Divia gives her best insider tips for new international students

With so many unknowns, moving to a new country to study is exciting and daunting, rewarding and challenging.
There’s a new system to learn, friends to make and a city to discover.
To help you fast track the process, CIRC member, student ambassador, second year master’s student and student ambassador blogger as well, Divia Jiménez, shares her experience and offers her best tips.

Why did you choose to study in Gothenburg, and at Chalmers?
– I had long been enamoured by Swedish music and culture, but hadn’t really considered Gothenburg as a studying destination. In the meantime, the more I looked for master programmes in other countries, the less I could find one that successfully combined my professional interests. When it hit me that Sweden might be the answer, I almost immediately found the programme I had been looking for. Discovering Chalmers position among the top universities in the world, their constant strive for sustainability, good relations with industry and amazing student union only cemented my decision. I was so confident in it that I never came up with plan B.

What are the best things about studying in Gothenburg?
– Gothenburg is a very safe place, with a stunning nature and clean environment. There is more than enough to do here, whether you’re into hiking, clubbing, going to any kind of concerts or other cultural activities.

– The universities are very concerned with the well-being of the student and offer endless opportunities for development, extracurricular activities, counselling and medical care. Most of all, they form a structure in which the actual goal is to learn instead of passing a course, something you can see by the willingness of teachers to help you out.

– Finally, as a friend would say, one of the best things of studying in Gothenburg is that it’s cheaper than Stockholm.

What’s your best tip for meeting people?
– At first it seemed daunting, especially since Swedish people are less talkative than what I was used to. But I soon realized that it’s not as hard as it seems. In Chalmers, for example, there is a long list of student associations and committees. You can pick an interest, join a relevant association or form your own, and from then on friendships will easily arise. There are also plenty of activities across the city, some of them might pique your interest and lead to meeting new people. Most important of all is to keep yourself open to form friendships with anyone.

Have you discovered any hidden gems since you have been here?
– This is one of my favourite things about Gothenburg! There are gems everywhere. All it takes is getting out of the most transited roads for a couple of corners and you will suddenly find yourself in front beautiful scenery by the river, in the middle of the forest or in some little cosy café. It might be best to not spoil the fun and leave you discover those on your own.

What’s your best tip for finding accommodation?
– This is a tough one! But I’d recommend keeping your eyes and ears open; often there are offers posted on message boards inside the universities, in supermarkets and on Facebook groups. I’ve heard that some people have found accommodation by calling regularly to SGS Student Bostäder and Boplats. Blocket offers apartments, but it is also possible to post there your own ads saying that you are looking for accommodation. It is hard work but surely something will appear! Do keep in mind that there are people who take advantage of the difficult housing situation; you can avoid being scammed by not transferring any money until you have received a key for your apartment.

Do you have any other tips or advice that you wish someone had told you before you arrived in Gothenburg?
– Waterproof clothes and shoes will be your best investments! Something else I didn’t know was that some things would be hard to get used to, such as the darkness in winter and the lack of food variety. The only advice I can give about this is to realize that these are the things that turn living somewhere new into such an interesting challenge; it will eventually surprise you that you were able to push through.

What do you think you have gained/are gaining from the experience?
– First of all, the experience of living so far from home for the first time has given me confidence that I can stand in my own two feet while combining freedom with responsibility. In addition, here I have done for the first time too many things too count: learning to ride a bike, travelling alone, eating moose, seeing the northern lights, baking my own pie, and organizing activities for over 500 people.

– The little peculiarities that make up Swedish behaviour, many of which I need to adopt – punctuality, for one – have taught me other ways to see the world. I have had my eyes opened to how much in common you can have with someone who comes from the opposite corner of the world, and how much you can enjoy the company of someone who does not have anything in common with you.

– Professionally I’m gaining deep insight into traffic planning, water management, earth and environmental sciences. I’ve had the chance to learn from, literally, the best. To mention a few, I’ve had study visits to what was denominated as the greenest city in Europe, Växjö; and to the Swedish Transport Administration, which is responsible for turning Sweden into the country with the least deaths by car accident. What is enriching is not only the academic side, but also learning about Swedish working ethics and respectful relations between students and teachers.

Thanks to www.goteborgdaily.se

Photo: www.circ.chalmers.se. Divia is number 2nd from the left.

Read Divia’s reflections in Chalmeristbloggen >>>