Katharina Deppisch, Art History

Katharina Deppisch studied Art History at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics.

Winter with snow in Stockholm.
Winter in Stockholm. Photo: Katharina Deppisch

What made you decide to apply to Stockholm University?
–I was generally interested in doing an exchange to Scandinavia, because I like Scandinavian art and design, fashion, the fact that equality of men and women is an important thing here, the kindness and calmness of most of the people. I’ve also learned Swedish before and really liked it.

–Stockholm University (SU) offered different courses than my home University. Especially, the gender and feminism focus is really strong at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics. That was something that made me curious and interested! Besides, the course system here works totally different than at my home university. At SU you have one or two courses only for one to two months, but really intense, so maybe twice or three times per week. I was interested how that would work for me.

How did you decide which courses to choose?
–I read the course description and decided what interested me. Sometimes I also looked for a course that would fit into a module at my home university.

How do studies here at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics differ in comparison to your home university?
–See question 1. Another thing that is different, is the low hierarchy at SU. The Swedish „you“ makes students feel on a same level as their professors. One of my best experiences was when we had a fika (coffee break) during a seminar break with a really well-known professor. She offered us coffee and cookies and we talked about private things. I’ve never experienced something like that at my home university. I think in Germany in general the hierarchies are always stressed and well visible.

What are your impressions of Stockholm and Sweden?
–Some of my idealized pictures I had in my head before I came here, were fulfilled. Others changed completely.

  • It is true that most of the people I met during my stay in Sweden were super helpful and friendly.
  • Feminism and equality plays a big role in Sweden.
  • My impression was that although, the Swedes are really calm and nice, most of them prefer to be surrounded by friends and family members, than meeting new people all the time. That is why it is really difficult to meet „real“ Swedes.
  • Cash is unnecessary in Sweden. Everyone pays with Credit Card or Swish. Even the smallest things, like chewing gum.
  • Although Stockholm is the capital city, it is quiet small compared to other big cities in Europe. And it is also really calm and super clean (!). You never here car drivers hook or cyclists becoming angry and ring bike bell, when someone is walking on their path. 
  • The water plays an important role in Stockholm, as the city is mainly built on islands. I was really surprised that going by boat is a way of public transport here.
  • Sweden must be a paradise for children. When you live here for a while you might think that everyone loves children and every public institution has a kid’s corner. There are many events and special offers for families (huge family packages of cheese and milk in the supermarkets, free fruits in the supermarkets for children,…).
  • Everything closes really early! The University library (esp. weekends!), cafés, bars, clubs...
  • There is always a cinnamon smell in the air, when you pass a pressbyrån (so basically everywhere :)

How would you describe a regular day as a student in Stockholm?
–You can sleep a bit longer, as most of the courses start around 10 or 12. Your breakfast is probably something with oats and oat milk (you can buy it almost everywhere, it is a regional product and cheaper than in Germany). Then you talk the T-bana (subway) to the University. After class, you can have lunch at one of the many food places at SU (my favorite was the healthy salad you can mix on your own).

Then you print, read and write at the University library and maybe meet up with a friend for fika. In the afternoons and evenings many sport courses are offered at the Campus Gym.

In the afternoon, you can also stroll around the water, maybe on the hipster island Södermalm, check out nice clothes at the fashion stores at Götgatan, chill at a park or drink coffee at one of the fancy coffee shops.

If you understand Swedish, you can watch a nice movie or series on svt.se which is a Swedish TV platform for free.

What is your top three places in Stockholm?

  • Cafés: Gilda’s rum in Södermalm and Systrarna Andersson around St:Eriksplan

  • The islands Skeppsholmen (museums island incl. Moderna Museet + ArkDes) and Djurgården
  • Trädgården

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about coming to Stockholm as an exchange student?

  • Learn Swedish before your stay! You will have more fun, by understanding more and more during your time in Sweden. You will be happy about small things, like understanding a conversation in the subway of a mother and her child or that you know what you are actually buying at the supermarket (yoghurt instead of fil). My Swedish knowledge even helped me to pick more interesting courses in art history, as there weren’t so many in English.

  • Be open for new things, go out and do stuff! Especially, when you feel homesick or sad, it is so good for the soul to actually meet up with friends, drink a hot chocolate and talk or do something nice together. 
  • Be aware of the high prices. Everything is more expensive here than in most of the European countries. So you might wanna save some money before your stay or you could look for a job here. The student newsletter sometimes informs you about student jobs. But there are also other possibilities (without having a social security number), like doing a translating job for someone, baby sitting, dog walking (there is an app for that), teaching your mother tongue.

Is there anything you wish someone would have told you, before you came here?

  • The friends you make during your stay are the most important. Try to surround yourself with the people you really like. For me, those were specially other Erasmus (European exchange programme) students as we were all in the same situation at the beginning and we all had to struggle with the same things, like being homesick, getting to know the other culture, etc.

  • Keep contact to you family and friends at home! Sometimes a call with your mother or best friend pushes you and gives you a really good feeling.
  • Don’t take everything too serious. There might be some seminars, presentations or essays that seem to be really tuff, but that is okay and totally normal. You are studying in a different language, maybe have your very first seminar in English (or Swedish). It takes time to become better, but afterwards you’ve really learned something and you can be proud of yourself that you managed everything.
On this page