My name is Mitzi, I am in my last semester at the UNAM, in Mexico, studying physics, and I am one of the Linnaeus-Palme scholarship recipients for the period fall 2019 – spring 2020, at the University of Gothenburg, working in the Optical Levitation laboratory. I have been here since late September, 2019, and here are some useful tips for future students that wish to apply to the program.
Now, my experience may have been a lot better at the start than others, but that is only because my friend, Denisse Cruz, arrived earlier than me, so she tackled all the hard parts of moving to a new city. When I arrived, I took one weekend to get everything ready to start working at the Department of Physics at the University of Gothenburg with Dag Hanstorp.
First of all, he encourages you to look around the labs and through all the cool projects people are doing here before deciding where you want to work. I ended up following Javier Trejo’s steps and chose the Optical Levitation lab in Oscar Isaksson’s project of Single electron step emission of a charged droplet, since that first week in September, our project has evolved so much that now we are doing stuff with solid spheres rather than with liquids. Here are some pictures of the work we do in the lab.
So, once you are here, of course there are practical issues. The most important, I would say, are rent, food and transportation. If you are planning to apply to this program, usually you’d get a response in late April or early May for the fall term. In that case, I recommend you to apply to the student housing that the University offers for exchange students, because if you apply on time, they guarantee you a place to stay at very affordable prices. Even more so, you should ask if there is any other student who got awarded the scholarship and apply for a single place for both of you!
In the same way, money-wise, you should be aware that nowadays, opening a Swedish bank account is harder that it used to be, so you should know that you may have to pay yourself for at least one or two months. Once again, Denisse was the one to experience the worst of this because there was a month delay between our arrivals. I sincerely hope the solution they offered us this time around will be the norm for upcoming students so you do not have to worry much about money problems.
On other concerning matters, food may be a shock coming from Mexico and the low prices at the Faculty of Science at CU; but worry not, the scholarship that we get is enough to cover for decent food and an ocasional dinning out evening once in a while, that’s it, if you want to save some money to visit some other places in Sweden and the neighbouring countries. My recommendation is go to Willy:s for medium range prices, Lidl and Netto for cheaper products, and try the local food whenever posible. If you can, go to the Physics Christmas gathering, the food is out of this world.
For last, there’s the matter of transportation. If you are lucky to find a place near the University, Olofshöjd or Helmutsrogatan for example, you don’t necessary need a Västtrafik period ticket (that’s the local public transport provider), because both locations at least are within walkable distance from and to the University [fun fact, the Department of Physics of the University of Gothenburg is located inside the Chalmers campus in Johanneberg]. Otherwise, if you feel confident in you biking abilities, I’d recommend to buy a second-hand bike and ride everywhere, with the proper rainproof equipment, of course.
Finally, for your spare time, Sweden has a lot of forest and lakes and green places to go. In winter I’d recommend to go to northern Sweden, Kiruna or Abisko for example, both places are as white as you can imagine and have more snow that you’ve ever seen. Even near Gothenburg, there are a lot of places where you can go and walk and enjoy the nature. And of course, do not forget fika!
In other words, coming to Sweden for an exchange period is a once in a lifetime experience and you will enjoy it a lot! Please apply to the program so you can enjoy working and studying here too.
With best regard from Gothenburg, Sweden. Mitzi (: