Tag Archives: studying

My playlist for studying.

Music creates different emotions, and most importantly it creates different states of mind. Last month I wrote about one of the productivity techniques that I started using, and so far it is working perfectly.

Today I’m writing about something related but somehow different, today I’m writing about my playlist for studying.

Can music boost your performance?

Maybe some of you are familiarized with the “Mozart Effect“; the idea is that listening to classical music can enhance the intelligence of people in general and babies in particular. This is pretty much false.

Listening to a composer or genre of music won’t make you smarter. However, according to Francis Rauscher, listening to classical music can improve certain cognitive skills (like spatial intelligence) for a short time period (about 10 minutes).

In his research, he also says that this effect will vary depending on taste of music, some may react positive to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525: I. Allegro but if you instead like The Clash you’re going to find a “The Clash Effect”.


Then again, a study from Dr Nick Perham suggests that music can interfere with short-term memory performance. According to Perham’s research, listening to music (doesn’t matter if you like it or not) will impede us to recall phone numbers, doing mental arithmetic, and even learning languages.

However, there is an agreement that acknowledges the potential of music to help create the perfect state of mind for studying, somewhere in between relaxation and excitement.

So, there’s no way of knowing if it boosts your performance or not (at least it is very complex to know for sure), it is actually a individual matter and for some it works for some it is better to study in silence.

My playlist.

Everybody loves music, and everyone has specific taste in music for different activities. It doesn’t matter what you are doing there is always a perfect soundtrack to go along with whatever you are doing.

Even though researchers and scientists say it is not the best idea to listen to music while study, I kind of disagree; for me music sets my brain into an active state, and most of the times I’m not even paying attention to what I’m listening to but it helps me knowing that there are some nice tunes in the background.

So, this is one of the playlists that I use to study, hope you guys like it!


Pomodoro Technique. What is it, and why you should use it!

If you are like me, then you struggle A LOT to focus on one thing at a time. This is exactly why the Pomodoro Technique will be perfect for you. I don’t consider myself the best student, not even in the top of my class but I also don’t believe in comparing people, I’m more of a “everyone has different skillsets”, and “everyone can learn whatever they want if they put enough effort” kind of guy. Anyway, I’m already getting off topic (just proving the point that I get distracted easily).

Studying is something that comes in different forms and sizes, some of us just do final exams, some others do home exams and some other do projects and presentations. At the end, everyone puts effort and time into preparing either for the exams or into a project; so, I believe that every student or/and prospective student will find the Pomodoro Technique very useful.

Let me tell you a little bit more about this technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, where the idea is to use a timer to break down a task into work intervals separated by short breaks, that is essentially what it is. Now, to do it properly there are some objectives to accomplish.

Pomodoro Technique StudyingCredits: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

#1 Task to be done.

The first thing is to find out is what is the task to be performed; it can be very simple like answering emails, to something complex like working on your master’s thesis. It really doesn’t matter what is the task, what matters is that it’s something that deserves your full, undivided attention.

#2 Set the pomodoro.

Set your timer to 25 minutes (some people do it with 30 minutes, even 35 minutes), define what you want to accomplish, and start working. The important part here is focusing in your goal without getting distracted, whether it’s a friend calling you for a beer, a Instagram notification, or the sudden need to watch videos about cats in costumes (been there, done that), many distracting thoughts and events come up when you’re at work.

#3 Work until it rings.

This one is pretty much straight forward. Work EXCLUSIVELY in your task until the time runs out. Spend some time doing a pre-study, or a recap and some time to do a review of the work you’ve done.

Credits: Giphy.

#4 Register your pomodoro.

Once the pomodoro ends, write a checkmark in a notebook, or a piece of paper to keep track of the time you spent on a specific task. This will help you to calculate in the future the amount of time that it takes to finish the task in question, and at the same time it will be easier to keep track of the time dedicated exclusively to work.

 #5 Take a break.

Grab a coffee, stretch your legs, go for a short walk or whatever you want to clear your mind. The idea of the pomodoro technique is to work in cycles, and between each cycle take a short break of 4-6 minutes. Your brain will thank you later.

#6 Set your timer. Work. Register. Repeat.

After 4 pomodoros the idea is to take a longer break (I like to go outside and walk for a while), 20-30 minutes is perfect for your brain to assimilate the newly acquired information and to have time to rest for the next cycle of pomodoros.

Credits: Maskot/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

So far it has worked for me, even though sometimes is hard not to get distracted. Let me know what you guys think about this technique in the comments.


3 non-academic reasons to choose Sweden

When people look for a bachelor’s, master or a PhD abroad , Sweden is not always the first option. Australia, France, Germany, England, Japan, US, Canada, Switzerland (a lot of people asked me if I was studying in Sweden or in Switzerland HAHAHA! – both are pronounced in a similar way in spanish), and many more are popular destinations for students. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that all those countries are great places for studying, and it depends a lot on what you like. But let me give you 3 non-academic reasons why Sweden is THE best country to study.

sofia_sabel-swedish_school_of_textiles-4251Credits: Sofia Sabel/imagebank.sweden.se

#1 Innovation

Let’s start with one of the most important reasons. Did you knew that Stockholm is one of the cities with more startups per capita? Now, what the heck does this mean. Right now you might be listening to music in one of the most important and recent ones – Spotify! Or maybe you are listening to Edite’s amazing podcast (I definitely recommend you to listen to it) or playing Candy Crush, the list keeps going but you get the point right? Anyway, in Sweden there is a constant development in terms of technology, there is a lot going on and this is definitely the place to be if you are an entrepreneur, even if you think that starting a bushiness is hard, funding may be available via VINNOVA, Sweden’s innovation agency.

hans-olof_utsi-space_research-5369Credits: Hans-Olof Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se

#2 Sustainable

Sweden is well known around the world for being an eco-friendly country, not just because how their waste-management abilities. But also because the educational system teaches people how it is possible to reduce the environmental footprint of humans. I remember an article about “Sweden buying garbage”, and my first thought was – why would someone buy trash? – but I kept reading anyway.

As a result of this sustainable culture and education, people recycle so well that they don’t have enough rubbish to incinerate to produce energy. In fact, 99% of Sweden’s waste is now recycled (for all of you people interested in sustainable and environmental topics, Sweden offers a lot of programmes related to sustainability) how cool is that! Sweden has become Europe’s biggest importer of trash from other countries.

Another thing that I notice is that people often tend to buy “local” products, and the main reason for this is: first, to support the local companies, and local producers, but also, to reduce the emissions. How come? Well, if you consume local products the transportation (trucks, airplanes, ships) for those products has a smaller impact since less fuel is burned to move the products around the world. Easy.

I could spend days talking about Sweden’s sustainable culture, there’s research going on that I don’t even understand, and definitely there is a lot of development going around here.


cecilia_larsson_lantz-recycling-1075Credits: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

#3 Employment

A lot of people ask me if I would like to stay in Sweden, and the answer is simple – YES! – Explaining why is the tricky part (or at least for me). Let me beging with the fact that NO ONE will give you a job out of nowhere, if there is one sentence that sums perfectly how I feel about life is this one: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. So far I can’t complain about the opportunities that I have created and my talent has allowed me to take – I feel like I’m giving a speech in an award ceremony or something like that, but let’s just get back to the point.

Sweden has a lot to offer, companies are looking for new talent everywhere, and the opportunities to mingle and talk with future employers are many. Job fairs, lunch-seminars, lunch-lectures, fika with companies, academic tours through the facilities, thesis projects within a company, internships, summer jobs, guest lecturers, and so on. Honestly I don’t know what to expect, and this is just my perspective of what I see and what I’ve heard, Gimmy perfectly sums up everything you need to know in your job hunt.

guillaume_de_basly-industry-3127Credits: Guillaume de Basly/imagebank.sweden.se

sofia_sabel-trainee_program-1724Credits: Sofia Sabel/imagebank.sweden.se



My first months in Sweden: how lucky am I?

So, what’s about Sweden? How is it? What are you studying exactly? And how is your life there? Is it really cold, right?”


And so on. These are only few of the questions that my friends have made in these last days, as I temporary returned back to Italy, due to Christmas holidays. I’ve tried to answer them, but then I thought: why do not share it here on the blog? As I may sum up, I’d say that this post is a sort of recap of my first four months in my new country: Sweden. (Do you remember why have I chosen Sweden?)

To be fair, the exact place where I’ve been living (maybe some of you already know that), is the nice and welcoming city of Gothenburg. A city that I loved from the very first gaze, from the first steps I took while getting off the bus coming from the airport in a sunny afternoon last August. The first approach with the city and its inhabitants: my landlady, people around the streets in the city centre or working in supermarkets, or in some university offices. The sound of the Swedish language, the Welcome Days for the international students in a big cinema and then in my department; the beginning of a new academic adventure and the chance to get to know new classmates from all around the world.


First day at the Welcome Days for international students in Draken, a nice cinema in Gothenburg

Yes, I’m lucky to be there, to live and study in Gothenburg. And I’m pretty sure about that every time I can shape an answer to the question: “Do you like staying there?”. You know, I come from Italy, specifically from the South. I’d say that my region is one of the most beautiful places in the world and many friend of mine told me: “You’re leaving behind this wonderful sea, the taste of our food and coffee… and up there it must be truly cold”, and so on. But you know what? I feel that a country such as Sweden fits perfectly the way how I am and how I perceive the reality and the world around me. So, have I already mentioned before? I’m really lucky to live in Sweden.

Being in Sweden means also that I had the chance to become a Digital Ambassador – and if I’m writing this blog post right now, it’s also because I’m glad to have been chosen to represent Sweden, my home country (Italy)  and my university. I’m glad to have the chance to express myself, to talk about my experience and to help international students yearning for knowing more about the Swedish lifestyle as well as the academic world. Last but not least, since the beginning of this ‘adventure within the adventure’, I cannot not mention the fact that I’ve met wonderful people being ambassador such as me.

15624273_1802148636704475_5806319901815603200_n 20161204_163320

Probably, the fact that I’ve travelled and lived abroad before helped me in coping with these first months in another, different country. However, if you’re reading this post and you’re going to take a decision regarding your personal studies abroad, and you haven’t lived outside your home country before, I’d say that Sweden may be a good choice.

No matter how cold it may be… you can always dress properly, right? And as far as I was told, Swedish summer is very nice and full of things to do in environments which share a ‘common denominator’: Nature!

Hopefully we’ll meet here in Sweden… in the meantime, I wish you all happy holidays!


Thinking about exams in Sweden.

As I literally finished my statistics and research methods exam about an hour ago, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write the structure of the Swedish exam system and some tips I’ve picked up.

One step at a time…

At my university (Karolinska Institutet) exams only occur at the end of a particular course. So you’ll generally spend between 3-8 weeks studying a particular module or course and then have the exam in the last week to complete it. Personally this works really well for me, I like to treat each exam as a hurdle and once I’ve jumped it you can move onto the next, without stressing too much about other courses you need to study for. However, this does mean you can have a bunch of exams in a short space of time depending on the length of separate courses. Today was my second exam in 5 weeks and I have the next one in 3 weeks time.

Every university has different exam schedule – for example, your programme may have an ‘exam period’ every two months where multiple courses are examined. You may want to bare this in mind when thinking about applying to different courses and institutions within Sweden – how does this suit your learning style?

Do you like learning lots of different subjects at once?

Or would you rather concentrate on one thing at a time?

Do you mind having lots of exams spaced throughout the year?

If at first you don’t succeed…

Try, try, try, try, try again. Yes, in Sweden you get 6 (yes, SIX) attempts to pass an exam – 3 each academic year. This does take the pressure off somewhat but often a first time failure means you won’t be able to graduate with distinction. Plus, you’ll have to retake the exam later in the year when you may have forgotten certain details from the course.

There are some variations to the repeated attempts rule, so check with each programme, but generally its pretty lenient compared to most international education systems.

Questions, credits and grades…

Essentially every course will be slightly different to the last. Exams generally range from 2-5 hours, papers can be constructed of open questions and multiple choice questions. Most Swedish schools use different styles of examination to test varying aspects of a course. For example, you may have an open book take home exam, online exams, oral exams and written exams all mixed within the same programme. Its just useful to bare in mind when applying – how will I be examined? And will it suit my revision strategy?

So far my exams have been a mix of open written questions and multiple choice questions. Within each course as well we have compulsory group workshops or assignments to complete with minimum ‘pass’.

Sweden uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) so each course is allocated a number of credits depending on its detail, duration and intensity. Dena has written a great guide regarding the differences in grading here.