Month: February 2018

The Light Room – By Rhianna Rees

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light– Aristotle.

Sweden is a special place – Snow, nature, clean air. But In the depths of winter, the days get shorter, the nights get longer and for those students who don’t get up until 1400, daylight is a luxury you don’t get much of. It can become dark, dreary and depressing. Like the dementors from Harry Potter, the darkness drains your happiness and leaves you feeling a little lost and empty inside. Now, I want to stress this isn’t true for everyone – but, for most of us (especially those from very sunny countries) it is a serious problem.

Picture – Nick Meny

When it snows though, your surroundings get brighter, lighter and you feel happier, hopeful and filled with good vibes. This is why the University has provided a light room available to all students at Uppsala University, a place to sit, study or relax. In the student health centre on the top floor of Studentkår, the light room is open weekdays before 15. Before entering the room, you’re instructed to take of your shoes and replace them with slippers which, I noticed, were white. As you enter the light room, the first thing you notice is the white. It’s astonishingly white. The kind of white you wish your sheets could be if you ever knew how to wash them correctly. Hanging on coat racks were crisp white dressing gowns which we had to don over our regular clothes (presumably to mask any non-white colours we chose to wear that day). On the white floor sit white IKEA tables for your personal use. You can bring in laptops, books, friends, phones, whatever you like to keep you entertained. Around the room sit (shocker) white chairs and in the corners are fake white flowers.

My friend and I had originally decided to spend half an hour in the light room to feel whatever effects we could. We ended up spending an hour there and afterwards felt lighter and happier. I attempted to research the science behind light rooms, I had heard from people it helped with vitamin D, but couldn’t understand how. The reality seems to be that there are no real scientific reasons behind it. But I don’t want to diminish any real positive effects that people feel after going – placebo or not.

It’s worth going at least once to see if you feel anything 🙂


“DID I DO THAT?” Oops! – By Fifi

Growing up, one of my weekend rituals was to sit in front of the television to watch Steve Urkel in ABC/CBS sitcom, Family Matters. Frankly, when Steve entered my home, his clumsiness and misfortune were both unrealistic and humorous. I would synchronize with Quincy (His middle name) and ‘say- along’ his catch phrases: “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” or “Whoa, Mama!”. I was a fan!

Little did I know that I will channel in my inner Urkel on a cold winter night in Uppsala. This time, I found myself asking in Steve’s voice, “did I do that?” Oops! In my apartment building, one thing is for certain, the utrymningslarm (I call her Georgina) goes off often. It is certainly not because of any fire scare. Since I came to Sweden 5 months ago, construction has been going on in my building. Wires trip and the alarm goes off. It had become a regular thing for us to hear the alarm and be unmoved by its shrieks.

Alas, when it went off this morning, I just took my precious time, dressed up for Swedish Class and headed for the iron clad front door. No one came out of their rooms just to buttress the point that we had had one too many false alarms to be moved by music from the alarm system in Building 4A.

As I strolled out, I checked my mail box first like a badass, I spotted the only person I have been able to meet and become friends with in the building (her name in English means Grace) and we had a discussion about how the alarm goes off at will, the unacceptability of it all, especially when we never get informed of the reason for the unnecessary fire drills. We both made a video where we jokingly mocked the situation taunting us.

Fast forward to night time and I was home watching Netflix and chilling. When I suddenly had the urge to make noodles and chicken. One of the discoveries I made as a student here in Uppsala is this American seasoned Barbeque Buffalo Wings called Guld Fageln. I love them because I only need to heat it up in the microwave or oven and voila! You should try it! Disclaimer, they didn’t pay me to advertise for them but when a product is good, I feel obliged. Do you?

Back from the brief commercial, still on the ten O’clock news, a curious case of Unfortunate events began to occur. I heard a strange frying sound in my room. I knew I wasn’t frying anything. I curiously checked my wings and discovered they had stirred up a smoky storm. Before I could say Peter Piper, Georgina went on rampage. She woke everyone up! My neighbours were out and I was too. Thirty minutes later, it could have been an hour with the way I felt, the fire truck came flying by, screeching to a stop. Firemen jumped out of the truck and headed our way.

As I walked to them humbly, I was morbid with fear, anxiety and embarrassment. I told them it was my fault and went on to explain the preceding events. Well, they entered the building with me and laughed saying, “smells like chicken alright!” I want to explain my emotions at this time. Fear because I had lived my entire life without having to meet a fireman. The first time I heard the fire alarm go off was here in Sweden. I just never witnessed it other than what I had seen on TV. Anxiety, for the sole reason that I had heard from friends at Kloster Student housing that every time the alarm goes off you get charged for their visit. I don’t know if that statement was true or not but it felt so real to me and it haunted me (would this eat into my budget for next month, like I even had a budget…lol). I just kept thinking to myself, why me, Lord! Embarrassment because I had never met my neighbours in all the five months I had been living in my apartment building. I never imagined that their first impression of me would be the girl who set off the alarm by burning two buffalo wings in the microwave. So yes, I was embarrassed. Most of all, I was sorry they were dragged into this Urkel misfortune. I said sorry twice to those who I could say it to (covering my face emoji).

The firemen made the music go away and checked the premises. Not to butter them up but they were very professional. As one went to confirm my story and make sure it wasn’t something else that caused the alarm to go off, the other stayed to make small talk. He must have noticed how petrified I was and tried to calm me down. I applaud them. As they bid me farewell and said to get a good night sleep, I wondered at whether I would pay 1,000kr or 2,000kr. I sincerely hope and pray not!

As they drove away, I couldn’t help but wonder how my nuisance would be the core of midnight stories. My misfortune, a sort of humorous relief for my neighbours and the firemen. I pulled an Urkel on them alright. I did, I did, I did!

Well, the 8th of February, 2018 will go down in history in my book of many tales. I had on my winter jacket for 3 more hours before I finally put it off. I couldn’t sleep, I could still smell the after effect of the smoky session in my room. My neighbours may still smell it too. One good thing did come out of this though, I was able to write again. And for those who were wondering, I didn’t end up eating my noodles and chicken.


Dress Codes for Gasques – By Rhianna Rees

I previously wrote a blog for my first gasque, but one question new students always seem to have when they reach Uppsala is “What is a Kavaj dress-code?”. As gasques and dress-codes are such a large part of Uppsala’s traditions and culture, here’s a short guide for what to wear.

You may have already seen these 4 in a facebook event or invitation you received for a gasque:

  • Udda kavaj
  • Kavaj
  • Frack
  • Themed dress

These are the 4 most common dress-codes. Although not usually that strict, people often stick to and are quite meticulous about their dress. Let me run through a guide and a couple of dos and don’ts in your guide to gasque-wear.



Udda kavaj : Smart Casual.
This applies to gasques or dinners that are nice, but not too nice. Generally, for an unofficial dinner or lunch, not too much pressure is on the guests to dress in a suit or full-length dress. They can wear a non-matching suit if they wish with, for example, a dark jacket and light trousers. Dresses shouldn’t be too short, but they can go above the knee.

  • Semi-smart
  • Mid to long dress
  • Suit – doesn’t have to match

Kavaj: Smart / Jacket.

This is the most common dress code in Uppsala. For most dinners more formal dinners, kavaj (pronounced kav-ai) is desirable. Traditionally it would have meant at least a knee length dress or dark suit in the same material, these days there’s less pressure to wear a dark suit, but it should still be smart. Equally, there is also less focus on the length of the dress, but most people will wear a dress down to above the knee.

  • Dark suit with the same material
  • Mid-length dress

Frack / Högtidsdräkt : Evening dress / white tie.

The most official dress code usually implored at balls, jubilee events or very official dinners.

Dresses should reach the floor and should not be strapless (although again, not necessarily a must). If you wear a suit, the formal dark suit is worn and this can include cufflinks and tailcoats. The coloured nation / academic discipline bands are usually allowed at these events and if the dress-code says m.a.o that means medals can be worn as well.

  • a.o – medals
  • Ballgown (not strapless)
  • Coloured bands and pins


Themed dress code

This is fairly self-explanatory. If there’s a theme (Harry Potter, Disney, Halloween etc.) you dress to match the theme – easy!


Do’s and Don’ts


  • Wear pins to all gasques
  • Wear black shoes


  • Ever wear jeans as pants or jacket
  • Wear boots
  • Wear brown shoes
  • Wear sneakers unless you’re a famous rap artist or comedian


In my first month, someone told me that you should always aim to dress a little smarter than the dress code specified to ensure you don’t dress incorrectly. Another tip from a fellow nation member was to look back at pictures from previous events and always pay attention to the inspectors as they’ve been around a long time! I found this sage advice whenever I was in doubt about what to wear. And, if you wear dresses, buying to the knee is always a safe option!


Some further words you may see:

Kostym: Suit

Mörk kostym: Dark suit

Smoking: Smart/Casual suit


Good luck and happy gasque-ing!


House of Cards – By Arindam

Usage of a unique card for a particular activity has made sure that my card wallet remains a very crowded place. Bunch of keys have become a bunch of cards. Just like a key, each card has its own functionality and we are forced to depend on them for almost every single move we make. As absurd as that may sound, it is reality and we must accept it.



Skating on a frozen lake – By Adrianna Pakula

Maybe you heard about it or maybe you seen it in a film, but you probably still kinda don’t believe that it’s actually a thing. If you don’t have it on your bucket list, by the end of this post it will appear there. Yes, I’m writing about skating on a frozen lake!

I’m pretty sure you noticed that Swedes never waste a ray of sunshine – no matter what season it is. In spring ice cream trucks and outside tables appear when snow is still covering the trees. In summer the lunch break is also a sunbathing break (careful, you may trip over your laying-on-the grass coworker) that lasts as long as autumn allows. Now, during winter, we have festival of winter sports, practiced either outdoors or indoors. If you are not used to practicing sports when snow or ice is involved, I suggest you give it a try!

The place I paid visit to lays around 40 minutes’ drive from Uppsala and is called Fjällnora friluftsområde. It’s a recreational area where you can find cottages for renting, playgrounds, campfire places and sauna. In summertime you can bathe in the lake and barbecue afterwards, in the wintertime though… This is where the fun starts.

Sweden is a country with consistent, cold winters which turn shallower lakes into skating rinks. Everybody knows how to skate The ice is thick, safe and well prepared – where I visited there are 12 km of cleared ‘lake paths’ with smaller loops (in case you are not ready to take the big one, or you don’t have time for it). The skates that are used on the lake are a little bit different from what I’ve expected, first you put on ‘special shoes’ and then assemble ‘the blade’. On ice they are very stable and it feels like taking skis to the ice. Also, I noticed that skating with those is slower which makes it simpler for beginners.

The site has a reception where I rented mine, the renal is usually open form 10 till 16. There are daily updated on their facebook page.Renting out the skates (shoes + blades) costs 60 kr per hour or 180 kr per day.

After returning your equipment you can pop in to the cozy restaurant for a fika or a simple meal like soup or sandwich. The prices are ok!

How to get there? Bus 809 from Uppsala Centralstationen. Entering your bus ask for two zones. From Fjällnora bus stop walk approx. 3.5 km. The wavy main road leads from the bus stop to the site, but I still recommend Goggle maps. I didn’t try hitchhiking, but that was quite tempting while walking on the side of the road.

So, did you update your bucket list?