Month: November 2017

Friends With Benefits: Brexit Edition – By Rhianna Rees

Sweden has a unique global attitude to education that not many other countries share. I mean, it’s huge. Fantastic. The most fantastic thing you’ve ever seen in your life, believe me. They have free education, not only for themselves, but for everyone in the EU and EEA. They even have government subsidies and scholarships for students from High School up through University. It’s no wonder they have students who study, work and come back to study again. They really support education.

Studying in Sweden seemed like a no-brainer to me. Stunning country, beautiful people and free education. What more could you want? Snow? Culture? Choirs? Gasques? The odd thing is, no-one else I spoke to in the UK seemed to know about all the fantastic things available to you as a student in Sweden. When I initially revealed my intentions to move out here many people seemed to have the same question in mind – Why Sweden? I could give a simple, unarguable two-word answer – Free Education. The education is even in English! It’s incredible, right?

So why don’t more people opt to come here to study? Is it because Swedish education is poor? Not at all. Is it because Sweden’s dangerous? Definitely not. Moving away from home is hard, but is there really much of a difference between a 3-hour train journey and a 3-hour flight home? These days it costs about the same…

Patriotism? Nationalism? Maybe it’s because we feel obligated to remain close to home, encouraged to study in our own country, despite the increasing benefits of globalisation.  The cost of higher education in the UK is, for lack of a better word, extortionate. ‘Student finance’ is a bureaucratic nightmare. And, ultimately, charging for education shifts it from an inherent human right for humanities betterment to an elitist, capitalist and exclusive business model.

So how many people were aware that free education in Sweden was available to them? How many people realised this was something the British stood to lose in light of Brexit?

Many people’s noses feel put out of joint after Brexit, not only the ‘Remainers’ (or ‘Bremoaners’ as they were branded – people who oppose Brexit) but also those who feel lied to, those who feel like democracy doesn’t work, those who feel frustrated after the vote because they won’t be getting what they thought they voted for. I’ve read analysis after analysis as to why the Brexit vote was not the will of the British people. I’m not here to say whether it is or not, but a simple majority vote for a long-term constitutional change is uncredible. This was not a vote for 5-year leadership, this was a constitutional change. This was not a dialectic, this was not rational reasoning, this vote was guided by pathos rhetoric. The entire dialogue leading up to the vote felt like the two sides of a decision whether to leave your spouse. My spouse has changed over the years. I have so much to offer others. If only I wasn’t bound by the rules and regulations of my household, the things I could do. I don’t like that they buy French cheese. Also, why is it that they only want curvy bananas? I barely recognise them anymore, why can’t they look like they did 50 years ago? The US and India have been giving me the eye. Many others are interested in me. What about change…

Unfortunately, many outside the UK feel shunned by the decision, and rightly so, they’re on the other side of this divorce settlement – the cheated-on spouse. The rhetoric on this side swings from Oh, I had no idea you felt this way about us, are you sure you don’t want to change your mind? to You’ll never get what you want, I’m taking everything, you can go to hell. The friends of this hypothetical family (the non-EU countries that are still a part of Europe) are not flocking to side with the UK and its new seedy partners. No, quite the opposite. I wasn’t going to mention Trump in this article (but I guess I just have so I’ll continue). Nor was I going to assign genders to either the UK or the EU in this hypothetical (but it works better if I do, so here goes).

Imagine your Mum left your Dad and her new boyfriend is Trump. She now depends on him a lot, both financially and for security (security from what you ask? Good question) so much so that she is thinking about marrying him. But, she still wants your Dad in the picture. She wants all the benefits of being married to your Dad: the financial support, the friendship, the sex. But she doesn’t want to be tied down or compromise. She wants a friendship with benefits. Now, anyone who has ever had a ‘friends with benefits’ type situation knows that it never works with an ex. People get hurt. There are sore feelings. Jealousy from both sides. As a child, you’re going to question your Mum’s decisions. As a friend, you’re going to question if they’re as hot on the market as they think they are. Delusion can be a fickle thing.

Some like to dream there’s a way out of this, a theoretical undo button. Others want to ‘punish’ the UK. Michael Moore put it to Britain to ‘enjoy your miserable life on your island’. Obviously, if 100% of the population wanted to leave the EU then I think they’re quite right in their convictions. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, the people who stand to lose the most are the Millennials and Gen-Z (or iGen who, coincidentally, were not eligible to vote). They are the ones who stand to lose out on free education in Sweden, freedom of movement in the EU, more varied job prospects and a more integrated society. As luck would have it, they were also the demographic that were most in favour of remaining.

A tweet from Politico 24 Jun 2016


There’s one big problem with the Brexit vote that I can’t shake. It’s an unfortunate but important thing. Brexit had the potentiality to be used as a protest vote for any kind of political discontentment. Putting this power to the people meant that any unhappiness (and I mean ANY unhappiness) with the political system could have triggered a reaction for ‘change’. The truth is no one is ever happy with the political system as it stands. There is always room for improvement.

Despite feeling hopeless, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel – and someone recently shed some light on my current fears. I met the vice inspector of my nation. He asked me about myself. When I told him I was here to make use of the free education in Sweden before Brexit happened – he had a hopeful message. Other non-EU countries in the EEA can still benefit from the education systems in Sweden, with any luck, the UK will have the same arrangement. Logically it makes sense, but I fear the world is becoming less and less logical and any child of divorce knows that divorce tends not to be logical at all.

As for the future, well… we will just have to wait and see.


Taco Friday – By Adolfo Canales

Without any doubt, one of the most surprising things that I came up when I first arrived to Sweden was this tradition of “Taco Friday”, were a lot of people try to eat tacos on Friday, yes what a guess!  It was surprising in two ways, on one side I did not expect to find tacos in this country, but it on the other side it was also surprising in a bad way, because they are far far far from what real tacos or Mexican food are, in general the Mexican food and tacos you find in this country are like the U.S. version of our food which we call tex-mex, which is more like a bad joke of a food that has its origins dating back to the Aztec Empire and our indigenous people and that it is also an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity declared by the UNESCO.

I will tell you how to cook “tacos al pastor” and a hot sauce for your tacos, just have in mind that it might be difficult to find all the ingredients in convenient stores, in case you want real Mexican ingredients or just real Mexican Tacos visit “La Neta” in Stockholm, the only Mexican Food that I authorize as a Mexican in Sweden.

Original tacos al pastor are made with pork, but you can of course use any meat, just have in mind this few ingredients that are a must in any taco: fresh corn tortillas (you can use flour ones too), freshly chopped cilantro, grilled onions, lime and hot sauce.

The most important thing in any tacos is the marinade, “Tacos al Pastor” have a distinct color and flavor, here are the ingredients and steps to make them as real as if you were in Mexico.

For the meat:

  1. Cut your favorite meat in thin slices.

For the marinade:

  1. You need to get 7 Guahillo Chile, de-seeded and cleaned then leaved them inside a bowl of water for 30 minutes.
  2. Try to get 4 Ancho Chile, de-seeded and cleaned.
  3. 3 Cloves of garlic.
  4. 1/2 Onion.
  5. 1/2 cup of orange.
  6. 1 tablespoon of oregano.
  7. 2 tablespoon of paper.
  8. 4 tablespoon of vinegar.
  9. 1 table spoon of salt.
  10. 1/4 cup of water.

Then blend all the ingredients in a blender machine, until you have a very thick red paste  that we call “adobo”.


  1. Get your meat slices and put salt on them , after that you gonna cover all your meat with this “adobo”, use your hands thats the easiest way, just remember to wash them before you do it, use al the “adobo”, and then leave the meat for two hours inside your fridge.
  2. Heat your pan, and put some oil on it (use your favorite one), you gonna fry the meat covered with adobo on both sides, but the trick is to do it just for a couple of minutes each side and one slice at a time, be careful with the hot oil.
  3. Once you have all your meat fried, you gonna chop them again in even thiner slices and you gonna put them again in your pan with some very thin chopped onions with it.
  4. Cook it for a couple of more minutes, and it will be ready.

For the sauce:

  1. Get your hot pan with some oil.
  2. Put 1/4 Onion on it.
  3. 2 Cloves of Garlic.
  4. 3 chopped tomatoes.
  5. 2-4 chipotles (depending on how spicy you want it).


  1. Fried everything for a couple of minutes, and then you will add a cup of water, salt and pepper, after 5 minutes, you will take them out, and blend all the ingredients in your blending machine.
  2. Then you need to take out this sauce and put it again in your hot pan for another 5 minutes.
  3. Thats it, you have your sauce!


Put the meat on your tortillas, if you can not get corn tortillas, try any flour tortilla you can find, remember to heat it for a couple of minutes in your pan before you put the meat, but remember no hard-shells allowed, the tortilla need to be soft, once you have it, put the meat on it, cover it with your hot sauce, and put some lime on it! If you are feeling adventurous you can prepare a “Guacamole” but that is for another day…


Pd: No cream allowed and once again, no hard shell tortillas!



Dear You,

I have thought long and hard about my next post and how I could express myself in such a way that it would matter. So, I decided to write you this open letter. Words have been an outlet for me and I earnestly hope that as you read this, it helps you as much as it has helped me.

Coming to Sweden for me was somewhat like coming to America for Eddie Murphy. I set out with a huge grin on my face… I didn’t roll in in a limousine but my flight was pretty neat. So, I wasn’t complaining. Ready to take on Europe in grand style. I had a vision and I was running with it and I was pretty excited about this new phase.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t jet lagged like I had been told I would be…I guess just having an hour in the time difference helped. I was ready to take on this new adventure. New city, New age (30 is the new 30), New thing! Boy was I ready to find love, build friendships that will withstand enormous iceberg hits (Ah! forget new discoveries that the titanic was actually sunk not by the iceberg but by the fire on board; either ways, no matter how dramatic the stumble…I was going to build eternal friendships)!

It’s been a little over two months since I landed this Nordic beauty, actually it has been 2 months, 10 days and 12 hours…but who is counting. I never would have imagined that I was capable of experiencing a million and one emotions in just two months. An exponential increase in what I have experienced my whole life prior to coming to Sweden. An emotional rollercoaster!

I have cried (crying seems so put together, I mean I have sobbed…sloppy sobs) and laughed (hysterical meets genuine meets funny laughs), literally at the same time. I have felt shame and grace, content and lack, rage, anger, sorrow, doubt, uncertainty, I felt alone even in the midst of a crowd … Leaving home has been a harsh reality. I did not understand why I questioned my rational move to further my education or be a better lawyer every second. But I did!

Then I felt despair. It was mixed with a feeling of being lost.  Don’t be alarmed! The strongest of these emotions was hope. Hope trumps all others… it wasn’t as bright or colourful as the northern lights but it was a simmer …just enough to pull me through the melancholy, the dark hole. Most of which started with me comparing my history to my now. Rewind back to how I got to this point… I had flash pictures of how different life was in Nigeria. There were deep disturbing thoughts thrown in the mix as well. You might have similar experiences to mine. Feelings of giving up mixed with a sense of losing oneself and a pinch of clarity. It was all too confusing. Don’t mean to rain on your parade but the first few days, scratch that months are tough. Hold up! Is that to say that I am not meant to be where I am or you shouldn’t take the chance?

Now my letter is going to take an unbelievable twist into one of the columns in your favourite pop-culture magazine. The ‘How to’ segment.  I can’t say I speak for all international students who have left home and country to be here. I can only speak for myself and how I got myself out of this funk. You can caption it…drum rolls…How to get out of the funk…So cliché, more like cheesy, if you ask me. But hey, who is asking?

1. Making friends

Remember how you felt on your first day of any school you ever attended? Well, you will feel that way everyday till you meet your Monica or your Willard or your Casper or your Sadia or your Presita or your person (Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy). The best way to get out of the funk is to make friends. For me, I am so loyal…I probably have the same friends from when I was younger till date and because of this you might, like me feel you have friends, why add more or more honestly, why put myself through the stress of making an impression or making new friends… Guess what? You don’t have to go through a whole lot of stress Your course mates form your first friend pool… It’s their first day too and they feel the exact same way you do… Don’t be shy…exchange numbers…go to the student nations to get burgers and chips or invite them on a walk through the city…You get to discover both Uppsala and your new friend. It better to be a pest than assume no one wants to be bothered and end up having a city filled with loners and clicks.


Just an observation! Do things you did back home. It helps! For me, going for symposiums and law events back in Nigeria was a thing. Moving to a new city can be daunting and feeling homesick can steer up those million and one emotions that can screw up your psyche. For me, I found volunteering at the ITech Law Conference 2017 at Stockholm helped me in more ways than I could possibly imagine. I got to volunteer 3 days out of 5 and it was an amazing experience. The elements agreed with me…the sun was out…I found myself strutting through the streets of Stockholm. When you join the Uppsala University community, you will be privileged to be informed of events such as these. Being affiliated with the university affords you opportunities to volunteer and be a part of conferences, competitions of such an international scale. I had a glimpse of the life I could have as a practicing international lawyer that despair didn’t mean a thing when purpose was re-ignited. I met amazing students like me…Shout out to Cee from Azerbaijan, turns out we were like minds. I also got to interact with top lawyers from all over the world. How cool is that. When push comes to shove and you weigh the pros and the cons…the pros far outweigh the cons…


When I think of Europe, I think of the functional internal market…Nah! Just kidding, I think of the free movement in the EU…oh yeah baby! Your residence permit (RP) card permits you to go to other European countries…think Oslo…think Helsinki…think Tullin…think Prague…think Amsterdam…people, Europe is your oyster and your RP is your oyster card. You came a thousand miles not just to read and get good grades but to live…to explore…to travel…to see the world. Just do it!

So take a trip with your new friend or friends. This week I am finally going to go to Estonia…and I am not alone… it always seems lonely in the beginning till you take stock and realize it is not and life is beautiful


I said it! Money does make the world go around. Have a budget for everything…from your monthly bus card to groceries to taking the ferry to neighbouring cities to shopping in Ahlens…have wads of cash…lol I hate it when people say students are poor…we shouldn’t be…so as you plan to come here as an international student, come with a lot of cash…like really!!! Haggle that aunt or that uncle…save enough from your job in your home country…sell clothes just to make the extra income before coming…You will thank me later, believe me!

5. Work at a student nation

Work, work, work, work, work!!! Laying it all at the table…working at one or all of the student nations helps…not so much for the money but it helps to meet people and learn about the Swedish culture… So, you need to apply for personal number at the tax office to get your four magic numbers **** if your course is 12 months and above or if less, like mine, a coordination number is just as effective. it allows you to work. Get this and you are good to go!!! It’s honest work and trust me you will be happy you did. Oh yeah, there’s free food and soda…lol

6. Mind over matter

Need I say more! Willpower overcomes any physical huddle you may face. For me, I also had the G-man on my side. This ship ain’t sinking…not by a long shot! Have the will to excel, where many others see failure. Remember so many have come and conquered…you can be among the number.


Have a little faith! Faith never killed nobody…it just two-months. What’s to say the next 8 months won’t be amazingly great? As I wake up each morning, I will be grateful for my many blessings…Now faith is the substance of things that I have hoped for and the evidence of thongs yet seen…


These 7 things gave me hope… They seem so little but it’s the little things that matter most to me. See you soon! x.o.x.o


Warm regards,


The Singing Swedes – By Emily Atkins

Åke Daun, a respected former professor of Ethnology at the University of Stockholm who sadly passed away earlier this year, spent a decade of his life researching the people of Sweden for his book, ‘Swedish Mentality’. His conclusions? That Swedes are “socially closed”, “spiritually empty” and, put simply, “dull”. Now, you might be wondering where I’m going with this; it seems a bit harsh opening a blog post by insulting the Swedes! But don’t worry – whilst some Swedish people may seem a little shy when you first meet them, I promise all it takes to transform them into some of the loudest, jolliest, most welcoming people you’ve ever met is an opportunity to sing!

As you may already know, the student nations at Uppsala University hold traditional dinners called gasques throughout the year for various occasions (or just for fun). Every gasque begins with a song: ‘Helan Går’, which roughly translates to ‘drink the whole thing’ – referring to the shot of Snaps provided with the meal. Only once this song is over, can you begin the meal – of course singing comes before food. At my first gasque I was quite taken aback by the speed and vigour with which the Swedes around me proceeded to tuck into their dinner, but I soon realised that this was purely practical as, just a few minutes later, the next song began. This was followed by more Snaps, more speedy nibbling of food, more singing, and always more to drink!

Although at first it seemed quite terrifying to try and sing along with the natives in Swedish when all I could really say was “hej” and “tack”, it really only took me three or four songs (and three or four drinks) before I was singing as loud as any of the others. Fortunately, the most important thing at gasques in Uppsala is for everyone to have as much fun as possible, so nobody seemed to notice my less-than-perfect pronunciation (or tunefulness), which definitely lifted my spirits! The Swedish sense of humour certainly came into play with some of the songs, which have sudden, vigorous actions or surprising sound effects that clearly confused the international students such as myself. My Swedish table partners had a great time trying to explain to me when I ought to bang the table, which lines ought to be shouted instead of sung, and the ‘corrections’ to certain songs that made them a little more humorous to an audience of ever-so-mature students… (I’ll say no more).

Singing is very deeply-rooted in the traditions of the student nations, and it is not only guests at gasques who get to join in. The workers from the kitchen and serving teams present their own songs at the end of the dinner, which are usually well-known songs with modified lyrics so as to reflect the occasion and which always raise a laugh from the guests. Whilst a majority of these songs will, indeed, draw from more traditional tunes, I was once treated to a fantastic rendition of “I Will Survive” by the serving team, which left most of the room with tears (of laughter) in their eyes.

Some of the Swedish songs have fun and strange traditions, such as making a hat out of your serviette and waving it around your head!

You might be wondering how new students at Uppsala could possibly be expected to know a whole dinner’s worth of Swedish songs by heart, but have no fear! Each of the student nations has their own special songbook that contains all the songs you will ever need (and a few more). An important Uppsala tradition that must be observed by all students, new and old, is to share your songbook with your neighbours at the table towards the end of the night and write messages to one another. It might be thanking them for their company, complimenting them on their outfit, or writing down the funniest moment of the night so that they never forget it. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES may you read the messages left to you on that same night! You must instead follow these instructions: put your songbook away, carry on partying, drink far too much and stay up far too late with all your new friends, dance, return home at a ridiculous hour, and wake up feeling terribly exhausted, and hungover. This is when the magical power of the songbook is at its most powerful. The greatest hangover cure I have ever experienced is opening up my songbook, and reading the funniest, sweetest, silliest and most random messages left there by my brand new friends the night before.

It’s important to write messages to your friends and dinner neighbours when you go to a gasque, and it’s a lovely memory to keep

As you can see, the singing Swedes have made a lasting and joyful impression on this international student. I hope you will make sure to reserve judgement from any Swede you encounter who seems reserved, shy, or disinterested – at least until you sit them down with a songbook and a glass of Snaps, and see what happens.


Innovation day 2017-2018

Innovation, a new method, idea, product et. I found the definition in the Webster Dictionary, don’t be fixated by such serious explanation. In my dictionary, innovation is more fun to embrace with. Last year, when I decided to participate the EIT health innovation day, it is more curiosity to learn, to exchange way of thinkings, to learn from each other. To pave this grounded mind-set, I was ready to go.

The entire day was full of brainstorming and fast prototyping method all at one shot. It is almost impossible to find a totally novel method nowaday at any existing product/services in any industries. The beginning of the innovation process, the tutor will hand out a set of tools, which is called innovation process, to guide innovators to define ‘what is the problem’, once it is defined, we are as solution providers have to come up with all sorts of solutions, and quantify ‘problem solution fit’, and stress test with arguments why one solution is better than others. It is similar to group discussion at school’s seminars.

The organisers also embedded a sense of reality into this innovation challenge that invited a different social group of people, from refugee, to elder care centre staff, from school teacher to pension takers, which offered us chances to interviewed them, received the genuine information they have been encountered with. This is the highlight of this event, I am fascinated that those words from these social groups seriously explained the social challenges, which for us sometimes staying at the Swedish Ivy League too long, already distance ourselves to the community surrounded by.

With the upcoming Innovation day 2017-2018, the innovators should be encouraged to grab this chance to roll up your sleeve, join and have tons of fun.