Who said you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving unless you were in the US? Well, exchange and international students at Uppsala clearly showed the opposite! As the time for Thanksgiving approached American students at Uppsala University (and there are quite a lot of them, especially from California) decided to organize a dinner for about 50 people in order to show them what is so special about Thanksgiving.
I was amazed by the amount of food prepared by just a handful of hard-working people who made the commitment to organize such a big dinner. Everyone was taken by surprise, and the food was amazing (plus it’s nice when you get to eat great food with amazing people without having to cook yourself!). It was nice seeing how Thanksgiving is celebrated among an international community (last year I spent Thanksgiving with an American host family in Richmond so I got to see how it is celebrated among Americans), but it was also nice knowing the story behind it, as well as the traditions related to this holiday. I enjoyed sharing the knowledge I have gained during my two years in Richmond about Thanksgiving with other students who never actually thought they would be celebrating it. It’s funny how Uppsala keeps proving itself to be an international city where one can encounter the world.
Thinking about it, it definitely is time to be grateful! Even though I keep pushing the thought of leaving away, it always hits me in random moments that I will be actually leaving the place I call home in about three weeks. Where did the time go? I can swear that it was just yesterday that I moved into my room in Flogsta, took my Swedish language course and met so many amazing people. It’s funny how I can still remember August warmth and barbecues on the rooftops, buying the bike and pushing myself into mastering the art of cycling. Those are just some of the things, moments and lessons I can be grateful for. There are so many more. I experienced so much in the last four months that it will take me years to remember and retell everything, as well as figure out how much this study abroad experience shaped me as a person, as a student, and most of all as a global citizen. It all lingers in my mind. The worst thing is that I am already nostalgic about this place and I haven’t even left yet. That is a sign that there will be a lot of tears shed and that leaving Uppsala will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. At least I have something else to look forward to: a semester at Yonsei University in South Korea.
Even though I do get lost in my thoughts about leaving Uppsala, I don’t actually have all too much time to think about it. First of all, I try to keep myself busy at all times by taking part in all kinds of activities offered in Uppsala through student nations or the student union because I know this is my last chance to do it all. Secondly, I still have classes to attend. And since the end of the month (and semester) is approaching, most of my exams, papers and projects are due in this and next week. I’ve been working like crazy in order to balance everything. One of the biggest challenges, also one of the most interesting projects, I’ve worked on is the group paper on sustainable urbanization and urban resilience in Stockholm. After weeks and weeks of intensive literature reviews, interviews, weekly group meetings and extensive writing, we are wrapping up paper up. I am extremely proud of our piece of work since I learned so much on the subject, but also got a chance to work with a very international group of people learning a lot from them and about their countries (one girl in my group is actually from Seoul so she’s been giving me loads of information on life there in preparation for my next semester abroad!).
My class on feminism, role of women and international development is also ending this week and I will be taking an exam next week. That class was amazing – I learned so much; academically on the subject, and technically though ‘expert model’ seminars where absolutely everything was student led. Also, my new class – Armed Conflict and Development – starts next week as well, so it’s going be really tricky balancing all of that.
On a happy note – Uppsala looks amazing. Today it snowed. A lot!
Everything is white and pretty (unfortunately it’s cold too) and the snow is sticking to the ground so it’s beautiful. There are already plans to organize snowball fights at some point soon. As much as I like snow and enjoy winter, going to class in 2 degrees Fahrenheit is not going to be fun. Today when I was cycling back from my class it started to snow and it was already a challenge. The worst part about it is getting all the snowflakes in your eyes. I am definitely not a fan of that. I will be using bus and other means of public transportation from now on, though. It is just much safer (it’s really easy to fall off the bike on slippery paths) and warmer.
And since it is a winter season, Christmas craziness has already began in Uppsala. There are Christmas decorations on streets, in stores, and even in our kitchen on my corridor. I will be also attending Julgask (Christmasgasque) on Saturday and rumor has it that Santa will be present. I am looking forward to that! 🙂