Exchange student opens up about the biggest surprises in Karlstad: “It’s enormous”

Foto: Emil Franzén

Karlstad University has welcomed exchange students from all over the world.

One of them is Alejandro Otero, from Spain, who highlights things that Swedish students may take for granted. 

– The buses always arrive on time, he says.

Alejandro Otero is 21 years old and an exchange student, studying electrical engineering at the university. He comes from the city Vigo in the northwestern part of Spain. 

–  ­I expected the city to be smaller than it is, Karlstad is enormous, he says.

Earlier in August Alejandro Otero arrived at his dorm, but the expectations did not match reality. 

– When we came to my apartment, we were kind of shocked because we didn’t expect it to be so basic. They didn’t even have curtains. So that was circumstantial, he says.

However, when reflecting on his arrival, he recognized that many of his friends faced more challenges and obstacles than he did, so he considered himself as lucky. 

Why did you choose to study in Karlstad?

– I have always wanted to come to Scandinavia and this was the best option. For my specific degree it was either Sweden or Romania.

Alejandro Otero is relieved he chose Karlstad university.

Alejandro Otero had reservations about choosing Romania as his destination for study for two primary reasons. Firstly, he had a strong desire to study in Sweden, which made Romania a less preferable choice. Secondly, Alejandro Otero was concerned about the proximity of the Romanian university to the border with Moldavia, a neighboring country of Ukraine. 

During the university selection process, Alejandro Otero chose Karlstad as his top choice, followed by a university in Norway.

– I am relieved that I chose Karlstad as my first option, as the university in Norway is situated even further north, which would mean an even colder climate than here in Sweden, he says.

A new perspective

The newly moved Spaniard is doing well in Karlstad and Sweden – despite the fact that a lot is different from what he is used to at home.  

– I love it. It is very beautiful and the city has a lot of greenery. The best thing about Karlstad and I think Sweden in general is that it is very calm and silent, no noise. 

A sharp contrast to his home country.

– In Spain you will hear people shouting and talking loudly, cars honking, and the environment is very stressful. 

The bus arriving on time is another example of a quite a taken-for-granted certainty among the Swedish people. Something Alejandro Otero, on the other hand, is thankful for.

– The buses always arrive on time compared to Spain where the buses can be up to 20 minutes late. 

And what about the university, what is one thing that has surprised you?

– One thing that I really appreciate about the university is the exchange office, they’re great. Something that takes two days here would take two weeks in Spain. 

This is a news article. Read more about the journalistic work in Karlstads studenttidning here.