Study Abroad in Sweden 2015 – 2016
Study Period: September 2015 – June 2016
Affiliation/Grade at the start of studying abroad: Graduate School of Design, Department of Design, 2nd year Master Program, Communication Design Science Course, Audio Visual Information Integration
Reasons for the Choice of University
I did not decide to study abroad with a clear objective like “I want to do this!”. However, I thought that I shouldn’t just play around when I was going on an exchange program, so I chose this university because I wanted to study something related to my research.
I am studying instrument acoustics and physics of musical instruments. I checked the names of universities where the authors of the papers I was reading during my research against the list of Kyushu University’s exchange partners. From several candidates, I investigated the classes of each university and the required language level and chose the Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden (KTH). I had heard a lot about KTH in this field, and Professor Askenfelt’s thesis was quite useful for my research.
About the Classes
At KTH, you can take classes in basically any course, regardless of what course you are enrolled in (like an undergraduate). If you are an exchange student, you can take as many classes as you want, as long as they are within the maximum number of credits. However, only the master’s level or higher classes are offered in English, so exchange students will usually take master classes regardless of whether they have undergraduate or graduate students from the Japanese university. The classes for undergraduate students are also available if you can understand Swedish.
In addition to specialized classes, there are many language classes offered, where you can learn academic English for writing reports, presentations, etc., depending on your level. You can also learn basics Swedish.
In my case, I took the following classes in the first semester.
English B1: Essential Grammar and Vocabulary: This is the most elementary course offered for English. This course covers the grammar, vocabulary, and simple discussions and presentations required for academic English.
Non-linear Acoustics: Lectures on acoustic problems involving non-linear elements. Classroom Lecture.
Acoustical Measurements: Lectures focusing on the measurement and analysis of acoustic signals. There are also hands-on practices.
Audio Technology: Lectures on a wide range of audio signals. There will be lectures on the basics of digital signal processing and other topics, such as what is done on-site by an invited radio station employee and practice of various stereophonic methods. There was also group work and an oral presentation of a group project at the end of the course.
I took the above, and I was busier than I expected with my assignments. Hence, I cut back a bit in the second semester.
Advanced Individual Course in Music Communication: a course in which students are free to set their own assignments and work one-on-one with their instructor. I continued with the research that I am doing in the Graduate School of Design with the professor mentioned above.
Numerical Methods for Acoustics and Vibration: A class that includes the theory and practice of numerical analysis of acoustic and vibration problems (not yet started).
Life in the University in General
At KTH, Language Cafe, a language exchange event is held during lunchtime. Each day of the week focuses on one language, and the Japanese language is scheduled for Mondays. Quite a few Japanese students gather there, and many students who are interested in the Japanese language also gather to chat in Japanese. (Free sandwiches are served. You can save money on your lunch.) Each course has an organization called “Chapter”, I am not a member, but if you are, they have parties in the Chapter. Also, after the exam period, they hold a party in the cafeteria-like space at school.
There are also some clubs like the ones in Japanese universities, and I think you can join them. THS, the student organization, is in charge of them. I joined the KTH orchestra because I’ve been in orchestra my whole life. This is different from the student organization I mentioned earlier; it’s like a school organization.
Cost of Living
I am receiving a scholarship of 80,000 yen per month from JASSO and also support from my parents.
The guideline for the cost of living is 8,000kr (120,000 yen) per month, and you need to have a proof of saving account for 10 months (1.2 million yen) as an application document for the residence permit.
I don’t think I can keep to 8,000kr a month. I don’t think I am wasting my money. The cost of living is high, so I have a hard time keeping to the budget.
When I eat out for lunch, it’s cheap, about 1,000 yen per meal (this is about the same for a school cafeteria), and I’ve rarely eaten out at night.
In Sweden, credit cards are accepted at almost every store, so we rarely use cash. I have two credit cards, one with a limit of 200,000 yen and the other with a limit of 100,000 yen, but sometimes I get cut up, so it’s better to get three cards or have a little bit of leeway with the limit.
If you leave it to KTH, you will be assigned to one of the student residences in Stockholm (where students from various universities live). You do not have the right to choose whether you share a room or not, or whether you share a kitchen or not. You will live in the place you are given.
I have my own room and kitchen, and it was just like a typical Japanese apartment. The rent is more expensive than others, 5200kr.
Most of my friends live in a dormitory where you share a kitchen, and many rooms are in the same hallway (corridor). It’s easier to make friends that way because they have parties in the corridor.
It’s not impossible to find a place to live on your own, but I’ve heard it’s not easy. If you are moving, you’ll probably have to find one yourself. I don’t know much about this area. Sorry.
Apart from orchestral activities and studies, I sometimes join parties and get together with other Japanese people for drinks at home. During long vacations, I also went on trips, and I think it’s easy to travel within the EU because it’s surprisingly easy and cheap to get around.