Month: May 2017

Swedish unspoken rules and codes – By Jackson

They say when in Rome do as the Romans do, so here are a dozen do’s and don’ts you need to learn as you come to Sweden.

1. Observe the 1-meter bus stop rule

Swedes in particular have space rules. While at the bus stop, it’s hard to find people next to each other unless they are couples or friends. So when you are at the bus stop or even sitting on a bench or inside the bus, make sure to keep the 1-meter rule and look for an empty seat.

2. Do not cut the queue line

Swedes do not line up in a queue but everyone knows the order. While at the bank, post office, bus station, train station and entertainment facilities make sure to look for a ticket number for the queue and it will be considered extremely rude if you cut or jump the line.

3. Do not call unless it’s an emergency

Most people in Sweden prefer texting over calling. It’s easier for one to say yes or no over text than over a phone call. This is one way of people avoiding confrontation unless it’s an extreme emergency, then you can call.

4. Do not pay or pick up the tab for someone

While in Sweden, it’s common for the men and women to pay for their tabs be it at any social place. Everyone considers themselves independent, especially the ladies, so it may seem polite to pay for her but don’t impose that on her.

5. Always say “tack “(thank you) after offered any help

“Tack” is the first Swedish word you need to be familiar with as this means thank you. Always say “tack” to show a sign of appreciation after offered any kind of help.

6. Handshakes or hugs on meeting someone

When it’s your first  time meeting someone, a handshake is mostly the accepted means of greetings. A hug is usually acceptable if it’s the second time you are meeting the person or if you both know each other.

7. Always be on time

Swedes hate it when someone is late. It is also considered rude if you are late and failed to inform them you would be late earlier. So it’s better to be 5 minutes early, before the agreed time.

8. Do not be the first or the last in starting tasks

It’s common in Sweden for people not to be the first to start something or the last to finish, be it tipping, eating or doing any other thing. It’s mostly considered a sign of bad luck. WEIRD, I KNOW.

9. Do not interrupt someone when they are speaking

It’s considered extremely rude to cut someone off when they are speaking and they haven’t finished speaking. So be cool and wait for your chance to speak.

10. Avoid eye contact when in public places

It’s considered extremely weird and creepy to stare and make eye contact with people in public place and to make the matters worse you don’t know them.

11. Do not speak loudly while on phone

While in public places and you have to pick up a phone call, it will be considered rude to speak in a loud tone. Make it a point to speak in a tone that does not alert everyone.

12. Keep quiet while at the cinema or theater

While at the theater or cinema, it will be considered rude to start talking or making phone calls while its silent and everyone is watching a movie. Excuse yourself and go out if you need to make a phone call or talk.


Grocery Jeopardy – By Michelle Ochsner

ICA is one of the grocery store chains in Sweden, and arguably the most popular amongst students. During your first few days in Uppsala as you begin to settle in, you’ll probably get hungry, and need to make your very first trip to your neighbourhood ICA.

My first few trips to ICA were a lot like a game of jeopardy, I wasn’t sure what I was going to come home with, and it took a few tries until I got it right. ICA Folkes Livs in Rackarberget was my first experience with grocery shopping Sweden. One of the first things you see when you walk in is a colourful wall of candy, or as Swedes call them godis. I thought ok well if Swedes love sweets so much living here won’t be hard at all. As you turn the corner, and approach the refrigerator section that is when things got a little more challenging. Since everyone in Sweden speaks exceptional English, this is when the language really hit me. I found myself taking 10 minutes just to pick out some butter, and milk just because there were about a million options. Google translate, and currency converters became my best friends during every grocery trip. Since the store is so narrow, and busy, people were trying to squeeze by me, I got a little overwhelmed and decided to try out a game of jeopardy. I just grabbed items that looked the most familiar based on the pictures, and few Swedish words I knew, and hoped for the best. For the most part it turned out pretty well but for others not so much; for instance I came home with rice pudding instead of yoghurt. Most yoghurt in Sweden comes in tetra packs much like the milk containers instead of the individual packs I’m used to back home so I figured how could that possibly be yoghurt, and opted for what turned out to be rice pudding. A friend of mine accidently ended up buy filmjölk or sour milk for her morning cereal. Just ask any international, and their guaranteed to have a great grocery story.

Another challenge I faced was the prices. One Canadian dollar is nowhere near one Swedish krona. Dividing by 7 was a challenging task, and I ended up just using a conversion app. It took a while to get used to what the Swedish krona system actually meant as when I read some of the prices, I wondered how on earth could milk ever cost $40?! Why is does my total come to $150 when I only purchased a few things?!… right this is the Swedish krona we’re talking about, and in my mind I thankfully just saved a lot of money.

Luckily in Sweden, grocery shopping is fantastic for people who are lactose intolerant or have other dietary restrictions. Two of my friends are lactose intolerant, and they have so many milk, yogurt, and ice cream options compared to back home in Canada. Another friend of mine is allergic to peanuts, and found the phrase “kan innehålla” meaning “may contain” a very helpful phrase.

One of my greatest tips when grocery shopping is don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s normal to want to feel that sense of belonging, and try to be as Swedish as possible when you first arrive but Uppsala has many international students who are all in the same position. The swedes are beyond helpful when you ask them which will make your experience a little easier.


Student Accommodation: Rackarbergsgatan – By Su Fang

Ahhh yes, Rackarbergsgatan. Also known as Rackarberget (if you’re referring to the area that it’s in, pronounced “racka-berry-it”), “Racka-something” (if you’re an exchange student who has just arrived and have no idea how to pronounce that beast of a word), “Rackies” (if you’re Australian), or just plain “Racka” (when you’ve given up).


Hands down, the best thing about Rackarberget is the location. Here’s about how long it takes me to get to the important places:

5 min bike city-center Where a lot of the cafes, shops, and the river are
15 min walk
5-10 min bike student nations Where I go out with my friends to eat, study, just hang out more generally
15-20 min walk
10 min bike Flogsta Where most of my friends live and where there is a bigger and slightly cheaper ICA
10-15 min bike Kantorsgatan Where like, two of my friends live
5 min bike ICA Luthagens Livs Where I get my groceries when I need a several things but am too lazy to bike to ICA Vast near Flogsta
2 min walk ICA Folkes Livs A smaller, pricier grocery store that I go to when I really need ice cream and am too lazy to bike to Luthagen
5 min bike Campus 1477 gym It’s a gym. Pretty self-explanatory.
2-7 min walk closest bus stops Depends on which direction you’re going

And one of the best things that I’ve just recently discovered about Rackarberget is its proximity to Ekonomikum park. It’s a nice open field with a lot of room to picnic with friends and soak up some sun, and it’s where a good portion of Valborg takes place. This ended up being super convenient during Valborg for me and my friends, because we could just use my room as a sort of home base for the weekend. My friends came over in the morning and brought all the things they would need for the day (food, drinks, extra layers of clothes) and we just brought what we needed to each event, since it’s much closer to the city center compared to Kantorsgatan and Flogsta, where they live.



Of course, the downside of Rackarberget is that you have to share the bathroom and shower. Some corridors in Rackarbergsgatan house five people, and others have seven, like mine. You’d think that sharing a bathroom and shower with six others would be a disaster, but it actually works out just fine. We’re all on our own schedules, so it hasn’t really been an issue.


As for cleaning, we just rotate chores each week, like cleaning the bathroom/shower, taking out the trash, tidying the kitchen etc.

The kitchen:


Big window, nice lighting during the day, and pretty well stocked with cooking necessities, like a coffee maker, toaster, pots and pans and such. We share our utensils and most of our dishes, and then have a cabinet to keep our personal food. Sometimes our schedules will clash when cooking, since there’s only four stovetops and one oven, and most people eat around the same times. But it hasn’t been that big of a deal.

One thing that I don’t really like about the corridors in Rackarbergsgatan though, is that the kitchen is a bit small if you want to have more than four people sitting and eating at the table. And on top of that, there’s really no communal living space where we can have a couch or something, like there is in Flogsta. Because of that, there’s not really any place where everyone in the corridor can just hang out. So, most of us just end up going to our separate rooms at the end of the day or after cooking dinner, which can be nice after a long day, but it would be nice to have the option of just hanging out somewhere besides your own room.

The rooms are pretty decent though, especially given that it’s on the less expensive end relative to the other residence buildings. I do have my own sink, which is convenient, ample closet space, and a desk and chair, shelves, armchair, bed, and my favorite part– the big window. It’s not the most spectacular view or anything, but I love the fact that it lets a lot of light in, and fresh air too if I want to open it. But the view’s not bad either. Here’s a picture I snapped during sunset, while the days were still long:


As for decorating the room: at first, I really didn’t feel all that motivated to put anything on the walls, since I knew I would be leaving in five months and didn’t want to spend money on things that I would have to get rid of at the end of my stay. But then the plain walls got boring. So I decided to put up some of the free maps that I had gotten from my travels, and just other small, barely sentimental things that I had accumulated and would probably get rid of anyway, like ticket stubs, receipts for train tickets, etc. It added some nice color to my room, and since I put everything up chronologically, it turned out to be a nice way to document my time abroad.


Overall, I’m really happy I ended up in Rackarbergsgatan. I don’t even remember if it was my first choice when I listed my preferences in the housing application, since it was all a blur and all the names were so long, but I am really satisfied. The location is great, it’s not boring, but it’s not too rowdy either. It’s definitely not Flogsta, but that’s also nice too because, well, it’s not Flogsta 😉
/Su Fang

Student Accommodation: Klostergatan – By Arindam

Accommodation is right up there with residence permit (if required) as a high priority subject in the checklist of an international student. The accommodation situation in Uppsala is pretty grim with long queues and waiting lists. I was lucky enough to be offered accommodation by the Uppsala University Housing Office that made my work a lot easier. The place I have been calling home for the past 9 months is the Klostergatan-16 Student accommodation. This student residential area was a hotel until 2015 after which it got converted into a modern housing area. Klostergatan 16 is quite an anomaly in the student housing scenes of Uppsala which are dominated by corridor style residential areas. The biggest attraction though of this place is its location which is the best one can get in Uppsala.

1. Location:
Klostergatan 16 is located in central Uppsala near the Fyris River. Being in centrum, it is very well connected to the other parts of the city. Almost all busses stop at the various bus stations located nearby ( Stadshuset , Dragarbrunn or Stora Torget). Moreover it is only about ≈ 700 m. from the Uppsala central train station. Centrum is the hub of Uppsala with shopping centres, restaurants, movie theatres and banks and this makes Klostergatan’s location a flawless .There are 2 stores of ICA, the popular supermarket chain, located in close proximity. Willys, a usually cheaper alternative to ICA is present a kilometre and a half away. All leading banks have their branches nearby. The most exciting thing about Klostergatan’s location is that it lies within a kilometre of all the 13 Student nations.

#[Pro Tip 1] : Living in centrum is enviable  and a masterstroke

2. Rooms:
Most rooms including mine are about 23 square meters in area. Each room has a private bathroom and a fully equipped kitchenette with a mini-fridge, microwave and basic kitchen equipments (plates, cups, glasses, cooking vessels, cutlery, microwave safe bowl etc.). The kitchenette is meant only for heating and light (normal) cooking .Heavy cooking or deep frying will trigger the nearby fire alarm. This fire alarm is directly connected to the fire brigade, which means that if there is an alarm due to heavy cooking, the tenant will have to pay the cost. There is a common kitchen on the ground floor which is fully equipped and can be used for heavy cooking when necessary .Initially I was a bit paranoid about triggering the alarm. But slowly I found out that if one is a bit careful with not overcooking/burning the food (that generates a lot of smoke), it is absolutely fine. The rooms are furnished with a bed and a mattress (including pillow and quilt), chairs, one table, wardrobe, curtains and ceiling lamps. Basic cleaning equipment is provided by the landlord. There are also common vacuum cleaners which can be used by the tenants.

# [Pro Tip 2]: Things one should bring: 1) Bed linen 2) Ethernet cable 3) router 4) microwave safe containers

#Note: Heating, Internet and Electricity are included in the rent

This is what my room looks like

3. Other Amenities:

3.1 Laundry: The laundry room with fully functional washing machines and dryers are located on the ground floor. All the washing machines have an automatic detergent dispenser (So no need to buy your own). The laundry washing stations can be booked in advance via an electronic booking system.

The laundy room in all its glory

3.2 Common kitchen: The common kitchen like the laundry can be booked using an electronic booking system. It is located on the ground floor and can be used for extensive cooking. It is even equipped with an automatic dishwasher.

The common kitchen has 9 individual cooking stations

3.3 Common areas: The building houses a cafe of its own. Yes you read that right..! It is managed by the Uppsala University housing office which has its office next to it. The cafe is connected to a common room where one can chill, relax, eat, study or have a party. This is equipped with free Wi-Fi. Besides this, the 2nd floor of the building also has a garden.

Common room

2nd floor garden

Green Cup cafe

3.4 Bicycle store area: The bike storage area is located in the basement. It is basically a cage like structure which needs a common code for entry.

Bike Parking/store area

3.5 Gymnasium: The building also houses a moderately equipped free gym for the residents.

#[Pro Tip 3]: Though the gym is small , it is never crowded/congested

Gymnasium for the tenants

3.6 Garbage room: Household waste after segregation (organic, nonorganic combustible, Glass etc) is dumped in individual drums (of each category) at the garbage room located on the ground floor.

4. Pros & Cons Analysis


From theory to practice: my introduction to the real world – By Geoffrey DeSena

My plate sat empty and neglected on the lunch table in front of me. I leant over it fully engrossed in the conversation bouncing around the members of the small company I have been an intern with for just over a month now. The CEO was interviewing his guest about the practicalities of installing a wind turbine on the man’s property. The subject matter was all familiar to me because I had recently spent several months learning the process of wind power development and the theory behind the technology at Uppsala University Campus Gotland, but the details were rife with novelty. I had learned the typical ranges for the cost of producing energy and the prices providers were charging, but these men were discussing precisely what our guest expected to invest and what the utility would pay for the extra energy. I had learned the various methods of estimating how much wind an area would receive, but the conversation spent several minutes on the details of the measurement instrumentation needed and the options for making estimates based on the already available data. Though I typically make the effort to interview experts when I have the chance to learn about my new industry, I needed to do nothing more than be a fly on the wall, sampling each valuable bit of information that flew across the table in front of me and storing it in a file marked “you’re going to use this”.

This was only one of the many practical conversations we’ve had over our daily lunch at the office of WindSim AS in Tønsberg, Norway. The eight of us in the small office gather frequently, and I’ve felt like a member of a small family almost since day one. The company develops a software (also called WindSim) that supports wind resource and energy production estimates for developers around the world, but their main office here in Norway still feels like small family operation. When I think about this rationally, it seems preposterous that in a global company, a lowly, unpaid intern has an almost daily opportunity to interact with the head software developer, both co-founders, and the CEO during what is essentially a two-month-long job interview.

However, the approach to my arrival seemed normal and uneventful. This was primarily due to the fact that I had gotten myself into an excellent position to have such doors open before me. As a student in the Wind Power Project Management masters programme at Uppsala University Campus Gotland, I have connections throughout the renewable energy industry via our faculty and the alumni network. WindSim has been helping students of the programme learn their software for years now, and I currently sit across from a PhD student, who completed the WPPM programme three years ago. They were happy to consider yet another intern from our department for a short stay.

Over the past month, I have been working on a project that forms the basis of my thesis to investigate potential improvements to their model of wind flow through forests. As wind power continues to expand, more developers are looking to northern Scandinavia where the wind is strong but the terrain unforgiving. A significant challenge will be predicting the winds over these forested and mountainous regions. WindSim’s computational fluid dynamics model is well suited for such a task, but it’s far from perfect. By implementing lessons learned from my studies directly into the software, we are working to see how we can reduce uncertainties in wind turbulence predictions.

The knowledge I have gained and the resources I have had available to me have been invaluable, but life in Norway certainly does come with a price tag. That’s where Erasmus+ stepped in. As most graduate students understand, financial pressures sadly direct many of our choices, but the grant that Erasmus+ has provided in order to support this traineeship has made a life here possible. It is far from certain whether or not I will join the WindSim team after I defend my thesis next month, but I will return to Tønsberg before long to present the research we have been conducting at their biannual user meeting, where WindSim clients from around the world will converge to exchange ideas, insights, and most importantly for me, business cards.

Until then, I still have a few more weeks to finish up my thesis in our cozy office, which means a dozen more opportunities to talk business with the CEO over a morning coffee, pester the programmers about the details of the software, and tune in to the chatter of real industry players around the lunch table.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to send a huge THANK YOU to the Erasmus team on this Europe Day and wish them a happy birthday in celebrating 30 years of supporting education in Europe!

Tønsberg waterfront:

From the balcony of our office

From the hill on Nøtterøy, where I live






Survival Kit – By Jackson Kinyanjui

New and old students planning to come to study in Sweden Universities; to make your stay as comfortable as possible below are the 10 essential survival kits by me the Time traveler and Sunset chaser you need to have before and after coming to Sweden (Not arranged in any order of importance)

1. Documents to have
This serves as an identification card for you to transact some of the required transactions such as paying rent or sending money via western union.

Academic papers
Have all you papers with you and kept safely you may need to produce them in case of verification or job requirement

Residence permit card
This you will get before coming to Sweden from the migration office in your country and this together with your passport will help you to board an airplane.

Fee statement
If you are a scholarship student then you don’t need to bother yourself with this, but for the fee paying students you need to make sure you have paid atleast your first semester fees to be allowed entry into Sweden as part of migration rules and campus admission.

2. Clothing and shoes

Sweden can get quite cold, dressing for the weather is very important. All the necessary clothing can of course be bought in Sweden, but if you already own some good winter clothes, it can be wise to bring them.

Winter clothes:
– woolen socks and coats
– gloves
– good winter shoes
– skin tights

3. Tech stuff
(check point 8 where to buy all this stuff and more)
Mobile phone and a mobile number
You need to have a good smart phone with WiFi enabled and a mobile number that will work in Europe. Lycamobile offers very cheap UK and international calls to Asia, Africa, Europe and America. Make sure you have Google maps as this will make your movement easier from point a to b.

Laptop or tablet
A good working laptop or tablet is good as this will make your work easier as internet connectivity is essential. If you cannot afford one don’t worry as the universities have well equipped computer labs and so you will have access to them.

L.A.N cable or internet cable and a Router
Your will also need to buy a router and the router to be functional you will need a L.A.N cable to connect to it, if you are lucky some rooms have the L.A.N cable.

Two pin plug for the European plug
make sure to have a plug that will fit well with the European sockets present in Sweden. This plugs can be bought as well here but if you have one come with it.

4. Personal/coordination number and Bank account

A personal or coordination number is a tax number which you will get from the skatteverket (check point 8) or Tax office. To get this you need to carry your passport, residence permit card and university letter of acceptance.
Opening a bank account is important or if you have one its okay as this bank account number will be important if you are planning to work part time to get paid through. To open a bank account, you need your passport, Swedish ID and university letter of acceptance. You need a bank account and a tax number if you are planning to work in Student nation.

5. A registered nation and nation card

Currently we have 13 student nations in Uppsala and among them my Nation is V-dala Nation. ( The reasons may vary with people but to me it is the best since it is student friendly, holds awesome parties, dinners and has a lot of part time jobs for students. All you need is to visit the nation and get registered as a nations member and a wait for your nations ID card.
This card will allow you access to any nation, so you need to have a student’s nation card from any of the 13 nations to be able to visit any of the nations. The cost of registering for the nations card vary from one nation to the other as from 200 to 300 kroners.

6. Bicycle or bus card

A bicycle is the common means of transport in Uppsala as opposed to the bus. A bus card costs around 500 kroners per month while a second hand bicycle will cost less than 1000 kroners and it will serve you for up to 3 years or more with minimal service required. Go to point 8 for sights to follow to get second hand bicycles or a bus card. Always check by test driving your bike before buying. If you decide to buy a bike remember to have a good lock, back and front lights. Finally remember to read the rules regarding road usage by bikers as hefty fines can be charged upon you if caught using a faulty bike on the roads of up to 500 to 1000 kroners by police.

7. Housing facilities

Housing in Sweden for students is the hardest part if you don’t plan for it in advance. However Uppsala University offers housing to fee-paying Master’s, Bachelor’s students and most exchange students.
So you need to make proper arrangement for housing and if you plan to have your own arrangement on housing you can check housing links on Facebook (point 8).
The rent for housing from one estate location to the other with the lowest ranging as from (3000-5500 kroners). You can also look at the Facebook links in point 8 where people usually let out apartments which are fairly cheap.
Every housing facility has its own terms of contract, take time to read though as they contain details from the time required to pay your rent and issuing of vacation notice.

8. Website and Facebook links

Bus card:

Flea markets for Second hand clothes and stuff:

Electronic stuff:

Buying a bike and other stuffs:
Facebook: Buy & Sell in Uppsala
Facebook: sell/buy/give away
Facebook: Buy and Sell items

Private Housing:
Uppsala University: Accomodation
Facebook: Uppsala Housing
Facebook: Uppsala Housing (2)

Details on Student nations:
Uppsala University: The student nations

Tax agency:
The Swedish tax agency

Part time jobs at Student Nations:
Gotlands Nation
Gästrike-Hälsinge nation
Göteborgs nation
Kalmar nation
Norrlands nation
Smålands nation
Stockholms nation
Södermanlands-Nerikes nation
Uplands nation
Värmlands nation
Västgöta nation
Västmanlands-Dala nation
Östgöta nation

9. Places to shop

There are a lot of places to shop in Sweden but if you are looking for second hand stuff that are really nice from clothes, shoes and electronics you can go to the open market in centrum and some of the red cross centers (check point 8). Remember to have with you some essentials like stationery and other bathroom essentials if you have room to carry them.

10. University login account

A university login account is the most important as this will ensure that you register for courses, see you schedule for studies and results regarding courses will be posted here. This is a must to ensure your smooth flow in University life. Get in touch with the administration of your campus to get your account login details or check the university website for more details.

“change is difficult but often essential to survival”