Month: April 2018

Adventures through southern Sweden – By Pau

What a better way to enjoy Easter break than travelling? From March 28 to April 3, I joined my French friend to a trip to the south of Sweden (mainly Lund), where we toured around different places. I never expected this region to be so beautiful and different from what I am used to see here in Uppsala.

Even the process of getting to Lund felt already like an adventure for me, because we took the night train. I was not even aware that such a thing existed, so we travelled all night long while sleeping (though it wasn’t easy, since the beds were quite hard, the surrounding can be noisy and the train keeps making stops). Nevertheless, I definitely recommend to do it at least once in your life!

We arrived to Lund, and our tour city started from very early in the morning! I was surprised of the weather, because it was cloudy and snowy. What I liked the most about Lund was its historical style. When you walk through the city, you get to see small colorful houses, and the cathedral is impressive. The general environment is calm, the streets are empty sometimes, but the people were always warm and friendly.

The second day we went to Copenhagen, Denmark. We crossed between two countries in one day, in a matter of hours! For me, coming from such a big country, the mere idea seems just impossible. Again, I was impressed by the peace you could feel in the touristic zone, even though there was lots of people. We enjoyed a typical fish plate and ice cream by Nyhavn canal, we visited Frederik’s church and Kastellet fortress, and we walked by the port looking for The Little Mermaid!

The third day we continued our explorations around Lund. In the morning, we visited Kulturen museum, which mainly depicts the history of Sweden. You can find relics such as paintings, furniture, toys, clothes and even representations of different houses with many different styles, so you can see how the architecture evolved. Later that day, we went to a sauna in Bjärred, a nearby town. There you can appreciate the view of the sea (you can even see the Øresund bridge raising far away) while inside the sauna, and then you can dive in the ice-cold water.

The fourth day we visited Malmö. We walked around and visited an art museum. In general, I regard this city as very artistic, because you can see street art and many statues in parks or squares. The weirdest I saw was a bridge full of different sorts of shoes (that belonged to famous people from Malmö) made of bronze, all pointing to different parts of the city. Also, the art inside Sank Petri cathedral was impressive.

The fifth day we did a long hike and a picnic in Kullaberg. The weather was awesome and the view of the sea from the top of the cliff was simply beautiful, it felt like as if I was inside of a painting. I highly recommend this experience! Some advices I could give you is get the right shoes (since the walk take hours), pack a lot of food and water and take into consideration that you will rarely find bathrooms available!

The sixth (and last) day we went to Helsingborg, unaware that we would find most of the important places of the city under construction! Also, due to bad weather and little time, we could not take the ferry to Helsingør, in Denmark. Nevertheless, we just laugh about this unexpected turn of events, and walked around the city. Again, I find it weird how easy it is to move from one country to another here in Europe.

Definitely a trip to remember, full of new and crazy experiences. If you ever get the chance to visit any of these places, I can guarantee you will love them! The advantage is that once you are in Uppsala, travelling around Sweden is easy since there are many transportation services always available, and you can find cheap prices. Also, Uppsala’s location allow you to reach other places in a fairly short time. So if you are an coming to study here, don’t waste this opportunity!


Snapphanefesten – By Rhianna

One of the benefits about being active at the nation is that you get to meet students from other Universities that are connected to your nation through ‘friendships’. Every nation in Uppsala has ties with a select set of ‘friendship-nations’ around the world and travel there for specific celebrations or festivals.

It’s easy to forget there are other Universities in Sweden when you spend all your time in Uppsala, but a 7-hour train ride or 1-hour flight brings you to the edge of Sweden, near Denmark, where Lund University lies.

During the Spring Ball and Lucia, students from our friendship Nation in Lund are invited here, but during their biggest festivals – Snapphanefesten (or ‘snappis’) and Carnival – we are invited there. This is my experience attending Snappis this year.

We arrived on Friday at Kristianstad Nation and unpacked our belongings. Unlike Uppsala, students in Lund live in their nation houses, in corridors that run right the way through all 8 floors with the pub on the bottom floor and a sauna in the basement.

The Sexa on the Friday night was a welcome introduction, we shared food and drink with the active members of Kristianstad and members from their friendship nation in Finland and Denmark – sharing gifts, good company and songs.

Saturday was the day of the ceremony and ball, we had a tour around the city of Lund followed by pre-drinks with the curators of the nation. Entering the man hall, we were seated for a 2-hour ceremony where all those present who chose to, were awarded medals. The active members of Kristianstad Nation had songs written about them that were performed with great joy and flare.

One thing to know about the nations in Lund is that they love performing… Singing, acting and dancing are all very popular. Lund Carnival is a huge annual festival that attracts huge numbers, just like Valborg here. So throughout the dinner, mini-sketches were displayed on the big screen as well as songs, speeches and all the other traditional gasque activities. One unique tradition is that everyone brings a gift for their table partner (hence the moustaches).

The very last day we had a brunch altogether to recollect ourselves, our memories from the night before and enjoy the outdoor hot tub.

Overall it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to visiting Lund later this year for the Carnival!


My first taste of Swedish Football – By Arindam

‘What a great day for football, all we need is some green grass and a ball’

The above quote by the legendary Bill Shankly perfectly summarizes the emotions of a hardcore football fan in Sweden. Though getting a football (the real one which is not played using hands) anytime in the year is never a challenge, getting an ice-free green turf to play on, definitely is. Allsvenskan is the top tier of the Swedish football system. The league runs from early April to early November with 16 teams competing for the bragging rights of being the champion. This league also has our local Uppsala team, IK Sirius. In 2016 Sirius, as it is widely known, gained promotion to the top flight of Swedish football after 42 years. The 2017 season saw the newly promoted Uppsala team start brightly, but a dip in form at the end meant they finished 7th in the league. This was a very good season considering it was a newly promoted team. IK Sirius plays its home games at the Studenternas IP , which becomes a venue for Bandy games during winter.

All current students of Uppsala University have the opportunity to get free tickets to the some home matches. Through an agreement with Sirius Fotboll, 150 free tickets are distributed to the students for two of this seasons home games (against Djurgården and Östersund).These tickets are limited and so the students have to reserve their free ticket online and later collect it from a pre-disclosed collection centre. For all other home matches students are given a nice discount.

My first IK Sirius home game was against IFK Norrköping on August 20, 2017. It was bright and sunny with no hint of rain i.e. perfect weather for a game of football. People turned out in large numbers to support their team and the whole stadium was buzzing with enthusiasm. It was the then 3rd vs 4th placed team in the league table.

Let the game begin!

From the kickoff to the end of the first half, IFK Norrköping totally dominated the game and they got a well deserved lead in the 29th minute through a fine effort from Sebastian Andersson. Thereafter they had numerous chances to increase their advantage, but poor finishing and last ditch defending from the home team meant that the tie was still in the balance.

The away fans, though a minority by far, made their presence felt in the first half when their team was on top. Sirius came out much stronger in the second half and put on a much improved performance. Unfortunately their valiant efforts were not enough to rescue a point. The home team was comprehensively outplayed.

Thus the match ended 1-0 to Norrköping. The final score-line did not reflect the dominance of the visitors for majority of the match.

The final score-line.

This was my first taste of Swedish football and I had a gala time. The students had separate sections for them and it was completely full. Though the team I supported lost, I still got to see some free flowing attacking football in the first half. The second half was dull in comparison with the visitors playing it safe. The best part was the ‘ultras’ or the hardcore fan group relentlessly  leading the chants for the home team, egging them on to make a comeback . The new season has just begun, I hope to attend many more games this time and support my adopted local team.

As they say: Win or Lose, the support never dies.


Getting Around Uppsala – By Lauren

Unless you wish to spend the whole semester in your student corridor, you will need to familiarize yourself with your transportation options in Uppsala. The city center is relatively walkable and easy to navigate but other places are less realistic to reach by foot.

Cycling is likely the most popular form of student transportation. An easy way to get an affordable bicycle is to buy one secondhand from another student. Be sure to think through the logistics of your bike transaction. My first week here, I had to walk a fixer-upper bike from Flogsta all the way back to Kantorsgatan! A set of lights for your bike is a must as is a working lock. Bicycle theft is not a huge phenomenon here, but if your bike is unlocked, it is fair game. Revelers have been even been known to throw bicycles in the river come Valborg! Uppsala is otherwise a cyclist-friendly city covered by an extensive network of bicycle paths. A map of these paths is included in your orientation materials.

Another option is to travel by bus on UL, Uppsala County’s public transit system. UL offers both green city buses and yellow regional (county-wide) buses. Bus travel offers less flexibility than cycling but is still a very safe and convenient option. Buses in Uppsala are clean, punctual, and wheelchair-accessible. Some are even powered by bio-fuel from food waste! The biggest drawback of the bus system is that buying tickets really adds up. Tickets are sold on the bus itself but are less expensive if purchased beforehand. This can be done at kiosks at larger bus stops or on the UL mobile app although the latter requires a Swedish phone number.  This app is a good resource even without a Swedish phone number because of its trip planning feature. If you envision yourself taking the bus frequently, the best option is to buy a UL card. These cards are sold at the central station. You can add money to a card or you can buy one that is valid for a set amount of time.

Personally, I own a bike but relied on the bus system during the winter months. I bought bus passes that were valid for thirty days at a time so I could judge how comfortable I felt with the roads as time went on. I hope to cycle more now that the paths are less icy! It will take some time to discover what form of transportation is best for you, but rest assured that even in the worst-case scenario Uppsala is a very safe and navigable city with ample lighting and signage.


Chasing the Northern Lights – By Kanishk

Aurora Borealis is Latin for “The dawn of the north”.
Aurora was a Roman goddess of dawn and Borealis in Greek means the north wind.

Moving out from your home to another country is such an enriching experience. You get to know about different types of cultures, food, diversity and scenic beauty. So to begin my expedition pursuing my masters at Uppsala University, as any teenager would do, I started creating a bucket list. Always being fascinated by what nature has to offer, the top of that list had to be witnessing the rare and one of the surreal Northern Lights. Being so passionate about this, the great chance to strike the thing off that I always wished for from the top of my bucket list came to a reality. Such a view is so mesmerizing and surreal that after viewing the lights, I couldn’t stop before going for it again and again this winter until the count was close to 10. So, if you are an outdoor enthusiast like me but don’t know where to start, you might find this post quite interesting.

This strange but beautiful phenomenon happens when the solar flares from the sun enters the earth’s magnetic field and collides with the atoms and molecules in our atmosphere and results in photos which we call “Aurora Borealis” (Northern Lights). There are different colours associated with Northern Lights, it depends upon the type of gas involved in the process and also the energy in the solar flares. The most common being Green is associate with the excitation of Oxygen molecules and also Yellow and Red however, Blue and Purplish are caused by the excitation of Nitrogen.

Northern Lights need a clear sky in the night and a dark surrounding in order for one to clearly see it. Starting from September, one can hope to see them all the way till the end of April during the night.

There are various tours which one can take up north in order to see the Norther Lights. Scanbalt Experience is the most famous one with their Lapland Tour in the winters. It takes you up across the Arctic circle, Kiruna, Abisko and the famous Ice Hotel. To check out more about the Lapland Tour, here is the link to the blog post from Audra:


Here are my picks for the 5 best places to see the northern lights:

  1. Tromsø, Norway
  2. Abisko, Sweden
  3. Luosto, Finland
  4. Kulusuk, Greenland
  5. Anchorage, Alaska

Don’t be disappointed if you can’t visit those places, your quest to see the Northern Lights can also end at Uppsala. The best place in Uppsala to see the Northern Lights is Gamla Uppsala followed by Uppsala Slott (Uppsala Castle). I was also lucky enough to see them from my window at Klostergatan 16.

In Gamla Uppsala. Credits: Pushkar


To get started:

  1. Download the “Aurora Forecast” or “My Aurora Forecast & Alerts” app. Its available in both App Store in iOS and Play Store in Android. I like the “My Aurora Forecast & Alerts” app more.

From this app, you can check for the KP index which is the global geomagnetic storm index and the higher it is, the better chance you have to see the lights. There is also an option to select your location and the app will automatically show the results for the viewing probability at your location.
Here is the link for both the apps:
Aurora Forecast for iOS:
Aurora Forecast for Android:
My Aurora Forecast & Alerts for iOS:
My Aurora Forecast & Alerts for Android:

  1. There are some groups on Facebook if you’re in Uppsala where people post if there is high probability to see the lights and it is also a great way to meet the people who share the same enthusiasm.
    Here is the link to the page:
  2. Take a look for the KP index for the next few days in advance so you’re prepared to leave in case there is no cloud cover (the biggest enemy). KP level above 4 is a good time to go out and chase the lights.

The App shows the KP level for 45 minutes accurately and also for the coming hours.

  1. Get some hot coffee with you because the conditions outside will be really cold and it’s better to be prepared for that.


Taking Pictures:

Cameras that can take pictures of Northern Lights need to have a manual mode and a high ISO (sensitivity of the image sensor). The lens should be a wide angle, focus indicator is also needed because autofocus is not your friend here and does not work in this situation.

To set everything up,

  1. Mount the camera on a good tripod (there must be no shake whatsoever).
  2. Put the ISO to 800-3200 (trial and error is the best option and also the situation plays an important role).
  3. The diaphragm of the lens should be as big as the lens can support.
  4. Shutter speed should be 4-10 seconds depending on the intensity of Northern Lights.
  5. For white balance, you can put it to auto.
  6. Batteries tend to discharge quickly in the cold winters, so take some spare ones with you.

There are some people on Instagram who live in the Aurora Zone and take some mesmerising shots. Here is the link to the profile of Mia Stålnacke, she lives in Kiruna and has a great guide on how to shoot Aurora:

Northern Lights dancing in the sky. Credits: Mariya and me

Witnessing the Northern Lights dancing in front of your eyes is truly a magical feeling. Feeling such an event with your friends and loved ones by your side is like icing on the cake. It is said that when you witness the lights dancing in front of you in the Sami culture means your ancestors are looking out for you with a strong connection.

After reading all this, and if you have not experienced the same yet, then please don’t miss the moment and opportunity for the same. I can bet you won’t regret it.

Have you seen the Northern Lights, and if so where? and if not, is it the one on your bucket list? Share your experience below in the comments. Thanks !!