, at least not to me: “Will I like it there?”
Now, I know I cannot answer that, but it is the first thing I would like for you to ask yourselves. What is it that you expect to find and experience at Chalmers? As in any relationship, a clean start is the best one.

But don’t be scared, all the communication is in English. So there won’t be any language barriers, at least. (Sometimes guest lectures can be in Swedish, but those aren’t obligatory. I just find them so useful when learning the language.)

When it comes to starting a relationship, personal ad is the most important part. By that I mean a portfolio and recommendations (for architects). Have a short presentation about who you are and what you do. Then back it up with some comments from your professors or employers. As I already said, it is like dating: a friend should put a good word for you. All you have to do is keep up to it.

Quirks of Swedish relationships are:
1. Grading - and that nobody cares about it. Both students and professors are focused on the product and experience, more than on what the grade would be. Actually, they just added the grading system 2 or 3 years ago.
2. Different schedule - or not being in the high-school any longer. Usually there are only 3 courses during the semester and each gets a month of time. This means having some really intensive lectures (from 9 till 5) and really digging dipper into the subject.
3. Models - and working with them. Again, a different approach to something all of us are already familiar with. Main difference is that at Chalmers models are used during the whole process and not just to showcase design at the end.
4. Location - working at the school. Depending on where you come from, schedule and working spaces you are accustomed to can be different. For me it is early in the morning and from my bed. Other people are night-workers that occupy whole apartments. But somehow, all of us are just satisfied at staying in the studio/library/workshop and work at the University.

Of course, the biggest quirk of them all is living in Sweden. But I don’t dare start talking about it. When you have a working relationship, you don’t want to jinx it with all the blabber. All I know is I am enjoying the moment. Maybe, once my studying adventure is over, I will have a clear picture of what my impressions about Sweden are. At least I will have enough pictures, videos and texts never to forget anything that happened here.

Till then, don’t be afraid to fall in love with Chalmers, Gothenburg and Sweden. They will return the feelings.