Month: February 2024

Trip to Kiruna – Into the Wilderness in -30 Celcius – By: Yasmin

Hello! This is Yasmin again coming back with another blog. This time I will share my complete experience in detail about going to Kiruna up north of Sweden for 2 days and 1 night! Some of you may have already seen some of my stories on our @studyatuu Instagram, and I got a lot of exciting responses and questions in detail about the trip. Of course, being a student we always have a tight budget to make sure that every trip we made should be affordable enough and worth every penny! That’s why I decided to share it in detail here in the blog to inspire you to go at least once in your life up to the north of the Arctic Circle!

Why Kiruna?

Kiruna has always been long known as one of the northest most populated cities in Sweden with a population of around 20 thousand inhabitants due to the biggest modern Iron Mine Industry, which means that it has a big tourist attraction potential especially in winter notably the infamous original ICE HOTEL that they build every winter season from blocks of ice. Other than that, tourists usually come here to do many winter activities like wolf sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and spending the night in the wilderness while wishing to see the Aurora Borealis at a higher chance. It is also close to Abisko National Park and near the border to Narvik, Norway on one train line.

What Tour Package to Book?

Luckily, I got this recommendation from a friend who showed me a poster of a Kiruna Open Trip tour organizer. Actually, there are a couple of tour organizers who posted their posters on many Uppsala University campus information walls you might stumble upon when entering your faculty building. It’s a pretty popular tour organizer among Uppsala students as I see a lot of people from Uppsala during my Trip. Overall the one that I picked has everything included during the stay in Kiruna. From transport from/to Kiruna station or airport, the accommodation, full meals, winter boots with pants, and lots of winter activities to choose from. I booked a 2-day tour for 1600 SEK per person! (Student price, International student ID acceptable). If you manage to have a group of 5 people they will give you more discounts. The tour organizer basically has their own cabin property in the middle of the wilderness near the frozen river 10 km from the edge of Kiruna City Road only accessible by snowmobile. If you are not keen on a tour organizer, you can always check on TripAdvisor to customize your trip plan before reaching Kiruna.

Pro Tip to Plan your trip:

  1. Do not come there unplanned. It is advisable that you do this activity around December – March when the snow piling up. The end of December to January is the coldest month when the rivers are completely frozen. December is way darker with so little sunlight.
  2. However, if you really want to maximize your chance of seeing the Aurora at its peak (KP index above 4) you have to do Aurora forecast research a month in advance and pick a date based on the date. Hopefully, the tour organizer will have an opening slot around that time.
  3. Check out transportation costs at 1-month max in advance the latest to get the optimal price. The earlier is better either Train or Plane. Plane is generally more expensive with tickets more than 1200 sek from Arlanda airport direct to Kiruna. Some airline sometimes has cheap options starting from 700 sek but the flight is not always available every day.
  4. I recommend trying to experience via Train at least once for 14 hours worth of travel. The train is generally cheaper than a plane but if you are not fast enough, it may be sold out quickly and end up at the same price as plane tickets. Overnight trains are usually cheaper, don’t set high expectations for the landscape view since it’s mostly just forest and snow in Winter.
  5. All factors considered, pick your dates and make sure that you have enough time to prepare and rest after the long trip. Since most students will do it in their winter break, expect things to sell out quickly around December/January.
  6. Pack enough winter clothes preparations and a lot of snacks/ proper meals throughout your journey! Being in the cold for long naturally makes you hungrier fast. I recommend bringing 1 backpack for clothes, 1 sling bag for quick access stuff, and 1 additional folded bag for snacks/food.

Start the Train Journey

I went to Kiruna from 19-20 January. Since I used the overnight Train from Uppsala-Kiruna. I needed to start my travel on the 18th night from the Uppsala train station at 7 PM. It was from a Norwegian train company with their classic artic expedition locomotive train that has a sleeping compartment option. The train goes from Stockholm up to Narvik, Norway, and passes through some cities picking up passengers along the way. Here are some pictures of the train vibes. It has a restaurant and bistro that serves some delicacies such as reindeer stew! The train is super warm,it has a toilet for every carriage, WiFi, and a charging slot for every 2 seats~ I spent most of my time watching movies and sleeping.

The journey was planned to last 14-15 hours from Uppsala to Kiruna and It was supposed to be a direct train with no transfer. Unfortunately, due to the extreme weather up to -30 in the north, the locomotive train could not proceed past Umeå-Boden, therefore we needed to transfer to another light-speed train Norrtåg at around 6 AM at Boden. The good thing is, that everything was announced quickly hours before midnight via email and SMS. We also get ticket replacement bookings for the second train. Overall, the train journey was pleasant and filled with a lot of students from everywhere! Unfortunately, there were not many views to see during the night other than the city train stations, nor during the early morning with the constant snowy forest. I safely reach Kiruna at 10 AM.

Arrived, Getting Picked, to the City Edge!

When we arrived at the train station, I was greeted by our tour organizer, and proceeded to put our bags in the car. There I also met another tour participant who went on the same train as us and took the same car. Along the way, our tour guide explained a lot about Kiruna City in general and how it was a super beautiful sunny winter day after a month of also no sunlight in Kiruna. Amazing insights: Kiruna city is collapsing every time due to iron mining activity. A lot of structures in the now-old city began to crack down and left behind. The government decided to move the city alongside its residences into the new city center which officially opened in 2022. The train station was also a temporary one mainly to transport iron goods. Other than the Mining Industry, the people in Kiruna are heavily involved in the city tourism itself.

Once we arrived at the city edge where the city road basically ends. We saw four snowmobiles with carriages and a storage shaft. We were given the option to change our shoes into a way proper winter boots leaving our current boots inside the storage. They also provide winter pants for better isolation if you happen to not wear proper winter pants. It was available for many ranges of shoe sizes and it was super helpful. I took the winter boots only since I already wore my Ski pants.

Snowmobiling Our Way!

After changing, we put our backpacks in one of the snowmobile carriages which is driven by our tour guide. Anyone who knows how to drive and has a driving license may be asked to help drive the other three snowmobiles to our cabin location which is around 10 KM. Meanwhile, the rest of the people will be on the carriage. It was super lovely with the sunlight shining through the way. We went to the forest, frozen swamps, and frozen rivers. We also saw some Moose footprints and wild wolves! Being outside in -28 with the wind breezing as we snowmobile definitely froze our senses, especially the feet! That is why, we occasionally made some stops along the way to heat up ourselves, moving our toes, and taking turns driving.

Arrived at the Cabin!

Once we arrived at 12 PM, we put our stuff in our cabin which is a traditional Sami hut with bunk beds and a seating area that is heated with a traditional wood-burning oven. Not long after that, we were asked to go to the main dining cabin for Moose Stew as lunch (they also provide a vegetarian option). There are multiple cabins with different purposes and also a dedicated cabin for compost toilet 🙂 A wild experience. (Pro tip: always bring tissue / wet tissue/hand sanitizer, will be handy!)

Basic Survival Lessons!

We were taught how to sew, axe, and chop the wood into smaller pieces and did some tag team to sew the big logs to provide our own cabin heat and also for the sauna! We were also taught on how to operate the oven and the sauna with safety precautions. After that, we went to the frozen riverside to also learn how to actually earn water by digging up the frozen lake and gathering the cold water with jugs that we transported to the cabin area again. It is said to be one of the cleanliest rivers on earth since no civilization along the river could tarnish it other than us. You could actually see the very clear river base since it wasn’t deep at all. Everyone got a chance to try to dip their hand in the frozen river in the water gathering sessions. It made my hand and finger numb from the cold for good minutes. We tried to finish all the preparations before running out of sunlight at around 3 PM. After that, we were asked to also book our sauna time (1 hour each per travel group) starting from 6 PM until 11 PM. There were 2 sauna pods, one by the river and one by the forest. I booked my Sauna time at 6 PM before our BBQ dinner at 7 PM. It was actually hard to heat up the Sauna to the maximum heat since we needed to keep the wood burning in the sauna oven and gain enough water vapors.

Dinner and Catching Aurora!

We were looking forward to our BBQ dinner in a special hut. It was sausages, corn, eggplant, rice, beans, marshmallow, and accompanied with marshmallow. Unfortunately, everything was frozen!!! It was still -16 inside the cabin and it was kinda unpleasant that all the food became a bit hard, the water and juices became fully frozen, and the sauces in the containers were all frozen. We decided to bring some leftovers to our sleeping cabin and heat up since the cold was too much to handle. After that, it was pretty much free time for everyone while taking turns getting on the sauna. Some brave souls even did an ice bath before the sauna. We spend the rest of the night waiting for the Aurora by sitting on the riverside. It was -30 constantly and we only lasted for 30 minutes outside, so we went back and forth to check out. All the people and the tour crew communicate via Whatsapp group so it’s super convenient to know schedules and notifications if someone is seeing the Aurora alongside the pictures. We waited until 11 PM according to the forecast. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not on our side that night, it was hard to see it with naked eye. The Aurora was not that strong and you need a long exposure camera to really catch some greens out of it.

Rest and Start Early!

The cabin was still cold, but it was manageable with the duvet and layered clothes. (A sleeping bag is actually quiet handy if you cannot resist the cold). Since we were only there for one night, we tried to squeeze in as many activities as possible from early morning. The cabin provided us with a breakfast box containing bread, ham, butter, and some fruits for us to adjust ourselves. We walked through the riverside during sunrise and discovered that the river was slowly unfrozen in some parts, other people did Cross-country skiing, Air shooting, Sledding, and Ice Fishing. We had a good time taking pictures of the beautiful scenery around the cabin and wore special shoes to walk through frozen rivers. We found many moose trails but didn’t encounter one.

Going back to the city, Cancelled Train!

Around 2 PM we rode the snowmobile back to the city again. I tried the passenger seat this time. It was colder overall since we were heading back with the sun starting to set down. When we arrived back at the storage shaft, everyone scrambled inside the small shaft like sardines due to extreme freezing haha..We waited for our transport while changing the winter boots into our own shoes and returning them. Then we were picked up by car to the city train station not long after. Our Train back was supposed to be at 6 PM but we were told in the morning that it was canceled due to the extreme weather down to -30 and would be changed by bus replacement from Kiruna-Uppsala which was crazy to think about. 

Surprisingly when we arrived by the train station, at 4 PM we got an announcement that the whole bus replacement was canceled due to not sufficient bus to carry all passengers from Kiruna that day. Our whole train transport was rescheduled to the next day morning. Fortunately not with busses. As compensation, we got a one-night hotel+breakfast buffet and 200kr dinner compensation from the company and everything was set down to the ticket replacement. I could not complain about the compensation given and was too tired to change the mode of transport either way, so most of the people traveling back that day also had the same experience as mine. I had to look for taxi from the train station to the hotel since it was quite far. Managed to share it with fellow tourists together. Once arrived, I took a good rest in the hotel and explored the new Kiruna city center a bit to shop for some souvenirs and snacks for the trip home tomorrow.

Finally Heading Back!

As another compensation, the train operator provided us with Bus transportation from the hotel to the train station around 9.45 to catch the train at 10.40. It was like a field trip with a bunch of tourists you did not know before so it was definitely a unique experience since we all suffered together from the cancellations together haha.. Unfortunately with the train going back to Uppsala, we needed to change 3 times from Kiruna – Umeå (6 hours) – Sundsvall (4 hours) – Uppsala (3 hours). It was a bit challenging to sleep with the constant changes and we were running out of proper meals and snacks. But after a long fiasco, I finally reached Uppsala around 12 AM! Thankfully the city bus was still available to my housing

I definitely recommend this trip once in your lifetime to really submerge yourself in the winter wilderness! If you have extra time, you should also discover Abisko National Park one station from Kiruna, and definitely try another Aurora hunting together with friends will make it even more memorable.

Clothing Tips:

  • 3 layers of clothes plus a hooded winter puff/ windbreaker jacket is basically enough. (Longjohn, Heattech Wool shirt, Sweater) Focus on the material.
  • 3 layers of socks minimum and bring some extra in case your feet sweat a lot and frozen inside the winter boots
  • Baklava underneath the Scarf is highly recommended to prevent frozen lips
  • 2 Pair of gloves, (Smartphone touchable gloves, covered with thick mitten glove)
  • Beanie hat and goggles since you will be outside for a long time

Private Housing in Uppsala – By: Daisy

Hello! To go along with my Instagram post I am going to tell you a bit about my experience with finding private housing in Uppsala using Uppsala Bostadsförmedling

note: this is just my experience using it and perhaps it is different than yours

What is Uppsala bostadsförmedling?
It is essentially a nation wide housing queue that attempts to make housing an easy and accessible process for everyone living in Uppsala municipality. 

Once you join the housing queue (which costs 305sek per year) you are able to put your name on waiting lists for different housing options. The longer you are in the queues, the more points you will acquire and therefore you will be in higher priority for housing. 

How to join?
It’s very easy. You just need to sign up on the website using your email address (you can also use your person number if you have one- or add it to your profile once you are here and have one)

You can pay using any type of bank account even if it’s international

NOTE: Make sure to sign up as a student! This gives you access to student only housing and also means that if you sign a contract your housing queue position is unaffected

What next?
You can search for different housing options within Uppsala, such as the amount of rooms, size in m2, price of rent. From then you can ‘express interest’ and join the specific waitlist for that housing option. 

Often there are many people joining the wait lists and some people maybe have been in the queue a lot longer than you but don’t give up hope! Just keep applying to everything you can and eventually you will get lucky. 

My tip would be to apply for as many places as you can, even if it isn’t your dream home. Once you have a place you can continue to apply to more places and move once you get here but it’s better to have somewhere to live than no where to live

Types of contracts:

1: Permanent Contracts 

2: Short term contracts

A permanent contract essentially means that the house is your house, and will be until you decide to move out. In most cases you will not be asked to leave by the rental agency at any point and you can do what you want with the house. If you want to cancel your contract/move out you need to give three months notice. 

A short term contract is a month to month contract where the rental agency is allowed to cancel the contract with only one months notice. This is normally due to planned renovations in the area. This contract also means that you, as the renter, only have to give one months notice if you want to move out. 

My personal experience:
I joined the housing queue in November, before I even knew whether I would be accepted into Uppsala just so I could accumulate as many queue points as possible. I also moved to Uppsala with my best friend and we both joined the queue at the same time. 

As soon as I got my acceptance from Uppsala we started seriously looking at the houses and thought about when we wanted to move (as I am from the UK I needed to get a visa, and the visa states the earliest I was allowed to move to Sweden was the 1st of August). 

It was around about the end of April that I started applying for houses with a move in date in july/august. 

It wasn’t until the first week of June that we secured the number one spot on a waitlist for an apartment. This apartment required an in person viewing but obviously as I was not yet in Sweden, I contacted StudentBoet to ask them if they could attend on my behalf. They agreed and went to the viewing and filmed the apartment for me free of charge. (Note; not all houses require in person viewings, only a few). 

We then confirmed that we wanted the house via Uppsala Bostadsförmedling and we were then put in touch with Rikshem (a rental agency) who we eventually signed our contract with. This apartment was a short term contract. 

We had to sign our contract in person but luckily we were visiting Sweden at the end of June and were able to take the short train ride to Uppsala to sign the contract. (Note: Many places will allow you to digitally sign your contract)

Our contract started on the 1st of July, so we did have to pay a month of rent before we officially moved to Uppsala on August 1st. We did this because  we didn’t want to wait too long and not have anywhere to live so decided it was for the best.

That is essentially my housing story but it differs for each person so do as much research as you can!

I hope this was somewhat helpful. If you have any questions you can ask me, but also Google was my best friend and I found out all the information I needed by googling or contacting the companies directly. There are a lot of resources online which are helpful. I recommend using youtube, reddit and even tiktok to find tips and tricks that perhaps official sources don’t make clear!

Art Tour with Artur – By: Artur

For a few years now, going to museums has been one of my favourite things to do. Whenever I’m travelling, I feel it’s the best way to get to know the city or country I’m visiting. This goes for both art and history museums. It’s a great thing to do whenever you are tired of walking outside, if the weather is not that good, or if you want to spend some time enjoying your own company or having interesting conversations with others. Whenever I’m back home, I like going to museums because they feel like a little vacation to me. It’s as if day-to-day life was halted for a few hours when I can treat myself to a little break. After living here for a semester, Uppsala already feels like home to me, which means it’s time to think about where to go for a little in-city vacation.

Sweden has many incredible museums, most of them in Stockholm. Over the last semester, I’ve visited the National Museum (Nationalmuseet) and the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet), which is probably one of the most impressive historical museums I’ve ever visited. However, visiting museums in Stockholm involves two extra costs: transportation and TICKETS. Yes, all the museums I’ve visited in Stockholm had quite pricy entrance tickets, even for youth and students :’(

But if you are a museum enthusiast like me living in Uppsala or thinking about moving here, don’t get your hopes down just yet! Over the last months, I’ve discovered some fascinating museums in Uppsala. In this text, I want to talk a bit more about two of them, both of which are free: the Bror Hjorths Hus and the Uppsala Konstmuseum. They are both free, close to the city centre and have really interesting art from Sweden and other neighbouring countries.


Where? Norbyvägen 26, Uppsala
When? Thursday-Sunday from 12h to 16h

Bror Hjorth was a famous Swedish artist known mostly for his sculptures but also for producing many paintings. Although he was born in the Northern part of the Upland region, Bror Hjorth settled in Uppsala, where he built his atelier and lived the last years of his life. His work can be found all around Sweden, in some of its most important museums, but also in public monuments, buildings, and churches, among other sites. After his death in 1968, his house and atelier were converted into a museum, opened in 1978, which was later expanded to include another area for temporary exhibits.

Out of the two museums I’m talking about in this post, this was for sure my favourite! Bror Hjorth has a very unique style, mixing techniques, materials, colours or the lack thereof. I specifically liked the human figure sculptures and the large colourful panels he made for various churches around Sweden. Although I’m not the biggest fan of religious art, I think his simple but distinctive representations of people, using very vibrant colours, made for a much-needed relief in the middle of the cold grey and white Swedish winter.

In addition to getting to see Bror Hjorth’s own work and visit his house and atelier, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions. When I went there, it was the opening of a photography exhibit. It showed very Swedish themes set in very different parts of the country and under drastically different weather conditions. It was interesting to see the difference in aesthetics between a cold winter night up North in Kiruna and a hot summer day in the suburbs of Stockholm. The additional exhibition was also free and I’d say it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for when they are opening a new exhibit. You might be lucky enough to get some cookies, candy, and drinks for free 😉

Uppsala Konstmuseum

Where? Drottning Christinas väg 1E, Uppsala (inside the Castle)
When? Tue-Wed 11-17h; Thu 11-20h; Fri-Sun 11-17h

The second museum I visited in Uppsala was the Uppsala Konstmuseum (Uppsala Art Museum). It is located in a very privileged position: inside Uppsala Slottet (the Castle), one of the landmarks of the city. Sitting atop the highest hill in the city, going to this museum also ensures you’ll get some amazing views of the city centre and the countryside surrounding it. Visiting the Castle itself and enjoying the views would already be enough to convince anyone to take the walk there, but the fact that it also hosts the Art Museum makes it an even better plan for in-city tourism.

The museum is located in one of the corners of the Castle and beside the exhibits, it also has a Bar and Café, as well as a museum shop. I got to see pieces of the museum’s permanent collection, including mostly Swedish and Finnish artists. All pieces were curious in their own way, whether beautiful, intriguing, or disturbing, all of them got you thinking about something, which is after all the purpose of art. Unfortunately, when I visited it in January, one of the floors was closed, so I didn’t get to visit all of the permanent exhibits. However, I also heard that the curators are constantly rotating the pieces shown, so each visit is likely to be a unique experience.

The museum seems to be mostly focused on modern and contemporary art, with the temporary exhibits being located on the top floor. When I was there, there was one exhibit by Swedish painter Ingvil Stille which was super interesting. She combines very organic shapes relating to sunlight and shadows with deeply moving portraits, mostly of her family members. According to the program, she is not a lesser-known artist and that is the reason why she was recognized by the Upland’s Art Association as the Artist of the Year in 2023, leading to her work being presented in the Konstmuseum. I think it was a very well-deserved award, as I was very touched by her work and I was glad to see it in such a beautiful museum.

Finally, the remainder of the last floor included other modern and contemporary art pieces. It mixed videos, interactive pieces, as well as paintings in a very captivating way. Furthermore, it was from this floor that you have the best view of the areas around the Castle (see the picture of the Cathedral earlier ^^). Some pieces on this floor were more on the… provocative side of contemporary art, so to speak. Some of them included nudity and other themes which may be sensitive or triggering to some people. Everything is indicated before you enter specific rooms, but I’d advise people who are commonly affected by these themes to be aware of that.

To conclude, I highly recommend visiting both museums! They are unique and special in their own ways and can be a great program for a weekend day, either on your own or with company. Moreover, it’s always good to recognize and support free museums. Visiting them and showing that the community is interested in and engaged with these spaces helps politicians see that free cultural activities are essential for its citizens. As a final message: Support your local museums, support your local artists!

Fika Explained – By: Sofía

Fika, a term deeply embedded in Swedish culture, goes beyond being just a coffee break; fika gives this rather reserved culture a chance to open up with each other and talk. Originating as a time for relaxation with coffee and snacks, Fika has evolved into a meaningful tradition fostering connections in both academic and professional settings.

The important part isn’t the coffee or even the sweet treat, it’s the valuable time spent connecting with others.

To Swedes, fika is something of a ritual. It does typically involve coffee and a sweet pastry, but just as important is the decision to take a deliberate break from your day with others. It’s a chance to relax and enjoy social connection with family, friends, or colleagues. Fika provides a reliable avenue for creating connections, whether it’s getting to know a new acquaintance, bonding with friends, or networking with colleagues. The Fika break becomes an ideal moment to initiate conversations and build relationships, creating a conducive environment for meaningful connections.

During lectures is very common my friends and I take a break and go for some fika. Both students and teachers embrace Fika breaks between lectures, offering a chance to stretch one’s legs, grab a cup of coffee, and engage in casual interactions. Initially perceived as a potential distraction, Fika breaks have been a good way for refreshing the mind, connecting with peers, and even seeking clarification on academic matters.

What constitutes Fika? Typically, it involves coffee and some type of pastry. However, Fika is an inclusive practice; whether you opt for tea, hot chocolate, or even a glass of water, the emphasis lies in coming together. Regardless of your choice—pastries, fruits, nuts, or nothing at all—the essence of Fika is about connecting in a way that suits you, breaking barriers and making connections while embracing diverse preferences.

Now, let me share some tips and classic fika pastries for you to try:

Princess cake (prinsesstårta):
This globe-shaped layer cake is a well-balanced affair, consisting of a light-as-air sponge cake base topped with vanilla pastry cream and lashings of fluffy whipped cream. This deliciousness is enrobed in green marzipan, often with a pink marzipan rose as the crowning glory.

Credits: Magnus Carlsson/

Kladdkaka (Sticky chocolate cake):
Kladdkaka, which translates to “sticky cake”, is a delicious chocolate cake with a rich flavor balanced perfectly with whipped cream and/or fresh berries.

Credits: Magnus Carlsson/

My favorite of the season! A small, wheat flour bun, flavored with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream, an icon in Sweden.

Kanelbulle (cinnamon bun):
Last but not least, the cinnamon bun (‘kanelbulle’) has a definite place in the fika hall of fame. You won’t have to look hard for it in Sweden, this classic is served up in most cafés and bakeries.

Credits: Alexander Hall/

As you embark on your Swedish academic journey, embrace Fika as more than just a break; consider it a gateway to meaningful connections. From networking opportunities to fostering friendships, Fika acts as a bridge bringing people together. So, whether you’re sipping coffee, tea, or enjoying a snack of your choice, remember that Fika is your invitation to connect, share, and create lasting memories.

The next time someone says, “Let’s go for a Fika,” you’ll know exactly what to do…