Month: September 2023

Life in Uppsala – Unexpected Experiences and Little Surprises! – By: Arshia

I’ve been in Uppsala for over a year now, and I still cannot believe how fast time has flown! The past year went by in such a blink, and was full to the brim with experiences that I couldn’t have had anywhere but here. Now that I’ve seen Uppsala through all its rolling seasons and colours, I thought I would sit down and take you through some things and experiences that really stood out to me, or were completely unexpected!

  1. Getting used to the growing daylight takes just as much – if not more – adjusting to!

Before coming to Uppsala, I had heard from so many people about how dark and dreary the winters can be. Anecdotes of waking up to darkness, getting out of classes to darkness, forgetting when to eat meals, and being surrounded by a shroud of sleepiness, were all around me from people who had already spent some time here. So, even though I was nervous, I was prepared to expect something difficult to get used to. What I did not expect however, was just how disorienting exiting the winters could be! I would often wake up to the sunlight streaming in through my windows, expecting it to be well after 9:00 AM, only to realise it was just barely 4:00 AM! Remembering the 3-hour-daylight of the winters, I would always assume I had a whole day left just because the sun was still up, and then a quick glance at my watch would let me know it was time to eat dinner and start winding down for the day. It took me quite some time to re-adjust to living in a world filled with sunlight!

Moral of the story – don’t trust the sun to tell you anything!

  • Waiting in line is half (or at least one-third) of the nations’ experience.

One of the main factors contributing to a rich student-life in Uppsala is the nations. From activities, sports, pubs, clubs, gasques and everything else under the sun, nations have a lot to offer, and I highly recommend trying out every single thing that even mildly catches your eye. One of those things is the club-nights. It is super interesting and fun to experience things like club music in a nation library, surrounded by leather-clad books with faded gold lettering, or remixes of ABBA playing throughout the night with everyone singing their hearts out. But before you even get to those parts, you have to do the dreaded waits outside the nations. Walking by the cathedral one Friday evening when I was still new to Uppsala, I was shocked to see the line of students extending across the street and up the little hill of the cathedral. Having been here for a year now, the sight is as plain as anything else. So, if you want to go to the nations, you might as well start liking the idea of waiting for near or upwards of an hour. It’s not so bad in the summertime, but if you want to go to the clubs during peak winter, I’d recommend a thick jacket and warm socks.

  • Don’t expect your classes to get cancelled because of bad weather.

This is perhaps not so much of an Uppsala-specific thing, but an overall Swedish thing, but I thought I’d say it nonetheless because it was pretty unexpected. Growing up, it was fairly common to have classes cancelled because of heavy rain, low temperatures (not low by Swedish standards, of course), or extreme heat, but here, classes just do not get cancelled. Buses could be skidding on ice-covered roads, trees could be angled from a blizzard, or the snow could reach your shins, but you just have to get to class. By now, you must have heard of the Swedish mindset towards bad weather – that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing/preparation, and that is absolutely correct. So, now that the winters are on their way, get the warmest clothes and shoes you can find so that on a day when you wake up and look outside your window to find the world shrouded in white and snow falling horizontally from the wind, you know you can still make your way to class. You’re probably even going to see that one person who refuses to let anything come in the way of their daily jog (maybe that’s an exaggeration, but only by a tiny bit).

  • Learning that Uppsala is one of the largest cities in Sweden

While this is more of a little fact than something you realise through living in Uppsala, I included it on this list because of how often it hits me that Uppsala is considered a big city. Coming from India, one of the most populated countries in the world, with some pretty large cities scattered throughout, Uppsala feels much more like a cosy little student town than a city, let alone the fourth-largest city in the country.

During my bachelor’s in Delhi, I would think nothing of travelling near two hours (one way) just to visit a friend who lived in a different part of the city, but here, commuting for two hours would get me to another one of Sweden’s largest cities – Västerås!

Being used to bustling streets, bright lights, and loads of traffic, Uppsala felt incredibly empty and quiet when I first arrived, despite there being a whole bunch of new students roaming around. But now that I’ve been here for a year and have seen what ‘empty’ and ‘quiet’ truly mean (wait for the summer vacation when every person in the city seems to vanish off the face of the Earth – more on this in my next point), the beginning of the autumn semester felt incredibly crowded!

  • Summer vacations are taken very seriously

This is another thing that is more of a Swedish thing than a specific Uppsala thing, but I love it and it absolutely deserves a place here. Summer vacations mean everything to Swedish people (as they should)! While you’re definitely going to see a lot more people coming out to experience the sunshine when the summer days begin to set in, there’s going to be a good month or so when everyone just disappears. No emails will be responded to, no work will be done, no people will be seen – vacation means vacation, goodbye! 

  • Bonus unexpected experience – the bananas in Sweden are really hard to peel!

What more can I even say about a point like this? It just is the truth! Perhaps it’s because they’re not grown locally, or they’re a different type of banana than what we have back home, but the fact remains! The first time I ate a banana, it was a battle between me and the banana to see who would persevere (it was getting embarrassing), but thankfully, a friend of mine who is more used to Swedish bananas whisked the fruit out of my hand and saved me the trouble. But never you mind, it is a practicable skill and you will be pleased to know that I finally figured out the trick to peel the bananas.

That concludes my list of unexpected experiences as a student who has lived in Uppsala for a year! What are some things that you found surprising once you arrived in Uppsala? What made you wonder, and what left you confused – share your experiences in the comments and let us know!

Exploring the Thrifty Side of Uppsala – By: Andis Polaks

We all know that being a student in Uppsala is quite fantastic and exciting in all the ways possible. However, sometimes the student life does take up quite a big chunk of you budget, so we do need to look for a way to save some money. Fortunately, Uppsala offers a fantastic solution to this conundrum: a treasure trove of second-hand stores that cater to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Second hand shopping is very popular in Sweden, both in order to save some money and more importantly, to make your purchases more sustainable and environmentally friendly. There are many second hand stores around Uppsala and you can find incredible gems there. Going to a gasque but do not have proper clothing? The second hand market of Uppsala has got your back. So let me tell you a bit about the second hand stores in Uppsala.

In this blog post, I’ll take you on a comprehensive tour of some of the fantastic second-hand stores in Uppsala. Whether you’re on a tight budget, an eco-conscious shopper, or simply enjoy the thrill of finding unique and pre-loved treasures, these stores have got you covered.

Myrorna Uppsala

Location: Kungsängsgatan 20

Myrorna is a household name when it comes to second-hand shopping in Sweden. The Uppsala branch is no exception. This store is a real gem, offering a wide range of clothing, home decor, and even furniture. The best part? It’s not just a thrift store; it’s a social enterprise, with proceeds supporting various charitable causes. You can shop guilt-free, knowing your purchases are making a positive impact.

Kupan Red Cross

Location: Danmarksgatan 20 B

The Red Cross store in Uppsala is another wonderful place to shop with a purpose. Here, you’ll find a diverse selection of second-hand items, including clothing, accessories, and home goods. The proceeds from this store go toward various humanitarian projects and initiatives both locally and internationally, making your shopping experience even more meaningful.

Erikshjälpen Second Hand

Location: Bolandsgatan 8A

Another great second hand store. Here you can find pretty much everything you might need starting from fancy clothes for a gasque, to vintage kitchen utensils and even interior design stuff. A big second hand store with multiple sections, so you can find whatever you are looking for!

Uppsala Loppis & Second Hand

Location: Skolgatan 33

Uppsala Loppis & Second Hand is a true hidden gem. It’s not as large as some of the other stores, but it’s a fantastic place to hunt for unique items at bargain prices. From clothing to books, records, and bric-a-brac, you never know what you might discover here.

Helping Hand

Location: Bolandsgatan 17B

Helping Hand is a second-hand store with a mission to support Uppsala’s homeless population. Not only can you find affordable clothing and household items here, but you can also take pride in knowing that your purchases contribute directly to providing essential assistance to those in need. It’s a win-win!

Uppsala’s second-hand stores offer not only an opportunity to save money but also a chance to reduce your environmental footprint and support charitable causes. These stores reflect the city’s diversity and inclusivity, making it easy for students from all walks of life to find something that resonates with their style and values.

As a student at Uppsala University, I can confidently say that exploring these second-hand stores has not only enriched my wardrobe but also given me a deeper appreciation for sustainable shopping and the power of giving back to the community. So don’t forget to carve out some time for thrifting adventures – you never know what treasures you might unearth while making a positive impact on the world.

Uppsala Unplugged: A Student’s Guide to the Nearby Hiking Trails – By: Noah Godin

Hey there, my name is Noah and during my two years as a Master’s student in Uppsala I had plenty of opportunities to explore the nature around the city. If you’re a nature lover like me, I think you’ll enjoy this small compilation I’ve put together. Uppsala, with its breathtaking forests and lush greenery, offers an array of fantastic hiking trails to explore. Today I would like to share some of the trails that are worth checking out when you feel like you need to take a break from the computers, textbooks, and lectures. Lace up your hiking boots and let’s take a closer look at the wonders that await us in and around this beautiful city.

Light hiking in Gamla Uppsala

Let’s start with an easy hike close to the city: The Gamla Uppsala Mounds. This approximately 6 km hike is quite easy and even if you don’t have much experience you’ll be able to enjoy it. For a perfect introduction to hiking around Uppsala, the Gamla Uppsala Mounds trail is an excellent choice. This easy hike will take you back to Sweden’s ancient past. Along the route, you’ll encounter historical mounds and burial sites, which hold great significance in Swedish history. Take a moment to admire the view of Uppsala and its surroundings from the top of the mounds – it’s quite the sight! If the weather allows you can also jump into the Fyris river at the Storvadsbadet swimming spot; around 0.5 km from the mounds. More info here.

The challenging Sigtuna-Odensala trail

If you are looking for something a little more challenging, you can hike the Sigtuna-Odensala trail. Also known as the 5th stage of the Ingegerdsleden, it’s a stunning hiking trail. This mesmerizing trail begins right at the heart of Sigtuna, leading you on a pleasent loop along the scenic Garnsviken. Picture yourself strolling alongside the glistening waters and basking in all the beauty along the shores of the Mälaren lake. From there, the path takes you on a north-easterly course, guiding you past the captivating Rävsta nature reserve and eventually you’ll arrive at your destination, Odensala. The hike is approximately 14.6 km and I would say that the difficulty is moderate. Sigtuna is short train or bus ride away from Uppsala, this hike promises an unforgettable experience. More info here.

Accessible hiking outside Uppsala

If you are looking for a wheelchair-accessible or stroller-accessible trail, check out Fysingen! Lake Fysingen is a true gem for all fellow bird lovers out there and for those craving an escape from the city and a brief stroll in nature. This short 1 km trail kicks off at the parking lot near the reserve’s southern entrance, also known as Åholmen. From the get-go, it offers a wonderful mix of natural wonders, featuring scenic landscapes along the water’s edge and charming beach meadows. The trail itself is hard-surfaced, making it super easy to navigate. As it winds through the lively wetlands, a wide wooden walkway comes to the rescue, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey for all. More information here.

Experience Norrland by visiting Skuleskogen

For the seasoned hikers and those with a thirst for thrilling adventures, Skuleskogen National Park is a must-visit. Located a bit further from Uppsala but definitely worth the weekend trip, this park boasts a diverse range of trails catering to various experience levels. Several trails of different lengths are available. Prepare to be awestruck by the rugged beauty of towering cliffs, dense forests, and the mesmerizing view of the Baltic Sea from the Skuleberget mountain. Remember to pack enough water and snacks, as some trails can be quite demanding. I would not recommend this as your first hike ever, but if you have some experience, you should put Skuleskogen National Park on your list! More information here.

Stay close to the city in Fjällnora

If you prefer to stay closer to Uppsala, the Fjällnora-Länna trail is an ideal choice. Located just a short bus ride away, this nature reserve offers a peaceful and refreshing escape from the city bustle. The hike is approximately 6.5 km and could be described as easy to moderate. The serene lake, lush greenery, and charming picnic spots make it perfect for a day trip with friends. The well-marked trails cater to various fitness levels, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced hikers alike. During summers you can hop on the Lennakatten heritage railway from Uppsala Central Station to Selknä and catch the heritage bus to Fjällnora. Return by bus from Länna. If you’re feeling up to it, be sure to look at some of the rental options such as canoes or pedal-boats as well! More info here.

Hiking etiquette and recommendations

As you venture into the great outdoors and explore these hiking trails, remember to be a responsible hiker. Respect nature, leave no trace behind, and adhere to local guidelines to ensure the preservation of these natural treasures for generations to come. One last honorable mention to check out are the trails in Uppsala’s Stadsskogen! Lastly, always check the weather forecast and trail conditions before setting off, and make sure to inform someone of your hiking plans for safety purposes. Carry essential items like a map/phone, first aid kit, and enough food and water to keep you energized during your journey.

So, now I hope you’re a bit more prepared to immerse yourself in the stunning beauty that surrounds Uppsala. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just beginning to dip your toes into the world of trekking, these trails have something for everyone. Grab your backpack, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to experience the best of nature right here in Uppsala.

Happy hiking!