Uppsala: A Journey of Discovery (posted by Indira in Sweden)

The time truly flies by. It’s already 2013. 2013… it feels really weird to write that number. Since it’s the New Year we all makes wishes and hopes as compared to the previous year(s). I was thinking really hard, but my 2012 was good on so many levels that I honestly didn’t want it to end. My semester abroad in Uppsala definitely plays a huge role in that.

Today when I checked my Facebook there was an entry saying: “Graduated from Uppsala University” and then it hit me – wow, that was really it. The best semester yet is over, but I learned so much about Sweden, as well as other countries, traveling, people, my major, and most importantly about myself. The last 5 months in Uppsala have truly been a journey of discovery. I started learning a new language, learned how to cook (I’m really proud of this one), figured out how to live on my own, mastered the art of constant cycling, made friends from all over the world, survived Swedish winter (which involved -7F temperatures and a major snowstorm), travelled a lot, attended a Nobel Lecture, took some amazing classes, gained the experience of living in Sweden, and so much more. It’s really hard to remember everything I went through over the past semester. Sometimes it feels like August was just yesterday, but then again when I think of everything that has happened since, August seems so far away.

The Swedish summer truly is amazing: You learn to appreciate every second of the sunshine, enjoy countless barbecues in parks and on the rooftops, and buy a bike. Uppsala looks absolutely breathtaking in summer – there is green everywhere, city parks and squares look stunning, and people are so happy.

A scene of summer in Uppsala

Summer in Uppsala

Fall is no less impressive: Uppsala puts on new clothes and amazes everyone with its colors. The whole city looks like it came from a fairytale scene. Golden and red leaves, somewhat pleasant cold, and warm sunshine, as well as rain create a perfect atmosphere to spend hours in cafes drinking some hot beverage, eating cake or a cookie, talking to friends, watching people, or simply studying. Fall In Uppsala has it charms for sure!

A beautiful scene of fall in Uppsala

Fall in Uppsala

Before you can notice, the rain is replaced by a snow layer and golden leaves are nowhere to be seen. That is a sign that another glorious season has arrived in Uppsala – Winter makes a grand entrance and it doesn’t cease to impress. It is not hard to enjoy Swedish Winter even with the cold and snow: Glögg, Julmust, fikas, sledding down the Flogsta or Uppsala caste hill, cycling in the snow adventures, and snowball fights can definitely make anyone enjoy Uppsala even during its most cruel months.

A scene of winter in Uppsala

Winter in Uppsala

Seeing Uppsala change through the seasons is like seeing yourself grow fonder and fonder of this place, but also seeing yourself grow as a person. There is something magical about it. I feel Uppsala is home. But that is not the only reason why someone would want to study abroad in Sweden; the list of things one can love about Uppsala is very long:

  • Uppsala University is an old and prestigious university
  • Diverse classes
  • Great professors: knowledgeable and chill (you can go for fika with them)
  • Mixed student body: a lot of internationals from all over the world and Swedes from every part of Sweden
  • You are very much in charge of your in class experience: some classes are not mandatory and you choose your seminar groups
  • One class at a time system: you take only one class and you focus on it for about a month, take the final exam and then move on to the next course
  • Campus makes up most of the city and the buildings are in different parts: great way to explore the city
  • Each building is unique in its own way and has a story to tell
  • Attend Nobel lectures: Need I say more?
  • Chance to make friends from all over the world
  • New culture, language, traditions
  • Everyone speaks English: In the beginning when I needed help with something I would always first ask if the person spoke English but then I would just go over and ask for help right away. Basically everyone is bilingual in this country
  • Flogsta: you get to live in the most amazing and fun accommodation area ever! Ever thought of a 500 person Halloween party in two corridors? Well, that is how wonderful Flogsta is. The party was even featured in the local newspaper!
  • Your corridor: you corridor-mates become your family and your corridor your new home. Corridor dinners and parties are definitely one of the best part of dorm life in Uppsala.
  • Cycling: you get to cycle everywhere, anytime. And you’re gonna love it. Seriously.
  • Ekonomikum: Most amazing place to study, chill, or simply get some snacks
  • Blåsenhus: probably my favorite building. One part of the building looks like a spaceship hovering over the entrance hall. Great place to study or get fika
  • Carolina Rediviva: the most beautiful library ever. Even if you don’t have to study, you simply go there to hang out since it’s so cozy
  • FIKA! Forget Starbucks or whatever you consider to be “the best coffee ever” because I’m sure nothing beats Swedish fika. Just imagine great coffee/tea with amazing pastries, cookies and cakes, cozy kaferummet atmosphere, and the warmth of the people around you while it is snowing outside. And you get to do this for hours every day. One of those “I don’t think life can get any better” moments!
  • Kanelbullar: Oh, sweet love o’ mine! Cinnamon buns/rolls that simply taste great. Oh, and there is a day dedicated solely to this delicious treat: Kanelbulledag.
  • Marabou: best chocolate ever! Don’t even try to argue it. I mean it.
  • Music: Do you love house? Electronic music? Well, then Sweden is a heaven for you. Everyone makes music (I don’t think it’s even possible to keep count of how many people who make music I’ve met) and Sweden’s home to Avicii, SHM, Adrian Lux, Alesso, Lykke Li and many others.
  • Student nations: It’s really hard to explain, but once you get here you’ll get it. BEST thing ever! Every university should have them.
  • Great night life!
  • Stockholms nation’s lunch: make sure you get there at 12 sharp otherwise you’ll spend some time waiting for the deliciousness prepared by the Stokcholms nation’s Kökmästare
  • Värmlands nation’s bread: I don’t think I ever had better bread. Definitely worth going for the lunch at Värmlands. Make sure you start queuing at noon.
  • Gasques: there is a gasque for everything (newbies gasque, Halloween gasque, Fall gasque, Christmas gasque, Lucia gasque, and even Doomsday gasque)
  • Uppsala: it’s a student city so literally everyone is organized in a way that serves the students.

I think those reasons are more than enough to make anyone want to study abroad in Uppsala. I couldn’t have asked for a better semester. Coming to Uppsala was one of the best decisions I ever made. I fell in love with the city, country, and the people – I plan to go back one day. Maybe even sooner than I think. I actually remember my first month in Sweden when I met so many international people who live/work in Uppsala and they kept telling me that one day I will be back to Uppsala (or at least Sweden) for whatever reason, and could quite possibly make this place my home. I sure hope they are right, but right now I should focus on Seoul.

In less than two months I will start a new adventure on the other side of the world; with new people, a new system, new language, new culture. It is frightening, but also exciting. Knowing that the new adventure awaits around the corner makes me miss Uppsala a little bit less. New year – new adventure. And I’m more than ready to embrace it in the fashion of the words of one of my German friends: “Vollgas!”. 🙂

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