Month: October 2018

Dag Hammarskjöld lecture 2018 – by Rhianna Rees

“Do everything you can, you are citizens of your country… Sweden remains a strong pillar of multilateralism”

 Undoubtedly, one of the most famous professionals with ties to Uppsala is Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961). Famous for his unyielding service as the second UN secretary General from 1953 until his death, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, worked extensively in peacekeeping initiatives through preventive diplomacy, was a non-partisan member of the Swedish Cabinet and had a fondness of words and poetry. His legacy is one of commitment to the world and, with it, a high standard for all of his successors.

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

Each year Uppsala holds a speech in his honour at the castle, inviting a speaker who represents all the values that Dag Hammarskjöld fought for throughout his service – “compassion, humanism and commitment to international solidarity and cooperation”. The 2018 lecture invited the current Secretary General, António Guterres, to the stage, and it was not without a great deal of social and political interest.

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

On 22nd April, many Diplomats from around the world attended, as well as senior members of Uppsala University, members from the Swedish parliament, UN employees, students from the Peace & Conflict department and, most notably, the Crown Princess Victoria (pictured above).

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Mr. Guterres is widely renowned for his humanitarian concerns and work to reduce human suffering. During his time as Prime Minister of Portugal he made a considerable effort to assist East Timor in the wake of their conflict through international aid. Later, in his time at the UN, he worked closely with refugees and displaced families throughout Yemen, Iraq, Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

A very Swedish welcome. The room was adorned with flags, flowers and a painted portrait of Dag Hammarskjöld. In careful succession, all audience members arrived, led by flag bearers and seated according to their role and relative importance. António Guterres was introduced with a warning that “there won’t be enough time for everyone to take a selfie”.

Addressing the room, Mr. Guterres made references to close ties the UN has with Uppsala University (as the oldest University in Scandinavia) and its students, painting an inclusive and wholesome picture of those who strive to find their way in life by keeping the country united, keeping their “eyes fixed on the far horizon”. He paid respect to the memory of Dag Hammarskjöld, “a personality that best represents the UN… the values that he fought for… [a] man of action, a sophisticated diplomat and a man of culture”. Noting that culture and poetry are things missing from the political world these days.

“We believe we can make a difference through our students… learning from Dag Hammarskjöld”

More than ever before one world is what is needed”. It seems that 20-30 years ago people were optimistic and globalisation was seen as prosperous, however optimisation is short-lived, now we face increasing inequality and insecurity, losses in human mobility, divisiveness and poverty – people’s trust in political institutions has dramatically been reduced. In addition, he noted that conflict is seen never to die, now we face a more complex set of conflicts with new threats of global terrorism and hope for meaningful resolutions.

Cyber warfare, for example, and the barrage of artillery is now replaced by the undermining of defence systems. We need to be able to apply the Geneva Convention to cyber war, to be sure that AI is used for the benefit of humankind and address ethical questions regarding genetic engineering.

Mr. Guterres noted an increasing threat of a rebirth of the cold war, a war divided ideologically and politically, with the need for mechanisms to support dialogue so that risks do not spiral. How can we make bridges and support refugees from Syria and address threats like the Iranian nuclear program? How can we address the Israel-Palestine problem, when it is evident that a 2-state solution is not possible?

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

“The problems of our time are global problems that can only be solved with global solutions”

 In relation to climate change, he stated “we cannot afford to lose this race” as the effects would be “devastating”. Sweden has shown great consistency in its efforts, but more is needed.

Ending his lecture, António Guterres touched upon the troubles faced by Rohingya muslims in Myanmar, the serious discussions surrounding Yemen and the electoral needs of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He renewed his belief in open borders for human mobility, acknowledging that Europe could work better in this way, especially in its organisation – “when something is necessary, it is good that it is well organised”.

A powerful and moving speech, António Guterres directed his attention to the most prominent issues facing the UN at this time. As this took place six months ago, I can’t help but think how that speech would be different if given today, demonstrating how volatile and fast-moving our current political climate is. Avoiding talking about Trump directly (something that is notably hard in today’s society), Mr. Guterres roused motivation and self-worth in the students who attended, making them believe that the youth has a voice that can make a difference. That, really is the best message we can take away as members of the next generation.


Autumn Fatigue in Uppsala – By Anne

Time flies. I have already been in Uppsala for eight weeks! Summer turned into autumn – and what an autumn it’s been so far! If you are living in Uppsala, you know what I am talking about. Otherwise, just look at those pictures in the header… 

There is only one problem. And it is not just me. No, everywhere you go, you will hear the same conversation.

– Hej! How are you?
– Oh, I’m so tired (trött, an important Swedish word).
Where does this seemingly chronic fatigue come from? I believe it is the dwindling daylight that affects me, even though we have had so many sunny days. And to be honest, it bothers me a lot! But I try to battle it as good as possible, with my secret weapon: outdoor activities. Which also has the upside of me being able to discover Uppsala. Such a great coincidence that there is a nature reserve (Hågadalen-Nästen) just behind my building in Flogsta! And another one only 10 km away!

One thing I like a lot about Swedes is their affinity to outdoor activities. If you are in a Swedish forest in autumn, you will meet a lot of people picking mushrooms (plocka svamp). They love those yellow mushrooms named kantareller. Many Swedes have special spots in the forest where they will go every year and pick mushrooms. Most of them wouldn’t even tell their best friends about their secret mushroom spots! That’s how crazy they are about mushroom hunting season!

So, if you’re chronically tired – try to be like a Swede! Go hiking, running, fika outside or pick mushrooms as long as it is possible. The snow will come soon enough…

* Please be careful when picking mushrooms and never take any that you are not 100% sure about. You could also look at this website.

/Anne Kristin Kästner

Moving Abroad by Yourself – By Camilla

Right before I left Italy to move to Sweden, a friend of mine told me she would be extremely scared if she were to do the same, and she asked me how I could be so calm about such a massive change in my life. The first reply that came to my mind at the time was a metaphor. “It’s kind of like a videogame,” I said. “Moving abroad by yourself is like having to start from level one. It’s exciting more than anything else.” It has now been almost two months since I moved to Uppsala, and I’ve been thinking about some experiences I lived during my first days here. 

On my first day, I found out most of the lightbulbs in my room didn’t work, my toilet was leaking, and the tap in my kitchenette would flood the room if I left it running for longer than 30 seconds. Not terrible, but definitely not the best start.

On my second day, I decided to go to IKEA (the first stop for many new internationals moving to Sweden, of course) to buy new lightbulbs and other things I needed. That morning, I managed to get lost twice and I got on the wrong bus three times, all the while using Google Maps. How does one take the wrong bus three times while making the same trip? I must have broken a record. At some point it got so bad that a bus driver couldn’t help but laugh at my cluelessness, but only after helping me get on the right bus. As a matter of fact, one thing I’ve realized during this time is that Swedes are incredibly nice. Most of them, at least. Everyone but the evil mastermind who decided to pack IKEA scissors so that you need scissors to use them. [see picture]


On my third day, I managed to get lost in the building I live in. Yes, this situation was as ridiculous as it sounds. Since apparently getting lost was not enough, I also trapped myself in the garbage room. I won’t share all the embarrassing details regarding this breathtaking — it was a garbage room, after all — adventure, but I have two points to make. First, I apparently have a problem with Swedish doors (why are they so heavy and why do they all have weird locks?) Second, somewhere out there someone must have watched a security tape of me having a mental breakdown in a garbage room before I figured out how to open the door. I really hope I won’t end up in a funny video compilation on Swedish television.

These are just some of the embarrassing situations I found myself in during my first days. During these two months, I’ve had to familiarize myself with a new environment and learn how to move and behave within it through a process of trial and error. In this regard, moving abroad by yourself could be compared to learning how to play a videogame you’ve never played before. However, if I were to use the same metaphor today, I would probably phrase it differently. Yes, moving abroad by yourself is like starting a new videogame from level one, but in this case the videogame is in a different language, it’s set on expert mode and you’ve skipped the tutorial. Good luck figuring it out – but don’t worry, you will master it eventually. The more you play a videogame, the better you get at it.


What to do on a Sunny Day in Uppsala – By Müge

“Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder!” There is no bad weather, there are only bad clothes, Swedes believe (!) . However, Sweden is cold most of the time for us foreigners. So, the weather becomes a quiet important topic in a daily life conversation, even it is usually the most convenient way to fill the awkward silence. In the past few days, it was the trend topic once again, thanks to the surprising temperature rise in the middle of autumn, which is called “Brittsommar” British Summer in Sweden.

 Unfortunately, the sunshine went like the wind and left us with a gloomy (typical?) Swedish weather. Wishing more of these sunny days I want to give some tips that you should keep in mind for the next time ?

1- Go for a walk around Flogsta
Living in Flogsta means many things, but most importantly no need for an alarm at 10 pm and having a small forest as your backyard. The nature right out of your window will make you feel like living in a painting. Having the bright sunlight in this scenery; well… you are lucky!

The view from Flogsta Building 1

There are lots of beautiful places around Flogsta to take a walk or to do your daily exercise. One of them is known for its pretty sunflowers. You can just stop by there and take some pictures. Great to be the cover picture of your Facebook, hah?

2- Explore the beauty of 
Hågadalen Nåsten
Time to celebrate the sun while you are discovering the amazing nature reserve, called Hågadalen Nåsten.

Entrance at Håga Bridge between Flogsta and Eriksberg

Hågadalen Nåsten

The reserve spreads over 17 square kilometres, which is host to lush woodland, flourishing farmlands, gloomy forests, and many more. You can enjoy its diverse and rich nature all day, but never get enough of this wonderful place!

 You can go there with some friends and have a picnic or only fika ! Also, it is a perfect place to relax your mind. Are you overwhelmed by your studies? Do yoga in the peaceful nature of Håga and listen to the silence.

Hågadalen Nåsten

Look at those cuties! I was surprised to see many of them just 15 minutes away from my home. This is the magic of Uppsala, where you can easily feel the city and the nature at the same time. Don’t forget to touch the fur; no worries, they are just friendly ? 

3- Take your bike and do some sightseeing
Uppsala is a picturesque city divided into two parts: the historical old town in the west and the modern town in the east, by the river Fyris (Fyrisån). There are so many activities to do in Uppsala. However, walking along the river to feed the ducks is my favorite when the sun shines brightly. You can also sit by the river and enjoy your fika (yes, anywhere-anytime basically). Don’t be surprised if you see some Swedes, who take a sunbath ? (I saw some of them even in University’s garden)

Fyrisån River-Uppsala


Mamma Sverige – By Fleur

Dear parent,

Having your kid leave home and moving north, all the way to Sweden. For most parents: a huge step. Your child has most likely never been so far away, for so long, on its own. Now who will take care of him/her?

No worries, once landed in Sweden, your child will get a very warm welcome from nobody less than Mamma Sverige. And luckily for you, dear parent, Mamma Sverige is a very protective mother. I can assure you: your child is in great hands.

Unless your child grew up in the Netherlands or Denmark, you must be worried about cycling. How about traffic? What if my child falls of its bike? Now don’t worry. Uppsala is a wonderful small town (and yes, of course you may visit us!), which means that the traffic is really quiet compared to other cities. Besides that, many separate cycle lanes have been constructed in order to diminish chances of bikes and cars accidentally meeting each other. Biking with a helmet is strongly recommended by the university, although I have never seen one student do it. In the dark, lights must be adjusted to the bike, and neglecting to do so will result in a fine equivalent to 20 beers at your son/daughter’s student nation. I’m sure s/he will not take this risk. Furthermore – completely incomprehensible to me, a Dutch person – giving lifts on your bike will be heavily fined to. For safety, I guess.

Furthermore, the railway crossing closes at least ten minutes before the train passes by .This may result in coming late to class, but definitively eliminates the chance of your son/daughter being run over by a train.

In case your child forgot this crucial fact over the summer: at the beginning of the academic year, all students are reminded of the fact that in case the fire alarm goes off, they have to leave the building. Better safe than sorry!

Although the above mentioned seems a bit exaggerated, I assure you that everything stated truly happened to me. Clearly, Mamma Sverige really wants the best for her students, even if that results in some crazy things. It does mean that most things are really well arranged. To mention one thing in particular: Uppsala University’s facilities for their student’s wellbeing are very elaborate. There is help for people with disabilities; a light room against winter depression; student psychologists; help if you have difficulty with academic writing; a career desk; housing help if things actually go wrong; and probably more. Most importantly: the university really makes sure that all students are aware that this help exists, so that they know where to go in case of need.

Dear parent, I assure you that Mamma Sverige does everything to make sure your child has a splendid time in Uppsala.

Now breathe in, breathe out, they will be fine.

N.B. Please keep in mind that these experiences are based upon my own and are thus most likely biased. Other people’s experiences might thus differ from mine.

If you need help from one of the above mentioned institutions, or if you want to read more about the facilities offered by Uppsala University, I recommend you have a look at the following page: