Author: David Nygren

One year in Uppsala! – By Prasanth

When I meet new people in Uppsala, one of the first questions they ask is, how did you end up in Sweden? And I am always like, ‘Well, I heard a lot about Sweden and when I got the opportunity, I just have taken it and never looked back’. After doing my research on various universities in Scandinavian countries, I got to know that Uppsala is one of the best when it comes to student life.

Beautiful view of the cathedral

It all started when I decided to do a masters in the field of sustainability for which I was passionate about. This is the first time I travelled abroad, and that made my journey much more exciting. I got all possible help from the university when I arrived at Arlanda airport during the welcome days. As most of the others I also ended up getting a housing in Flogsta – The hub of international students and corridor parties.

University bus that picked us when we arrived during welcome days
Autumn season in Uppsala
We went to segerstedthuset building to collect our keys when we arrived

The first few days it was a bit cold and so I used to wear my winter jacket until I met a guy in shorts, these where the exact words he said:

Him: How cold is it outside?

Me: 8 or 9 degrees probably ….

Him: Do you know its going to be -15 degrees in few days?

Me: Oh yes, I heard! How could you survive in that weather?

Him: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” so you need to dress like this in winter not now. (This was the first time I heard this quote)

Later he invited me to his home to grab some apples.

I met my classmates during the welcome week, and they were from many diverse backgrounds and cultures. The best part of my program sustainable development was that everyone had a different opinion and that made me think how my views are so different. Within couple of weeks I got to speak with most of my colleagues and felt that I need to learn a lot.

It’s me explaining my classmates about the project that I did

During the welcome week we all got some temporary nation cards from the IK (International committee) and then started my journey into the so-called nation life – I didn’t know at that time that my nation will become my second home. Student Nations are something special and unique here in Uppsala. All 13 student nations offer various kinds of activities. All the fun began with working for a gasque without even knowing what it was all about and then becoming a club worker at Smålands nation. I had the best time of my life during those days and made friends for life. Eventually I got to know about Swedish culture and their lifestyle, but I was a complete disaster in learning Swedish.

At my nations Ambetsverkare weekend

Winter was very harsh on me, but when I saw the snow, I was always happy. Autumn was so colourful that I started missing it in winter and stopped taking bike to the university because of the snow. I had to take bus every day in the winter. Buying a winter jacket, and snow boots was very helpful for me during this time. Somehow, I survived the winter and moved to the beautiful spring wearing my shorts and sitting in the sun outside. From Spring to summer was the best weather if I ignore the midnight sun.

Drone view of Uppsala Cathedral (Credits to my friend Christian apps)
Lake picnic with my classmates

I am used to just eating in my home or in any restaurant or at my college cafeteria but did not cook or clean on my own before coming to Sweden. Buying what you need, and cooking is hard sometimes. When you see the prices in super markets to buy food it is quite expensive than back home. So, I used to think twice before buying something. Now I figured out what food I want and should buy.

Dog sledging in Lapland

Coming to travelling, I should say I have visited quite a lot in and around Uppsala. I stayed in cabins over the weekends, went on hikes, gone on a cruise in the Baltics, skied in Åre during ski week, went on a Lapland trip – sadly no northern lights, covered east Europe by bus and went to visit student nations in Lund and Helsinki. These are some of the highlights of my travels after coming to Sweden. Every place I went was a new and an exciting experience for me.

Group picture  during the Lapland trip
Skiing during ski-week in Åre

My studies in Uppsala had been challenging as I come from an engineering background and I had to read lots of literature in the starting of the semester to understand the concepts. Group works, case studies, home exams, assignments, presentations, seminars, site visits and what not, these all made me the person I am, and I don’t regret it.

Valborg party in Uppsala

Overall, my experience here in Uppsala till now has been wonderful but yes, it is not easy as it looks to survive in a completely different environment, but it worked out for me very well.

Did I miss something? Yes, Valborg! I completely forgot about this insane thing happened to me in Uppsala. It should be experienced on your own. It can’t be explained in words. Hope this blog might give a brief on how Uppsala might look like.      

Thank you!

Exchange student interview: Phurpa Tshering

It is not often that our undergraduate exchange students get the opportunity to present their own paper at a real scientific conference. However, Phurpa Tshering from Bhutan together with Dekar Lhamo (Bhutan) and Lu Yu (China) did it under the guidance of their professor, Anders Berglund, who works at our Department of Computer Science. We contacted Phurpa to ask him some questions about his adventures.

  1. First of all, congratulations! Being an Exchange student and getting papers accepted for a scientific conference is an amazing achievement. How did this happen?
    Thank you so much. I and my co-author from Bhutan were undergraduate exchange students for six months at Uppsala University. We took Computer Education Research Course under Prof. Anders Berglund. For the course requirement three of us (my other Bhutanese friend and co-author Lu Yu from China ) developed one course project which talks about Bhutanese beginner IT students. After the completion of the course, Professor Anders encouraged us to write it as a scientific research paper. Where four of us agreed on it and jointly developed it as a scientific research paper.
  1. Can you explain your research in laymans terms?
    Until now no research in Bhutan talks about Bhutanese Information Technology education. So our research mainly shares about beginner IT students from Bhutan. Where we try to explore the ways that beginner IT students in Bhutan learn C programming. And what we found was Bhutanese students also have similar learning styles to that of western students. The only difference is most of Bhutanese IT students tend to learn programming by memorizing and we also found that students are really depended on the teachers and classroom notes. Moreover it seems most of beginner students don’t have computer knowledge.
  1. How are you now preparing for the conference and when/where is it?
    After the completion of course all authors of our paper where in different parts of world two in Uppsala and two in Bhutan but in different states of the country. Therefore meeting was not possible for discussion. So we used online discussion forums like Gmail and Facebook to make our paper ready for the LaTICE 2017 conference which is going to be held at Hong Kong University from April 20 to 23rd.  We finally met a day before the presentation at Hong Kong and did rehearsal for our presentation.
  1. Do you have time to enjoy yourself while in Sweden or is it just study study study?
    Yes there was time where I felt exchange is all about work work and work when I had all assignment, projects in same time.  Most of the time I use to stay at home completing my course works. But there was also time where I had great moments from the warm welcoming Nations of Uppsala University during special days like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Also enjoyed with many international friends during weekends.
  1. What did you do in your spare time?
    Well everything was memorable for me being from developing country and reaching in worlds well developed country like Sweden. I was really happy and surprised to see warm people from Uppsala University who set welcome desk right at the airport to welcome us that was really not the thing I expected (I would say this is something other countries should learn). Most of the weekends I spent by biking around different places of Uppsala with some international friends.
  1. Finally, what are your future plans after graduation?
    In Bhutan we only have handful of people who have done masters in any field. Most people set up highest level of education as undergraduate. But my plan is to be one of those handful of people who did masters in Computer Science. And if I am lucky enough I would love to continue my masters at Uppsala University.  I am also planning to contribute at least one research paper in every LaTICE conference hereafter.

    We wish you all the best of luck!


Footnote: The paper is not yet available online but the title is How do first year students learn C programming in Bhutan?