Warm Welcome for Arriving Exchange Students
Several hundred international exchange students got their first look at the KTH campus this week, arriving three weeks before classes start to sort out housing arrangements and other practical matters, and to begin intensive language courses. KTH’s student union and International Student Office were there to greet them.
After several weeks of summertime quiet, the KTH campus came alive this week with students dragging luggage up from the underground station, gathering in clusters to read maps, and finding ways to communicate in dozens of different languages.
It’s one thing to take a holiday abroad, but a first-time visit to a foreign country with plans to live and study for months or even years can be quite another. A small army of blue-shirted functionaries from the International Student Office is on duty this week to help the new students get their bearings.
“Housing is the biggest issue that we help with, followed by transportation,” says Maria Frost, head of the ISO. “Most exchange students have registered for rooms or flats through our service, and they’re here now signing contracts and picking up keys.” The city’s bus and underground train operator, SL, offers students a substantial discount when they present certificates issued by ISO. Frost’s office also advises on banking, insurance, health care and even shopping for basic necessities to equip a new apartment.
Meanwhile, the university’s student union, Tekniska Högskolans Studentkår or THS, is arranging barbecues and pub evenings to give the new arrivals a chance to meet and compare notes.
Classes don’t begin at KTH until August 24, but exchange students are offered three weeks of instruction in Swedish. “Most exchange students take all their courses in English, and almost everyone in Stockholm speaks English, but it can be big help to at least know the basics of the local language,” Frost says.
By Kevin Billinghurst
Photos by Jann Lipka and Kevin Billinghurst