Bike (mis)adventures and the Nations (posted by Indira in Sweden)

Last week was one of the funniest, most sleep deprived and adventurous weeks of my life.

First of all, I was busy studying and doing my Swedish homework since I had an exam this week. I can’t believe that four weeks of intensive Swedish classes are over. It just hit me today when I was walking out of the classroom saying “tack så mycket” and “hej då” that this class ends here. It is crazy how time flies when you’re enjoying something. Signing up for this course was definitely the best possible decision I could have made when it comes to my semester in Sweden. I got a chance to meet people in a smaller community and to find my way around. It is actually funny to see new exchange students who just got here walking around with maps not sure where building 7 or 3 is. Also, the smaller group of people (well, if you consider 120 people a small group) gave me an opportunity to get to know all of them better and to interact with them in a way that allowed me to learn more about their cultures, languages and personalities.

Picture of books used to study for Swedish exam

Studying for the Swedish exam

Most of the other exchange students have arrived in the last few days. It is insane how Flogsta (area where I live) became so lively in only a few days. Now I see so many people walking around and I meet new people in the corridors all the time. I also got a few new corridormates so we are now 8 (out of 12) in my corridor. It is much more fun to be around people when cooking or walking or cycling somewhere.

The arrival of the exchange students and the lively Uppsala also mean that international orientation week is starting. We already had a few events mainly related to administration, but we are also having many fun events (beer tasting, lindy hop class, live-music quiz, international fika and club nights are just some of many). I am really looking forward to meeting new exchange students and learning more about Sweden (even though I learned a lot during the past month I spent here).

A train ride with a group of exchange students

A train ride with some other exchange students

Apart from the last Swedish class and a lot of new incoming students, this week we also explored the nations. So, what are these nations everyone in Uppsala seems to be talking about? Even though I cannot come up with my own definition of them, I can summarize them in one word – AMAZING! Basically, a nation is “a place where you can feel at home with hundreds of other students – you may work there, you may have parties there, and you will definitely make friends there!”  There are 13 nations in Uppsala named after a region or city in the country and they are student unions of a kind (very similar to coed fraternities, but much more open since you can be member of one (or more) nation(s) and attend the events and activities of other nations too). Basically the entire social life of Uppsala University students in focused on the nations: There are clubs, pubs, restaurants, sport teams etc. in each nation. The whole idea behind the quest of exploring the nations was finding the one that best fits my interests. So far I have found a couple of nations I really like and I will definitely join one by the end of the week.

This has been an exhausting, yet amazing week that finished with an unfortunate, but extremely funny event.  If you are following my blog you should know that Sweden is big on bikes and that bikes and I don’t work well together. Well, I just proved that again today. I thought I was making true progress since it’s been a while since I last fell off the bike or hit someone, but no. There are more technical things about bikes that beat me. Today after the class I wanted to inflate the bike tire, but of course I overdid it. Two minutes into biking and I hear this strange noise, so I get off the bike and then a very loud “BAM!!!” happens. I was confused, amused, terrified and sad when I saw that my front tire simply exploded because I overinflated it. As I was on my way to the bike shop, I received an amazing piece of advice from my friend: “Go find someone from the Netherlands. They were born on bikes and they can definitely fix this.” And I did it! Short 2 hours later I got my bike fixed and delivered to my dorm. The Dutch are amazing! Sometimes stereotypes can be good.

Now I sail into a new adventure – orientation week and the start of real classes – with a new tire and another lesson learned. Hälsningar until the next week 🙂

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