I do not know if you heard, but it is official spring here in Uppsala. We have first blooming flowers, sunshine and I even met a hare on my way to school today. Spring means we are spending a lot more time outside. Last week I was sitting with my friends after a long a day in nature and one of them looked at us and said: “You know guys, I never thought I would find so many great people here is Sweden!”. And of course it was the most heart-warming thing I ever heard, but it also made me realize how many things I never thought about happening before coming here! I have to admit to myself that even though I promised to my friends back home that I would not change. I kind of lied and there are so many things that I would never imagine happening to me that did. So here are my top five of my Never thought I woulds.
I never thought I would…cycle so much
The last time I was cycling I was around eight years old and I fell and scratched my knee. I remember stubbornly swearing to myself that I will not ride that devil´s instrument ever again. I actually kept that promise for quite a while…and then I moved to Sweden. I am pretty sure that someone thought: Let’s make transportation around this country very inconvenient for people without bikes! Everything here is made for cycling. The way for bikes is several times wider than for pedestrians. One has a bigger chance of crossing the road on a bike than on foot or in a car. On every corner, there is a bike stand so people can safely leave their ride there. Buses are not very frequent and I wish you the best of luck if you want to take one later in the evening. So whether you want to or not, biking will simply become a big part of your life! And the worst part is that you will probably start to actually like it. You can get everywhere around the city in a just a couple of minutes. Checking for bus schedules or numbers for taxi will become a faint memory for you. And since all of your friends are also biking, you will bike together most of the time. And let me warn you, it will feel like an 80s movie!
I never thought I would…drink so much coffee
Don’t tell this to my Swedish friends, but I always was more of a tea person. I guess you already have heard about Sweden´s high caffeine consumption. And you probably did not pay too much attention to it. Well, you should. I am pretty sure that people who do not drink coffee are deported from this country straight away since I am yet to meet at least one. You have coffee at home, at school, at any meeting, at fika and then again at home. The good news is that it also comes with the best tradition of them all: fika. If you have not heard yet about fika, you should know that it is something you will meet a lot while living in Sweden. It is basically just a fancy word for having a nice cup of coffee and something yummy with people. You can fika after school or maybe even in a class. Sometimes fikas can even mask important events like interviews or dates!
I never thought I would… have it so easy eating out
Chances are that in your friends’ group you have someone who is vegan, lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant or eats raw. It is also likely, that eating out can sometimes prove to be quite a challenge and someone always feels a bit left out. Well, welcome to Sweden, land of great options for all of your deep food desires and preferences. Whenever we go out for dinner here, we don’t even really have to think about our vegans and gluten-free friends. They will always have something they can eat! And when I am going to buy some milk I can always go for an ecological or plant-based option. This was very new to me! In my home country, if I wanted something “special”, I needed to go to a special store and vegan or dietary products were really limited in normal shops. Way to go Sweden!
I never thought I would… join a fraternity
Well, not exactly a fraternity in the as-seen-in-every-US-movie way. In Uppsala, we have 13 amazing student nations that are open to any student. They are a centre of social life around here with each of them having a pub, café or a club of some sorts. Basically, if you want to go out and have fun, nations probably will be your first choice. But it is not only Friday clubbing that nations offer! Whatever is your idea of a good time, you can find it there: quiz nights, board games, yoga, gasques, flea markets, choirs, sports teams and so much more. And in case you can’t find what you are looking for, you can always start your own club! And honestly, if you are not a member of any nations, you are committing yourself to staying in or paying way too much money for a beer!
I never thought I would… find so many great people at one place
I know this is kind of cheating since my friend came up with that way before me. However, I do have to mention it. There are so many great things about my experience here, but it all ultimately goes down to the people around me. Even though the countless dinners, movie nights and hangouts with my friends are not the best way to study hard. I met some amazing teachers and mentors here. For the first time, I felt like I am being treated like an equal and that made me learn so much more than I normally would. I got a lot of academical freedom here. But I also gained an amazing support system at the University. So whatever I wanted to do, whether it was joining an iGEM competition in the summer or taking some extra classes, I was always surrounded by people who were trying to make it happen for me. So in the end, it all goes down to the fact that I never thought I would grow so much as a person here.