I can’t believe that another week of classes, fun and sightseeing is over. We are all always very busy and have barely any free time, so it feels unbelievable to me when I have to sit down and reflect on the past week.
First of all, my Swedish is getting better. I was so proud of myself when I went grocery shopping and managed to talk to the cashier in Swedish! I really feel that the past two weeks of intensive Swedish classes are starting to pay off: I can watch Swedish TV programs or listen to people talk and I’m able to understand a bit (hey, it’s a progress!). It really is a great feeling! After only two weeks of classes, I’m able to say that there are some fundamental differences in the teaching systems here and at UR. Here everything (by everything I mean the final grade) depends solely on your final exam and attendance (you can’t miss more than 15% of classes), while homework and class participation contribute only in a way that you don’t really have to review the class material per se. Otherwise, I feel that we are all a bit more independent here in Uppsala. This applies not only to the classes, but to the other activities as well.
It is us, the students, who organize events, picnics, parties and trips. The school as an institution is far less present, which is probably a result of the fact that Uppsala University does not have a campus that is similar to the UR one – it is spread all across the city and there is less isolation. The entire city is the campus (Uppsala is traditionally known as a university city) and yet the city is a place you don’t necessarily have to relate to the University.
It might sound like an almost dysfunctional system where students are not connected at all, but I feel that this level of independence makes us bond more both among our exchange group and with local students. Meeting every morning to ride bikes to school together, picnics that gather both international and Swedish students, and fika (drinking coffee/tee/hot chocolate with some pastry or cake) in the multiple cafes around Uppsala allow us to make friends on few different levels.
I find it also interesting that I meet new exchange students every day! Today, for example, we went on a tour to Stockholm and I met few new people. We always get a chance to experience Sweden from a highly international perspective due to our diversity.
And Stockholm is an amazing city! The royal palace, architecture, difference between the north and the south part of the city, museums, as well as the countless cozy cafes are all welcoming and make one fall in love with the Swedish capital instantly. Stockholm is definitely a place I plan to go back to (that won’t be hard since it’s only a 45 minute drive away from Uppsala).
So far my time here has been better than I could have ever dreamed of. I did have my fears about the new environment, people and system, but it is all working out exceptionally well. Every new day is a new adventure that makes me feel more at home and more attached to Uppsala.
I’m off to do my Swedish homework and tomorrow is the Swedish food festival. Definitely looking forward to tasting some typical Swedish dishes.