Monday, September 16, 2013

One month in Stockholm - Pleasant and unpleasant surprises..

Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan
[16/09/2013] It is one month, since I reached Stockholm. The day time of Stockholm shrinks pretty fast - 5 to 6 minutes per day. When we came here, the Sun used to set around 9 pm and the sun light was visible till the 9.30 pm, from as early as 5 a.m. Now it seems like 6.30 a.m to 7 p.m. Autumn is here already; it keeps raining. [Sweden Weather]

Cultural Shock, again?
When I was in Sri Lanka, I used to think that all the Europe is same. But living in Sweden shows that it is not the case. Coming from Portugal, I was able to see some differences. Some pleasant and some not-so-pleasant surprises. 

I am listing down some of my unexpected observations in Sweden. Some of these are probably just because of the higher expectations.

1. Friendly People
Just like in Porto and Lisbon, I was able to meet friendly strangers here in Stockholm, who were willing to take some effort to provide with some help, finding the way to the metro station, or helping me understand something written in Swedish.

Recycling is a serious business in Sweden. You can return the plastic or glass bottles, and beer cans and receive 1 - 4 SEK coupons from the super markets. One day, I was on the metro, and a lady who looked like a gypsy came and sat next to me, with a huge garbage bag. Eventually, I realized that the bag indeed contained garbage, from the foul smell. I had to wait a few more stations for someone from the seat in the other side to get up, before switching the seat, not making it obvious, as I didn't want to offend her. She had collected lots of bottles, tins, and cans from the trash bins of the streets or super markets, so that she can probably have dinner that night, by submitting them. After that incident, I also noticed many people doing the same - putting their hands into the trash bin. Probably, they are homeless or asylum seekers from other countries. Still, it looked a bit weird.

After having a coca-cola, we throw the bottle into the bin - and someone collect it to receive some coins. Effectively, everyone is happy. Empty trash bins.

Woods of Vidja
3. Forests
I never thought I would be able to see thick forests inside the Stockholm city limits. As I walked, I noticed a deer in the woods one day.

4. More openness
Even with my limited exposure to Swedish, I was able to see the cultural differences. Compared to Sweden, I can say that Portugal is much more conservative.

5. Dirt
Probably, this won't make much sense. May be, this is because of the high expectations - I found Stockholm having more dirt on the metro stations and was a bit shocked. Also, it seems there are so many beggars around the city, than I would imagine. These all may be due to the utopian depiction of Scandinavian countries we were given in the southern Europe.

6. Crowds
In real life, Stockholm metro stations didn't seem as stunning as portrayed in, "Stunning underground art In Stockholm’s metro station". Mixture of both slowly moving people and people rushing to catch the metro and altogether the presence of an unorganized crowd in the metro stations make it almost impossible to enjoy the metro art. The extremely long walk imposed by the long metro stations is not really fun, when you have to run to catch the metro before you lose it, as the next one would take 10 minutes to come, unless for the cities in the centre, which can be reached by multiple lines including all the red and green lines.

7. Public Transport
Buses are not that frequent when we go farther from the downtown. For example, a bus leaves from Farsta to Vidja only once an hour, and seems to be the only option of public transport that connects these two places. Probably people in Stockholm do not use the public transport much, unlike in our countries. I should not forget the infrequent buses to Taguspark in Portugal, which is worse. It is possible to buy the bus ticket using your mobile phone. But it is impossible to buy the tickets from the driver, on board. That means, you should always have your ticket before you board on the bus.

8. Multi-cultural/Cosmopolitan City
It was not that easy for me to find another Sri Lankan in Lisbon. But I was able to see plenty of them in the God Ganesh temple run by Sri Lankans. I was also able to see a huge number of Chinese and Indians. Not to forget the instructions in Chinese Language in Arlanda Airport. I was also able to meet many international students in the student apartment. KTH surely welcomes foreign students.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Our courses began on the 2nd of September, and we have already completed two weeks of our courses.  The first 3 out of the 4 courses have already begun, and the last one begins at the end of September, mostly covered in the period 2. We have the below courses for the semester - IC2002 Philosophy of Science, ID2220 Advanced Topics in Distributed Computing, ID2219 Implementation of Scalable Distributed Systems, and LS2306 Scientific Writing and Communication.

We have received the project and the assignment descriptions to do for the semester, and we are getting busier with our studies. Right now, busy reading the book, "Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues" of Curd & Cover.


  1. "The extremely long walk imposed by the long metro stations is not really fun, when you have to run to catch the metro before you lose it, as the next one would take 10 minutes to come"

    If you think you have long walks in the metro here, don't ever go to the Passeig de Grácia metro in Barcelona ;)

  2. As long as we don't have to travel regularly, I am fine with that. :D I am just a fan of Lisboa metro architecture and art. I don't know - I just like it more. Campo Pequeno, Olaias, and Baixa-Chiado, to name a few. I enjoyed the compact size of Lisbon - Easy to access the airport, and almost all the neighbourhoods in Lisbon are well connected. Except for Campolide, Belem, and Santos, I just had to use the metro. Not much bus, tram, or walking. :D


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