Author: Guestblogger (Page 1 of 12)

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!”


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.


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.


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!

/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/

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

Royal Mounds – Where Heaven takes a place on Earth – By Mustakim

It’s been nearly two months since I arrived in Sweden. I had been looking for an opportunity to pay a visit at Royal Mounds in Gamla Uppsala and make myself feel being one step closer to The Vikings era. It’s been fascinating for me to learn or know anything about Vikings since I was a kid. Therefore, moving to The Land of Varangians was like a dream come true. Vikings from Sweden were called Varangians.

I know you must be still wondering about the title of this blog and why I compared this place to Heaven. There are three large barrows or mounds in Gamla Uppsala, which are called Royal Mounds. Ancient mythology says that three gods, ODIN, THOR & FREYR lying or resting in Kungshögarna or Royal Mounds. I believe that this place doesn’t need any other reason to be called a piece of heaven on earth. According to Ynglinga Saga, three legendary kings were buried in these mounds, which is the reason for calling them Royal Mounds.

Gamla Uppsala is outside of the main town, and it takes only half an hour to go there by cycle from Flogsta. If anyone wants to take the bus, then they have to go to Vaksalagatan and take Bus no. 2 or Central Station and from there Bus no 101.
I was expecting for a sunny day, but the clouds were too busy to let any sunshine touch the ground. At least, it wasn’t raining, which is why I felt blessed. Maybe, Odin wanted me to visit him.

We never know! Me and one of my best friends, we went there together. I am pretty sure my silly excitement bothered him a bit
sometimes, but he didn’t complain. When we arrived in that little village, I felt a spiritual vibe, and it was so strange. We were entering into Gamla Uppsala there was no way we could miss that ancient Church tower. It has been there for more than nine hundred years!

While we were walking down the road and I was looking for those mounds, one minute seemed like an hour for me! I was looking around me and acting like a thirsty crow looking for a sign of water! Suddenly I saw a signboard which was nearby the Church. We knew that this must be the way. We came closer to the sign, and my eyes caught that little piece of HEAVEN on earth! I couldn’t waste my time to stand there to read that signboard. I left my friend while he was reading it and went to see these mounds. I wasn’t sure how long I had been looking at those
mounds until I heard my friend was telling me something. It gave me goosebumps just thinking about Odin, Thor and Freyr are resting in these mounds though it’s just a myth!

It’s been more than a thousand years and it still feels exciting when you think about that you’re in a historical place which was very important for the Vikings in terms of politics, religion or even for their economy. I hardly take my picture with anything but this time I couldn’t resist myself from taking some photos with these mounds. Who knows, maybe when my friend was taking my pictures with these mounds, Odin or Thor also wanted to give some poses with me to be in the pictures. We spent a while around the Royal mounds and then started walking by
the other little mounds. It’s nice to see that they built a nice fence around these mounds so that people can’t go up and ruin its natural beauty! While we’re going down further, we saw some people came here to run, some of them maybe took a walk with their dogs and kids. On our way, when we looked left, I was able to see the whole Uppsala city from there.

We’re just following other people and kept going. The weather wasn’t that bad while the Sun was kind of playing hide and seek with clouds which were also pretty enjoyable to watch. I love the cold weather, which is the reason I don’t want to complain even though we were getting hit by cold breezes later. While we kept walking, suddenly we saw a little mound and there are lots of stones with different sizes of places in different places of that mound. We went up to see what are those all about and found out this is a meditation spot though no one took that risk to
meditate there in that cold weather.

There was a nice bench to sit down and enjoy that amazing view of Uppsala city. The other side of that mound didn’t have any pathway to go down, just a little forest, but we could see another side of the mountain and people were walking down there. Suddenly I started walking through that little grove and thinking maybe I am the only one who is going down through this way in the last thousand years. I know I wasn’t, but it was nice to get the imagination going before my friend found out there was an old way to go down the mound.

Now, we’re on the other part of those mounds. Suddenly we saw a signboard about the water source of Uppsala city. When we went down a little bit further away, we saw a place which is one of the places throughout the city from where they pump up groundwater to the drinking water treatment plants. It was very interesting to know about all this and see that place.

There was another mound and we went up to see that spectacular sight. You can imagine it by just closing your eyes and think it’s that time when the sun is going down and, you’re on top of a mound; the whole sky was turning into a red-blooded painting. Few people was having had a picnic with their families and friends. It was getting dark so quick and we didn’t want to miss visiting that ancient Church by the mounds. So, we kept walking through the other part of that mound and went down. While I was walking down, it wasn’t possible to resist that spectacular view of the northern part of Uppsala.

When we entered into the Church’s boundary, I couldn’t wait to go inside and be amused by its ancient beauty. Some people still believe that this church took precedence over an ancient pagan temple but, there was a survey which showed there were two Christian churches instead. Uppsala was Christianised in the 11th century.

This Church was built in the latter part of the 11th century, and it was finished in the 12th century. Majority parts of it were removed after a fire incident in 13th century and left only the Choir part with the Central Tower. There is a wooden door at the entrance. It’s so lovely inside with all the chalk paintings from the 15th century and medieval wooden sculptures. I was feeling so calm and peaceful inside. After passing the main entrance, there is a place where people can light a candle by wishing something or praying. Also, the church pulpit and the interior hold that traditional medieval beauty. It was getting dark very quick outside.

When we came out of the church, the Sun had already left us. But I still wanted to walk around this place, where people like Anders Celcius, his grandfather Magnus Celcius or King Eric IX of Sweden are laying down. Additionally, the view from that place towards the city is mesmerising even though it was already darkish outside.

Before I visited here, some of my friends were saying that there isn’t much to see and they don’t want to visit that place the second time. I just laughed inside but said nothing. I knew that they just didn’t have that inner view to see the beauty of this old part of the town or the history of it. Maybe the mythological stories didn’t even give them a tiny bit of excitement. But I can’t blame them for that opinion, because not everyone will be able to go to VALHALLA and have a Fika with ODIN!!

/Mohammad Mustakim Ur Rahman

Studying in Visby – By Sara

It is hard to explain what exactly makes studying in Visby so special. Is it normal to feel this happy for such a long time, even if you are away from home? I went for a late-night walk through the old city, strolling through winding streets, feeling the cold air on my face, yet internal warmt has I looked through the lit windows of the small, cozy homes.

As I walked by the old houses that have stood the test of time for centuries, with each one having a different charm than the one before, I’m warmly greeted by the smell of firewood dancing in the air. My thoughts were flowing as smoothly as the sea was that day. I began to think of the many friends I’ve made here,and I’ve realized it is not just me that feels how special it is to study in Visby. My friends are international students, coming from different cities and countries around the world, and somehow, we are each captivated by this small, medieval town.

I’m from a very busy city, where silence is a rare sound. I’m used to the sound of cars honking, people chatting loudly, music playing from random areas on the street, while being surrounded by people all day. I’ve learned to mute out the sound of noise, in order to create my own mental silence. I had this idea that it would be too quiet to be living on an island, in a city that’s smaller than the size of my neighbourhood in Toronto. That I would miss the noise of people around me and the energy that came with that noise.

Yet, this extremely old, small, quiet city has bewitched me through its charm. I hear a different noise since moving to Visby, the sound of the sea hitting the shore, kids laughing in the nearby playground, or a friendly stray cat running up to me for a pat. I love the quietness of this city, where you can truly think without interruption, the open space between streets where you can walk freely, and the sound of the old church bells ringing every hour. In all honesty, I feel at peace and present.

I always thought that artists over exaggerated the colours of the sky when they presented their paintings, that it could never be as vibrant and beautiful in real life, but I was wrong. Every evening, I look forward to seeing what the sky will draw on its blank canvas, what combination of pink, orange, purple and blue will be wrapping the sky.

I knew that Visby held a special place in the Swedes hearts and now I feel that for myself as well. I’ve only been here for three months, but it is hard to imagine ever leaving this place now that it feels like my new home.

Sara Mohamadi

Internships at Uppsala – By Margaret

Welcome to all new students and the returning students as well. This year has been unusual as a lot of classes are now being done online including orientation for new students, but the good news is that 2020 is fast going away and we hope things continue to improve. For those following the TaggedforUppsala Instagram page, a lot of interesting things happened in the welcome week and continues to. As part of the second year, some students have the option of doing an internship related to their program of study or taking a course. Whatever the choice you make, it must measure up to the required credits for the semester which is usually 30 credits. Some students opt to do a course of 15 credits with an internship of 15 credits or some like myself do a 30 credits internship. The important thing is that you are learning.


Getting a place to do your internship is the same as looking for a job because you must write and submit many applications tailored to each company or organization you want the experience. You will need to plenty of determination because there will be rejections especially as a non-Swedish speaker, you have to look even wider, keeping your options open as language makes the core framework of the Swedish society. One thing I must add at this point is that getting a place is solely your responsibility and so you should aim to start early.

When you are considering where to do your internship, make sure it is relevant to your field of study and aim to get the experience which will be valuable during your thesis in the spring (coming) semester. If a place is not relevant, you may not get the approval from your department for it to be registered as a course (You do not want to be disappointed after putting in so much effort to get a place). As much as getting a place equates with finding a real job, most positions are not paid, and your goal should be the experience which can become a bridge to a full-time job after studies or a doctoral position after your master’s degree. Depending on your goal whether you want to continue your studies with a PhD or work, you will find places to match. Many organizations in Sweden accept interns and your department can also help you with the list of places you can apply even though the responsibility rests solely on you the student to secure a place.

For future PhD position, your goal should be more of research experience at organizations or projects where you can update your research skills, meet researchers in your selected field whom you can learn from. You have to reach out to many researchers based on how much their interest matches your career goals, work and background. You can find their contacts on the organization’s website where you can get relevant information about internship processes and priorities. If your goal is getting a job outside the academia, then your experience should be more focused on how the environment, systems where you want to intern works; this will give you an insight into the culture and how to secure a permanent position suited to your career goal (And possibly improve your Swedish, if you are not a native speaker). There are options of doing your internship anywhere in the world as students can even go back to your countries of origin but that is subject to approval by your department and it is good you make enquiries to know what your options are and work towards it.

It is very important that you start your search early for a place because like finding a job as I earlier said, it is very competitive, also apply for courses as a backup plan. This gives you more

options of securing the required credits for the semester should in case you cannot get a place when the deadline passes, and you are at risk of applying late, sometimes you may not even find late applications for courses after deadlines. It is better you consider applying for courses within the open period along with your search for an internship (as I did in my case) then you can choose not to register for the courses when you get a place for internship and you are admitted for the courses. It is always good to be realistic about the situation and stick with the rules of the program you are studying.

Ultimately, your goal should be to enjoy the process and the environment of learning here at Uppsala and avoid being overwhelmed with deadlines. Look out for new departmental and university information (you do not want to miss out on vital student information), always ask questions when you need help.

All the best in the new academic year!


Choosing Your Nation – By Camille Cabrolier

A new semester approaches, you already received your acceptance letter and while you are preparing the last (big) details before moving to Uppsala, you might be wondering which Student Nation you should choose and why you should even bother going, why they are so special, so let me share with you some tips and information about them.

Here is hoping Corona (SARS-COV-2) does not ruin anyone’s’ Fall plans though.

Nations are the heart of Student Life in Uppsala, you can do anything there, and I really mean anything. From studying to partying, from sports to eating and much much more!

Now, even though there is no secret formula on how to best choose your Nation, there are some things you can do to figure it out. If you want the fast or a tiny help, you can go to this blog post that has a very nice flow diagram about the Nations.

If you want to know as much of every Nation as possible before choosing, you can start by going to the Welcoming activities that Nations host during the International Welcome Week and go talk to the people organizing, I promise they will be friendly and happy to tell you about their Nation if you ask them. The second thing you can do is talk to the ones that are representing their Nation in the Welcome Fair, there especially they will be “selling” their own and answer every single question you may have. But more than only asking questions, use this time to just talk with them and see how you feel, talking with whom do you feel more comfortable?

Then it also depends on what you are looking for in the Nations, do you want to have more housing options, more available scholarships, party for free a specific day, fika discount, artistic activities, a small and close community? Of course, you can always look for all this their websites, but it is likely to be in Swedish and everything might not be there, so the best way to find out is by talking with the active members. You will find them in their respective Nation and in the Welcome Fair, it will be crowded, but don’t worry about it and talk with everyone for as long as you want.

What can you do in each Nation? That is for you to find out, but all of them have a Pub, with good burgers, beers and more. I have 3 favorite ones, but you should go try them all before picking (#Hint: Some use homemade patties and some don’t). Can you find the one Nation that serves mashed potatoes instead of fries with their burger? Every Nation opens their pub on different days, but you can always find at least one, even Sundays.

If you like partying, you came to the right place, Nations have agreements within them, so the week starts on Tuesday with Snerikes party, on Wednesday it is Norrlands turn, Thursdays it is Stockholms and Fridays are for Värmlands. On Fridays, you can also find Ostgöta or Snerikes sometimes. You can always enter all the parties for free before 9 pm and if you are a member of a specific one, you enter for free to their party all night.

If you are a food lover, apart from the pubs, some Nations have breakfast like Norrlands and Stockholm, or lunch like Stockholm with their salad bar or like Norrlands, Östgöta, and Västgöta. You can find delicious Fika in Kalmar, Göteborgs, Norrlands, and more. On Saturdays, Gästrike-Hälsinge Nation hosts a Pancake bar at brunch time, and on Sundays Snerikes has brunch.

If you like singing Göteborgs has Karaoke Thursday.

If you like sports you will find different sports groups in Gästrike-Hälsinge.

If you want to learn Latin dances, Värmlands has Salsa and Bachata classes on Sundays.

And if you like role-playing games, V-Dala has many D&D campaigns every Sunday; while in Gästrike-Hälsinge you will find Boardgames evenings.

Most Nations also have libraries, choirs, spex (theater groups), special lectures, Gasques, Balls, and most important: Very nice and friendly people.

Now one last tip, once you’ve decided on your Nation, a great way to start meeting the members is going to the Cleaning Day. Yes! I did say cleaning. They happen once a month on every Nation, there, Full-Timers and Half-Timers gather to clean the house along with everyone else willing to help. The day begins with a breakfast, then tasks are distributed, and teams go clean until it is lunchtime, when everyone stops what they are doing and have lunch together and sometimes play games before going back to your duties. When everything is done, it is time for the Sexa! (A nice dinner but not elegant like a Gasque or Ball) You celebrate a successful cleaning day, eat good food, have some drinks, sing many typical Swedish songs and have lots of fun with your new Nation friends 😉

And remember, at the end of the day, it does not matter which Nation you join because joining one gives you access to all of them, Amazing! And worst-case scenario, you can always change it whenever you want, or better: You can join more than one!


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