Month: November 2023

Navigating “Free” Time as a Student – Managing Stress, Being Efficient, and Working Smart! – By: Arshia

One of the most important parts of academic culture in Sweden is the amount of trust and responsibility put on the student to study by themselves. On one hand, that comes with a lot of advantages since, as a student, you’re able to figure out a schedule that works for you, and study in the way that best suits your strengths, habits, and patterns. You’re viewed as an independent, responsible individual (something that I think also contributes to the lack of hierarchy in Sweden’s academic institutions). On the other hand, if you come from a vastly different academic culture (like I do!), it can be difficult to hold yourself accountable and do the work that is actually expected of you without the pressure of a professor telling you to do it!

Now that I am in the second year of my Master’s and am faced with a lot of “free” months where I have no classes because I’m entrusted with steadily working on my thesis, I’m in the process of figuring out how to work productively and smartly. Here are some tips from me (and also my thesis supervisor) that worked for me, and may work for you too!

Build a schedule that feels familiar

The most difficult part of navigating free time is not having a schedule to hold yourself to. I’ve had countless conversations with so many friends and corridor mates about how having long free periods makes it tough to keep track of time since nobody expects you to be anywhere or do anything. Combating this means making a fixed schedule for yourself. Draw up a chart and stick it to your wall, schedule study time and put it in your calendar the way you would do for classes. What’s important is that you make it look and feel similar to what your classes for your courses would look like. For instance, if you have three classes a week, schedule three study sessions, and then three additional pre-class prep sessions.

Prep sessions could involve skimming through literature, looking for readings, narrowing down to questions you want your research to acknowledge and answer. The main study sessions on the other hand would involve properly diving into the literature, getting to the meat of how to answer the questions you set aside, actually doing the work you prepared to do.

Set realistic goals

When dealing with mountains of readings and literature review, it’s easy to both feel overwhelmed, and also overestimate how much work you’re actually capable of doing, and doing well. There’s a limit to how much information we can retain and properly make use of, and so it is of the utmost importance to recognise our human-ness and set realistic goals.

I was one of those people who would promise myself to read one or two papers a day, but then when I would actually sit down to do the work, I would realise very soon that I had bitten off more than I could chew. This was not only because the papers were hard to read (because sometimes they would be manageable), but because it is incredibly time-consuming to properly understand, analyse, and take notes from a paper.

My entire studying game changed when I went from setting myself one or two papers a day to half a paper. It takes a lot of stress off your shoulders when you know that you need to only do half a paper. Less stress means that you aren’t rushing yourself, and your brain is less cloudy to actually read the paper. You can certainly do more than half a paper if you get into the flow of it, but even reaching the half-paper mark will make you feel accomplished, and you’ll have the energy to come back and finish it the next day, knowing that there’s not much left!

Writing less, consistently is better than writing more, sporadically

This point is kind of like an extension to the last point, talking about writing instead of reading, but it is important nonetheless.

When I had trouble finding motivation to write and did not know where or how to start, I voiced my concerns to my supervisor who gave me this advice! He said that it is much better to aim to write a hundred imperfect words a day than setting a bigger goal of a thousand perfect words a week. Setting a small daily goal keeps you consistent, and pushes away the possibility of procrastinating until the last couple days of the week. Returning to your work on a daily basis also ensures that you’re actively thinking about it and about ways to improve it, and by the end of the week you can actually end up with a thousand decent words that are ready for editing!

Realise that normal is the norm!

Some more words of wisdom from my supervisor – strive to be normal!

We all tell ourselves that bad days aren’t the norm, but we also need to realise that good days aren’t the norm either. So, just as we wouldn’t get used to the idea of not studying at all, we shouldn’t get used to the idea of studying extremely productively and successfully every day just because we had a couple of good days in a row.

Aim to have a really normal day, and rely more on discipline than on sporadic feelings of motivation. That way, you won’t feel upset when you don’t have the best study session ever, and you will also know that having a bad study session doesn’t mean that you are stuck in that state. You will just bumble along steadily and calmly, and will end up doing much more work consistently.

Separate your spaces

Having separate spaces for different parts of your life is incredibly important to align your mindset with the task you have set yourself to do. If you study in the same space that you also use for relaxation, it can be difficult to shift mindsets and be prepared to focus when it is time to work. Inversely, it can also take much longer to relax even when you put your books and devices away because your mind now associates that space with working and not resting.

Study in cafes, dining rooms, or one of the many wonderful libraries Uppsala University has to offer (I love the library at Engelska Parken, and also Carolina Rediviva).

If you don’t want to go outside because it’s too cold for your liking or you want to save money and time, you can also demarcate spaces within your room! My laptop recently broke which means that I cannot move it from my desk, so I cannot go to the libraries with it anymore. To work around this little setback, I’ve made my desk my designated work/study space, and even when I want to take a short break, I get up and shift to my bed, or the couch, or head to the balcony for some fresh air!

Take breaks!

While this means that you take breaks in between study sessions, this also means longer breaks! If you’ve been given a month without classes, you have to strike a nice balance between working and studying, and actually doing things that bring you joy, help you relax, and recharge you. Take the weekend off and spend time with your friends, grab a bus ticket and visit one of the many small towns and cities around Uppsala, sign up for events at the nations, or you could even work at the nations to meet more people and surround yourself in a different atmosphere! If you can, take a flight or a train to other cities in Sweden, or to the countries around Sweden!

There’s a whole lot of things to do in and around Uppsala, and Sweden as a whole, and since you’re a student here now, you should do as much as you can to make the most of this experience of being in a new city and new country!

I hope these little tips and tricks help you stay on top of your academic work in ways that are more efficient and productive, and leave you with less stress and worry. While stress and anxiety can be common parts of being a student (especially a student in a foreign country), it’s best to do what we can to improve our experience so that we’re left with more space and energy to enjoy the nicer parts of student life!

What are some things you like to do to stay motivated, disciplined, and productive?

The Rindi Rendezvous: Making Friends and Memories in the Student Union Scene – By: Nathaniel

Socializing when you’ve moved to a new country can be really daunting. From my experience, I have found joining the student union, Rindi, to be very helpful for socializing, interacting, and getting to know the great people and students through fun activities here at Campus Gotland. Due to Campus Gotland being a tight-knit community, whether you are studying, participating in guilds, or want to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with friends, it is very easy to find yourself spending a lot of time in the Rindi Castle. The café guild holds pop-up cafes which are popular due to the affordable and delicious goodies that are offered.

I am a member of the Sound Guild in which I have been very active. I had my first DJ set a few weeks ago which went well. So, it has been very interesting learning to mix different genres of music and set up sound systems.

Rindi can help build a sense of community and belonging on campus. You are able to meet so many other students who share similar interests or hobbies and you are able to learn about different cultures and understand others perspectives outside of academia. The guilds or clubs that I’ve mentioned before and below are some of the communities that one can be a part of at Rindi. They also have study sections that are categorized by what you study such as LeGo(Leadership and Engineering), Envis(Environmental and Earth Sciences), and VisEkon(Economics) which provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and take on leadership roles. You can gain valuable experience in organizing events, managing budgets, and working with others. Or just by participating in events organized is a way to be active within the community.

So apart from the study sections, Rindi has its own board. As a student union, Rindi appoints board members who often advocate for student rights and express students’ concerns, both on campus and in the wider community.

In summary, joining a student union can provide a range of benefits that can enhance your university experience. From community building to leadership opportunities to advocacy, there are many reasons to consider joining a student union at Uppsala University, Campus Gotland.

Some of the clubs (guilds) that you can take part in at Campus Gotland

Café Guild: Where you can bake and host student cafés. Which are held weekly on Sundays and Wednesdays at Rindi.

Kitchen Guild: Where you can cook alongside others with similar passions with students. They plan on providing lunches quite soon!

The Sound Guild: Is where you have the opportunity to learn how to DJ and set up sound systems.

Rindi CineClub: Provides the opportunity to help organize film screenings for students here at Campus Gotland which as a Rindi member you have access to discounted prices.

Rindi Sports Club: Is a community where you can play tennis, paddleboarding, football, basketball, and badminton on a weekly basis.

Castle Guild: They help with repairs and requests from other sections and clubs. If you need anything made you can ask them and they will do their best to craft it for you.

Bar Guild: They run the student bar every Friday. They have the chance to practice their bartending skills while serving drinks to students.

Fire Guild: Do you like playing with fire? At the Fire Guild, you learn to use Fire poi’s and staff and from to time, you perform what you’ve practiced for students at school events.

Apart from all the different activities that go on, I would recommend going out of your comfort zone to socialize and initiate the conversation because I can assure you that everyone is more or less too shy to start the conversation. 

Getting the most out of the nation life – By: Andis

While living in Uppsala you will obviously encounter nations as a crucial part of your life here. You already know or have heard that each nation has a pub where you can hang out, clubs to celebrate being young for reasonable, student friendly prices and other fun activities. However, a great way to find your home, here so far away from all your friends and family is to get active in a nation. But what does that mean exactly? Let me give you a short introduction in what it means to be active, how to get active and what do you get for doing that!

What can you do?

Sustaining an organization like a student nation is actually much harder than you might expect. There are many parts in the organization that need to work together and collaborate to provide all the wonderful activities that nation does. There are a lot of positions that you can take to be a part of this wonderful mechanism. The most common ones are the ones in clubwork. Clubwork is a part of the nations that works with the pub, clubs, events and gasques. Therefore there is a need for a lot of people in different positions to make this work. Do keep in mind that in different nations you might have different names or amounts of certain positions, I will share the structure of the nation I am active in – Kalmar nation, but it could vary a bit!

The spine of the clubwork is the clubworkers of course! There are usually around 10 positions for clubworkers and they are the ones making sure you can go and hang out in the nation pubs! Clubworkers are in charge of either the bar or kitchen during a pub night and also the staff that works in the pub! It is the most common first position to take in a nation because you can really get into the ground level of the operation and understand exactly how a nation works! You can apply to be a clubworker and take the position for one semester, where you then would be in charge of the pub, usually one night a week! Other positions in the clubwork are clubmasters – the people organizing clubs, fika-masters, who are in charge of fika, headwaiter, kitchen master etc. The latter ones are a usual second step after the semester as a clubworker and it works very well too since you already have experience in how the nation works and can continue working in it!

But that is absolutely not all, the nations have other positions that deal with other parts which are just as important. There are the marketing team that makes sure the nation is presented in the best possible way on the social media and posters, the recceförman and international secretaries, who make sure that new students are welcome, feel at home and get all the information you need. There are marshals and flag bearers who participate in the more traditional activities and are very important in representing a nation and making sure the events run smoothly. Each nation has a newspaper, so you can become an redactor of the newspaper and a librarian who keeps sure that the nations libraries are in check. There are also archivists working with keeping the legacy of the nation safe, song masters, who lead the songs in gasques, different positions for the different activity groups like theatre, choir and other! And of course the qurators who are in charge of part of the nation, 1Q is in charge of the nations administrative side and representation, 2Q in charge of finances and economy and 3Q is in charge of the restaurant business – pub, clubs etc. Some nations also have a 4Q who is in charge of gasques and rent outs. These positions (except the qurators) are a usual second or third step after being in the clubwork and that is when you have been in the nation for a while and are ready to more administrative work in the nation!

As you can see there are so so many things you can do at a student nation and each of them are very important to keep the nation working. Furthermore, it means that everyone can find a place where they belong and do what they do best!

Where to start?

The nation might sound like a complicated organization and quite hard to understand, getting active is so so easy! The only thing you need to do is take a shift at the pub! Just look up the staff facebook group of a nation, if you can`t find it, just go to your nation and ask around! It is very simple to take shift and start working, you can even earn a teeny tiny bit of money for doing so, but the friendships gained this way are precious. You can start working at the pub, clubs, gasques or fika and that is the perfect way to get to know people who are active and put your foot in the door of the nation! Usually people start working in the pub for a semester and then decide to take a position, commonly a clubworker since you are now accustomed with how the pub works. The nations usually have an informational evening to tell more about what it is like to be a clubworker and then you just apply at the qurators office and hopefully get elected and start your journey!

What are the perks?

The thing about taking a position at a nation is that you usually do not get paid for it. It is voluntary since it is just students working to provide fun times for other students. That is actually my favourite part of nations – students working together for students! However, when you are active in a nation you get to spend a lot of time together with other positionholders and you make the most wonderful friendships and memories there! It is a perfect way to find your home away from home just like they intended when they founded the nations in 17th century. When you are a clubworker you also get fun perks like the KK card which lets you in any nations club for free and with the option of skipping the queue, which is obviously wonderful. And you can take another person in with you! You also get to go to KMK dinners, where you get a fancy dinner together with all clubworkers in all the nations and you can celebrate the life of a student in Uppsala. Some nations have other perks, like a discount in their pub, free entrance and skipping the queue in the nations clubs etc (these are the examples of being a position holders in Kalmar nation! But once again – everyone loves being active in the nations because of the friendships and family feel of the organization!

My journey at Kalmar nation (so far)

When I was looking up universities in Sweden, Uppsala caught my eye exactly because of the vibrant student life within the nations. I knew that I will want to be active in a nation straight away so I started literally the first week I was here. When I registered to Kalmar nation I asked – what do I do to become active, and got the tip to take a shift at the pub. Next day I was in Kalmar kitchen flipping burgers, without even knowing that the people I met there that night will become the best of my friends! After a few weeks working the pub, clubs and gasques I got offered to take a clubworker position since not all of them were filled and I accepted straight away! I became a clubworker without really knowing what it means, but I was sure that I was up for the adventure of a lifetime! I started working in the pub every week and making strong bonds with my fellow clubworkers and other people in the nation. Soon enough I was at a point where at any time I could go down to the nation and meet up people and hang out without even making plans, cause the family vibe in the nation is incredible. Once the autumn semester of 2022 was coming to the end I decided to take a position of a clubmaster – therefore taking up the responsibility of organising clubs next semester.

And so I did, it was my favourite position so far and very valuable experience since at times I was in charge of 20-25 people at a single night! It was fun coming up with the themes of clubs, learning how to set up DJ technique, working with our wonderful staff and making friendships that will last a lifetime! I got to experience Valborg with my wonderful friend both partying and organising events. When the spring arrived everyone in the nation was such a nice family, we were hanging out every day, having picnics, beach days and going to trips together. At the end of spring I decided to take up the position of a recceförman therefore being in charge of organizing events for new students and welcoming them into this wonderful Kalmar family! And that is what I have been doing this semester and I have absolutely loved it! Seeing new fun people join the nation and start their journey of being active in Kalmar has been absolutely wonderful!

In the end I just want to say that if you are in Uppsala for 2 years, 1 year or even just a semester, getting active in a nation is a perfect way to find your little family and make friends for life! It is a wonderful concept and really makes a difference in your life here in Uppsala! I would advise everyone to start this journey in a nation they like, cause the perks are just priceless. I am so happy that I made this choice and I really enjoy it every single day!

Tips on Writing Your Statement of Purpose – By: Daisy

About a year ago is when I started seriously writing my statement of purpose for my application. I was extremely stressed about it and didn’t really know where to start, but eventually I calmed myself down and did as much research as I possibly could and managed to write an brillant one (or perhaps just an okay one but hey! I got accepted!)

In this blog post I am going to give you a few tips about writing yours so hopefully your experience goes smoother than mine.

Disclaimer: this is all just from the perspective of a student. I am not on the admissions team and don’t know for absolute certain what they specifically look for. These are just things I found while scouring around the internet and what I thought would be helpful 🙂 

1: Start earlier and don’t rush!

The application opened a few weeks ago and you have until mid January so it feels like there is still loads of time left, but you don’t want to leave it until the last minute. While I am unsure of the inner workings of the admissions team, I’m pretty sure that the exact date you submit your application within the time frame doesn’t really matter, everyone is judged equally. 

My advice would be to start seriously thinking about it now, and when you get the chance, spend a week or two on it. That includes the research, the writing, and the proof reading. Personally I had some people read it for me too, in order to get some more perspectives and also to double check all my spelling!

2: Make sure you know the rubric of your course

Read and reread the course syllabus and expectations of the courses you are applying for. It will definitely make you look like a better candidate if you are referencing things directly from the course description. This will show the admissions teams that you are passionate and confident about your choices

3: Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself!

This is an essay that is all about you. Of course it is relevant to referencing specific things that relate directly to your studies but it also serves as an introduction to you as a person. I referenced certain things about my life that weren’t necessarily about my course but were relevant to me as a person and how I might approach life at Uppsala university and what I can bring to the table.

4: Don’t forget to reference Uppsala/Sweden

As we are all international students, we are all planning to come to Sweden for a reason and don’t be shy to talk about that. Mention precisely what it is that drew you to Uppsala University/Sweden in general. This will include you doing some research about the area and the student life, and then you can talk directly about it. This will show firstly that you are eager, and also that you have a goal in attending here. 

5: Don’t stress too much!

Of course it’s important but it’s there as an introduction to you, and goes hand in hand with all your other documents and as long as you show passion and give the sense you are well prepared i’m sure it will all be perfect!

I look forward to seeing you in Uppsala soon 🙂