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Please tell us about yourself

Parikshit Upadhyaya is an international student from Guwahati, India. He did his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from IIT, Guwahati. He is currently studying the joint master’s programme in Computer Simulations for Science and Engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. One of the things he likes most about his programme is that it is very focused on solving problems that are relevant to both industry and academia.

What made you decide to start studying at KTH? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

There are many factors that contributed to this. Firstly, the content of my programme is very well oriented towards what I wanted to pursue after my undergraduate studies. KTH’s reputation as one of the best universities in Europe for technical education was definitely a contributing factor. Also, since I am in an joint master’s programme, I will move to another country in Europe for my 2nd year, which gives me a great opportunity to “broaden my horizon”, as they like to say it.

How did you decide which programme to choose?

My major during my undergraduate studies was Mathematics and Computing. I loved my major but the problem it was a very broad area. I felt like I needed a more specialized programme for my master’s, but one that was relevant to my undergraduate studies. Computer Simulations for Science and Engineering was tailor-made for an applicant like me.

What do you see as the greatest aspects of your programme?

One of the best aspects is definitely the fact that my programme is very focused on solving problems that are relevant to both industry and academia. My programme basically trains me to be a computational scientist. Good computational scientists are needed in almost any field related to science and technology that you can think of, be it astrophysics or the finance services industry, and they are in short supply currently.

How do studies here at KTH differ in comparison to your previous experience?

In my previous university, I used to have more courses in a single semester than here. However, the total load is almost the same, which means I have to do more work per course here. Both systems have their pros and cons, but the advantage of having less courses and more work per course is that you tend to go into the depth of the topics more often, which is absolutely essential in master’s studies.

What are your impressions of Stockholm and Sweden?

I have travelled a lot in Europe and I have seen many beautiful cities like Rome, Zurich, Paris, Milan, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Venice. But after living here for more than a month, I can certainly say that Stockholm tops the list of my favourite cities in Europe. The water is great. The air is clean. It is green everywhere. The people are beautiful and very welcoming here, which busts the stereotype that Swedes are shy and reserved (at least not in Stockholm). The public transportation is probably one of the best in the world. The nightlife is great too. The rent and the prices are high, but I have a good scholarship, so I don’t complain.

Is there something about life in Stockholm and Sweden that has surprised you?

Yes. I was surprised with how well everyone speaks English. I knew most of them could but I never knew that they do it this good. This is a tribute to the very efficient Swedish education system. It is very difficult to learn Swedish because you never have to use it when you talk to people in Stockholm. People start speaking English as soon as they realize that you can’t speak Swedish.

Do you have a place in the city that you enjoy spending time at?

I love getting down at T-Centralen and then walking to Gamla Stan. I do it whenever the weather is nice and I am coming back from KTH, provided I have time. I love walking and exploring the streets whenever I arrive in a new city. Other than that, there are many good places to hang out near Södermalm, especially during weekends and nights out with friends. I am still exploring the city, so this list will grow. To be specific, the best thing about the city is the fact that it is really safe. At any time of the day or night, I have never had to worry about watching my back, even when I am alone. This city lives and lets you live.

Could you describe a regular day as a student at KTH?

On an average, I have about 2 classes every day, except some days when I have none. I have to wake up at about 6 am to attend the 8 am class because I live in Farsta, and I need to have a proper breakfast. Between classes, I mostly hang out in the library studying or working on assignments. I mostly do all my studying in the library.

Are you taking part in any student activities?

If you consider going to parties and events organized by the Student Union as a student activity, then yes. I like to socialize and meet new people from different cultural backgrounds at these events. I don’t help in any organization however because I don’t have any time left for that after my classes and assignments.

What do you want to do after you have received your degree here at KTH?

Currently, I am thinking I will work in the industry for a few years before I come back to school for a PhD. I don’t have a dream job as such. Any job that pays well and gives me opportunities to do what my higher education trained me to do would be a dream job for me. My mind sways a lot, so I may end up doing a PhD directly after master’s.

Is there any advice you would like to give others that will live in Stockholm and study at KTH in the future?

Socialize and meet new people. Stockholm has many international students, and it is a great place to build lasting friendships and networks for the future. Enjoy the city and your studies as long as it lasts.