Author: Guestblogger (Page 1 of 13)

The Quest for Milk! – By: Samantha

After having lived here in Sweden for a few months, grocery shopping is going pretty smooth. But one thing I always have to be very careful with is buying milk! Here in Sweden, they have a variety of milk, which can be great, but can also make it very difficult for internationals like me to know which milk to pick and if you aren’t careful, you might end up with sour milk (filmjölk)!

So, to help you on your quest for milk, here is a short guide of the types of milk in Sweden.

Mjölk: this is the Swedish word for good old regular milk. There are four different kinds of milk:

⦁ Minimjölk: this is milk with the least amount of fat; less than 0,1%
⦁ Lättmjölk: lätt means light and is comparable to skimmed milk with 0,5% fat
⦁ Mellanmjölk: mellan means middle and this milk has 1,5% fat
⦁ Standardmjölk or just Mjölk: this is the fattest option of milk and has 3% fat
Filmjölk, also known as Fil: this is a Swedish fermented milk and is very sour. If you are looking for regular milk, avoid fil at all cost! But if you’re interested in fil, there are different flavors such as raspberry, vanilla, etc. Also, Fil comes in three fat options:

⦁ Lättfil: which is 0,5% fat
⦁ Mellanfil: which is 1,5% fat
⦁ Standardfil or just Filmjölk: which can be between 2,7 to 3% fat

Laktosfri mjölk: Sweden also has a huge variety of lactose-free products, including milk. Usually lactose-free products have their own section, so you don’t have to look for lactose-free milk between regular milk. When looking for lactose-free milk, just look for products which say Laktosfri. Lactose-free milk comes in the same fat options as regular milk. They also have lactose-free fil, but again if you are looking for milk avoid the word fil at all costs! Even if it says filmjölk, do not be fooled, it is still filmjölk!

Still confused? Take the quiz!

Partnership for the goals: Staying afloat from afar – By: Onyinye

This isn’t really about the Sustainable Development Goals!

Like many prospective student who finally gets a chance to be admitted into a reputable institution of learning amidst the competition for the available spaces and uncompromising admission criteria, I was overjoyed by that realization and was looking forward to finally studying in Sweden in the autumn of 2021, precisely at the oldest university in all of Sweden. The Uppsala University asides other interest is known for its rich cultural background, stimulating research environment and participatory student involvement. But sometimes, the route to a desired destination is not always a straight and easy one, and this applied to me in this context.

You might be tempted to ask if I got admitted to study my course of choice, Oh! Yes I did. Did I also travel to Sweden to study? Not yet as I am currently still in my home country Nigeria awaiting a decision from the Migration agency as regards processing of my study permit. I am very hopeful and still keeping my fingers crossed for a positive response. This delay was partly due to the late approval for my proposed study leave at my previous place of employment and challenges with study permit and visa application payment done online. Hence, I was caught in the web of study permit processing time as detailed by the migration office.

I was fortunate to have my first module starting via zoom. This was scheduled for about 2 months beginning in August, so this gave me ample time to familiarize with my course mates. This interaction was not only pertaining to course work but also getting to know most of them on a personal level including their families. As scheduled, physical classes were expected to commence in the last week of October and to my dismay I still wasn’t ready to leave for Sweden. I was torn in between taking a decision to defer the programme or just totally opting out of it completely, but as a fee-paying international student the second option was not an agreeable one. Though not currently out of the woods yet as I write, but I have come to realize that anything is possible if only you put your mind to it.

Before the face to face classes commenced, I had notified every concerned personnel about my predicament and course mates alike, so everyone was in the know to an extent. I wrote personally to all the class teachers for the next module, informing them officially about my absence from the classes with recommendations on possible ways to go about the compulsory lectures, group work, presentations and seminars knowing fully well that attendance and participation was an important part of the grading system at the university. The teachers were very supportive and proffered flexible ways of ensuring that I continued in my studies. This was majorly because it was observed that I was making some efforts too to remain afloat. Hence, lecture slides were uploaded timely on the learning platform so I could access them sometimes before the lecture date, explanations on study materials were summarized by close course mates via remote calls, zoom and other agreeable social media platform. Group members made group meetings very flexible so that I could be a part of it and interestingly, I am ‘zoomed’ into real time class activities and group presentation so that I can also get a ‘feel’ of what transpired during compulsory sessions.

There are really wonderful people in Uppsala University and I am glad to be associated with it. Hopefully, when I am set to travel to Sweden, I shall take my turn in the “taggedforuppsala” intagram takeover for the week and share more experiences. Till then, keep networking!!!

/Onyinye

Moving to Sweden with your Pet – By: Samantha

When I moved to Uppsala, I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving my best feline friend behind. I knew from the moment I applied to Uppsala University that I’d be taking my cat with me. But how does that work? What do I need to do? What does my cat need to do? Is it even possible? Well, yes, it is!

In this blog post I’ll tell you all about the steps I needed to take to bring my cuddly friend with me to Uppsala.

Before my flight to Uppsala, my cat had to fulfill certain requirements. I looked up these requirements online and came across the website of the Swedish Board of Agriculture. On the website I found all the requirements needed. My cat had to be insured and be vaccinated. She especially needed to be vaccinated against rabies at least 3 weeks before traveling. She also needed to be ID-chipped and of course have her own passport. So, I went to my veterinarian and got everything sorted out.

Next thing to do was to book a flight for her and I, and try to get her to fly in the cabin with me. This all depends on the airline you are flying with; mine was KLM. My cat isn’t that big or heavy, so I booked a flight where she could fly with me inside the cabin, yay! However, this really depends on your airline and of course the size of your pet. Many airlines do not allow pets inside their cabin area so check their websites carefully.

Now, of course, I had to prepare my cat and myself for the flight. For the flight I had to buy a bag with the exact measurements offered by the airline. If the bag is smaller than the measurements, there is no issue. But if its too big, the pet won´t be able to fit in-between your legs in the cabin and would have to be put with the luggage instead ☹

I also had to make sure she got used to the bag before the flight, so I bought the bag a few weeks before flying to get her used to being in the bag. Sometimes she even slept in the bag. For the flight itself, I also got her a Beaphar de-stressing collar with valerian and lavender scent. This scent calms cats down so they won´t be too stressed on a flight or whatever else you need your pet to be calm for. It’s also very important to not let your pet eat a few hours before the flight to avoid any “accidents” on the flight. So, I took her food away the night before the flight. Your pet can still drink water until about 4 hours before the flight.

But before flying to Uppsala, I had to complete the hardest step of this entire process; finding an accommodation that would allow pets. Most student housing, if not all, do not allow pets. I was also moving to Sweden with my partner, so finding a student appartement for two and a cat wasn’t really manageable. That means I had to look elsewhere.

I started my search on Google and also asked @taggedforuppsala some tips on finding an accommodation elsewhere. This eventually led me to three places:

  1. Blocket.se
  2. Facebook
  3. Uppsala Bostadsförmedling

To start, blocket.se is a website where you can buy and sell many second-hand things, however it can also be useful for finding an accommodation. When looking for a place to stay on the website, you can filter your location, but you can also add in the filters that you want a place that allows pets. That’s what I did and there were loads of options for me to choose from. But they were sadly either too small for us and a cat, too expensive, or only short-term. So, I continued my search elsewhere, Facebook!

On Facebook, many people offer many accommodations but its very competitive, and usually you have to still apply through another website. Also, there are many scammers on Facebook so I decided this wouldn’t be the best place to find an accommodation for my partner, my cat and I. This eventually led me to Uppsala Bostadsförmedling. This website offers you housing all over Uppsala, but also in counties outside of Uppsala but still nearby. It offers student housing, retirement homes, and, of course, also normal appartements and many of those appartements allow pets. The only issue with this website is that it works with a queue, and it is very competitive. So, you have to sign up fairly early to secure a good spot in a queue. I signed up a bit early, around January, to look for an appartement for July/August. It took many applications, lots and lots of patience, and of course lots of time to find an appartement suitable for all of us. I stood in the queue for about 40-50 accommodations, each time being in the queue line starting from place 50-100 and eventually not getting even close to getting them. But eventually, after months of stalking the website, I finally managed to apply for an appartement and came first in the queue for it! When you´re first in the queue, the people of the accommodation eventually contact you and ask you for some information. If you meet all the requirement, you´re all set!

So, with an accommodation set, my flight set, and my cat completely vaccinated and ready to fly; we flew to Sweden. At the airport from where I was traveling from, I had to show my cat’s passport, and get my cat and her bag searched. Inside the airport my cat could be let out of her bag, but my cat didn’t like how crowded it was, so in the bag she stayed. I also had to check-in my cat at the gate before flying to let the crew know my cat is joining us on this flight. During the flight, my cat wasn’t allowed out of the bag, but she could stay on my lap inside the bag. But during take-off and landing she needed to stay in-between my legs, like a carry-on bag would, for her and my own safety.

When we landed at Arlanda airport, I had to show them her passport again, but my cat didn’t need to be searched and we could easily leave the airport and finally start our journey in Sweden together When leaving the airport, I had to get my cat and I to the appartement. I did not want to take my cat on a train and bus ride home. So, I took an uber instead to have a comfortable ride to our appartement.

It´s important to note, that just like you might need time to adjust to this new foreign country, it might also take some time for your pet to adjust to a new country, home and climate. They will also be very tired from the flight and travelling. So let your pet rest and explore their new surroundings slowly and when they are ready. And most importantly, give them lots of love! My cat took about a week to really adjust to her new home and her new surroundings, but now she loves it here. So, be patient. It will all be fine.

It´s also important to note, that once you get your Swedish personal number, register your pet at the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible. They might have cheaper insurance plans for your pet, but it´s also always great to have your pet registered at a veterinarian if anything goes wrong and to have their yearly check-up. At the veterinarian they can also change the address on your pet´s ID-chip to your Swedish address, but you could also do this yourself online in case your Swedish personal number is taking too long.

So, to summarize everything. The steps needed to take your pet with you are the following:

  1. Check the requirements for your pet on the Swedish Board of Agriculture website
  2. Find accommodation for you and your pet
  3. Book a flight
  4. Check flight requirements
  5. Prepare for the flight
  6. Fly
  7. Register your pet at the nearest veterinarian
  8. Enjoy Sweden with your pet

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a bit about how to take your furry friend with you on your trip to Sweden 😊 I´m so happy to have her here with me.

/Samantha Angela

The Value of Fellowship – By: Carlos

I want to tell you about two recent experiences I had and how I found they relate to each other. The first one is about a cycling trip I made with other students, and the second one is about a group assignment that ended last week. Let’s start with the cycling trip. There was a social event in an adjacent island called Fårö. To reach it, you have to take a ferry that has a departing point of about 60km northeast of Visby.

When I found out that there was a small group that was going on their bikes, I was immediately interested. I thought it would be a great opportunity to know more about the island and exercise at the same time. It did worry me that the distance was much longer than anything I did before. I usually only cycle to campus and back (about 2km) and 60km seemed too much, even on the “mostly flat” island of Gotland. After a day or two of thinking about it, I decided to embrace the challenge and told the group that I was joining them. Two of them belonged to my programme, so I knew them, but it was the first time I met the rest.

We got together at 8 in the morning and started our journey. Soon, after a short but steep hill, I started thinking that I might be out of my element. I was already getting tired, and we were on the first 5km only. One of the guys, that had the most experience cycling, reassured me by saying that that was the hardest hill we were going to face, so I continued. That wasn’t the last time I got tired and felt like I wasn’t going to make it, but the beautiful scenery, my desire to reach the destination, and, most importantly, the fact that everyone else was still pedaling, prevented me from quitting.

I will rush on the second story so we can get to the important part. On the second assignment that we had, a girl that was part of our group had to travel and lost the first gathering. This made it a lot harder for her to do her part of the work and she became increasingly frustrated. Two days before we had to hand in the document, she told us that she just couldn’t finish her part. After that, the group got together and we help her finish.

So, what’s the point and how do my two stories relate to each other? In both cases, the goal was achieved not on an individual level, but on a group level, even if the individual did most of the work (nobody pedaled for me). This is where fellowship comes to play. Anybody who is next to you pursuing the same thing is a fellow of yours. Even if it doesn ́t develop into a friendship, fellowship has value on its own, and once you have realized that you can actively make the most out of it.

By deciding to be part of a group, be it a cycling group or a master’s degree, you have already taken a big first step: you are putting yourself in a situation where you will have to work alongside many and keep up. The psychological effect of that is tremendous and will help you unleash your potential. A second step can be to take the initiative and ask others (that you regard as competent) to compare works, ask how they did it, or don’t hesitate and simply ask for advice. The girl in our group did and we were all happy to help her. Everyone in the cycling group was also happy to take a break and just chat for a minute if I needed it. Thanks to that, and the other positive components of fellowship, I endedup cycling not the initial 60km, but 83km to reach my destination. I am sure it can help you to get to yours.

Dear International Student, Be Kind to You – By: Joan Ilebode

It is easy to move through spaces and moments in life thinking you could do better or be better. Now what is hard is taking a beat and acknowledging what you’ve done, and patting yourself on the back. Perhaps we expect that from friends, family, and society but it is very important to do it for ourselves. Moving to a new country is a big change and if you took a couple of gap years to recharge & relax, travel, or work after undergrad, then I’d say getting back into studies is no walk in the park, at least for me.

It is so exciting to get the opportunity to move abroad and to study a course you have been dreaming about but it can be incredibly stressful to find a rhythm. You might be having a lot of expectations of yourself, eager for everything to come together at once but I want you to know this could take longer than you might have thought, however, everyone moves at different paces. As an international student, moving is not just about what you will be doing within your university program but you are going to experience a range of things on different levels. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • The experience of hearing a new language.
  • The experience of new road networks/places you need to memorize.
  • The experience of new food and finding what you are familiar with.
  • The experience of locals who seem to breeze smoothly through spaces because they are used to it.
  • Perhaps the experience of study routines and patterns not developing as quickly as you want them to.

It’s important to acknowledge that you are not just studying 24/7 but also taking care of your health, diet, hobbies, new connections, present relationships, world events, engaging in new things, trying to grow, and challenge yourself. If you ask me that is a lot to be taking in. When I first got to Uppsala, I was so eager to know all the cute corner street cafes, places with the best student discounts, the picturesque sceneries because if I wasn’t, I felt like I was missing out on something I moved so far away to experience. Sometimes the expectation to let loose and be in the moment can be a source of anxiety.  

So dear reader, I hope that you can relate to some of the pain points I mentioned because here comes the cavalry – some tips I hope will give you a breather and save you undue stress. I’m sure by now it is no news to you that the level of preparation it takes to embark on this journey is immense, hectic with a lot of moving parts. In my case, I took all the stress from leaving home and let it spill all over my new experience, and I certainly would not want you radiating that same energy into your brand new environment. Sure, we are bound to make mistakes, but a friend of mine once told me “don’t make the same old mistakes, make new ones.” J So here are my two cents on what to do to fend off some anxiety that could creep in ever so often before your trip or when you are settling in.

  • Before you leave your home country, take a few days after packing and organizing your trip to completely wind down and rest. A few days of doing absolutely nothing.
  •  You may not realize this but you are taking on a lot, so acknowledge that and go at your pace and no one else’s.
  • Invest in your self-trust, trust yourself enough not to overthink activities you should be part of or getting through the texts assigned by your professor. Trust yourself enough to know you will do your best.
  • Take it easy on yourself and let your mind catch up with your body or vice versa.
  • Take pictures of yourself, new and old things, your room before you decorate it, the first bus stop you stood at, a view of the airfield before you landed in Sweden for the first time… Why? It gives you a sense of how far you have come and gives you a lift to know you are growing and doing great. It’s also great to look back on your early days, like a sort of nostalgic savings account you will appreciate later 😉

We may often forget, amid coursework and our day-to-day activities but if you need to hear it one more time I’m here to say it, “Dear international student, be super kind to you!”

/Joan

Surviving your Thesis: 7 Tips to Keep Breathing – by Fausia

Ankle deep in sorting out literature and methods for your thesis, analysing whatever it is you are analysing, and what not. At the same time, working on the last courses and busy writing your thesis? That can sometimes cause quite a bit of stress. Frankly, it is causing a lot of stress. Mid-term exams are coming up in a week or so. For some that means, your courses will be finished, meaning – exams, course work, and papers need to be done before the end of March 2021. I thought it would be interesting to update and expand my knowledge on the topic I am writing my thesis on. This meant working full time, writing a thesis for the zillionth degree, volunteering, and on top of that taking some extra classes. Judging by the hyperventilating fellow students I had on the phone over the last days, including my own teary calls made, the following 7 tips might lead to optimal results without crashing on the floor.

  1. Choose a topic that interests you. Writing a thesis on a topic that doesn’t really interest you is incredibly difficult. It quickly feels boring and you become less productive. I hope my previous blog post on choosing a topic was useful! If you are stuck with a topic which lets you crawl under your desk, or binge watch Grey’s Anatomy one more time, talk with your supervisor! No shame in changing your topic. The news might be of inspiration.

  2. Make a scheduleSince things always come up that you cannot foresee, it is necessary to allow plenty of time in your planning for the things you need to do. If something comes up, you still have enough time to get everything done. I went as crazy to even plan in my weekly social time, and the necessary feeding slots. Or the lil’ breaking down to question why you decided to take all these extra courses, or do this degree in general. I have to say, it is working out for me.
  1. Keep in touch with your thesis supervisor. Do not hesitate to email your supervisor about all the questions you have, after all, a supervisor is there to support you in writing your thesis! It seems my fellow students are ranging from having supervisors who start with stating, they have no clue about the topic so they will learn along the way, to getting an exhaustive literature list send to them, to enthusiasts who advise them on every step of the way. I think my own supervisor is becoming my next best friend for the coming months.

  2. Apply a clear structure and layout to your thesisMake an outline for yourself in which chapters and topics you want to divide your thesis, you will see that writing becomes a lot easier. It helps you to stay focused as you only have to search for information per sub-topic. You will see that in this way it remains clear for yourself what you are doing. I bought a special notebook with tabs in there, using every tab for a chapter to keep my notes structured and findable.
  1. Sort your sources from step one. Immediately file the sources you are using in a bibliography. Immediately place footnotes and state clearly for yourself which page numbers or considerations in the source you use for your thesis. This way you prevent that at a certain point you no longer see the wood for the trees and end up committing plagiarism. 
  1. Read the documents you write regularly. You will see that you will run into a lot of mistakes. Writing and rewriting often makes you overlook language errors. A beautifully written thesis without spelling mistakes is half the battle! Also, do not shy away of using an editing service once you are done.You do not want anyone to be distracted from your amazing research.
  1. Keep your cool and do not forget breaks. As mentioned before, you become less sharp after a long time behind your computer. If you take regular breaks, you will see that you are much more productive and do better quality work – and it reduces stress. There are a lot of helpful apps out there if you need some support with that. Healthy stress is good, it keeps you productive and sharp. It is also not bad at all if you sometimes get stuck and do not know how to proceed. Do not give up! 

Surviving your Thesis: Literature Review – by Fausia

Thesis crisis diverted; topic approved. Approved? Enthusiastically welcomed in this case. You know what you want to do and will do it well. Right? Ok, so you have a research question. You handed in your preliminary thesis proposal and did some compulsory assignments for your thesis.

You also looked up all the necessary information to answer that question. Or better said, you have found a ton of information you think is useful but nowhere near possible to even read it all before having to finalize your end product.

With snow gently floating down from the sky behind my windows, I find my way through the amount of articles, books and hastily scribbled down notes on the floor. The sources are sacred. 

Another source of stress immediately emerges: what will my sources be? Anyone who has to write a thesis cannot avoid doing a literature search – using scientific literature and other relevant sources. 

With Covid19 affecting our lives, prohibiting most of us to do any form of field research, many might be basing your thesis on existent literature. Your thesis will therefore not be much more than a number of logically collected and bundled sources. So you might think.

Those sources better be good, but what is good? Or rather: what is good enough? And how to interpret them and give it a unique swing. Whether a literature study-based thesis or more practice-oriented ones, literature research often forms the basis for the realization of your problem analysis. 

You collect existing knowledge about your subject in books, scientific articles and also, for example, in theses or archive material. What is already known about the topic and what are the unanswered questions? 

Uploaded by: AFP News Agency, Jul 8, 2019 / UNSMIL deputy head Stephanie Williams at the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, Tunis, Tunisia, Nov. 9, 2020. (Reuters) / Yemen’s foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani (left) and head rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam (right) shake hands under the eyes of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during talks in Rimbo, north of Stockholm, on December 13 (AFP)

For me, the feeling that I am missing an important source is a cause for stress. It is only good enough when I have at least read everything that is reasonably available to me. In addition, I come across many obscure books and articles, especially books. 

An additional advantage of this is that I estimate the chance that my supervisor will look up those peculiar once and therefore expect that he will assume that I am representing the source correctly for the sake of convenience. In my case, I am going to analyse recordings and materials of peace processes within a certain setting and time frame.

Having material in different languages from non-mainstream media equals peculiar little books. So I thought. My supervisor with sheer enthusiast: “Oh, great, you speak all the source languages! We will have even more interesting findings. Make sure you transliterate, and preferably also translate all of it so one of our colleagues can double-check.” Whomp, whomp.

Your literature search is not a simple collection of literature, but a thorough orientation. A critical discussion of the data found then leads to your problem analysis, and answering questions or hypotheses. What?

A theoretical framework. Literature research is the basis of this theoretical framework, in which you lay the scientific basis for your research. Concepts, theories, ideas, and models relevant to your research – all part of it.

I cannot stress how important it is to have the right supervisor. The theoretical framework I thought to be probably useful, was quickly shaped into a perfect three-way angle in one meeting. Many students forget the bulk of thesis should be the analysis. It is like the burger part of, well, your burger.

Stick to 25% of your work to be theoretical framework and introduction. No pressure of compressing it all in a couple of pages. My windowsill currently contains nine kilos of dead tree, which I will use to write up to four pages – minus acknowledgements.

Another option is reverse engineering: you come up with an answer to your research question and search for the sources that support this answer. 

Whatever style of source research you use, there is one golden rule for the highest mark: Use the literature that your supervisor has published on this subject. Or better yet, researchers from the department. 

He or she is only made of flesh and blood and has subjective feelings, too. Don’t forget, at Uppsala University, your supervisor does not grade your thesis! In the end, you need to ask yourself the question: “Do you write a thesis to contribute to the scientific debate or to solve a problem as effectively as possible, or to obtain the highest possible mark?” With master’s behind me, my goal is to contribute to my field. Hopefully, that does not exclude graduating cum laude.

/Fausia

Survive your Thesis Writing: Choosing a Topic – By Fausia

At the time of writing this blog, the first month of 2021 has come to an end. The holidays are now really behind us – the world has said goodbye to 2020 and ‘normal’ life has started again. Here at Uppsala University we have said hello to a whole new semester. That is, if we do not consider the poor suckers who had a month-course over the holidays which was their beginning of semester 2… a.k.a. me.

Since the end of the last course, which was only half of Januarys, I have found myself finally in the luxury position that I only need to write our thesis to complete the master’s in Religion in Peace and Conflict. There is a bit of a rush, because I would like to graduate with the rest of our group in May.

However, I am determined to graduate in the famous halls of Uppsala University so graduation will be depending on the pandemic. So, there is thesis stress. A thesis should be the crowning glory of your programme.

In fact, it is probably the single somewhat important part of your curriculum and with most of us doing this programme being professionals having different reasons of why to do this master’s it requires a little bit more thought. You cannot be the so-and-so of a renowned organisation and publish a crappy thesis, right? Nor will it help you make a career switch. 

It must be done well.

The thesis stress starts long before a possible deadline comes in sight, even well before the actual writing. Why? You have to choose a topic! In principle any subject is allowed in the master’s phase, for us it means as long as you bring in an element connected to religion.

As most RPC students have very different academic backgrounds, shaped over the years by personal and professional experience, the topics chosen are also very broad. The idea that as many options as possible promotes creativity is strongly felt… and strongly increases the insecurity and stress. 

Any topic with a religious element offers an infinite number of areas and issues that can be investigated, an infinite number of spaces that can be entered. Is the student now expected to inexorably slam the door of an infinite number of spaces minus one? Yes, apparently.

However, it gives the opportunity to choose something exactly fitting your goals. A wrongly chosen topic that must be changed later on leads to a waste of time and should therefore be avoided. The subject must be good, but what criteria must a subject meet to be good? 

First of all, the subject must of course be interesting, which is completely subjective and certainly not enough. The subject must not be milked out, but there must be something to be found about it. It must be specific, but comprehensive enough to transcribe a full thesis.

Preferably, the subject also has some practical or current value to show your academic skills as a specialist in whatever field. For a really good thesis, your research topic has an interdisciplinary dimension which is exactly what our entire program is focused on.

Add a possibility for some self-conducted original research material, and you have the perfect thesis topic. Sounds simple, does it not? As stress was adding, I proposed a weekly zoom thesis meeting to the group to keep each other sane and on track. Apparently, it was not that simple.

In my case I was not even sure if I would be allowed to write my 30 ects thesis as I waited for my last grades to trickle in. An ulcer and confirmation later, I was sure what to write about. I think. Bringing together all my interests, previous programmes, personal and professional experiences just pushed out a readymade topic.

For me, the trick for fine tuning the topic was to be current so just put on the news and zapped through till my topic came up and adapted it. And, to choose something not entirely done before which it turned out to be, so it has some value in the near future. Will it be accepted, however?

February will switch the thesis development to full gear and, of course, I will hear from my brilliant supervisor if my proposal will be approved. Or not. I have now made peace with my own subject, which felt like a big bump. Thesis stress has been averted for now, but undoubtedly not definitively.

/Fausia

Tips for Managing Your Life and Studies – By Sara

Oh, the life of a student. You end up feeling like you are juggling your studies, friends, and your own needs all at once, hoping it won’t all come tumbling down at the same time. I’ve started to get the hang of balancing all of my responsibilities, educational and social alike with a few tricks I’ve learned worked for me.

Laundry and Readings
Do your laundry on the same day you need to do your literature readings. I’ve learned that not only do readings vary in length, but also in how interesting they are. Either way, you will have literature to read, so taking short breaks as you go and check on your laundry will feel suddenly like something you look forward to doing. This means you will not only have good smelling clothes again, but you will get your mind off of studying for a bit!

Self-Care and Studying
I always feel better when I take some time to do a little self-care at one point in the busy week. You naturally feel better when you are taking care of yourself and doing what makes you feel refreshed. Personally, I found that by doing a face or hair mask while studying has been very effective.

Avoid Social Media Distractions
Social media can be a major distraction when trying to study, so consider turning off all of your notifications and set an alarm on your phone instead. You can check your social media notifications every half an hour or hour (depending on how much self-control you have). I even turn off my phone once in a while if I am catching myself procrastinating by watching dogs on Instagram for longer than 15 minutes.

Rewards and Treats
When you finish a reading, you should reward yourself! You do deserve it since readings can be quite long and painful to finish, so when you do, eat something that you will bring you joy! Maybe you crave pizza, a cinnamon bun, or chocolate? No matter what food or dessert you choose to celebrate finishing a reading with, enjoy every bite!

Clean up
Getting rid of the physical clutter around you can get rid of the mental clutter that you have been dealing with that’s been making you procrastinate. Now, I don’t mean for you to spend the whole day distracting yourself by inspecting every inch of your home and meticulously cleaning. What I recommend is that you choose a place in your home to clean, such as your kitchen or bedroom. Pick a place where you tend to study the most and clean that specific area until it is clutter free. Now, you are ready to study and you’ve cleaned!

Social Food and Studying
Whether itis on campus or in someone’s home, eating with a friend and fulfilling the social need you have is just as important as studying. You might even be able to get some inspiration for what to write for your paper or assignment while talking about it with a friend. If you fill your stomach, then your brain will be ready to be filled with knowledge.

Fulfilling your social needs and educational responsibilities doesn’t mean you need to choose one over the other. You can manage both your life and studies using the tricks I’ve learned along the way. Now, itis your turn to try them out!

Cheers,
/Sara Mohamadi

5 Ways to Survive the Swedish Winter Blues – By Melissa

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… except maybe it doesn’t feel that way if you’re new to the Swedish climate, where each day gets darker and shorter during winter. I come from Mexico, which you can guess is pretty much sunny all year, so if you think the darkness and cold are making you feel a little bit blue, you are definitely not alone. There are actually some common symptoms of SAD –and no, I don’t mean sadness– I actually mean Seasonal Affective Disorder. Trust me, it’s a thing!

To be more specific on how shorter days and reduced sunlight can impact our mood, the following are some of the usual symptoms:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Sleeping more
  • Sadness
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Low energy
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Appetite changes, cravings, weight gain
  • Becoming less sociable
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities
  • Neglecting your own needs

While experiencing SAD often makes these symptoms last for several weeks or months, the good news is that that there’s something you can do to beat the winter blues!

1. Lighten up with some light

Light therapy is one of the main ways to combat the winter blues. Special SAD lamps or light boxes can be bought online, just search for “light therapy lamp” or “ljusterapilampa” in Swedish. Sessions for as short as 30 minutes per day can have a significant impact on your mood and energy levels. For an extra dose of sunshine, try opening blinds and curtain and sitting closer to windows during the day.

2. Get moving

This next solution is easy and free: fresh air and exercise. Take advantage of the beautiful forests all around Sweden by taking a walk or a run outside, especially if there is some sunlight. On days when you don’t feel like going out or the weather isn’t that great, you can try doing a workout session at home. There are tons of videos on YouTube for yoga, kickboxing, cardio, Zumba, you name it! Aim to exercise at least 3-4 times a week for 30-60 minutes. You can start slow, but the important part is starting. You might even get a friend to join you!

3. Drink plenty of water

Captured by Melissa Cantú

Yes, this is usually a thing we keep in mind during summer, but don’t forget to get plenty of fluids when the weather turns cool, too. Drinking too little water can slow down your metabolism and make you feel tired and cause headaches. Also, cranking up the heater can dry your skin, so some extra water will certainly be appreciated by your body.

4. Keep an eye on your diet

Credits: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se

With fika sweets and Christmas treats in every corner (I’m looking at you, pepparkakor), it can be hard to keep a healthy diet. If you want to stay fit and healthy during this season, focus on vitamin-rich and seasonal meals that strengthen your immune system, such as green vegetables and legumes. Some of the typical Swedish good-mood foods include eggs, pumpkin, horseradish, wild-caught fish (salmon, herring, trout) and mushrooms.

5. Listen to music

Music is a great way to boost your mood, whether you listen to your favorite tracks or play an instrument. Studies have shown that music can stimulate the production of the “feel-good” hormone serotonin and have a positive effect on your mental health. If you’re feeling jolly, you can listen to some Christmas songs, which always cheer me up. And since we are in the land of ABBA, don’t be surprised if you end up transforming into a Dancing Queen (or King) and get those endorphins going!

That’s it! I hope these tips help you survive the beautiful, yet harsh, Swedish winter. Do you have any tips for coping with the winter? Be sure to share them on the comments section below!

/Melissa Cantú

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