The differences between first year and second year


Written by Usisipho

17 Jan 2019

It’s been more than a year since I started studying in Sweden, and I’ve noticed a few differences as a second year student compared to my first year. Want to know what they are? Here are a few things that are different – as well as some things I’ve learnt along the way.


Studying a programme in a new country, with a different academic system (and academic culture) can be a little confusing. In first year, I had questions – so many questions! What is the structure of the academic year? Which courses should I pick? How do I sign up for them? Wait, I have to sign up for exams too?  But there were also some questions about the academic culture in Sweden. For example, what is the student-professor dynamic like?

I’d say that main academic differences between 1 and and 2 year is knowing how the system works. Things generally go a lot more smoothly once you know how scheduling works. I’ve also become used to the varied ways of learning that are used – from individual exams to group work, lab sessions, seminars and field trips. But my favourite thing? I’m a big fan of the 15 minute fika breaks during long sessions!

Campus in bloom | Credit: Usisipho

If you’d like more details about studying at Chalmers, check out this post I wrote last year.

It can take a while, but knowing your campus well really improves your experience as a student. Especially the little things. Being able to find your way around campus quickly. Knowing where the best (…or cheapest) coffee is. Being able to find the quietest, most comfortable study spots. Eating lunch outside with your friends in the warmer months.

Students at work | Credit: Usisipho

This year, I know my campus a lot better. It makes things more efficient, cheaper and more fun!

At first, figuring things out can be difficult. “Which tram should I take? Am I even heading in the right direction?” When shopping, I’d think “How do I find what I want in here?” I know it sounds simple, but I’ve heard many shopping confusion stories. For example, when first buying milk, a lot of people buy filmjölk instead of mjölk (milk). I’ve heard it’s quite unpleasant expecting milk and getting its sour, fermented cousin instead!

Of course, you can’t talk about living in Sweden without talking about the winter. Even if you come from a relatively cold country, your first winter in Sweden may feel colder than expected.

Chalmers tram stop | Credit: Usisipho

In my second year, I know how to get around the city without a hassle, I know exactly where to get my groceries (and what to get)!

As a new international student you’re likely to meet a lot of people in your first few months. There are a bunch of student events and activities: sports, to board game nights, pub nights, movie screenings and so on. It’s an awesome way of meeting people – which is great when you’re new in a city.

Friends at sunset | Credit: Usisipho

However, in 2 year, I started going to these events less often. I think once you’ve been in a place for a while, it’s natural to form closer friend groups and hang out with just them a lot more. I still occasionally go to general student events, but I now hang out with my group of friends more often. So now I do a lot more dinners with friends, exploring the city, travelling together, sports, and attending concerts together!

Have any questions or comments? Leave a comment below!


Written by Usisipho

17 Jan 2019