Tim Lübeck - Chalmers University of Technology

Entrance of the main campus Johannaberg (Bild: Tim Lübeck)

Göteborg, Schweden - 2019


Introduction

My name is Tim Lübeck. I am 26 years old and I am studying in the master's program Communication Systems and Networks. In the following, I will report about my semester abroad at the Chalmers University in Gothenburg.

Organizations

I used my exchange semester in Gothenburg from 03-30-19 to 30-08-19 to do my master's thesis. Although this was the first cooperation of TH Köln and Chalmers, the organizational effort was quite low.
For receiving the Erasmus scholarship, it was important to achieve enough credits at the Chalmers, so I decide to completely submit the master's thesis in Gothenburg. The only thing that was to do, is to ensure that the thesis will be accepted by the home examination-student office. In my case, there were no problems such that I could start my project in Gothenburg, without worries.

Finding a flat

The flat situation in Gothenburg is extremely stressful. Mostly, the flats will be allocated by the 'Bostadskö', a kind of governmental flat-waiting list. Flat sharing is not that common in Sweden such that most of the students I met live in student hostels or for sublease in a cellar or empty room of some families house. To get an official room in one of the student hostels organized by the SGS is also rather improbable because there exist long waiting lists.
However, on the Facebook Erasmus group, or blocket.se (the Swedish ebay-kleinanzeigen) there are enough apartments on offer. For me, it was no problem to find a flat from Cologne. Some people I met, booked a room on Airbnb for the first weeks and organized a flat as they were in Gothenburg. During my stay, I got the information that the Chalmers also provides some information for finding an accommodation: Accommodation from Chalmers

My apartment was a room in a student accommodation in Kallebäck. Although my flat was not that luxury, it was quite okay. It was payable, there was everything you need, laundry, gym, and a supermarket. Furthermore, Kallebäck is close to the centrum which made it possible for me to go to uni by bike. Although the public transportation in Gothenburg is really excellent (in contrast to ours in Cologne ;) ).

University

I have found the Chalmers to be very friendly to international students. On my first day, I first visited the international office. They told me everything I had to do to be correctly registered at the Chalmers. You basically have to register at the Studentkår for a fee of about 25 €. This membership, allows you to register for classes, exams, and in my case to do my master's thesis. Additionally, you get a card that gives you a lot of discounts: among others, for the restaurants and bars on the campus, the public transportation Västträfik, the Seven Elevens all over Sweden, or any Flix-Bus journey.

After registering at the Studentkår, I visited the building of the Division of Applied Acoustics, where I spent a lot of time during my Gothenburg stay. There I met my supervisor who introduced me to the entire laboratory and the rest of the staff of the Divison of Applied Acoustics. I immediately got my own workplace.

The Division of Applied Acoustic is responsible for the master's program 'Sound and Vibration'. All students of that program were around at the building all the time. I experienced a very closed relationship between staff (Professors) and students. A small library, the kitchen including a common room, all laboratories, and the lecture room are basically distributed on one floor, such that you see each other all the time.

My daily business was working on my project. So I can’t say anything about the lectures or the normal student stuff. When I arrived, the current term was going already. In Sweden, each semester going from January till June, or August till December is divided into two terms. At the end of each term, there are the exams such that there are 4 exams periods in total.

I loved the Chalmers campus a lot. Different to my well known TH Köln campus, students from all disciplines were around on the campus. All the time there were a lot of people, there are a lot of restaurants, stores and a bar.
At the end of June, on point of the Midsummer night, the summer semester comes to an end, and nearly every student, except those doing their master's thesis, left the campus. The summer is holy in Sweden. Many Swedens have a summerhouse somewhere in the countryside where they spend some weeks during the summer. Even the city of Gothenburg becomes noticeable empty during the summertime. Although I really enjoyed the summer months.

Regarding the organization part of my master's thesis

At Chalmers, the thesis not just consists of the project, the report, and the final presentation, you also have to visit at least two other presentations of a master's thesis and be an opponent of any other master student. Every master student has a so-called opponent that should receive your final master thesis or at least a draft anytime before the final presentation. The opponent should prepare some questions such that a scientific discussion can take place at the end of the presentation. The other way round, you have to be the opponent of someone else.
As already mentioned, the thesis does not have to be finished at the point of your defense. In general, there is no appointment where you have to submit your thesis. Everything is quite free, and you can arrange everything with your supervising Professor.

Living in Gothenburg

For going out for a beer, I loved the Andra Långgatan close to the old city Haga. The further you go along the road, the cheaper became the bars and the beer. Furthermore, there are a lot of nice places in Gothenburg, especially in the summer. At the area around Frihamn in Hisingen, you can try out sailing, visiting a nice sauna or go swimming for free. The old ruin Skansen Kronan in the center of Haga is the nicest viewing platform I found. Of course, I visited the Archipelagos a lot. The ferries are part of the public transportation. Kayaking around the Islands was one of my favorites.
In my last weeks, I was hiking along the Bohusleden, a hiking path passing Gothenburg, and going till Norway. The entire region in the north of Gothenburg is called Bohuslän. There is a lot of nice countryside, lakes, and forests, and the so-called 'Allemansrätt' allows it to set-up your night camp whereever you want to.

In general, the convenient (and compared to most of the other things very cheap) public transportations, make it really fun to travel around Sweden. I can recommend the MTR express, a very luxury and fast train to Stockholm. I also have been to Copenhagen a few times, either by train or Bus.

Conclusion

My Erasmus semester in Gothenburg was a nice time and the perfect closing for my university studies. It was an important experience for my personal development, as well as for my future career. I met a lot of nice people, made interesting connections, and of course learned a lot from my local supervisor and gained professional competence.
I experienced the Chalmers as very convenient University for students from abroad. The campus is full of students from all over the world, everyone speaks English perfectly, and you can organize everything without speaking a word in Swedish.
Despite the Swedish summer hole where nearly every student leaves University, I would absolutely go back to that period. In my opinion, Gothenburg is definitely a city you have to enjoy in the summer. However, it would also be worth thinking about choosing an Erasmus year in which one also participates in the courses and lectures. That would require to go to Sweden during the normal semester period.


Juli 2021

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