“Self-Study” in Sweden

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One thing that I have found to be different at Linköping University versus studying at an American university is the difference in the way the semester is setup. Each semester is divided into two periods, that act almost as half courses for the semester. In regards to the autumn semester, the first period ends right around the middle of October with an exam week, and the second period ends in January with an exam week right after we have “Self-Study”.

This Self-Study period lasts from about mid-December to mid-January as a break from the academic year. I used this time to go back to the US and celebrate Christmas and New Years with my family, but I really should have brought my textbooks with me to prepare for the exam I had this week. In the US, I was used to ending my studies prior to the start of the Holidays, and adjusting to this studying/exam period now in January has been quite the experience.

I returned back from the holidays 6 days before my Optimization exam, and spent the whole week cramming in preparation. I found myself tripping over some of the most basic concepts of the course, because it had been so long since I had last looked at the material. After having the exam today, I can assure you that the next holiday break, I will be taking my textbooks with me.

Don’t underestimate the second exam week of the autumn semester! From talking to others, I can assure you that I’m not the only one caught off guard.

 

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Living in Sweden, Learning Swedish!

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One of my favorite aspects of living here in Sweden is the opportunity to live and learn in a new language. My courses here are in English, but as an international Master’s student, you are eligible to take up to two Swedish classes at the university for free! As such, I was able to get a spot in the A1 Swedish course here at campus Norrköping.

The class starts off really introductory, working with basic phrases and sentence structures. As you progress, you slowly start to build your vocabulary, and your understanding of how to form sentences and communicate. In addition to this course, I also use Duolingo for an hour prior to going to bed, which helps me build my vocabulary and keep the material fresh in my head before going to sleep.  My favorite aspect of the experience, is slowly realizing how much more of the language you understand as you go on. I will pass signs on the street or in the school that at one time I did not understand, only to find myself reading and understanding entire sentences!

To keep myself entertained with the process of learning the language, I like to check out different areas in town to study and get more of a feeling for the type of Swedes that live here in Norrköping. One of my favorite places so far is the Norrköpings Stadsbibliothek (Norrköping City Library), which has really incredible art sculptures and water features in the lobby. There are always seats available, and I usually manage to get a nice spot near the windows on the second floor.

 

As this semester goes on, I hope to teach myself Swedish A2 over the self-study period (i.e. Christmas break), and jump into the B1 course next semester (for free)! Maybe one of these days I’ll surprise some of the Swedish friends I’ve made with a conversation that they aren’t expecting.

Until next time! Hej då (good bye)!

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In My Program, an Exam is a Day at the Zoo

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In the Intelligent Transport Systems and Logistics (ITS) master’s program, we are exposed to a wide array of really interesting courses that provide a deep dive into logistics, Internet of Things (IoT), and transportation. The first period of the semester just finished this past week, and for my Positioning Systems class, students were tasked with a final project of locating a missing person in Kolmården Zoo. The premise of the project is that the missing person should be found via mobile network, WiFi, and bluetooth signals from their cellphone, by utilizing a data collection app on a phone that can transmit data to an online database. The missing person would purposefully get lost in the wooded areas of the zoo while student teams set out to look for them using their data collection method.

My group and I worked with RSS signals from WiFi hotspots, to locate the missing person. By correlating varying RSS signal strengths to a range of distances, we were able to collect data on the WiFi signal from the missing person from various locations. This data was then transmitted to a database server that we could then process using MATLAB and use circular lateration to find an exact position of the missing person.

Unlike classes in my undergraduate studies that were classic by-the-book studying and examination, classes at Linköping University rely on students thinking for themselves and then going out and applying their knowledge to real life scenarios. This class made feel for the first time that I could actually see the skills that I was gaining and how I could apply them to my own career. If you are thinking about applying for the ITS program here at LiU, this is just one example of the real-world courses you’re exposed to. I happen to prefer projects over examinations, and hanging out with the rhinos, meerkats, and elephants for the day is pretty cool too. 🙂

 

 

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Hey or Hej? You decide!

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Before I get all nostalgic and start writing about all of the things I’ve experienced in the past 2 months of being here, I think a proper introduction is in order!

My name is Adam Grachek, a 23 year old American studying my Master’s in the Intelligent Transport Systems and Logistics (ITS) program in Campus Norrköping. I recently graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering, and I’ve spent most of 2019 taking some time for myself and traveling!

 

 

In the context of my career, I’ve always dreamed of working with city planning,  and I believe the best way for me to dive into this field is to obtain hands-on experience working with the transportation. When I started applying to grad programs, I often found that I could get the basics for my career from just about any school out there, but the thing that set LiU apart from everywhere else was the constant drive to push innovation and prepare for the future. In the ITS program here, I’m able to not only learn fundamentals regarding transportation, but also combine this knowledge with a forward-thinking curriculum heavy in IoT and smart city applications. I knew upon the acceptance of my application, that if I am to prepare myself for a career set in the future of tomorrow, a Master’s at LiU is the choice for me.

In the same regard this program was a good fit for my career, living in Sweden has also been such an incredible part of my life. As an international student at LiU you not only receive an education inside the classroom, you also get the learning exchange of living in a new culture, speaking a new language, and meeting people from all over Europe and around the world, every day you are here. I’ve been living here for only 2 months and I’m already feeling at home, making a handful of new friends from other countries, and ordering a beer at the bar like a real Swede! (Jag skulle vilja ha en öl, tack!) 😉

As I continue the rest of the year blogging my experiences away on here, my hope is that this university, this country, and this new step in your life will feel a bit less daunting when making your choice.

Hej så länge! Until next time.

Warm Regards,
Adam

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