Tag Archives: bilainsweden


Passing the semester at Malmö University – walk through my finals week

Today is officially the first day of a new course and I would like to happily report that I came back to life. Passing this semester wasn’t really as tough as I am used to – although I am pretty sure that is more connected to the fact that I no longer study Architecture so days (weeks?) without eating, sleeping or walking away from the computer are gone. Instead of “sleep is for weak” attitude I am enjoying Swedish work-life balance, laid back atmosphere and no grades. Don’t think that means no one cares about the quality of the projects – quite the opposite! I am struggling to be better and better for myself. Small fact that all the projects are group work adds a little bit of motivation and time management pressure. Are you interested in how my final week of the semester looked like? Let me walk you through it…

Before we start two practical information. Firstly, I study Interaction Design, thus my finals week looks different than most of the other students. We don’t have any exams – instead we present project we worked on during the entire course. Secondly, studies in Sweden (or at least at Malmö University) are organised in courses: two per semester and only one at a time. So I wasn’t really passing entire semester but only a 2-months-long course.


Coming back to school after the hazy blur of over-eating, family meetings and not-knowing-what-day-is-it-or-what-is-happening-in-my-life mood of Christmas is a shock. I was supposed to do everything during the Christmas break, wasn’t I? Well, there is just one thing left to do: panic. Panic going through the code in the train, skyping with your group at the airport and trying to do some work at every single one of your five transportation means.


Working, working and yes, you guessed it – working. I am not in this alone: two of my teammates suffer with me the endless hours of skype and iterations of the algorithm. Working on an experimental text processor, we are implementing the last changes in the code to get rid of the bugs and preparing posters presenting the output. At 4.00 in the morning I suggest taking a 3-hours sleep break and meeting again at 7.00 a.m. . One of my teammates thinks it’s a joke – funnily enough I can’t guess if she’s outraged by the idea of us going to sleep already or the idea of waking up again in less than 3 hours.


Hurray, we’ve got everything under control! The code is ready, the posters sent for printing. My group meets at the University to finish the last remaining task – put together a slideshow presentation.



Presentation day! We start with a demo hour – inside our studio all five groups prepare a mini exhibition of the prototypes. Guests (second year students and invited teachers) and us have an opportunity to go around and try out the prototypes. My group is presenting 4 experiments we developed during the design process and a final project: a definition making algorithm for non-existing words, set of poetry created with Google Translate, an algorithm creating a flow of synonyms, a digital dictionary of untranslatable words and the text processor detecting the dynamics of typing and translating it into typographical distortion. We take turns staying at “our” station, answering questions and explaining our process. After the demo-hour each group presents their project, process and theory behind it in front of entire class and receives critique from peers and teachers. This lasts for hours, so when I finally make it to home I am more than ecstatic to see my bed.


Let’s take a break from the studies, shall we? Today is the day that new students arrive in Malmö! And I am one of the volunteers welcoming them. I spend the day in a big black t-shirt with “ASK ME” on both sides, picking the incoming Erasmus and Exchange students from the train station and helping them with the check in.


Oh,well – back to reality. Just the fact that I presented my project doesn’t mean that it’s all over. After finishing a group project each of us individually has to hand in a 3-4 pages ACM format academic paper based on the project. Before the Christmas break we had a chance to discuss our potential topics with our teacher. Let’s get to writing then.



Who would have known that writing 2000 words takes so much time?

FRIDAY 13.01

Everybody is working until the very last moment. The deadline for uploading the finished paper is at 17.00. Shortly after that I set out from home for a Buddy Night at the Student Pub – a chance for me to meet an incoming Spanish Erasmus student for whom I am a Buddy (person helping out with all the questions concerning Sweden and coming for Erasmus).


The semester is over! Time to celebrate! Most of our class is a good group of friends, so we gather together for some well-deserved fun. Kevin is hosting an end-of-semester party: games, pizza, snacks, laughs and random conversations.

SUNDAY 15.01

I haven’t had much sleep yet but instead I enjoy a family-like breakfast at my best friend’s place (coming home alone might not be the safest option in Malmö, so I choose to wait until the morning). Her roommate prepares warm scones for everybody – and that’s just one of the perks of living in a student apartment! It’s well after midday when with full stomach and after discussing almost every topic possible from internships to adolescent fails, I finally set out for home. I can’t wait to get to my bed after this finals week. Goodnight!



7 New Year’s Resolutions for studying abroad

As I mentioned in my last post, I already started working on my New Year’s Resolutions. Trying to make my head around what I want to accomplish in 2017 made me realise that there are some general points that all international students could probably work on. So if you are still struggling with your New Year’s  Resolutions maybe you will like some of those propositions for making your next semester abroad a little bit cooler.



Studying abroad could be called a wasted time for me, if you don’t take time to explore your surroundings. You don’t have to go far, your region for sure has a lot to offer. Anyway, it is not about WHERE but HOW. Find your own way to go local. Wander around with some unfamiliar national music in your earphones. Make a tour of those small nameless places serving great local food until you have to let one of your buttons loose. I choose to sit on the kerb of the street every once in a while, observe the life going on around me and sketch in attempt of catching the fleeting atmosphere, the genius loci of the place. However, I still haven’t had a chance to explore a lot of Sweden except of few cities. So I can let you in on the secret that one of my personal resolutions for 2017 involves me, trekking and Swedish wildlife.


kayaking the coastline of Bohuslän; Southern Sweden; Credits: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se


I came to Sweden with a firm belief that I don’t need Swedish because I already know a bit of Danish. They are so similar I was afraid of getting it all confused. Besides, everyone here speaks English anyways. I was right. I don’t need Swedish. But I want Swedish! There is never going to be a better opportunity for learning a new foreign language than when you are actually living abroad. You get a chance for practice at every step. So all the international students out there: stop being lazy and start learning the language of the country you live in. New language is a whole new reality to explore. So in 2017 I’m diving into world of experiences described in Swedish, hope to see you there!


Credits: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se


Sometimes the key to understanding someone is learning about their past. And culture clashes are a prominent part of everyday life of an international student. So maybe in 2017 you should expand your knowledge of the country you live in? Whether it means taking a Coursera MOOC or enjoying a good historical book – it is up to you.


the Öland museum in the local history centre of Himmelsberga; Credits: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se


I see it so often– international students sticking with the one person from their country that they came with (or met just after coming). Or when you are excited that you managed to form this awesome pack of friends and you do everything together. That can be a lot of fun, sure. But sometimes it means not letting new people into your life. When I found out that I am not going to live with my best friends here for the next semester I was a little bit bummed. Boo hoo, we already planned morning pyjama dances, cooking together and weekly Saturday’s karaoke. But then I realised that living in the dorms will actually lead to meeting a lot of new people. And I want to keep meeting people and keep letting them into my life, so bring it on 2017!


Midsummer Celebration bringing people together; Credits: Stefan Berg/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se


This one goes doesn’t really need explanation, does it? Life goes fast and life studying abroad seems to be going even faster. My first semester is gone in a blink of an eye. And if I have one regret concerning those first 4 months it is not taking enough photos. They are great not only as a reminder of those awesome stories, adventures and new friendships, but also can help you connect with your old friends back home you can share them with. Isn’t the story about your trip to Lapland just hundred times better with the video of you dogs sledding?


hanging out in the streets of Stockholm; Credits: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se


Student organisations, volunteering, sport clubs, creative community meetings… there is so many ways to get involved! Studying abroad goes by the same rules as everything else in life: the more you give the more you get. Giving a little bit more from yourself in 2017 can result in new hobbies, new friends and unforgettable experiences.


Student organisations rule! ; Credits: Magnus Liam Karlsson/imagebank.sweden.se


Last but not least, a challenge for all students studying abroad: let go of your home. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t keep in touch with your friends and family. By all means you should! But sometimes it may be hard to accept that time goes by in your hometown without you. Your friends are going to make new friends, accomplish things without you, places are going to change. Let that happen. Don’t hold on too much to the past, accept that you can’t always be there and celebrate changes with your loved ones when you visit.





Things I’ve done in Sweden

The end of the year is for many a time of summaries. We look back at the last year, evalaute it and make plans for the next one. As a lists-freak I have already strated working on my New Year’s Resolutions. But before I present you a list of things I plan to do during my next months in Sweden, I would like to reminisce some of the things I’ve already done. So without much thinking I have written a list of 50 things I have done in Sweden during these last 4 months. Feel free to take a peek into my life as an international student.


  1. discovered Malmo during an introduction week
  2. bought a bike
  3. gone bouling
  4. got my bike stolen
  5. sung ABBA karaoke
  6. attended networking event
  7. got a gym membership
  8. celebrated Kanelbulle dag (national Cinnamon Bun Day!)
  9. learnt to code in Processing
  10. cooked national dishes with classmates from another continents THINGS1
  11. got hit on by a Swedish guy (they tend to be so shy, I consider it a success!)
  12. built my first Arduino machine
  13. been completely awestruck by Malmo University’s guest lecturers
  14. ended a party with a 3-o-clock falafel
  15. read 41 academic papers on interaction design
  16. fallen asleep on a train and gone to a wrong city
  17. scheduled CV counselling
  18. lost beerpong to a blindfolded person
  19. programmed a game about an astronaut cat
  20. celebrated un-birthdayTHINGS2
  21. built a machine preparing vitamin drinks
  22. won a Marvel themed pub quiz
  23. presented a tangible interface project at a demo-hour
  24. wished I didn’t have to go back home
  25. wished my visit home didn’t have to end
  26. stayed up reading academic texts until 3 a.m.
  27. been introduced to a concept of Falafel Friday
  28. visited Moderna Museet
  29. watched sunrise in Stockholm’s harbour
  30. watched sunset in Gothenburg’s harbourTHINGS3
  31. had fun in biggest Scandinavian amusement park
  32. started writing my very first academic paper on interaction design
  33. cursed groupwork (Why can’t we all agree on one thing, guys?)
  34. loved groupwork (I wouldn’t have done it without you, guys!)
  35. attended traditional Swedish Julbord
  36. enjoyed Swedish trains more than expected (railways are often just next to lakes!)
  37. had to schedule every talk with my friends back home on Skype
  38. become an Eramus buddy for a Spanish girl coming in January
  39. spent countless hours looking for an apartment
  40. decided to move to dormsTHINGS4
  41. enjoyed many gossiping fikas with my girls
  42. started Friday mornings with a lecture from Creative Mornings
  43. finished Thursday evenings with lectures and pizzas at Foo Cafe
  44. spent every Wednesday at a pubquiz with my classmates
  45. went to a hospital
  46. participated in Urban Sketcher’s meetings
  47. started taking vitamin D regularly
  48. learned about political history of Sweden
  49. discussed ethics of self-driving cars and many other interesting topics during classes
  50. fallen in love with Sweden


…actually I could go on and on like that. Those 4 months were full of experiences! Now I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings! 


Foreigner in Sweden Everyday Awards – do you deserve one?

Life of an international student isn’t easy. But hey, I am doing a pretty good job! And sometimes I feel like celebrating myself. After all, why should the Nobel Laurates be the only ones having fun? Check out these awards to understand a little bit better this funny little Swedish life. Or maybe make some yourself, they are great for both self-esteem AND procrastination! Celebrate yourself.




Don’t be intimidated though, Sweden is not the ever-freezing land of political correctness and darkness. It’s actually a lot of fun to study here. We have cookies. Or at least Cinnamon Buns.

Oh, and feel free to ask questions about any of the intriguing aspects of Swedish life.

This post is a parody of internet famous Everyday Awards by Beth Evans.

Malm Hgskola, Orkanen.Studier i Biblioteket.Emma Rugg

Malmö University Interaction Design Master’s Programme – course 1

How is it like to study at Malmö University? How are the courses organised? How many hours per week did I spend in school? What is the Interaction Design Master’s like? And did I pass my first course? Let’s explore a few of these questions with the student perspective on my first course of Interaction Design Master’s Programme at Malmö Univeristy.

Recently I have passed my first course here, at Malmö University: Introduction to multidisciplinary interaction design. It was part of my Interaction Design Master’s Progamme. The whole year is divided into 4 courses, 2 per semester, each worth 15 ECTS credits. The last course is thesis work, both for the students enrolled in one- and two-year degree’s. Both of the types of students are working and having lectures together in a class of 18 people.



photo: my classmates enjoying bowling


My “class” is nothing like what I expected it to be. First of all: there is only two half-Swedish people and a grand number of six Danes who are commuting from Copenhagen. The rest of the class is from all over the world: Bulgaria, Canada, Brazil, Italy, USA… It is a first time I have an opportunity of working on a project with people from outside of Europe. But that’s not the end of the diversity! To ensure multidisciplinary approach we come from a variety of different backgrounds: from Computer Science through Architecture to Graphic Design. What’s more, there is a lot of age differences between us – more than a dozen years between the youngest and the oldest. That means a lot of different experiences and perspectives to come together in one project. And our differences are bringing us all together – we get on well, hanging out together after classes, bowling, partying or winning pub quizes.


Malm Hgskola Orkanen. Biblioteket. Daphne Haking.

Photo Credits: Malmö Högskola Orkanen; Biblioteket. Daphne Haking


The structure of the course changes every year according to the feedback from last year’s students. What we have been through during our first course was quite a different experience than the one of previous year’s students. During the ten-weeks course we went through two projects, each lasting  around 3 weeks, and a series of introductory lectures before each. As a rule of thumb, classes were happening 3 times a week with Tuesdays and Thursdays free from lectures to give us time for project work (although it is not the case with the second course ongoing right now).

Except of project based work done in a previously assigned 4-person groups, we had to attend lectures, workshop and individual tutorings. Most of the lectures required preparation in a form of readings (starting from introductory books to academic papers). I personally find the Malmö University Interaction Design Programme to have a very academic approach, with a lot of focus on academic readings. Workshops were a one-day classes given by a guest-lecturer connected to the overall theme of the course but consisting of smaller tasks that were not a part of a bigger project. However, they served not only as a great get-away but actually gave as insights to use in the group work. Additionally, over the course of these 10 weeks we had 3 individual meetings with a teacher during which we would discuss our expectations, opinions and plans. I found those to be extremely helpful both psychologically and technically.



photo: brainstorming during first project


So what have we done during the first project? The aim of the project was to design for shared sonic spaces. Each group had been assigned a specific location and a theme. My group was exploring the topic of “parasitic” in cafes and co-working spaces. We would follow a pretty strict design process (based on the double diamond model) and present progress every week. After observations conducted in a cafe, we developed many ideas, few of which we later presented in front of entire class. Due to the short timeframe and the introductory character of the course we were focusing on trying out different methods and coming up with ideas, not trying yet to design or build. In the end we came up with a concept of sound visualizing artifact meant for encouraging the reflection on dynamics of conversation and its contribution to the soundscape.



photo: prototyping at university’s workshop


During the second project we had much more freedom. We didn’t have much lectures. We were able to choose the design process by ourselves without restrictions on final product or timing. Also the theme was more open – this time my new group was focusing on applying force. All in all, the second project was meant to get us into prototyping – we spend a great deal of time in the workshop. My group decided to explore the possibility of applying force as an input for tangible interfaces. We built a prototype which was used to perform a simple function (like navigation of a dot on a screen) by applying force. At the end of the project our teachers invited other professors and second year’s students for a demo-hour, during which they could play with prototypes and ask questions about our project.

That is a summary of how my first course at Malmö University looked like. And oh, the most important  – I passed! (As well of course as all the other students, but there are no specific grades).  Feel free to ask any questions about studying in Sweden, at Malmö University or particularly about Interaction Design Master’s Programme. And stay tuned for part 2 – embodied interaction course!


featured image: Malmö Högskola Orkanen; Biblioteket. Emma Rugg


Am I happy I moved to Malmö? – Embracing my inner Swede

In my first post I introduced you to my future Alma Mater – Malmö University. Now it is time for me to introduce myself. Let me tell you about my first two months in Sweden and how living in in the land of Vikings differs from living anywhere else. And answer the burning question: was it a good decision?


I came to Sweden for a year with one suitcase, wearing flip-flops (quite inconsiderate choice of footwear for northern countries if I might add) with my brand-new raincoat under my arm (that similarly to the flip-flops just didn’t fit into the suitcase). I cannot say I was particularly scared or excited about coming – after all I have already lived in Denmark, just across the bridge from Malmö, in a lively capital of Copenhagen. I wasn’t even sure I want to go. And then… Sweden happened.





Two months later, two months into my Interaction Design Master’s program, a brand new Swedish Institute Digital Ambassador, I sit in my bed and I cannot stop myself from already thinking that maybe a year is not enough. Yeah, MY BED – here we come to the first thing that changed for me. I am pretty sure some scientists already proved that when you come to Sweden the epicenter of your universe gently shifts to your bed. It may sound like a bad thing, but it really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t just sit aimlessly in my bed browsing the internet for cat pictures (oh ok, maybe Sunday mornings). I am a generally social and busy person, which means that usually I would go for some kind of workshop or a meeting after school and then hit the gym. By the time I am home it is already dark for several hours. But when I get to my bed it feels like the only place on Earth without wind, rain or bike rings. And it’s mine. This is a relationship like no other (I have to fairly warn you though, this wonderful relation does costs you several thousand coronas per month).



During these 2 months I dived head first into a new field of interaction design, I met hundreds of new people, moved to a new place 2 times, bought 2 bikes, laughed, danced and learned. Not that it was all a fairy tale. The first two weeks were incredibly exhausting, when all of a sudden you are thrown alone into a new environment with the stress of finding an apartment and a bike (at this point let me stop and give you one advice – don’t come to Malmö with flip-flops but without a place to live for the next year, please do the opposite). But once I got through that, oh it only gets better and better! A year has passed since my backpacking gap year experience and I managed to forget how amazing it feels to challenge oneself like that. Everything seems new and exciting, possibilities are endless and every other day feels like an adventure. I sincerely believe that experiencing new cultures  unlocks some clip-box in your head, allowing you to think differently, see possibilities that haven’t crossed your mind before. You know, not new landscape but having new eyes (thanks, Proust). Just challenge yourself every once in a while. That’s it – before I fully go into Paulo Coelho mode.





Of course I miss my home – my friends, family, a small white room at the attic of a town house and my cat purring 800km from me. But Malmö, maybe because of being such a small city, has an incredible potential of coziness. Never have I thought, that only after a month I would already feel at home here. But somehow I do. Even though I thought I am too hot-blooded, too critical and certainly too loud for a Scandinavian, I find and embrace little pieces of my inner Swede. My shared love of pastry. An irrational pleasure of biking on the cold morning to a fresh market. Patience for mastering my boules skills. Inexplicable urge to buy out all of the bacon from the store. Collective responsibility of group work. Need for having (and using!) gym membership. Inner peace of being in the woods, near a lake or at the seaside. Attention for craft. Search for a life-work balance. And passion for creating something meaningful together. Seems like I have quite a lot of Swede in me after all and Scandinavia really is pretty cool. (Oh yeah, did I mention blonde guys everywhere?)



To answer a question all of my friends ask: yes, I am extremly happy I decided to come to Malmö. What about you? What are you waiting for? The admission process for studying Master’s Degree in Sweden has just opened. Here is your possibility to challenge yourself and find your inner Swede. I wish you best of luck!