Lively Uppsala: Orientation Week, Nollning, Värmlands and Aurora Borealis (posted by Indira in Sweden)

Just as I was walking to my class yesterday I noticed that the streets of Uppsala have never looked so lively. Beautiful sunny day (a rarity here nowadays), a lot of people (mainly students) on the streets, and all the different languages spoken in every corner – summarize the 5 minute walk I took from the Cathedral to the Department of Government. I was used to a calm and peaceful Uppsala and familiar faces everywhere. Well, I guess this makes it official – summer break is over and school just started!

Orientation Week was so much fun! The International Office, Student Nations and the Student Union put so much effort into making the past week as amusing as possible. Club nights, games in the park, barbecues and a crash course in “the Swedish” helped us all learn more about Sweden, but also bond with other exchange and international students. The official welcome reception held in the University Main Building was possibly the most breathtaking part of the Orientation. In the most amazing hall I’ve been to, the University’s vice chancellor, the City of Uppsala Mayor and other representatives welcomed 740 exchange and 400 international master students. One was truly able to see how majestic Sweden is!

Unfortunately, there is always something that can (slightly) ruin things, and in Sweden it’s usually the weather. Constant rain and relatively cold weather (55F) did their part and many of the exchange students got sick (including myself); but that is also a reason for more socializing. Forget about being in bed all sick, in Sweden we do ‘sick fika’ (usually coffee or tea with a cinnamon bun). I can’t help but notice that Sweden is a country where so much energy is focused on creating a cozy and warm atmosphere. I guess that is the best way to fight off the winter and darkness. 🙂

Last week was not only Orientation Week for the international students, Swedish freshmen also had a lot of fun. As far as I understood it, there is some sort of a ritual called ‘nollning’ (roughly translated it means zeroing) where each department at the University has a theme and all the people who participate in nollning wear costumes, sing and make music around the town. It is actually quite stunning to see how good their dance moves and chanting are. The funniest thing, of course, was their costumes. I had a chance to see the Middle Ages, Dalmatians, Super Mario, Prison Break and Lightning groups.

Nollning, essentially Freshman orientation

Nollning

I also completed another important ritual or task of becoming an Uppsala University student: I finally joined a student nation. My choice was Värmlands Nation because they have an amazing restaurant, cozy library, great Friday club and all the members I met are amazing and so helpful. This week we will have Reccereception (reception for all the new members) and next week we will have formal dinner – Reccegasque. I am looking forward to both of those!

Official School Welcome Reception as part of orientation

Official Welcome Reception

And that is not the end of the past week’s adventures in Uppsala – the most amazing thing happened last night! We were very lucky to see the Northern Lights here in Uppsala. Clear skies and time spent outdoors around midnight were more than helpful in seeing this beautiful phenomenon. After about 30 minutes we could no longer see the light. Hopefully we will have more clear skies at night soon (September is a perfect month for spotting Aurora Borealis).

Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights)

Aurora Borealis

I am excited to see what new adventures await in Uppsala!

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