When I meet new people in Uppsala, one of the first questions they ask is, how did you end up in Sweden? And I am always like, ‘Well, I heard a lot about Sweden and when I got the opportunity, I just have taken it and never looked back’. After doing my research on various universities in Scandinavian countries, I got to know that Uppsala is one of the best when it comes to student life.
It all started when I decided to do a masters in the field of sustainability for which I was passionate about. This is the first time I travelled abroad, and that made my journey much more exciting. I got all possible help from the university when I arrived at Arlanda airport during the welcome days. As most of the others I also ended up getting a housing in Flogsta – The hub of international students and corridor parties.
The first few days it was a bit cold and so I used to wear my winter jacket until I met a guy in shorts, these where the exact words he said:
Him: How cold is it outside?
Me: 8 or 9 degrees probably ….
Him: Do you know its going to be -15 degrees in few days?
Me: Oh yes, I heard! How could you survive in that weather?
Him: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” so you need to dress like this in winter not now. (This was the first time I heard this quote)
Later he invited me to his home to grab some apples.
I met my classmates during the welcome week, and they were from many diverse backgrounds and cultures. The best part of my program sustainable development was that everyone had a different opinion and that made me think how my views are so different. Within couple of weeks I got to speak with most of my colleagues and felt that I need to learn a lot.
During the welcome week we all got some temporary nation cards from the IK (International committee) and then started my journey into the so-called nation life – I didn’t know at that time that my nation will become my second home. Student Nations are something special and unique here in Uppsala. All 13 student nations offer various kinds of activities. All the fun began with working for a gasque without even knowing what it was all about and then becoming a club worker at Smålands nation. I had the best time of my life during those days and made friends for life. Eventually I got to know about Swedish culture and their lifestyle, but I was a complete disaster in learning Swedish.
Winter was very harsh on me, but when I saw the snow, I was always happy. Autumn was so colourful that I started missing it in winter and stopped taking bike to the university because of the snow. I had to take bus every day in the winter. Buying a winter jacket, and snow boots was very helpful for me during this time. Somehow, I survived the winter and moved to the beautiful spring wearing my shorts and sitting in the sun outside. From Spring to summer was the best weather if I ignore the midnight sun.
I am used to just eating in my home or in any restaurant or at my college cafeteria but did not cook or clean on my own before coming to Sweden. Buying what you need, and cooking is hard sometimes. When you see the prices in super markets to buy food it is quite expensive than back home. So, I used to think twice before buying something. Now I figured out what food I want and should buy.
Coming to travelling, I should say I have visited quite a lot in and around Uppsala. I stayed in cabins over the weekends, went on hikes, gone on a cruise in the Baltics, skied in Åre during ski week, went on a Lapland trip – sadly no northern lights, covered east Europe by bus and went to visit student nations in Lund and Helsinki. These are some of the highlights of my travels after coming to Sweden. Every place I went was a new and an exciting experience for me.
My studies in Uppsala had been challenging as I come from an engineering background and I had to read lots of literature in the starting of the semester to understand the concepts. Group works, case studies, home exams, assignments, presentations, seminars, site visits and what not, these all made me the person I am, and I don’t regret it.
Overall, my experience here in Uppsala till now has been wonderful but yes, it is not easy as it looks to survive in a completely different environment, but it worked out for me very well.
Did I miss something? Yes, Valborg! I completely forgot about this insane thing happened to me in Uppsala. It should be experienced on your own. It can’t be explained in words. Hope this blog might give a brief on how Uppsala might look like.